Saturday, February 21, 2004

Say Cheese-y! 

Actually, the photo shoot wasn't so bad.

Photographer: Good guy. Knows what he's doing.

Subject: Generally willing to pose in a variety of odd and/or uncomfortable ways: Lying down in the damp, tall grass, pose dorkily in his living room, pretend he's having a picture taken for his Green Card.

All in all, three hours of sitting around waiting for the lighting setups to be right, and fifteen minutes of actual shooting.

Hey, it's just like being a producer on a film set. 90% bullshitting and eating Craft Services, 10% actual shooting time.

I guess I could get used to this.

So long as I don't have to keep lying down in the grass. There's dog poop down there. Ew.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Beware... Beware... 

In three hours, a photographer from Time Out New York will arrive at my house with his cameras, his lights, and possibly a stylist, and proceed to burn rolls and rolls of film until they've got a pretty lil' picture of me to go with the magazine profile.


I've been on photo shoots before, had my pictures in magazines and newspapers, so that's not the source of my nervousness.

It's just...

This photopgraher, who seems perfectly nice, though perhaps a bit spacey, on the phone, has some interesting ideas on how to shoot me:

In our discussions, blades of grass have come up more than once.

As has the parking lot of a Wal-Mart.

And the counter at a Mexican restaurant.


No matter what happens, I will repeat this mantra ad infinitum:

I don't do nudes. I don't do nudes. I don't do nudes.

Failing that:

I was young, I needed the money. I was young, I needed the money. I was young, I needed the money.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

And you would be...? 

Casting was cancelled today.

Why? Easy:

Not enough actors.

Can you believe it? Here in L.A., you can take a rock -- wait, forget a rock, make it a delicately constructed origami swan, the kind that wouldn't fly more than two feet even with a Nolan Ryan pitch behind it -- throw it in the air, and hit an actor dead-center between the delicately plucked eyebrows. But casting was cancelled today because, and I repeat:

Not enough actors.

Technically, it's because a lot of the actors who were supposed to show called to reschedule (which is better than just not showing up for their appointment, which happens a staggering amount of the time), but the end result was that we only had 7 or so appointments, which isn't anywhere close to enough to bother with a whole casting session, so the whole thing was cancelled, and I drove into L.A. just to turn around again.

Actually, that's not quite true. I did do an interview in Santa Monica with Time Out New York, a hip entertainment mag based in -- wait for it -- New York that's doing a profile on me. The reporter was this very cool, very smart, cute girl named Mimi, which is my favorite type of reporter: cool, smart, and cute, named after a character from Rent. Anyway, we blabbed for a good two hours, so the L.A. trip was worth it, but I was expecting another day sitting on that casting couch. Even after all my angst with yesterday's post (was that angst? Could a teenager somewhere help me out with that?) I feel like I'm almost getting used to it.

The thing that *really* amazes me is that some of the actors that I've suggested we bring in for auditions have passed on the project (Hollywod Speak: Pass means "no, thanks, not interested) EVEN BEFORE READING THE SCRIPT. Based solely on the fact that's it's basic cable and the general premise of the show (which we can all agree is, on the face of it, patently ridiculous) either they or their managers/agents/etc. have decided that they don't want to do it.

And that's fine -- it's their career, their day-to-day, their choice. Aside from the basic cable/weird show issue, we're filming in Canada, and that can certainly ruin anyone's well-planned lifestyle, so I can understand Passes, especially from some of these bigger names we've come up with.

But there are two actors I've suggested, both of whom would be great for their respective parts, neither of whom has done anything of mention recently, and without even looking at the material, they chose not to come in and meet with us.

My first reaction was annoyance: How could they not want this part? This is a great part! This is a great series! What the hell else are they doing with their time?

My second reaction was a high-and-mighty snobbery: Well, jeez, it's totally their loss. They have no idea what they're turning down, so fuck 'em if they don't even want to take a look at it.

My third reaction was acceptance and a semblance of reality: There are a bunch of actors out there, some of whom would love these parts, and we'll find someone who fits it perfectly.

And then I realized that, despite my post yesterday about finding myself on the "buying" end of the table instead of the "selling" one, I'm doing the same thing I always did, just at a different level.

I'm still convincing people to love my work. In this case, I'm trying to convince them to love it enough to act in it, but it's all the same thing. I buy, I sell, I play both sides of the fence depending on which side the other guy happens to be on at the time.

Now that I'm starting to get the hang of that, I think it's going to be even more fun.

Or I'll explode trying to figure it all out.

Either way, it should be entertaining.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Strange Days Indeed 

We're casting for the Anonymous Rex television show these days.

It's weird.

No, not the show, although that quite assuredly is, as the Italians would say, molto weird.

The casting process is weird, especially from the point of view of a writer who's never sat on the buying end of the table before.

Most of my dealings with the entertainment industry are as a salesman, or at least as one who produces a piece of work to be sold by others. I'm usually the one hawking my wares, hoping that people like what I've done and, by extension, like me.

Now I'm in the driver's seat.

Well, *one* of the driver's seats, and an admittedly small one, at that. I don't have final say over anybody, and what I can do is pretty much recommend or disagree with the other producers and executives. I guess if I were *really* down on someone, I'd make sure to yell really loudly and probably get my way, but the only actor I've felt that strongly about was roundly dissed by everyone else, as well, so there was no need to be too vociferous about it.

Still, it's weird.

The casting room is small, maybe fifteen feet square, and there's usually four or five of us in there. It's me, the executive from the studio, the showrunner, the casting director, and his assistant, who runs the video camera that tapes all these actors as they run through their lines.

I've been sitting on this sofa (technically, I guess, a "casting couch," which means I should probably wash my pants thoroughly, though our great casting agent seems very forthright and unlikely to engage in such shenanigans) smack dab in front of the door, so when actors come in, I'm the first person they see. This isn't by design or anything -- it's just where I took a seat the first time I came in, and now we've got a sort of "Same Seats!" third-grade mentality going in the room, which is peachy by me. I'd rather sit on a sofa for three hours straight than some desk chair.

Sometimes we sit around and bullshit with the actor for a while, especially if:

A) We know the person

B) We recognize one of his/her film or TV roles from his resume on the back of his/her headshot

C) He/she is relatively famous, and we just wanna say hey and shoot the breeze

Eventually, the actor gets around to reading his "sides" -- the parts from the script that he's been sent to prepare/memorize/use as a coaster (you'd be suprised how many professional actors are poorly prepared for these things).

Jason, our casting director, reads opposite the actor, and his delivery is the same every single time -- relatively dry, uninflected, giving nobody a better chance than anybody else. If you wanna show you can act, you're gonna have to do it across from this dry hunk of wood. He's perfect at it, and it makes me laugh nearly every time, though I've pretty much learned to hold it in.

The weird part starts around now, when the actor starts doing his lines (I'm sticking to male gender here, by the way, partially because it's easier, and partially because we've got a lot more guys coming through for the Vincent and Ernie roles than we do for the role of Gabrielle, a new part created for the TV show -- she's Ernie's late-teens/early-20's daughter):

Three or four lines in, I've probably made up my mind on half of these guys. Some of them, it takes a little more, and a few I haven't decided how I feel even after they're all done. But I sit and I watch and -- here's the weird part, as promised -- I judge.

I know, I know, we do it every day. Everyone does it. But I've never had to do it before when someone else's job has been on the line, especially in a field that's not technically mine. If I want to remain in TV, I'd better *make* it my field, but for now, I'm still learning. And there I am, wondering if this guy can carry the comedy, or if that guy's too wink-wink, or if this girl could lose that gravel in her voice, or if that other guy could just grow about six inches, and just like that I'm the dude on the other end of the table, thinking, "Thanks, but no thanks," only we don't say that. Out here, we make sure everyone leaves happy.

At the end of everybody's piece -- everybody's -- we say the same thing:

"Good job! That was great! Thanks!" Doesn't matter if we mean it or not. Most times, it seems we don't. But that's the way it works, and I think the actors know that. I hope the actors know that. It's not personal -- I understand that now -- but on some level, it is. It's a personal decision based on two minutes of lines that they didn't even write themselves, and their basic physical appearance and charisma in the room.

Not personal, but personal.

"That was good. Really good. Thanks for coming in!"

These shouldn't be my lines, should they? That's what I'm supposed to *hear*, not what I'm supposed to *say*.

See, like I said. It's weird.

Oh Yeah? Oh Yeah? Wanna take it outside? 

Yeah, I'm blogging. What's it to ya?

Let me make it perfectly clear why I have begun to blog:

I'm not blogging 'cause of peer pressure. I saw the videos in junior high school. I know that peer pressure is... um... bad. 'Cause your peers can push you into a bathroom and make you smoke dope and then you get all googly-eyed and wind up on PCP, perched on a tenth-floor fire escape convinced that you're Superman, only to end up like an early-Letterman watermelon on the pavement below.

So that's not why I'm blogging.

And I'm not blogging because I need a creative outlet. If you're reading this, you've probably already availed yourself of any number of my creative outlets. Thanks! For those who are concerned that the blogging will take time away from my books or films or TV shows, don't worry -- I procrastinate enough as it is; I'll just shift some of that web-surfing time over to this little blogspot.

That's the plan, at least.

So that's not why I'm blogging.

And I'm not blogging for revenge --

Or for love --

Or for acceptance --

Or out of boredom --

I'm blogging because
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