Heck if I know. But my editor sent me a link to this Nikki Finke blog post and asked me find the story. So here I am. Finding the story. Sure enough, something smells fishy.
A couple weeks ago UTA fired assistant Katrina Lopez because of an online blog she was accused of writing called "Confessions of a Hollywood Serial Dater." Supposedly, she never even mentioned UTA, or any of its clients, but she apparently "chronicled personal details of a UTA employee she was dating" and "violated numerous company policies as well as the spirit of UTA's work environment." So they fired her. She's also Latina. Stick with me.
Then I heard a few months ago The Hollywood Reporter fired their only editor of color. My ears up, I started digging. A while ago Nikki Finke got a hold of an internal memo from CAA and posted it on her blog. How did the behemoth agency respond? They fired the Latino assistant they thought was responsible, even though nobody from the company in fact leaked it to Finke. She got it all by her annoying self. Uh oh. That's not good for business. Wait there's more.
Finke scored another when she got a hold of this harsh goodbye email from "Floater" Marcus Washington at WME. Marcus is an African-American who felt "bored, miserable, stifled, underutilized, and looked over at WME." Supposedly, Ari Emanuel conducted a witch-hunt to see who had sent the goodbye email to addresses outside the company. He then rounded them up in the conference room like a bunch of two-bit criminals and personally reprimanded them (what I wouldn't give to be a fly on that wall). I guess Ari wanted to fire all 75 of them, but only got to axe 3. In the case of WME's first firing, a gay man was fired.
So we're left with what sounds like the beginning of a really bad joke. A gay guy, two Latinos and a disgruntled African American walk into an agency, what do they get? Fired. In fairness, I told you the joke was going to be bad.
But the fact that we are even talking about this might be significant. Racist or not, how could these agencies leave this venerable topic open for idiots like me to babble about? Racism has no place in the conversations of today; you'd think there has to be someone among their ranks that has their eye on shit like this. I'm not calling them racists, but you've got to admit it looks bad.
Truthfully, there's probably no way of really knowing if Hollywood is racist; maybe it's a dumb question. I'm sure some people in Hollywood are racist -- but I would certainly hope those people are knocking on heaven's (read: Hell's) door. Racism doesn't really fly with us young folk, it's very last season. We've moved on, it's time for everyone else to. It's been time for a while now. Nonetheless, here's me reaching deep in my pocket for a race card and hoping my editor is watching.
I started looking at the Hollywood system through this muddy lens, and while I can't go as far as to say that Hollywood is fundamentally racist, I can express my distaste for the "good ole boys club" nature of the industry. I have no doubt that these agencies have something very specific in mind when they think about what it means to be an CAA or WME agent. I might even venture to say they have an idea what an agent at their company might look, act, and talk like. I've resigned myself to the fact that agencies intend to spit out machines - obnoxious, deal making, loud blue-tooth talking, Prada suit wearing, chip on their shoulders having - machines. That's me making an unfair stereotype, but if the agencies are indeed the gateway of the entertainment industry, they better be open to fresh ideas, differing viewpoints, and outside the box ways of thinking. Needless to say, they can't be racist, and I'm not saying they are.
And so I'm happy to bring my criticism of Hollywood's racial profile to a quick halt. I have no choice but to assume these agencies aren't practicing racism, that these firings were justified and the race aspect was coincidence. Because I believe we're more evolved than that. I hope these agencies, these 'gateways,' are always looking for something and someone different in both clients and employees. As long as Marcus Washington is bringing something to the table, he should not be overlooked.
More than likely it is all 'much ado about nothing' but at the very least, these agencies deserve an ounce of bad press for letting the discussion exist. So here it is. In your face.