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Got any job openings for a film-industry insider?

There's a TV show on these days about really crappy jobs. I've never actually seen the show, but my son tells me that the host takes on a different dirty job each week. The show Alexander watched the other night had the guy building a compost heap consisting mainly of hay and ammonium nitrate, liberally lacing it with horse urine and then waiting until the internal temperature hit exactly 108 degrees, at which time mushroom seeds would be implanted. The mushrooms grow to full size in a matter of hours.

Despite being Italian, I've never actually tasted a mushroom. I'm wondering if that horse-urine component is the secret to the fungus' popularity.

While there are probably a handful of jobs that would be universally considered to be awful, there are probably lots of jobs that some people might consider to be great, while others would not like them at all.

For example, lots of people who used to be in the media cross over the Great Divide and become spokespeople for corporations, politicians or universities. The pay is often embarrassingly good, but really, how much would that job suck? Having to look into the eyes of people with whom you used to toil and say, with a straight face, "Actually, putting up a building that will now have to be torn down isn't really all that bad. It employs hundreds of people for triple the length of time originally planned, and it gives them lots of extra practice at what they do."

I know lots of people who have disappeared into the bowels of the University of Arizona, never to be heard from again. The only way we know they're still with us is that their ridiculous salaries are a matter of public record.

But I don't want to talk about bad jobs. I'd rather discuss a couple of jobs that I would like to have. One I have coveted for a long time, while the other is relatively new. I realize that having one (or both!) of these jobs would, by definition, require my having a job, but I'd be willing to make that leap.

The first would be the head of a television network. These guys are amazing. They make life-or-death decisions on shows that they've never seen. They make millions of dollars and apparently don't have a lick of sense. One of my favorite quips about a TV exec involved Fred Silverman, who took ABC from last place to first in the '70s behind the strength of such shows as Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Three's Company.

Silverman was famous for caring only about numbers, not quality. Someone once said that if Silverman were handed a script for Hamlet, he'd put a dog in it.

The starter job I'd like first, however, would be movie-industry analyst (also known as "industry insider"). I read about these people every week, and I absolutely lust for their jobs.

With a few exceptions around certain holidays, most new movies are released on Fridays. And because of the way movies are hyped and marketed, many films make a substantial amount of their money that first three-day weekend, usually before word gets out about how bad the movies really are.

Anyway, every Monday morning, there's a big, splashy article in the purple section of USA Today about the amount of money movies took in over the weekend. All kinds of arcane records are trotted out for the readers. ("That's the third-biggest opening ever for the third week in a month that has a 't' in its name.")

They take this stuff very seriously. If a lousy picture happens to be released on the right weekend and ends up making more money than all of the other lousy pictures that are out, its backers can strut. On AOL, a pop-up ad recently screamed that 3:10 to Yuma (which is supposed to be a halfway-decent remake of the Glenn Ford-Van Heflin classic) is "The No. 1 Movie in America!"

They're so picky about this stuff that when they release the list of the Top 10 for the week (usually in millions of dollars to one decimal place), they will sometimes go to extra decimal places to determine which was No. 7 and which was No. 8.

Included in every story is a reaction from at least one industry analyst. Amazingly, these people are never, ever, ever right! How do they get to be analysts, let alone insiders?

The quotes will read, "Titanic, Part II: The Long Way Down took in $17.4 million in its first weekend, surpassing the expectations of industry analysts by $4 million. 'I'm somewhat surprised,' says Gupta Sandweeretch of Ain'tMoviesBitchin'.com. 'I certainly didn't expect that from a movie that's all underwater and has no real dialogue.'"

I've been reading this stuff for years, and they're never right. (It's especially odd considering the guys who make football odds in Vegas are often right on the number.) Often, the analysts are way wrong, but somehow, they still get to keep their jobs. This job is for me.

As a matter of fact, sometimes, they're so wrong that they're "shocked." That would be great for my heart, and I could cut back on my grueling exercise regimen.

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