That’s why they’re called “your people”

I heard:

“I’ve spoken to him, and he’s very interested.”


“We spoke this morning, and he’s on board.”

and even

“There’s an understanding over here, even with him, that it’s a good idea.”

In an e-mail, someone said,:

“I spoke to R this morning, and we’re a go.”

It took two days before I realized that nobody said this guy’s name. And in conversations with his staff, I had begun perpetuating it.

I live in Washington DC, what some people call “Hollywood for ugly people”. I’ve never been part of the movie or entertainment industry, and so I’m relatively unfazed by the star-struck nature a lot of people have about movie people.

As Mindshare has started to work with causes that have celebrity power behind them, two of us that interact with these sorts of clients have noticed that nobody ever uses their actual names.

This isn’t true of politics even at the high level. Granted, nobody I know calls Senator Frist by the familiar “Bill”, but in an e-mail or a conversation it’s ok to refer to him as “Senator Frist”.

This isn’t true of Hollywood. You don’t talk about a star and use their name. People say, “your boss” or use a pronoun. As one of my colleagues pointed out, it’s not that different than being a devout Jew and refusing to say “Yahweh” for fear he might show up and burn you to a cinder. Or like in Harry Potter when everyone’s afraid to say “Voldemort”.

I’m helping out a Hollywood personality whom I won’t name here (it’s called client discretion, dumbass) and when I realized what was happening, I sat at my desk frightened by how easily I had fallen into the trap.

I took my hands off the keyboard, hung up the phone, and said his name.

“Veeblefetzer” (not his real name)

I looked around, poked my head out of my office door, checked the sky.


“RON Veeblefetzer” (not his real first name either)

Still nothing. I checked up front with the receptionist. “Has anyone called and threatened us? Anthrax? Mysterious white powder? Has anyone sued me this week? “Nope”, she said, “but I’m resigning in two weeks.”

Yeah, I knew that. That’s not catastrophic, though we’ll miss you.

I walked through the office halls and said his name in an inquiring manner.

“Ron Veeblefetzer? Is Ron here? Veeblefetzer anyone?”

Nothing happened. However I’ve just noticed the sky is clouding up, and I am taking the Metro home. I think I’ll stop tempting fate, just in case.