Still in Deep

Nicole LaPorte is writing a book about DreamWorks, to be published by Houghton Mifflin.

In Hollywood, where and how you spend your leisure time says as much about you as your nanny cam or IMDB Web page. Indeed, most bizzers--having just returned from summer jaunts to Lake Como or the Fiji Islands (that is, if they managed to escape the work deluge caused by the possibility of a writers’ strike next year)--are already contemplating where they’ll head during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, when the entire industry, in an act of unspoken complicity, agrees to flee. (Similar consideration is given to this month’s religious holidays, another reason to clock out early. But the news is not good: Yom Kippur begins Friday evening and continues Saturday.)

Things were not always so cushy. Peter Guber, producer and former chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures, says when he started in the business in the 1970s, “if somebody took an extra two days off, or a week off, they were looked at askance.”

Now, Guber says, “I find people leaving in October for Christmas vacation.”

But that’s not to say work stops entirely. “It’s very difficult to turn off my BlackBerry,” confesses “Shopgirl” producer Ashok Amritraj. He says he works two to three hours a day when on holiday. In fact, until cellphones are banned on pool decks and ski lifts, Hollywood will never go dark.


For the uninitiated, a primer on the art of loafing:

Hawaii and Cabo San Lucas are the de facto destinations when it comes to easy, no-brainer escapes. Acceptable accommodations? The Four Seasons Resort in Maui and Hualalai (i.e. Kona); in Cabo, the super-duper luxury palais Las Ventanas and Esperanza. (Also, in nearby San Jose del Cabo, there’s the One&Only; Palmilla, where services include sunglass-wiping pool girls and, for some guests, pre-loaded iPods.)

Downsides? Industry saturation is a hair away from becoming ugly, particularly on the Big Island, where BlackBerrys and script-reading sunbathers are as abundant as leis.

At the Four Seasons in Kona, “the scene at the pool is unbelievable,” says Claudia Katz, a producer and partner in the animation studio Rough Draft. “It’s all actors and agents and cellphones. I hung out at the kids’ pool--before I even had kids--just to hide.”

When Katz recently wrapped work on “The Simpsons Movie,” she headed to the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, Mexico--slightly calmer in the off-season--where she learned that she had missed Britney Spears by a week and was able to check out the “Simpsons” trailers while lolling in the pool’s Wi-Fi area.

Relationship-polishing is not an L.A.-only exercise. In lieu of “wolfing down a 40-minute lunch at the Grill” last year, Guber took a five-day trip to the Grand Canyon with 10 businessmen, including Lionsgate Chief Executive Jon Feltheimer and Steve Bornstein, president of the NFL Network, to “develop relationships with people I’d met but never got a chance to spend time with.”

“When there are no cellphones, and there’s no way out but down the river, you learn to get along in an environment you’re not used to,” Guber says. “It’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ or get along.”


Jets are the new yachts. Though, of course, they require an invitation. Gone are the days when the Warner Bros. jet regularly transported its brass--and stars such as Barbra Streisand and Clint Eastwood--to the studio’s then-off-site compound, the Villa Eden in Acapulco. (There also was a pad in Aspen, Colo.) Today, more hustling is required to “find someone who has a jet,” says one agent who asked not to be identified. “There are agents who spend hours trying to find a ride.” (Hello, Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay!)

Even on the playa, there are standards. For those who associate the Burning Man festival with a week sans designer water, consider the Grand Hotel at Ashram Galactica in Black Rock City, Nev., where Chris Weitz, cowriter and codirector of 2002’s “About a Boy,” and screenwriter/producer Matt Eddy host other Hollywood bohemians while getting their burn on. The “hotel”--more like seven tents--boasts a concierge, a chef and a spa that offers Nepalese aromatherapy massages. Home sweet home? Even better. In the spirit of the Man, all services are complimentary.



Get out of L.A. to network with Hollywood’s top brass. If you can survive together in the wild, you can survive a movie deal.


Chat with Nicole LaPorte and a surprise guest at 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17. Go to