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The real Hollywood 101

Navigating Profound Weight Loss: If your donor suddenly loses an enormous amount of weight feel free to ask how he did it. The answer will probably be “exercise and changing up my diet.” The real answer might be stomach staples or something you really don’t want to know about. Smile politely and change the subject ASAP. (Carlo Allegri / AP)
Religion: This country was founded on religious freedom, but that doesn’t mean religion should be free. Hollywood has recently learned the faithful will pay big time to see their stories on the big screen. Christianity and Judaism screwed up long ago by neglecting to copyright their central characters. Scientologists were a bit savvier. (Franchise Pictures)
Rehab Cures All: It’s not just for drug addicts anymore. Is your star a raging homophobe? An anti-Semite? This is not nearly as big a problem as you might think. A tearful press release and a month at Promises Malibu will take care of it. (Ronaldo Schemidt AFP/Getty Images)
The Many Meanings of “Sick”: Sometimes “I can’t come to work today because I have appendicitis,” means, “I’m having a surgery to remove my inflamed appendix.” Sometimes it means, “I –‘ed too much last night and I don’t feel like making movies today.” (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)
Deciphering “Creative Differences”: Let’s say your donor is a producer who has recently ceased to work with a certain director because of “creative differences.” That means a bit more than “I thought the color palate should be grays and blues and she disagreed.” George Bush and Saddam Hussein had “creative differences.” (Jay Maidment)
Gauging the Importance of the Oscar: Getting an Oscar does not mean a film makes a lot of money, or ensure an actor, director or producer a long career. So theoretically, it shouldn’t mean that much, right? Wrong. Your donor’s studio might spend more on the Oscar campaign than the actual movie. The Oscar means absolutely everything. Asking why will just reveal how out of it you are. (LAT)
When Good Actors do Bad Films: Why does somebody like Robert DeNiro choose to make “Meet the Fockers” or “Rocky and Bullwinkle?” Why would Anthony Hopkins star in “Bad Company” with Chris Rock? Answer: A star’s life is expensive. (AP / Universal Studios)
Retooling: As a general rule of thumb, if a project needs be retooled—a 7th writer is asked to take a pass at the script, a director is asked to leave because of “creative differences,” the lead role has been recast more than twice—there’s a good chance this project is doomed. Paradoxically, this makes it all the more urgent that the project must go forward now that the studio has poured tens of millions into it. (Christine Loss / Warner Bros.)
What “Yes” Means: In other businesses, your word is your bond. In Hollywood, your word is something you use to fill up the dead space until your yellowtail roll arrives. When a Hollywood donor tells you, “Yes. Absolutely. You can count on me!” what they mean is “Lemme look into that. I gotta see if my deal’s getting re-upped and the construction bill on our new second story is getting out of control. My people have your number right?” (Ricardo DeAratanha / LAT)
Expect to See More Actors in Politics. Actors may not as a whole make up the sharpest box of pencils, but they’ve learned over the years that if it walks like a politician and talks like a politician then the American public will vote for it and walking and talking like politicians is no problem for them—they’re actors! (Robert Durell / LAT)