I was reading a book entitled Feeding the Dragon: Inside the Trillion Dollar Dilemma Facing Hollywood, the NBA, and American Business by Chris Fenton and it made me curious how points have changed within the past several years. The time frame in the tail end of the 20th century to present day brought us unbelievable advances in every little thing we could imagine, telecom and medicine becoming two shining examples. But it also ushered in the inevitable downsides of such advances - rapid off shoring of jobs, mega online retailers crushing local mom and pop shops.
Probably one with the least noticed but most pernicious trends may be the rise with the Super Middlemen. They are the “experts”, without having whom absolutely nothing appears to acquire done. They have grow to be a whole sector, peopled with “professionals” that add nothing at all to the equation apart from perpetually drive the will need for other people to utilize their services.
Such will be the tale woven by author Chris Fenton in Feeding the Dragon, a posterboy for appropriations of other peoples work. It is a book set against the backdrop with the extraordinarily lucrative business of cultural exchange amongst Hollywood and China. It's this knowledge that Fenton purports to possess that is certainly the basis for the book - a special understanding that handful of people understand. It truly is special know-how he somehow gleaned while not speaking the language or spending considerable amounts of time in China.
As such, super middlemen’s sole purpose appears to be using the status as “expert” to become gatekeepers to a whole industry or at least, parts of an business. The most effective example of these new super middlemen can loosely be referred to as the “Hollywood Agent”, who can develop into movie producers without doing anything much more than lunch.
The job of a Hollywood agent is always to introduce producers to studios or actors to directors - that type of point. Inside the previous, it was restricted to just that - introductions. Now, they invariably get in to the middle of the process, taking an active part in either the business or creative process or both, adding additional layers to a deal which is generally currently a difficult process.
So, how is this attainable? Agents do not make an original notion for a film or television show. They don’t write scripts. They don’t direct or create the film, they do not finance something and they are absolutely not actors, at the least not ones you see on the screen. They're in a exclusive position for the reason that the agent is representing somebody or some thing that producers or studios want - an actor, director, script, intellectual property rights, etc. And this can be specifically where they apply pressure and insert themselves into the process. They know they are able to slow and even stop the intended project, siphoning off money with out creating a thing or assisting anybody other than themselves. In short, they acceptable others’ talent and labor to spend themselves.
Certainly, in the event you spend focus to credits on films you might have been questioning why you can find lots of extra producers than there were twenty years ago. The answer in one word, despite the fact that perhaps a bit oversimplified is: agents. They simply insert themselves in to the deal and viola, just like magic, a run of the mill agent has turn out to be a producer, despite they brought absolutely nothing creative or financial towards the project. Hat, meet rabbit. That is possibly the reason over the previous handful of decades we've got noticed the number of producers on films jump from possibly 3 or 4 to ten, fifteen even twenty.
But back towards the book that triggered these observations. Released in 2020 and entitled, Feeding the Dragon: Inside the Trillion Dollar Dilemma Facing Hollywood, the NBA, and American Business by Hollywood agent, Chris Fenton is a prime instance of an agent so lost in his own inflated story that he really chronicled it in a book.
The book is supposed to become concerning the US film studios and their dilemma with China in terms of releasing American films there. Truly, it is a 270 web page egotistical journey, chronicling the author’s maneuvering to insert himself into the film making process. But his story is about far more than that; he implies all of the way by way of and in just about just about every circumstance that he was the guiding force behind all of the achievement the varying companies enjoyed.
The very good people over at Terrible Book Club have read the book and have come to equivalent opinions, observing that the author “starts trying to tie himself to greater people and events” at every single opportunity. The term they use is “starfu**er”. They go on to say, “it appears like he only survived by being close to the people who truly make the deals….”
Now, to be specific, he gives himself an out ahead of the book even gets began. He says prior to chapter one:
Even though I used extensive notes and other supply supplies to detail events from long ago, specific inventive freedoms did come into play, possibly resulting in some inaccuracies. My profession has focused largely within the movie business, exactly where “showing” as opposed to “telling” will be the norm. The quoted dialogue from real people all through the book was inspired by my recollection of every single event and should not be taken as verbatim.
And just like that, he lets himself of the hook for every single misstatement, exaggeration or complete fabrication.
For those who make a decision to read the book, study it cautiously for the reason that there's a great deal of double speak exactly where he maneuvers the reader to assume quite a few factors in the pages. For instance, he implies he created the dual release method for the Bruce Willis film Looper, with one version for China and yet another for basic world release. He doesn’t genuinely say he did it, and he most undoubtedly didn’t do it, but he absolutely desires to leave the reader with that impression.
And Impressions appear to be what this book is about. As a way to reinforce his expert credentials, he liberally lifts paragraphs from other published functions, which often leave the reader baffled. To once more quote Terrible Book Club: “I don’t need to study three paragraphs of an post about how cool you might be within a book you’re writing about how cool that you are.”
But he doesn’t cease there. He makes specific to tell the reader that he logged 140,000 air miles more than the course of a handful of years, implying that that was all among the US and China….his second home as he calls it within the book. But other published reports say he was only in China a handful of instances - absolutely not 140,000 frequent flier miles worth or sufficient to justify calling it you’re second home. In wanting to make himself into an specialist, he admits he does not speak Chinese. Undoubtedly, an individual claiming to be an specialist inside the way a nation goes about its business really should be fluent within the language, should really have lived there and know the people and its culture. But he has carried out none of these issues.
This brings in an additional dilemma with agents or other so named “experts”. People can self-publish articles or press releases stating they may be an professional inside a certain field. But like several issues on the internet, there’s no verification. You say “what’s the issue?” Properly, none if you are writing about the Red Sox bullpen prospects or why pencil sharpeners are intriguing. But should you are claiming to become an professional on US / China Relations, your tips may cause real problems for the reason that US / China relations are tense pretty much all of the time.
But back for the book. Possibly the silliest but most emblematic vignette issues the author when he was operating as a waiter at Olive Garden. Once he figures out the system for upselling patrons and winning Employee on the Month twice(!), he declares himself “an Olive Garden God” (page 41). Drunk from the hubris of becoming the Olive Garden God, he begins sneaking in to the restaurant walk-in refrigerator, ultimately stealing and eating 273 tira misus.
But even as his manager fired him, Fenton spins the story in his favor, telling his future former employer approaches he could strengthen his business. The boss looked at Chris and pondered this and said, yes that sounds like an incredible notion, thank you Chris. Now does everyone actually consider the incident occurred as written? Most will get in touch with BS but several will likely be left believing, “he definitely is usually a great guy”. In spite of the fact he’s a thief and probably a self-assurance man.
And there you have it: in standard agent fashion, one gets caught carrying out one thing bad and embarrassing, the story gets spun into an accomplishment. Bravo!
Following the Olive Garden incident, Fenton tells us, he started his career within the film market as an agent in the prestigious William Morris Agency. Following a profitable tenure there he moved on to DMG Entertainment, a worldwide entertainment company that made such films as Iron Man 3 and Looper. He worked for that company for seventeen years where he attained the position of President of North American Films.
This is what he tells us in his book despite the fact that journalist Andrew Rossow, Esq. did a little of investigating. As outlined by Rossow, this really is the actual story: Fenton did get a job at William Morris where he was fired. The reason Fenton offers is the fact that he was too good a guy. Which means, he will not tell us why he was truly fired. Subsequent, he got a job at MBST. There, he was fired for bring about, reportedly for attempting to steal consumers from the company. His entire tenure at MBST is mysteriously absolutely absent from his book. When some thing is entirely left out of an autobiographical book, one has to suspect the worst.
Next, Fenton began to accomplish freelance work as an agent for hire, his key client getting DMG Entertainment. There, He worked as a free agent on and off for several years till they lastly hired him. His time employed there was for 5 years not seventeen. He was subsequently let go from that company and is now embroiled inside a $30 million dollar lawsuit for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence.
And, there you may have it, the life and career of a Hollywood agent now, somehow, a china specialist.