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The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up

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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  269 ratings  ·  20 reviews
It’s like a plot from a Hollywood potboiler: start out in the mailroom, end up a mogul. But for many, it happens to be true. Some of the biggest names in entertainment—including David Geffen, Barry Diller, and Michael Ovitz— started their dazzling careers in the lowly mailroom. Based on more than two hundred interviews, David Rensin unfolds the never-before-told history of ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published February 3rd 2004 by Ballantine Books (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 535)
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Alex
I picked up this book on a trip down the rabbit hole that began with Jerry Weintraub's memoir. Since then, I've been fascinated with Hollywood history, and with the mailroom being the base of it all, it only made sense to read about the history from its origin. Although this book is a long one, and it took me FOREVER to finish, it's super interested and filled with insight and lessons.
Sergio GRANDE films
Do not be too quick to turn over to the first page. You'll be missing the cover which is probably the most interesting part of this book. The rest is slow and often boring.
Nobody cares about the recollections of a guy who was a mid-level agent at William Morris in the '70s and left to become a literary agent elsewhere. And there's too many of those stories.
mikeramirez03
This book was my bible while I was working in the Mailroom at UTA.
Stephen- Craig
At age 20, having failed out of school, I tore out the pages designated "Music Publishers" from the Yellow Pages book in the phone booth at the corner of Sunset and Doheny and ended up in the mailroom at Warner Bros. Music for less than "minimum wage"! Because of my tenacity, in six months got on the Professional Staff (song pluggers), and in three years became the general manager, for the next 9+ years....Opening up my world to the fantasy of meeting and working with every major recording artis ...more
Chris
Oct 10, 2012 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to be an Agent, Understand Hollywood Culture
This book is the epitome of what Hollywood work life is all about. It's about guts, risk-taking, and in-your-face action. The Mailroom is about all those who went through the trainee programs at the top talent agencies in America. The joke about the trainee program is that people have passed up going to Harvard, Ivy Leagues or Law/MBA school just to be in the program. Most people who don't know anything about the industry would say that that is the stupidest thing a person can do, but then again ...more
Allison
Jun 04, 2011 Allison rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: non
Very inspirational book with a lot of fantastic stories. Many were funny, some were intimidating, and some were a little scary - can people really be so vicious and hold grudges? But it was a great glimpse into how hard the truly-driven people work to get to the top, and it affected me greatly.

There were many memorable stories, but my favorite quote came from Sam Haskell: "I believe, philosophywise, in the following: We spend the first couple of decades of our lives trying to figure out who the
...more
Rebecca
Feb 24, 2012 Rebecca rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: tv
This book was a tomb. It detailed the history of the mailroom program that most Hollywood agencies use today in filling employment opportunities as agents, etc. It was told in first person and quite interesting. Even though I work in "the industry" I don't know much about this program as I don't know much about that side. I do behind the scenes stuff, but more on the actual film side and not on the actor side. It was interesting to see all the changes in people, how it changed from a person on t ...more
Koji Gritton
You don't need to be a mark for Hollywood history to have a good time with this book! Equal amounts of laugh out loud and cringe moments, topped off with motivating anecdotes.
Marcus Gorman
Repetitive, self-serving, and not nearly as fascinating as the interviewed agents think their stories are. I'm not sure why I'm surprised.

Edit: I picked this up again and read the second half, and am promoting my ratings from 2 to 3 stars. Once the self-congratulation parade ends, it becomes a much better and funnier book about the horrors hoisted upon the members of the mailroom. But it's still very repetitive.
Natasha874
Since I work in a talent agency here in NYC, I just had to read this book. It is the perfect book to read if you are in the entertainment industry or trying to get into. Its choke full of interviews of current and past employee's experience of working at William Morris Agency. You can basically open up the book anywhere and start reading. Some of the stories are laugh out loud funny. Definitely recommend!
Joanna
Apr 20, 2007 Joanna added it
Recommends it for: Bottom Feeders
Anecdotes are amusing if not all too believable (e.g. someone gets hired for being a non-Jew since all the Jews in the mailroom are out for the holidays). Entertaining read for those who enjoyed the film "The Devil Wear's Prada" and/or those who have worked at the bottom of the food chain in Corporate America. It's fun to be a slave to the powerful and be hazed by bottom feeders a la Greek system.
Kara Martin
Really interesting - hard to keep up though -
I gained an understanding of the entertainment industry and reasons why 'Left Coast' people are so different from us.
People in LA would recognize the names more than I but overall a good book to digest for anyone who even remotely deals with movies and entertainment.
Isaiah Lauwerys
A lot of motivating anecdotes and ridiculous stories to show how entertaining the rise from the bottom can be in Tinseltown, but the organization of the book and structure of the stories could leave you lost if you didn't have a notepad next to you to keep track.
Francesca Strack
This read like a text book, and although it was a little tough to get through, I felt that it was very interesting and inspiring. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in or already involved with the entertainment industry.
Leanne Dufault
This book gives you a complete insight to what you are getting yourself into if you decide to work in the entertainment industry in Hollywood. It's hard to believe some of these things really happen. Overall, I really enjoyed it.
Glenn Harris
An odd book. Essentially no original writing, just transcripts of reminiscences from some of the most unpleasant people you could ever hope to meet. Entertaining, in its way.
Linda
Very engaging and eye-opening look at Hollywood structure and history.
Vanessa
Liked oral history format but slow moving.
Vbailey
Liked oral history format but slow.
Eric
Aug 08, 2011 Eric added it
too funny!
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David Rensin has written and cowritten fifteen books, five of them New York Times bestsellers.

The latest, co-authored with Dr. Brandy Engler, is The Men on My Couch: True Stories of Sex, Love, and Psychotherapy.

His previous collaboration was Promises I Made My Mother, with Sam Haskell.

Rensin's book, All For a Few Perfect Waves: The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora, was publish
...more
More about David Rensin...
All for a Few Perfect Waves: The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora All for a Few Perfect Waves The Bob Book Promises I Made My Mother All for a Few Perfect Waves

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