Why I fired My Hollywood manager

It happened one late October.  This past October, in fact.  It was less than a week to Halloween, but the only scary thing in my Massachusetts home that rainy afternoon was the cowering to liberalism coming from the speaker on my phone.

I am a semi-screenwriter, an unproduced screenwriter – to use the parlance of another community of "writers,"  a "toy."  I have written a handful of screenplays and a few TV pilots, and it was one of those pilots that landed me my manager.  We will call him "B.P."  BP works at the granddaddy of all Hollywood management firms.  Anyone remotely familiar with the industry will know exactly which firm of which I speak.

I had known my now ex-manager through a friend, also his now ex-client, and we even knew many of the same people in Boston, as B.P. is an Emerson alumnus and was a student there while I was at Northeastern.  What finally brought us together was a sitcom pilot I had written about misadventures in restaurant management, based on the experiences of a good friend of mine.  This was early 2013, and I could finally say I had a real manager in Hollywood, although it was what is referred to as "hip pocket," as I had not formally signed papers with the agency.

Fast-forward through years of the usual Hollywood cycles of hopes up and then down, projects looking for traction only to find none, discussions of producing a TV version of a friend's YouTube series on comic book-collecting, etc.  We are now in early September of this year, 2017.  My wife and I are invitees to the Director's Dinners at Harvard's Institute of Politics, and at a dinner honoring a semi-known journalist, I found myself in a conversation with a GOP political marketing and ad producer roughly my age.  He too, unsurprisingly, had gone to college in Boston – Northeastern, in fact!

The discussion turned to a pilot pitch I had put together some months before.  "Elephant In The Room," I answered when asked its title.  "Think of a Family Ties for Trump's America.  Run-of-the-mill liberal parents, iPhone addict kids – save one.  They have one conservative son.  A gay conservative son.  A Milo Yiannopoulos acolyte who lives to out-smug his high school classmates and whose pop culture libertarianism is a source of constant frustration to his family."  The idea was greeted with great enthusiasm, and I was reminded that I should focus on this with BP.  I emailed BP right then and there, from the quiet little room at Harvard, telling him that I wanted to direct everything I had at pitching this project.  Last Man Standing had recently, and unduly, been canceled, and there was an opening for a TV series for lunatic leftists to love to hate.

This is when things got weird.

Now, I admit, I never made B.P. any money.  Nothing of mine ever got made.  But that is the name of the game.  You miss until you hit – if you hit.  Due to my relative unimportance to B.P.'s bottom line, I would occasionally get bumped for other phone calls and other meetings.  No harm, no foul.  However, after the email was sent on that fateful night at the IoP, B.P. became hard to find.  That initial email never received a reply.  When pressed about it, he apologized and made some believable excuse.  But I already knew: B.P. was balking.

Finally, we got on the phone that rainy October day.

The phone call was like a one-man Senate hearing.  He stammered.  He denied.  He used terms like "problematic" and "trigger."

Had my manager been a secret SJW this entire time?  This man who was from the MidWest and loved baseball and Lebron James and talking about tornado warnings?  No.  He was just a coward.

After I cornered him and told him to cut the crap, he told me the expected truth: "I can't have my name associated with anything pro-America right now."  A television pilot pitch for a sitcom where everyone is made fun of, where volleys fly in both directions, where the jokes are the centerpiece, not the ideologies – that was impossible to touch simply because one character loved America.  It didn't matter if that character was gay – I really thought I had found a loophole there – it mattered only that he was gay for Trump.

When asked if he would have a problem if I flipped with idea, made it an ideological inverse, and had the son be a Marxist Antifa of Republican parents, B.P. said he would have no problem pitching that.

This is why Hollywood is finally dying.  Good riddance.

In the end, I told B.P. that "that was that," and he wished me "good luck."  I hope he's saving his money, because Marvel is going to run out of superheroes, but America will never run out of families.

J.W. Buckley lives with his wife Erin in Massachusetts, where he runs the political communications firm Hawthorn Shoal.