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Living a less wasteful life in Hollywood

Marketplace Staff Nov 23, 2009

Living a less wasteful life in Hollywood

Marketplace Staff Nov 23, 2009


Kai Ryssdal: To absolutely no one’s surprise, the teen vampire movie “New Moon” had a healthy showing this weekend. More than $140 million in box office receipts. Not a lot of films bring in that kind of cash these days, even on opening weekend. Because Hollywood is going through some of the same pains the rest of the economy is. Movie moguls increasingly have to take their grand visions with a dose of reality. But that’s going to be tough.

Because commentator and Hollywood writer Rob Long says scaling back is much harder than dreaming big when you work in the business.

ROB LONG: The last time I went to New York, I got off the plane, I headed to the cab line and I thought: Wait a minute. That cab is going to run me about $60 bucks.

So, overcome with a sudden attack of parsimony, I took the train. I bought a metro card, the whole thing. And when I checked into my hotel they asked, “Do you need any help with your bags, sir?” and I said:

“No, no I don’t need any help with my bags. A few years ago, sure, when I was in year 14 of a lucrative studio deal, I would have pulled up here in a Town Car and let someone else carry my bag, but these days I’m trying to live a little simpler, trying to spend my money smarter on things I really cherish, like far-off travel and great bottles of wine and a greater sense of freedom,” I said.

In my mind. I said that in my mind. In real life, I just sort of grunted and held up my small bag, and then a guy came and took it.

“If I ever get one of those fat money jobs again,” a friend of mine told me recently, “I will do it totally differently. I will respect money.”

Now he was a producer at a major film studio for years. He made a lot of big budget pictures. But, you know, a bunch of nice cars, a house on Kona — it all adds up to a pretty hot cash bonfire every month, which is OK until, well, until now.

The irony, of course, is that a lot of people like that are out of the business now. They’re teaching at a local community college somewhere or running a muffin store in a resort town.

And that’s really too bad because those are the people we really need, people who have learned the hard way how to do stuff cheaper and smaller and faster.

The night I got into New York, I had dinner with some friends.

“You took the subway?” they asked. “Really? Is your career in trouble?”

“No,” I said. “No. I just realized that I used to spend a lot of money on stupid stuff. On help I didn’t need and luxuries I didn’t really appreciate. So my new goal is to be less helpless, less wasteful,” I said.

In my mind. I said that in my mind. In real life, I told them that it had nothing to do with money. That I was just trying to be more green, which thank God they bought.

RYSSDAL: Rob Long is a writer in Hollywood and a frequent contributor for KCRW.

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