Thursday, January 26, 2017

The madness of pilot season for actors

Just as the swallows return every year to Capistrano, actors from all over the world flock to Southern California this week. It’s pilot season.

Yes, that one magic time of the year when networks greenlight pilots for the upcoming season. So let the casting begin!

For local Los Angeles residents, this explains why there’s now gridlock on the freeways, constant lines at Starbucks, and no sublets or rental cars are available from El Centro to Pismo Beach.

This is a pressure-packed time for actors. There’s never a guarantee that you’re going to land a pilot… unless you’re Kim Raver.

It’s a crazy system the networks acknowledge, always say they’re going to change, but don’t. Since they all are on the same timetable it means that dozens of pilots are all casting at the same time. Actors lucky enough to be in the game race around town auditioning. Sony at 10:15 for a sitcom, Warners at 1:45 for a procedural, Fox at 4: 20 for some legal drama now starring Kim Raver.

It gets to the point they’re not just passing each other on Coldwater Canyon; they’re passing themselves.

And those thesps not in the game hope to get in the game. Their agents and managers are frantically on the phone to casting directors, begging them to see their clients.   There are lots of actors who fly across the country at their own expense, find housing for two months, and never get a single audition. 

On the other hand, the truly lucky actors who are hot now face difficult decisions. They’re offered four separate pilots. Which to take? Which looks like it might go? Which looks like it has good writers at the helm? Which films in Vancouver? Which looks like it has legs? Saying yes to a pilot commits you for several years if it gets picked up. Are you signing up for a trip to the moon or the Hotel California? And you need to make those decisions NOW because they’re moving on in fifteen minutes.

The pilot season is brief. About a month for the first round. Once the pilots start filming the second round begins. That’s because networks routinely fire one or more actors after table readings. And sometimes those fired actors can still latch onto another pilot.

So the most insane game of musical chairs commences. Producers have their own hell, but my heart goes out to these actors. Pilot season can be life changing. It can also be soul-crushing. There’s only so many times the guard at the Galaxy Avenue gate doesn’t have your drive-on before you want to blow your brains out. Or the last parking space in the lot was taken… by Kim Raver.


Fred Vogel said...

Goldwater Canyon? Please don't tell me things have become that conservative in L.A.

John Hammes said...

"When You Say I Beg Your Pardon, Then I'll Come Back To You" - proof that while this is pilot season, genius songwriting knows no season.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

"...a trip to the moon or the Hotel California." Beautiful meta. Says it all.

mrdj said...

I see someone is a Jack Benny fan.

VP81955 said...

Ken's homage to Cole porter, no doubt: "Is it Grenada I see, or only Asbury Park?" ("At Long Last Love").

Rick said...

Any sleeping around happens to snag a pilot, Ken? Like Jennifer Aniston got a little comfy.... with Warren Littlefield.

Roseann said...

So true everything you say. And even for New York.

Jabroniville said...

So why IS Kim Raver in all this stuff, Ken? She just sleep with the right person/people?