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4:54 pm - FRI 1/24/03
As I Was Saying...
FRI 1/24/03 10:12 am

As I Was Saying...

Wednesday morning, I had a commercial audition at Cathi Carleton Casting, on South Bundy (I had an audition there earlier this month; It was the one where I was supposed to be a magician. The one I stressed over because I didn't have a tux ).

This one was for Washington Mutual (Where, coincidentally, I have a checking account), and I thought it was kind of fun; I was a scientist, demonstrating the bank's new "money-bearing shrub" ("Because at Washington Mutual, we think your money should make money"). I motion to my assistant for help, he promptly gets eaten by the shrub, Little Shop of Horrors-style, and I say something like "Obviously, it still needs some work...but in the meantime, try our new 'Platinum Account'. It's an easier way for your money to make money".

Cute, dontcha think?

I was a little nervous going in, because I immediately saw someone I recognized ahead of me (I'm going to get over it--Just because someone's done national commercials or I've seen them on a tv show doesn't mean they're better than me--but that said, I'm not over it just yet). But I did my stuff--signed in, did my size sheet, got my headshot out, looked over the copy--and waited my turn.

When I went in, I was happy to see they had lab coats there (Though I think that would be a worthwhile investment for me to make. I have a feeling there may be more "scientist/doctor" auditions in my future).

The guy had me just do a line or two. When I did, he gave me the note that I wasn't a "spokesperson", which kind of confused me; On the one hand, I thought I got what he meant--don't be too "smooth" in the delivery (Though I thought the nerdy "scientist voice" I was adopting kind of took "smooth" out of the equation)--but on the other hand, if I'm not a "spokesperson" in the commercial, what the hell am I? I mean, the character may not be your typical company spokeperson, but he is speaking for the company ("Here at Washington Mutual, we think your money should make money..."), so what else would you call him?

So I just said "okay", like I totally got what he meant, and he put me on tape.

We did it one more time, and this time he gave me the direction to take a little more time to actually see the "money-bearing shrub" eat my assistant (This is something I know I have to work on from other auditions here. In community theater, I never had to "visualize" something was there, because it was actually there. But in these situations, I'm having to pretend something is there just about every time out of the gate, whether it's a talking cuckoo clock, a killer rabbit, or a "money-bearing shrub").

I don't think I got to what they wanted, but we'll see.

Afterwards I drove home--and I don't know why, but I haven't yet figured out how to just "retrace my steps" from this agency, so I always end up going home via some extra long route--and had enough time back at the house to have a sandwich and chat briefly with Lauren and Kevin. Then I drove to Ed Begley Jr's house in Studio City.

It was a very modest little ranch house--I think that's what you'd call it, anyway--with lemon trees and a zen garden/meditation area in the yard (In addition to a small statue of Buddha, there was another statue, about the same size, of St Francis, kind of off to one side).

I'd gotten there fifteen minutes early, so after I parked on the street, I kind of hung back for a few minutes--I couldn't wait the whole fifteen minutes--then knocked on the door (After having a slight bit of difficulty determining whether I was at the right place or not).

And no one was home (When I rang the doorbell, a dog started barking from inside the house, but that was the only sign of life).

First I wondered if I was indeed at the right place, but there were some pieces of mail lying by the front door, and when I checked them out, I saw I was definitely at the right place; One letter was from Equity, the stage actors union, addressed to Cesar & Ruben ( I guess he's created his own production company to do the show). I also saw, in the backyard, some kind of energy-saving, solar-panelled thingie that would have suggested I was at the right house even if I hadn't checked out his mail (He's a very well-known Hollywood environmentalist/liberal).

I wondered if I'd somehow gotten the day wrong. I wondered if he'd just forgotten about it. I wondered what I was going to do if he didn't show up.

But he did show up, maybe five or ten minutes after our appointment time. He was just late from running some errands (And he drove up in his electric car--More of an electric van, really--which I thought was kind of cool).

We walked in together, and he offered me something to drink (I had a glass of water). He told me to have a seat in the living room, while he did a few little things, then he had a seat.

I didn't really know exactly how things were going to go--Would he ask me about my politics? Would I pump him for anecdotes about his tv experiences? Or would we just be launching into my audition?--and I was a little nervous, but actually not as nervous as I might have imagined under the circumstances.

We did talk a little bit--About Costco (I have to find one near me), about Nick, about pets (He has a dog and a cat. When he asked if I had any pets, I told him about Leo, and he sympathized)--and then he asked me what I wanted to do first, read or sing.

I opted to read first, and that was pretty fun; Since there were just the two of us there, he read with me (He was looking at me so intently at one point that he missed a line, and I had to skip ahead). I really enjoyed that.

Then I sang.

He had said he'd try to get an accompanist for me, but if that didn't work out, I could just sing along to a cd, of something from the show or whatever.

I'd brought along sheet music from Big River (If there'd been an accompanist, I thought at first I might sing "Guv'mint". Then I decided that song wasn't really right for this audition--there's nothing like it in Cesar & Ruben--and thought I'd do "Waiting For The Light To Shine" instead, since I like the song, can sing it well, and it would fit very easily into Cesar & Ruben at a number of points in the story). I thought, even without an accompanist, that I could sing something "a cappela" and that would probably be fine.

But I'd spent most of my prep time working up a song from the show, a pretty song by Sting called "Fields of Gold". I was finding it very hard to memorize for some reason--Probably because it's more "poetic imagry" than "linear storytelling", so one verse doesn't naturally "lead into" another--but I thought I'd finally gotten it down.

At the 11th hour, though, I decided to go with something else; I was singing the song all right, I thought, but I just wasn't sure it was showing my voice to best advantage. And singing the song "all right" just didn't seem good enough. So I took along my James Taylor Greatest Hits cd instead, and sang "There's Something In The Way She Moves", the first cut on the album.

When I started, I was probably as nervous as I'd been my whole time there--I hadn't sang the song beforehand (It really was a last-minute decision on my part), and it felt awkward to be singing to this one person--but I've been singing along to James Taylor for at least 20 years now, and I think it really was a smart decision (My voice is more "James Taylor-ish" than "Sting-like"). And while I was singing, Ed had his head down and his eyes closed anyway, trying to focus on what I sounded like, so I wasn't having to "sell the song". I just had to sing.

Afterwards, he was pretty effusive (And while I've become more wary out here about whether people are bs-ing me or not, I believed he really was enthused about what he'd heard).

Equity auditions had just been the day before, and he had people yet to see, so he couldn't promise me anything, but he told me I was definitely "in the running", that it was just a matter of "matching people up", and that he'd let me know sometime within the next week.

So there it is.

It was fun, which as I've said before, has been in fairly short supply these last two years.

And I hope the "fun" is not done, if you catch my drift.


Here's a bit of exciting acting news from back in Lansing: Jane got cast in the lead in a play called The Waverly Gallery!

My first reaction when I heard was to be surprised--I didn't know she was going up for it (To hear her tell it, neither did she!)--and then to be tremendously pleased; I've always felt like Jane had a lot more to offer as an actress than what's she typically gotten to do in Lansing (My favorite thing I've seen her do was "Rag Baby" from the one-act play she wrote years ago, Garage Sale. She was also really good as "Madame Armfeldt" (?) in A Little Night Music at LCC. But more often than not, she's played an assortment of queens and wicked stepmother-types in the children's shows at Riverwalk Theater, and I lost interest in seeing her do that kind of thing years ago).

Anyway, it's a very challenging role; She's playing an elderly woman who runs a small art gallery, who is diagnosed with Alzheimers. So she has to play the age, the onset of the disease, and she's the lead to boot, with a million lines, which I guess are, as you might imagine, often illogical and repetitive (She's talking about using an earpiece in case she needs to be "fed a line"--that's what they were going to do if Leonore R. had played the part--but I kind of hope she just "goes for it").

I think it's a very happy development. Jane's sometimes had it rough in Lansing theater these past years--she's in a tough age bracket, with a fair amount of competition--so I'm glad she's finally getting another chance to shine.


Tomorrow morning, I have a meeting/rehearsal for Missing Breath, the student film I previously, and mistakenly, referred to as "Stealing Breath" (I guess I just remembered that the breath was gone, somehow!).

It'll be from 10-2:00. Then it'll be back home, and off to work from 4-1:00 am. A long day for this tired, middle-aged man.

I'm not exactly sure what happens next. I think they plan on shooting the scene--I'm just in the one scene--one day next month. That'll be fine--I told them with sufficient notice I could probably give them any day they wanted--but I hope that's the extent of the commitment. I don't want a lot of hassle with work over this, or scheduling conflicts if I get in Cesar & Ruben. I just want to have my day of fun, dazzle them with my talent and professionalism, get my tape, and run (I would have preferred to get in the other student film I auditioned for--Befriending Gumbo--because it seemed to be at least a little better written. But this scene will be fun to do. I don't ever get to yell at people in "real life", so it might be cathartic).


I'm about to head out to the metro station--I'm having dinner with Cary and Kay tonite, and they're taking me to the movies!


Well, if you can believe it, I still have like a dozen different things I want to write about that I haven't gotten to in here. But I've actually got them written down, so they'll keep.


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