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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Thing Actors Should Never Ask When They're Auditioning For Me.

This question has come up twice in my casting life.
Both within a period of about a year and a half.
It's the kind of question that comes up when an actor has a chip on his or her shoulder, and generally hates the audition process.
I have acted many times in my life, and have always relished the audition process.
I always regarded it as a good chance to show off.
Not so for the people who have asked this question.
The question has come up:
A- When I've expressed admiration for the actor's previous work, and or
B- When I've worked with the actor before.
The question is: "You know what I do. So why do you need me to read?"

This question first came up when I was casting the pilot for the series "Makin' It"
"Makin' It" was conceived, not by me, but by one of the most successful TV and movie moguls in Hollywood history.
He designed it to be a rip-off of both "Saturday Night Fever" and "Happy Days"
So he made deals with both the powers behind "Saturday Night Fever" and "Happy Days"
So I suppose you can say that this was strictly on the up and up.
Sure you can.
Instead of Travolta or Ron Howard, we had an actor named David Naughton to play the lead.
David Naughton was probably best remembered a the "Doctor Pepper guy"
You know.
"I'm a Pepper, You're a Pepper, He's a Pepper, She's a Pepper, wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too....."
That guy.
He had been signed.
We needed an actor to be a regular in the cast to play Naughton's father.
Somewhere along the line, it was decided (again, not by me) to bring in the actor who played Travolta's father in "Saturday Night Fever"
Hey, if you're going to rip off, you might as well rip off.
I was very familiar with his work.
I had remembered seeing him in a play on Broadway in the sixties in which he was quite good.
I told him this when he came in.
And he asked the magic question:
So you know my work. So why do you need me to read?"
And here is how I responded, which is why actors should never ask me this question:
"Do you mean to tell me that I have seen every acting choice that you are ever going to make?
Yeah. I saw you on Broadway, where you had weeks and weeks of rehearsal.
I saw you in "Saturday Night Fever", a full length movie where they can do wonders with scissors.
We have a five day rehearsal and shoot week.
New pages can be constantly thrown at you.
I've got to see what happens when you pick up a script for the first time and read from it."
He was humbled, and resentful, and he read.
And he was really bad.
Sometimes it's the only way an actor can prove himself.

It happened again when one of the regular cast members of "Makin' It" auditioned for another pilot I did.
This time an actress.
An actress whose work I wasn't too thrilled with to begin with.
An actress who was essentially foisted on me the first time around.
But I brought her in as a courtesy.
She was not so courteous.
Again, the magic question:
"You know my work. Why do you need me to read?"
This time, I only needed to get as far as "Do you mean to tell me that I have seen every acting choice that you are ever going to make?"
After giving me the visual equivalent of "Harrumph!", she read badly and left. hardly ever to be seen again.

Actors must realize what business they're in, and where they fit in the food chain.

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My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
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Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
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I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

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Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."