Saturday, August 11, 2007

I am a series regular Chapter 39

I finished shooting the pilot . It went great. I was relaxed and my scenes went great. The show was picked up for another 5 episodes and we were ready to start shooting when Screen Actors Guild went on strike.

So now I had to wait. So here I was in a unigue position of having no agent and a TV series. I didn’t worry because the other 5 episodes were guaranteed so big money was coming. I had some clout around the theater people as getting cast in a TV series for CBS that was to be shot in New York was probably the most desirable situation an actor could be in.

While waiting for the strike to end I was cast in a show at Ensemble Studio Theater by a up and coming director. She was young but very smart and aggressive. She went on to become one of the top film casting directors in the business.

The play was called “Gray Spades” about hipsters from the late 40’s. I had done this play before which the director had seen at the Actor’s Studio. She picked it because she was a rich girl from Canada and wanted to do something very edgy to impress people with her versatility.

The play was written about the streets of Newark.New Jersey in the late forties after ww11. The main characters were junkies and before rehearsals started I had to translate the dialogue for the director. She was a hustler and when the play opened for it’s short run the audience was filled with agents and casting directors. After the run I got a call from a major theatrical agent and now I had an agent. Finally the actor’s strike was over and I could begin shooting my TV series.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Doing the pilot. Chapter 38

I started on the pilot in 2 weeks and I was ready. The money was more than I ever had at one time my whole life. This was to be my first acting job in front of a film camera.

We shot my scenes on the streets of New York and I felt like a real movie star as spectators would watch and you could see the respect and awe in their faces as I walked near them going to the set. One time an actor that I knew came in to do extra work. This particular guy would tell me that I was a fool for working for no money when I was doing off-off. When he saw that I was not only a principle but a regular, he asked to be excused, he said he was sick and had to go home. The guy could not accept that someone he thought was inferior to him rise to the top while he was doing extra work which is the dregs of show business. I never saw this actor again.

Getting this job changed my life , mostly to the better but their were some negative consequences. Up to this time all my actor friends were struggling actors working as waiters or cab drivers. We would comfort each other in our misery of the struggle.

Now I went from a struggling actor to the fast track of the business and as anyone knows a TV series can lead to fame and fortune in a short period of time. Friends that I had got drunk with, friends that I performed plays with me in the outer reaches of off-off, shunned me and treated me with suspicion as if I had betrayed them. They assumed that I would change so they beat me to it by not saying hello to me when we met unless I acknowledged them first.

I should have been more understanding but I wanted them to be happy for me so I retaliated by walking away from a lot of old friends who I felt were not true friends as they were jealous. But in looking back I am sorry for the way I reacted to their insecurity. I know how painful it can be to give everything you have to make it as an actor and to see someone who you think you are better than, all actors think they are the best, have some success while you languish in shit jobs, laying awake at night worried that you will end up in poverty with no children, alone and broke. I know because I have felt that way.