Renee was a good friend of mine. She was a development executive at HBO. Her job was to buy content for the network. She would buy scripts, books, articles, etc. for HBO to turn into TV.

Renee took phone calls from agents and managers all the time. She built a robust network of content creators, sellers and book scouts so she would always have a steady stream of opportunities. She loved her network. It made her feel important. She became close with many of them.

One day Renee decided to leave development. Instead of buying content, she started selling it – as a writer.

Her network vanished overnight.

Suddenly no one would return her calls. She knew these people for years. She had dinner with them regularly. They watched movies together and drank wine. They vacationed together! Until they all stopped giving a shit about her.

Renee was devastated. Not only was she trying to cope with a dramatic career change, but suddenly she had to rebuild her entire network and social life.

I wasn’t surprised when I leaned of Renee’s predicament. Of course her “friends” bailed. She wasn’t a buyer anymore. They couldn’t sell her anything. She couldn’t help them. In fact, as a seller she became a competitor.

Renee didn’t offer her network value anymore, so they abandoned her. They weren’t real friends. They were show-friends.

Follow these rules to create healthy, productive, and lucrative relationships with your show-friends.



If you’re tired of hearing me harp on the importance of relationships, get over it. This topic is critical to your success in Hollywood. It can’t be overstated.

Getting hired in Hollywood means knowing people. You’ll get jobs through your social network, so you have to stay social and make new connections all the time. Trade text messages, meet for lunch, watch movies together, and do whatever people do socially. Foster those relationships over time. These are your show-friends.

Show-friends are your connections in the TV and film industry who help you advance your career. You’ll rely on them to find new projects and get jobs.

Your show-friends are people in positions of power. They can either get you jobs or know people who can get you jobs. Every so often you’ll call them up and say, “Do you know of anyone looking for someone like me?” You’ll tell them what you’re doing now and what your goals are for the future. When it comes time to fill a slot, they’re already be thinking of you.

If you are someone who hires people (or can somehow funnel people into employment), you will have a lot of show-friends. They’ll line up to be your friend. If you lose the power to hire people, your Rolodex WILL thin out.

Show-friends are not real friends. They won’t provide emotional support. They won’t let you sleep on their couch when you’re in a pinch. They don’t want to hear you moan about your problems. They don’t want to hear about how much your current job sucks. They are relationships of convenience that only survive as long as you both offer value to one another.

Show-friends are your friends when there’s fun to be had, jobs to be filled, or opportunities to make money. They will help you too, but only as long as the relationship is mutually valuable.

Show-friends will not discuss money with you. Handle that with your representation (agent, manager, or lawyer) and business affairs (the people who handle it on their end, usually lawyers). This is how you keep the relationship comfortable and light.

That isn’t to say, however, that your show-friend won’t talk about your pay at all. They’ll talk internally with their people about how much to pay you. And when it comes to money, things get fucking weird.

Don’t be surprised if your show-friend won’t go to bat for you to get your quote (what you want to be paid). They won’t always stick their neck out for you unless you have a mutually valuable relationship with a lot of history. When it comes time to pay participants, I’ve seen moral people turn into coke whores at their dealer’s house. The idea of friendship goes out the window.

When a show-friend says “How are you?” your answer is always “Great! I’m having an amazing time working on [insert your project]. How are you?” Then you sit back and listen for opportunities.

The day you run out of show-friends could be the end of your career. Share on X



On the surface, I’m sure this all makes sense. Real friends are the people you can count on. Show-friends are more like business contacts.

But life is messy and sometimes you we lose perspective. Sometimes we start to think of our show-friends as real friends. And like Renee, we’re hurt when they inevitably move on.

You have to be an adult and remember that not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to develop an emotional connection to you, even if they work with you every day. Your show-friends will disappear in a fucking heartbeat if they feel you don’t offer them anything.

You can’t take this personally. When a show-friend abandons you, you can’t take it as a personal attack. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. It doesn’t mean you aren’t likable. It just means that your show friend did some business calculus in their head and determined they could get more value elsewhere. Hollywood is a small industry – be nice, supportive and don’t bad-mouth.

How do you protect yourself? Personally, I like to keep my real friends and my show-friends separate. This way I always know who I can count on and who might drop me when I’m no longer convenient for them.

Some people like to mingle their real friends and show-friends, but for me  that blurs the line too much. What happens if a show-friend marries your sister? How do you treat your brother-in-law like a business contact without fucking up your life? (Spoiler: You can’t.)

I also don’t rely on my show-friends for anything. They won’t help me out if I get in trouble. They won’t listen to me bitch about my life. They don’t owe me anything. The flip side: I don’t owe them anything either.  I’m won’t have to help them move that crappy sleeper-sofa down two flights of stairs.

The Scientist

When I ran production at Harpo Films, I tried not to drop my title (otherwise every new show-friend would pop out of the bloody woodwork). I was once at a party where a woman was clearly interrogating everyone to find someone who could help her career.

When she came to me, she asked “What do you?” I was on to her bullshit, so I told her I was a scientist. “I’m working on a cream that makes your testicles glow at night so guys can use them to read in bed at night,” I said.

If someone told you that, wouldn’t you be a little interested? Even if you knew it was bullshit, you might ask a question or two. But not this lady. She gave me a blank look and walked away. She wasn’t interested in other people. She was just some douchebag looking to use people. Sadly for her, I was definitely someone who could have improved her career.

If you want to build a lot of valuable relationships, take an interest in everybody. Just log the ones you think will be more beneficial. But don’t treat people like they’re tools to be used and eventually thrown away. No one responds to that.

Your show-friend relationships should be organic, not transcriptional or forced. Yes, they serve a purpose, but they’re also human beings who don’t want to be used by selfish assholes. And they don’t want to be burdened by your bullshit.

An executive at Disney told me this (I’m paraphrasing here):

“When you’re at work in TV or film production, do the job you’re given and do it well. Take on additional responsibility when you can. Stay positive and don’t unload your problems on the people around you. Keep your bullshit at home with your closest friends and your wife. Keep that shit away from your show-friends.”

Free download: 18 Rules for Successful Relationships with Your Hollywood Show-Friends

Your Career

A countdown, to your last day (fired, quit or project ends), starts ticking the moment you take a job. That’s true in any industry, but it’s a much faster clock in Hollywood. You won’t stay in one place forever, which means you’ll need plenty of show-friends to help you out.

Start building those connections the moment you start in Hollywood. Maintain them over time. The day you run out of show-friends will be the end of your career.