On Friday, a William Morris assistant sent out an email (see below) to scores of the agency’s staff members and some outsiders as well. wma.jpgThis is a lesson in what assistants should never do. Shai Steinberger (Harvard ’04) worked for WMA’s David Lonner and Jeff Shumway. His email is a slice of life of what it’s like to work there. Good thing Steinberger is going back into stand-up. Because it’s safe to say he’ll never get a job at a tenpercentery again. On the other hand, he should get a TV development deal:

JLSasst/WMA
08/17/2007 05:03 PM
To: BHAssts, bhagents, BHMailroom, BHTrainees, BHFloaters, NYAssts, NYAgents, Accounting, IT, BHHelp
Subject: I love you, WMA

Dear Friends,
After an incredibly rewarding 2+ years, I am moving on from WMA.  It is not going to be easy leaving behind the two best-looking Indian men in the United States and the sexiest Chief Operating Officer in the entertainment business (Hi Irv!) but a man’s gotta follow his dream: Beginning next week, I will be a tattoo artist at “Hal’s Tattoos and Piercings” in Venice Beach.

There are a lot of things I am going to miss about this place.  I will miss Mario De Leon’s enlightening speeches about the cutthroat nature of the entertainment business.  I will miss mistaking Molly Sims for a new assistant and urging her to come quickly to the Atrium for free Koo Koo Roo on a Thursday night. I will miss whooping and hollering at the top of my lungs for John Travolta in the 151 lobby. I will miss trying (unsuccessfully) to get lucky with a gorgeous summer intern in the legal files closet of the 150 building. I will miss the tattoo of Joanne Wiles on Jessica Steindorff’s ass. And I will miss sexual harassment training which has been enormously educational for me.

I will miss Chris Petrikin and Christian Muirhead chastising me for being featured in Esquire’s 2005 “Profile of the American Man”. (Hey – I can’t help being so damn sexy!)

I will miss introducing myself to Jim Wiatt at the 2005 WMA Christmas party and Jim responding that he recalled seeing me unshaven on October 16th of that year. I will miss Ian Aroughetti holding my hair back at the 2006 WMA Christmas party in the wake of my immature and unbridled exploitation of the open bar. And I will miss Aaron Reed selflessly driving me all the way back from the Cabana Club that night to Santa Monica stopping every 5 minutes along the Sunset Strip for me to puke my guts out. And I will miss David Lonner taking me to The Grille the next day for my “year-end” meeting – David proudly parading my still-drunk ass (wearing a T-shirt and carrying a 1-Liter bottle of Fruit Punch Gatorade) around the biggest power-lunch venue in the entertainment business, introducing me to all the biggest producers in Hollywood and Endeavor uber-agents.  And I will surely never forget passing out in our booth after Michael London decided to sit down at our table to discuss his “upcoming slate” – I vaguely recall drifting off into peaceful slumber dreaming about successful independent films that are artistic but also very commercial. (Think Sideways.) But most of all, I will [miss] Jeff Shumway asking me on a daily basis what color thong I am wearing underneath my suit (lime green today, btw).

I would like to thank David Lonner for teaching me that Asian mysticism and Jewish theology are not mutually exclusive and that being Jewish is more than just being part of a religion – it’s being a powerful man in show business. And Jeff Shumway – I think it’s safe to say that it was love at first sight. I saw that perfect Windsor knot in your tie and the no-bullshit, 3-foot, Mary Poppins-style attorney briefcase you were holding – and I knew we were meant to be together. To both of you – you are the two best friends and mentors one could have in the entertainment business and I know that years from now, when I’m cruising up the PCH on a Ducati motorcycle in a Karate GII, listening to U2 while muttering passages from the Old Testament – I’ll be thinking of both of you.

[More thanks to a long list of names]

I would also like to thank Jim Wiatt just like Steve Martin thanked Steven Spielberg at the 75th Annual Academy Awards – because it can’t hurt.

Over & Out,
Shai

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