Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down for cocktails at the recently opened Sassafras with my friend Tricia Durrant, a Talent Executive at E!, who I work with just about every day of my life, (or so it seems lately). She books on-air talent for the network and I thought it would be fun to get some insider info from a publicity standpoint. Being that we are both Southern (sort of…Tricia calls Northern Virginia home), we got down and dirty over their Pimm’s No 1933 and a Sassafras Royale.
Ok, I know you are a Talent Executive, but for those not in the biz, can you explain what that means?
I pursue and book on-air talent for the network…celebrities and experts that are promoting something (movie, TV show, book, etc). The difference in what I do and the casting department is that the guests I book are non-paid…it’s strictly for their promotion. Whether it’s a celebrity for an E! special, E! News or for our Countown to Oscar show, I have my hands in pretty much everything here.
So, what’s the difference between a Talent Executive (also sometimes called a Talent Booker) and a Producer? As a publicist, we pitch them both, so I’d love to hear the ‘official’ difference.
A producer’s main job is to coordinate their entire show, so their focus is more broad than a talent booker. Their role is to coordinate the guest booking from start to finish. AT E!, I am always thinking bigger picture because I work on numerous shows. A booker will take suggestions and ideas related to talent to producers, but the producer is the ultimate decision-maker.
So who has the final say in who gets booked? Does one person make that decision?
No, many people have to sign off on every booking and often talent is approved by a head executive.
So say I am an actor and want to get booked on E! News…can you give me any advice for bettering my chances?
We are obviously really about pop culture–so say for example you are on a TV show that may not exactly be our demo, if you have an upcoming project that is, that could be a way to get a booking (in other words, having mutliple projects). Or, if you’re dating Justin Bieber, haha. Also, we would rarely book anyone that didn’t have tape…meaning a past on-camera interview we can review.
What about for experts?
Having celebrity clients is first and foremost. And obviously credibility. We take great care in the experts that we use are really and truly experts in their field. We would also want to tape…it is very rare that we would book anyone without any on camera experience.
What is your advice for anyone looking to do what you do? And speaking of…how did you get your start?
I got really lucky…though I do work really hard. In college, I majored in broadcasting and started booking guests for our school’s late night comedy show. I had no idea at the time that it would be the start of my career! I moved to LA and gave myself a month to find a job and that job was a Talent Coodinator at E!. But…we were also in very differernt economic times. As for advice…relationships, especially with publicists are the most important thing in this business. Since I’m not working on a daily show, about 25% of talent bookings come from being pitched. The rest is from my seeking them out through publicists.
And now a few unrelated questions…since you know I love restaurants and hotels…
Favorite place for work drinks in LA?
Favorite LA restaurant
And since you do work in television…Favorite TV show?
Parks & Recreation and Happy Endings
Sassafras Saloon. 1233 Vine St. Los Angeles, CA 90038. 323- 467-2800