1. Denial: Keep telling yourself that you’re the exception to the rule, the outsider who can swim with the sharks. Don’t be afraid to impress that upon any reporter within earshot. Follow the lead of French entertainment executive Pierre Lescure, who assured Variety in 2000 that “you can’t compare us with the others,” dismissing the Japanese as from “another planet” and David Puttnam as a know-it-all. (He may have strained credulity, though, by adding that “the stereotype of the exasperating and arrogant Frenchman who thinks he knows it all lives on. It is up to us to make people forget it.”)
2. Anger: When you’re in that inevitable meeting with backers who’ve lost faith in your leadership, go ahead and curse the unfairness of it all. Follow the cathartic lead of Puttnam--as quoted in Andrew Yule’s book “Fast Fade"--who, shortly before he was pushed out of Columbia, railed to the gathering that “Hollywood is a despicable place.” (“If it’s so despicable, why did you ask to work there?” one participant reportedly replied.)
3. Bargaining: Find another naif from the outside world and convince him that he’s smarter than you. Remember that even after Coca-Cola paid more than half a billion dollars for Columbia, it still was able to sell it to Sony for many times that amount.
4. Depression: It’s OK to feel a little down in the dumps. Indulge yourself. After Howard Hughes lost RKO, he retreated to a rented studio for four months and sat around naked, watching movies for days without sleep, gobbling junk food and befouling the floor like a caged animal. Remember, the real world will still be there when you’re ready to reemerge.
5. Acceptance: Hire a ghostwriter to do a defensive memoir. Even if nobody is willing to pay $22.95 to read it, you’ll feel much better.-- P.J.K.