Today was the WGA/SAG Solidarity Rally @ Fox Studios and there was a pretty good turn out. I actually saw several actors I knew from auditioning and workshops. It was great to see actors there today because the writers need and appreciate our support. I’ve tried to devote time out there on the picket lines because I think it’s important for me to not just “take” from this career, but also “give” something to it for those who will follow in my footsteps. All the perks of being a working actor didn’t come easy so I do it in honor of those who did it before me.
I often speak of how much I hate “networking”, but I love organic encounters. I had an organic encounter on the picket lines with writer Janet Lin, staff writer for “Bones”. Janet wrote my character, Darwin Banks, and the episode of “Bones” that I appeared in. I can’t think of a better way to run into her considering the circumstances – very natural, very organic. I didn’t have to “work it”; I just suck at that. I was a great, productive day and I feel like I am part of something big and extremely important.
Last Saturday night a film I appeared in, "The Terminal", aired on ABC; I hadn't seen the film since the cast & screening in June ’04 and I don't own a copy of it. I recorded it because I might want to add my scene with Tom Hanks to my demo reel. I don't think I actually will because I look quite a bit different these days. I don't have dreads anymore and I think I looked younger then. I want my reel to point toward where I can go versus where I've been.
I get a warm feeling every time I think about my experience with that film. I booked it from a drop-off to a casting director I had never met - a major casting office that was on my target list. I later learned that it was the casting associate who I'd met 3 years prior who was responsible for bringing me in for the audition. She had never brought me in before, but I'd been postcarding and dropping off to her for years.
I auditioned on Tuesday July 29th 2003. The tapes were FedEx'd to New York that evening and 2 days later I got the news that I'd been booked. One week of work; one line of dialogue, amongst several scenes - oh yeah, my scene was with Tom Hanks & directed by Steven Spielberg.
This part was, without question, one of highlights of the experience. What did I do?
I doubled my dialogue.
Yup I turned one entire line into TWO entire lines. I think it was one of the smoothest things I've ever done - in the presence of two multi-time Academy Awards winners no less. Trust me, I did it in a fail-safe way that did not respect the rehearsal process. After adding the line Mr. Spielberg actually thanked me directly…and it even made it to the final edit of the film.
Anyway, moving forward, when I was looking for a VHS tape to record "The Terminal" on I put one in and the first thing that came on was a show I recurred on years ago - "Good Morning, Miami" - mid-scene, was the enormously talented Suzanne Pleshette being her normal, funny self. I forwarded the tape to the end of episode so that I could watch it again later.
I remember, years ago, at the table read for the pilot of “GMM”. Ya know when they sit the entire cast around the huge table set up and they have your name card in front of your place at the table? Well I had Ms. Pleshette on my left and the legendary, iconic sit-com director, James Burrows on my right. I asked myself, "how in the heck did I get here?" That's how I met Suzanne; she was always funny, sweet and a pleasure to share the stage with.
Less than an hour after fast-forwarding that tape it was reported that she'd passed on. I knew that she had been in treatment for cancer so her passing wasn't a total surprise to me. She lost her husband, Tom Poston, in '07. Mr. Poston, ironically, played her boyfriend on the show. RIP Suzanne.
Front - Constance Zimmer, Suzanne Pleshette, Myself & Ashley Williams
Back - Mark Feuerstein, Marilyn Bagley, Jere Burns & Matt Letscher
As I was driving North on the 101 Freeway I received a text message from a friend informing me that Heath Ledger had just been found dead in his apartment in New York. I couldn’t believe it. I used to talk to Heath quite a bit back when I worked at The Hollywood Standard. He seemed like a super-nice, kind gentleman – not at all someone that would intentionally take his life. Who knows, it was a long time ago that I had my encounters with him, but I know others that had much more recent dealings with him and they don’t think he was the type either.
I’m not saying that he wasn’t a guy that enjoyed his status and liked to have a good time, but my gut tells me that his death was an accident. I’m sure many versions of speculations into what happened will come out in the coming days, months and years. It really saddened me to hear the news and knowing that he leaves a loving family and young daughter. I remember him telling me his story of having no money after starring in “10 Things I Hate About You” because he was turning down all the teen roles that followed. When I dealt with him he was working on “The Patriot” in South Carolina and staying in LA hotels. He told me to hang in there.
I have a strong feeling that he will still be talked about decades from now. Heath Ledger was extremely talented and will be sorely missed by many.
Picketing: Fox Studios. It's been a long time since I've voluntarily walked in the rain for so long. It was pouring on us at times, but we remained strong. I didn’t talk to anyone today and my legs are really sore, but oddly enough my feet don't hurt.
Audition: "Midas" @ Liz Paulson Casting. This was a good one for me. I was able to truly tap into some of the new things I've learned about auditioning and acting for the camera in general. I was really on point and precise. Part of it was that I listened really well, understood and delivered my interpretation with confidence.
Picketing: @ CBS Radford. Another day on the strike lines - in the drizzling rain. Not too many people out there today, but I ran into one of my commercial agents – their office is right down the street. And get this! I actually talked to about 3 writer/producers today! Imagine that.
Picketing: @ Paramount Studios. I did a lot of marching today and my legs got a serious workout. I can’t compare to the people who are truly out there everyday, especially in New York, but I’m doing my part. If nothing else, in honor of the ones who bargained and marched before me so that I have the collective bargaining agreement that I current work under. Actors didn’t start getting residuals until the early 60’s.
I’m sure there’s a lot of networking going on out there in the strike zone, but I hate “networking”. Well, maybe “hate” is too strong a word. Better yet, maybe I’m just jealous of those who do it well. Nah, that’s not it either. I don’t do it well, never have. I don’t go out to the strike lines to see how many writers and/or showrunners I can meet – maybe I should. I don’t know, it just wouldn’t be natural for me and it wouldn’t feel right. Actually, often times I have headphones on listening to different podcasts from iTunes. Not because I’m anti-social or anything like that; I’m just an information junkie and various podcasts have been my drug of choice lately. I haven’t listened to the radio in my car for 5 months or so and I’m hooked on podcasts. Truthfully, I’m very low-key and pretty quiet so I don’t have a need to be socializing all the time. I’m a master of observation and speculation; I much prefer to watch others than to be seen.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve run into writers and I handled myself well because I’m prepared and I am great at recognizing and seizing opportunities that arise in a very natural, organic way. That is the key for me; it needs to feel honest. I’m not going to be pushing my business card on everybody I meet, but I usually have one ready in case it’s appropriate.
Today I did several laps around the entire Paramount Studios Lot and Hollywood Cemetery; all the way from Melrose Ave. to Santa Monica Blvd. and back. I was deeply embroiled in some really good podcasts about politics, finance, real estate the economy, etc. Generally, I prefer being anonymous with my hat pulled low; but I can feel if someone is trying to get my attention through body language – I’m an actor!
So I’m walking, acknowledging fellow marchers and cars honking in support and I saw this African-American guy walking in the opposite direction who I vaguely thought I recognized, but I couldn’t place him. He kinda looked at me the same way. Neither of us said anything and kept it moving.
About 20 minutes later we saw each other again and looked a little harder at each other; he was with other people – I was alone as usual. He gave me the “head nod” and sorta waved me over. I stopped, trying to figure out where we might have known each other from. He sorta remembered my name and I couldn’t remember his, but I knew it started with an “S”. The funny thing is that I normally know his name because I’ve kept up with his career, but I was drawing a blank. It was writer/producer Saladin Patterson.
Saladin wrote the first of the two episodes of “Frasier” that I appeared in and was responsible for me getting the job. It was great to see him and cool that he remembered me. I got to tell him how special that job was to me and ironically it was at Paramount that I booked and shot it; the very studio we were picketing more than 6 years later. I told him it was one of those jobs that actors dream about. I went straight from the callback to Stage 25, where Cheers was filmed before Frasier, to rehearse with Kelsey Grammar. Kelsey, at the time was the highest paid actor in the history of television – $1.6 million an episode. It’s only one of the many cool experiences that I can claim during my career. Saladin also said that he had seen me in some drama stuff recently. He said he’d look me up after all this strike stuff is over and with that I gave him my card. That encounter felt natural and organic at its best.
I’m going to work on this networking thing and trying to be out there a little more. The thing is that I like talking about a lot of things outside of acting, but on the strike lines it’s kinda hard not to discuss the times we are in.
A little while after that I and some fellow actors were interviewed for what I think was the NAACP. They wanted us to speak why we were there in support of the WGA. The reasons are simple; our fight is their fight. Of course when they asked me to speak I was nervous, but I did okay. It’s funny because I have a lot to say on the matter, but it takes me a minute to warm up to being the center of attention.
Picketing: @ NBC Studios Burbank. There was a surprising amount of people out on the lines on this MLK Day. I have to thank Mr. King and others before and after him for the fighting they did so that I have the freedom to do so many things including supporting writers. Thanks guys and gals.
Audition: "Comcast" @ Ross Lacy Casting. I think this one went well. Implementing some of my new strategies still has me in my head at times, but I think I’m perfect for this spot. Actually, it’s a series of spots. So, hopefully I get called back. My track record with Ross Lacy Casting is pretty good.
I spent a little time on the WGA strike line @ Warner Bros. this afternoon and for the first time had someone shoot 'da finga' at me. It's weird because when a driver blares their horn it's kind of an automatic response to wave your sign in appreciation. Well this guy leaving the parking structure beeped his horn, I waved my sign and he flipped me off. What's up with that?! No seriously, I understand that not everyone agrees with the writers and their/our plight, but they/we have to do what they/we have to do.
I hope things get resolved very soon and we may be on the way to that since, earlier today, the DGA and AMPTP struck a tentative deal. I read some of points of the deal and I'm not convinced it's a great deal. A good deal maybe, maybe 'not so much' - I'm thinking 'not so much'. I just feel that at the end of the day the AMPTP is going to offer the deal that is going work best for their bottom line and the problem is that the studios/networks are collectively powerful enough to change the model to make the deal work for them…it's not about sharing…at all.
Audition: "Motel 6" @ Francene Selkirk Casting. As I'm on my way to this appointment I receive a call from my agency informing me that there's "police activity" in the area and that there may be street closures.
After having to make a couple of U-turns I finally get there and parked. Up ahead and across the street I could see 8-10 people looking through a fence. When I moved to LA I used to do CD Workshops in that very same area where they were looking so I knew where they were looking, but I couldn't imagine what they were looking at.
As I got closer I could see that that "the people" where actually photographers with very expensive looking cameras. All this time I was on the phone talking to one of my younger brothers, Todd, and I said; "Geez, I wonder what's going on". Then I chuckled and said maybe it's Britney Spears".
As I got closer and could see around the back of the building I saw the familiar huge, black celebrity SUV. "Maybe it really was Britney Spears". So I watched it for a moment; then a few of the photographers started running to where I was. Right then I saw who all the fuss was about. It was Lindsay Lohan.
She walked over to the SUV with two other young women, dealt with the driver, then scurried off to another vehicle; a sleek, black sports car. It was crazy! Photographers were climbing fences in a mad rush trying to get her photo. Does anyone really want that? I could not imagine having people follow me around in that manner. It just confirms even more why I have little interest in "blowing up". I just want to work and build a career. That stuff makes me nervous.
Anyway, after all of that I went to my audition and it went great! I was portraying the father of two young sons "being boys" at full volume in the back seat while I drove the car. I had a great time with them and I really look forward to getting married and having kids of my own.
Ugh! I knew it! I had a feeling this was going to happen - again. This evening I was skateboarding to my car and I broke my rule of not carrying expensive, breakable electronics in my hand. Why is that a rule? Because I "know" I'm going to fall while skateboarding. It seems simple right? Just stop skateboarding - especially at my age. I can't. It's just the way I'm wired and I'm a little bit of a risk-taker.
The front wheels of my skateboard collided with the moustache of Palm tree Paul. First, the skateboard stopped, I went airborne, the skateboard went backward and Palm tree Paul laughed his ass off.
So there I am about 3 feet off the ground - horizontal - with hundreds of dollars of electronics in my hand. In a split second I decided to continue the forward momentum, flip and land on my back. Gotta protect the jewels; thankfully I was wearing my “The Fonz” inspired leather jacket! I got up without missing a beat hoping my skateboard didn’t get destroyed in traffic. It went under a car and into the water-filled gutter – nasty, but in tact.
It's funny because, of the 4 or 5 times I've fallen, it's always the same way. I wish I could see it on tape...I wonder how long it'll be before I bite the dust again.
Picketing: @ Disney Studios. Today the United Airlines pilots and flight attendants joined us on the picket lines – or should I say I joined them since they were there first. It was great to see them out there in solidarity with us. Nice people too. I had a great conversation with Roberto, a pilot for 20+ years with UA. I was fascinated with him sharing some of his experiences a pilot; especially landing a plane on auto pilot. That just blows my mind.
Anyway, it was great to be out there for the cause. I went to a meeting last night at SAG and, like normal; there were relatively few actors in attendance. I mean there are 50-60,000 SAG actors in this market and less than 200 showed up last night. I always learn something new and I’m able to pass it on to other actors that aren’t as informed.
I’m glad I took an interest in the inner workings of the guild from the very beginning of my career. I think it helped shape my focus in truly looking at this as the career it is for me. I need to know about the contracts, pension & health, medical, the future, etc. I don’t have a corporate job with a 401K retirement account so I need to look out for my future now, while I can. Getting my 10th pension credit last year was a great start – now I just need to increase my earnings on my way to the next milestone of 20th pension credits.
I didn’t hear anything about either of the commercials today so they may have moved on without me – or maybe not. No matter, I accomplished what I wanted which was to “show well”.
ADR: “WaMu”. This is a good sign. It means I’m still in the running. I only had 3 words TOTAL in two commercials, LOL! Who knows, maybe they are changing or adding dialogue.
In the past I’ve spoken about the “anatomy of a booking”. In my opinion, an official booking is about 91.07544% of the way. Just because you book a job doesn’t mean you’ll actually get to shoot it and just because you shoot it doesn’t mean you’ll be in the final edit. Or you may be in the final edit, but it may not ever run.
Anyway, I estimate that doing ADR brings me a couple of percentage points closer to the brass ring for the lack of a better term. So I’ll say that I’m 96.54% of the way now. I have a good feeling about this particular one, but I’ve been in the game long enough to know that “you don’t know, ‘till you know”. I’ve been pretty fortunate thus far, but I’ve definitely had a few things fall through along the way. I look at it as earning my stripes; the more jobs I book the more likely I am to experience the full spectrum of scenarios out there. The session ADR session went well. I'm getting pretty good with doing it these days; or maybe I'm just getting lucky. I saw several people from the ad agency that were at the shoot. It's always so hard to remember everyone from the client and agency because there is so much going on. It was great to see them and they seemed to be very happy with my work. I recorded a couple of tags and such and I was finished. I actually got to see the finished spot and it's pretty funny.
Picketing: @ Paramount Studios. I spent a couple of hours on the lines at Paramount today to show support for the striking writers. The writers really appreciate the support of the actors that come out to lend a hand.
Callback: “Lowe’s” @ Ross Lacy Casting. I went in for this about 3 weeks ago. It was one that I was really in my head about. I didn’t go all that great, but I knew I was perfect for it and thought I had a good chance of getting called back. I remember the issues I had 3 weeks ago; so I’ll get there early and work out the kinks to give myself a fighting chance to show well.
The callback went GREAT! I got a chance to chat with Ross for a bit as well. He asked how the “WaMu” shoot went – Ross is really nice guy and I’m glad to be on his list of actors that he calls in very regularly. He’s booked me 3 times and I expect to book many, many more.
Callback: “AT&T” @ Joe Blake Casting. I had a callback yesterday for a different spot in this same series of new spots. This one went great as well. I was a whole lot of dialogue and I delivered it well I think. Total confidence! I did the first take, got some direction and gave them something different for the second take. I would love to get an avail for one or both of these. It’s been a long time since I booked through Joe Blake Casting – I’m overdue! Well, I’m overdue in a lot of offices.
I feel GREAT!!! I‘m so anxious to get things moving I can hardly stand it. I tried to make some things happen this morning, but it was not to be. I was a little let down because I HAVE to keep myself busy or I just go crazy. Sometimes I wish I had a 9-5 job. Last night I watched this program on CNBC that covered a week in the life of American Airlines and I was completely fascinated. I love flying and am amazed by the inner workings of an airport. After watching that program I wanted to be an airline mechanic. One can dream right?
Anyway, less than 5 minutes after not being able to make what I was trying to make happen this morning my commercial agent called with a callback for later this evening. THAT is why I put forth the effort, but I don’t get too caught up the results because my zen-side needs space to work along side my logical-side. My universe usually knows much more than me; so I try to trust things.
Actually, I’d planned to stop by to see my commercial agents today anyway. It’s great to be able to walk in and get the full attention of all 3 of the people that believe in me so much. We discussed some of my new strategies and how I’m gonna make ’08 different than ’07. I don’t need them to do anything different – nothing. They are holding up their end of the bargain; it’s me that needs to step up to the plate. They appreciate and respect me as a professional just as I do them. We are a great team. It’s hard to believe it was almost 10 years ago when I wrote them that letter from New York seeking representation. All that time in New York preparing for Los Angeles has really paid off for me.
Callback: “AT&T” @ Joe Blake Casting. This was a last minute role, straight to callbacks dealio. I think it went well. The creative team was behind the one-way glass; so it was just me and the camera operator in the room. I worked with the director of the spot, Baker Smith, on a really funny “USPS” commercial several years ago.
Back in the mix. I was out pounding the pavement today with varying degrees of success. To be honest; I’m not too concerned with what I actually get accomplished in the way of tangible results. Right now it’s more about the effort and just “keeping it moving” in a positive direction. It’s a tricky thing concerning my new strategies because if I try too hard it’ll complicate things in other areas. So I try to keep things on an even keel and just take it day-by-date and moment-by-moment.
I also spent a couple of hours over at NBC with the striking WGA members showing support for their/our cause. I don’t know how much longer this strike is going to last, but it’s definitely putting a squeeze on my potential earnings.
Camera Rolling!! Speed! Scene 2008! Take 2! …and ACTION!!!
I’m so glad the holidays are over! I’m ready to get into ’08 with the quickness. I was up and out in the field early today trying to hustle up some business. I felt like the first kid at the bus stop. It seemed kinda true actually because there wasn’t really much going on today.
It’s amazing that I’ve been implementing new strategies to move forward in my career and life and they put me in a completely different mind-set, but it doesn’t change the hustle…and I’m a hustla through and through. I found myself smiling with excitement like back in the day when I was killing the game with my unique drop-off techniques. It’s so funny thinking back when people were telling me that drop-offs were a waste of time. That’s exactly what I was thinking when I was over the Pacific flying to Tokyo and here in LA rehearsing a scene with Spielberg and Hanks – drops worked for me…and they’ll continue to work.
So after a hiccup in the game early today I ended up getting a lot accomplished. Sometimes, I wished I also worked in the corporate world. I think I’d do well...quite well.