Monday, September 12, 2011

How to go insane in one day

I don’t find the casting process fun. It’s tiring, you hear your words trampled fifty different ways, and you’re well aware that these are most crucial decisions you will ever make on your project. Scripts can be fixed, scenes can be reshot, but if you have the wrong actors you’re dead. So there is a tremendous amount of pressure – not just for the actors but for the producers as well.

In fairness, sometimes it can be fun. There is that glorious moment when an actor just nails it. Or even better, brings something to the role that you didn’t expect. Those are magic. Also, casting smoking hot babes is not a bad way to kill an afternoon either. All these spectacular women who normally, if you were on fire, wouldn’t piss on you to put it out, now are yearning for your approval. That helps ease the pain of high school.

But most of the time casting is a drag. And the very worst is having to cast children. Most are so overly precocious and overly-rehearsed by their overbearing stage mothers that you want to scream “Quick! Run to a park! Go play with your friends. Pick up a baseball or Barbie before it’s too late!

It’s never easy rejecting anybody, but for me it’s excruciating having to reject a child. And casting is 99% rejection. I don’t want to be the one to dash some 9 year-old’s dream.

That is why a cold shiver went right up my spine when I read recently that on Broadway there will be a new revival of ANNIE and the producers held an open audition. I can’t even imagine. Thousands of little girls all belting out “Tomorrow”. This should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

I give the producers enormous credit. They’re not willing to settle. You would think that out of several thousand adorable cherubs there would be at least one perfect “Annie”. And maybe there is, but these producers are not leaving any stones unturned. In addition to the open auditions, hopefuls are invited to submit videos. I’m sure they were inundated with tens of thousands of entries. To me, reviewing these videos makes waterboarding seem like a Whammo Slip N’ Slide. I applaud the producers’ dedication. And stamina.

But I’m sure it will be worth it. That special “Annie” is out there. Although, maybe several girls were very impressive.  Oh no.  Does that mean call-backs?

AAAAAAAA!!!!

22 comments:

DogsOnDrugs.com said...

"Smoking hot babes" and "piss on you" makes for some increased (and interesting) search-result traffic. Excellent plan.

And I can absolutely picture an outer circle of hell consisting of nothing but Annie auditions. Yeesh.

brian t said...

If I recall correctly: the first time there was a big Annie revival on Broadway, they ended up making a star out of Sarah Jessica Parker. So, the casting people have a massive socio-cultural burden to bear ..!

Chris said...

Here's one for friday: I think you said at one point you can now only have two people max on a "written by" and/or "teleplay/story by" credit. How come the season 9 first ep. of Two and a Half Men has Chuck Lorre, Lee Aronsohn, Eddie Gorodetsky & Jim Patterson on a single "Written By" credit?

C. A. Bridges said...

Of course the first thing I thought of -- after I stopped looking at the bikini picture -- was "What actor has impressed you the most in a casting call reading? Has anyone read your work in that situation and made it better than you wrote it?"

David Schwartz said...

Another problem with auditions is that after a while you just get punchy. You stop being able to objectively make decisions as to which read was better, as they all seems to lose the individuality of the read and just meld together...

RCP said...

Wasn't there a horror film about an "Annie" reject who grew up to become a serial killer? Now 6'1 and 180 lbs, Gretel - dressed as Annie complete with fright wig - forces her victims to watch her audition...one last time. Stage Mommy, now a mummy, sits propped in an armchair off to the side.

"The sun will come out..."

"NOOOOOOOO! AAAAAAGGGGHHHH!"

jacsobrien said...

Hilarious...so true. Painful for all involved ( for the actor too, so many sickly people) love acting couldn't face the auditions.

Paul said...

This is off-topic, but in case you ever wondered what the Ken Levine who works on those Bioshock video games looks like, here's a video of him being interviewed: http://www.hulu.com/watch/276691/x-play-bioshock-infinite-gameplay-preview#http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hulu.com%2Ffeed%2Fsearch%3Fquery%3DX-Play%26sort_by%3Drelevance%26st%3D0

BigTed said...

Kids today are used to shows like "American Idol" and "Next Top Model," where zillions of contestants are narrowed down to a few and then picked off one by one. So maybe real auditions are easier in comparison these days, especially since there usually isn't a "mean judge" telling them how much they suck as a parting gift.

Actually, the show that most resembled the actual audition process was the "The Glee Project." The producers couldn't mess around, because they planned to give the winner an actual role on "Glee." (They ended up with two winners, and two more kids were offered shorter arcs on the show.)

Kate said...
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Kate said...

I highly recommend Louis CK's recent appearance on "Conan," in which he discusses the casting of children, and demonstrates his own not-too-shabby singing voice. (It was on YouTube, last time I looked.)

Breadbaker said...

We all have the image of stage mothers in our heads, from Gypsy if nothing else; are there ever stage dads?

Tallulah Morehead said...
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Tallulah Morehead said...
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Tallulah Morehead said...
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Tallulah Morehead said...

Breadbaker. Check out Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, because in the prologue, Baby Jane Hudson very definitely had a Stage Dad, while Mom was a milktoast trying to comfort poor, neglected Blanche.

When Dennis Franz did his nude butt shot on NYPD Blues many - ah - moons ago, I remember noticing that it was very definitely Franz doing the shot. What a relief to their casting department! Imagine auditioning Dennis-Franz-butt-look-alikes, sitting there, hour after hour, looking at Dennis Franz-ish butt after butt after butt. When you finally lose your lunch all over your piles of horrific 8-by-10s, you squeak out a strangled: "You're hired!"

(WV: izemums. What a German TV commenter often says while hosting The Rose Parade on TV.)

HogsAteMySister said...

This is why we have predator drones.

Phillip B said...

Ancient episode of "Car 54 Where Are You? involved judging an amateur barbershop quartet contest. Each of the 300 groups was instructed to sing the same song, using the same arrangement, to "make the judging easier."

Hey - it may have been a long time ago, but it was probably the best prime time work Jan Murray ever did!

Pat Reeder said...

Reminds me of when I worked in industrial video and had to sit in on casting a script I wrote. The people in charge cast two terrible actors while rejecting the far-and-away best reads of the day. Their reasons:

1. They didn't like the guy's tie.

2. They didn't like that the woman's hair was worn up instead of down.

And now, I am back in radio, thank God.

Johnny Walker said...

One Annie was enough... I can't handle the idea of another one, let alone thousands of wannabe Annies. Argh.

Johnny Walker said...

David, that's a very good point. I don't know how you can retain your ability to fairly assess something when you're seeing the 100th variation of it. How do you even remember what you're looking for after you've seen a 100 reinterpretations?

Having never been through the process, I can only imagine.

George said...

I can imagine casting being difficult as you dont know if the next one will be the best so you always have to pay attention.. and also how small details can make a huge difference in the role...