There are plenty of stories about the Hollywood mailroom, and many of them are true. But nothing has captured the popular imagination like the story of the mailroom-clerk-turned-media-mogul -- so much so that at most agencies, starting in the mailroom is now official policy. No more the fabled first stop for a scrappy immigrant with big dreams. Today's Hollywood mailroom is an incubator for new college graduates with good pedigrees and even better connections.
Working in the mailroom of a big-name agency is poorly paid, often menial and on occasion demeaning. And in the end, only the tiniest minority climb to the level of agent. It's also a job that a lot of young people would kill for, and there are good reasons why.
Not Your Ordinary Mailroom
In 1912, 14-year-old Abe Lastfogel, a Russian immigrant from the New York tenements, became William Morris' first office boy and later the agency's president. The current chairman, Norman Brokaw, started in the mailroom in 1943 at age 15. Barry Diller, who joined the William Morris mailroom after dropping out of UCLA, went on to become chairman and CEO of both Paramount and Fox. Music and movie super-producer David Geffen, the Brooklyn-bon son of an immigrant bra-maker, dropped out of three colleges and began his career in the mailroom of the oldest agency in the world -- William Morris.