THE SECOND ASSISTANT by Clare Naylor

THE SECOND ASSISTANT

A Tale from the Bottom of the Hollywood Ladder
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hollywood assistant gets abused by boss, is shocked at the industry’s mendacity, and other un-amazing tales.

For no better reason than to give her a supposedly serious grounding in the real world—all the better to make her gasp in true fish-out-of-water fashion—heroine Elizabeth Miller starts off here as a newly-out-of-work congressional assistant who takes a position as second assistant at a Hollywood talent agency called, of course, The Agency. Her immediate boss, Scott, is an abusive, drug-crazed, ADD-addled manchild, while the agency’s president, Daniel, is a Machiavellian power-monger who makes Scott look good by comparison. Fortunately for Elizabeth, Lara—Scott’s first assistant—takes an immediate and oddly unmotivated shine to her and starts mentoring with a vengeance. Elizabeth’s job doesn’t seem to involve much besides fetching coffees and making irate callers believe that Scott is in a meeting at Dreamworks. This is good, because it leaves a lot of time for her to work on her first producing gig—the cute owner of the coffee place is also a budding screenwriter/director who for some reason thinks fresh-off-the-bus Elizabeth knows something about the business. None of this is even remotely engaging. Hollywood veterans Naylor (Dog Handling, 2002, not reviewed; etc.) and first-timer Hare have managed to screw up the first rule of the roman à clef: tell the reader something they don’t know. This outing is so completely square that it spends a paragraph describing what the Sundance film festival is. Elizabeth’s oft-stated dream of making a film of Crime and Punishment is laughable as well, especially in the absence of any evidence that she’s read it. Perhaps the true mark of the Hollywood insider, though, is the fact that the book is more interested in name-brand clothing than film: the drooly fashion-gazing quickly becomes off-putting.

We know, well before the smug conclusion, that we’re a long way from Budd Schulberg.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2004
ISBN: 0-670-03307-3
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2004