Last night I watched the movie ‘A Thousand Words’ with Eddie Murphy. It…wasn’t great, to say the least, even though the premise was kind of interesting:
A big-shot literary agent who’s life’s success is due to words- both written and spoken to convince or cajole, is faced with a predicament when every word he speaks brings him closer to death. By the time he realizes what’s happening, he only has one thousand words left and must choose carefully.
What gave me brow-furrowing syndrome during this film was the way the literary agent was portrayed. He didn’t read any manuscripts (not even ones he was trying to acquire), but instead relied on his assistant to tell him if a book would sell. He only paid attention to top clients or high-profile people he was looking to represent (even if they hadn’t written a book yet). He blew off the valet parking guy who’d been asking him for years if he could just read a few pages of his manuscript. Had private lunches and dinners with acquiring editors from Simon and Schuster and Random House and talked about 250k-300k advances for books the publishers hadn’t even seen yet.
Really? Come on people. Do literary agents like this really exist today? Maybe they did, at one point. And there might even be a select few presidents of top agencies who’d benefit from special treatment from publishers and editors still. But in today’s climate, I found the old-school representation a little hard to swallow since it potrayed agents as completely superficial and money-grubbing when, in reality, agency professionals are supposed to be passionate about the written word and seeing projects through for the right reasons (at least I hope so!) *sigh* Oh Hollywood. How thou doest so falsely portray the world of publishing!
Have any of you seen this movie? Has your idea of what a literary agent is and does changed at all over the last few years or since you first began writing?