Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Smile, You Son Of A Bitch.

You may recall Ultimate Douche, my favorite horrible actor who did me the honor of answering his cell phone during my scene in a casting workshop (if not, refresh your memory here.)

I casually mentioned him to the kind woman that runs the workshop, and it seems my complaint was the knockout punch needed to toss him out. She’d already had a huge problem with his non-existent acting skills and overflowing arrogant behavior. Now, in the words of George Orwell, when it comes to the workshop, he is an “unperson”.

Nice knowing ya, ace.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Just Hand Him The Emmy.

Robin Williams is a phenomenal actor. He was amazing in Good Will Hunting, and so unbelievably creepy in One Hour Photo that in the middle of the film I had to remind myself that this guy was Mork.

Tonight, he guest stars on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU”, and I can guarantee you something five months before the day it happens: he’ll win the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor.

He shouldn't.

Again– Robin Williams, talented. But there are dozens of unknown actors who guest-star on shows every season and deliver incredibly emotional performances. But they'll never win one award because it’s so much more interesting to give them to A-list actors. So bet the bank on Robin to win. It’ll happen.

Man, if I had a nickel for every time I was wrong, I’d be broke.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My New Headshot.

I’m not blonde, my eyes aren't blue and I have more than eight fingers. Other than that, it’s like looking in a mirror.

Nice news for me: I booked the lead voiceover role for a computer-generated cartoon. It’s a campy, Python-esque, fantasy farce, and I play a character named Viktor, above.

I’ll be spending much of May in a studio portraying him, and I’m really excited.

Until then, I'll quaff a few malt beverages and convince myself it's strictly for research.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

If I Could Play One Role.

Hands down, it would Robert Redford’s in The Sting. Here’s why:
  1. Wardrobe: gangster suit with matching fedora. I’d totally wear it to the Oscars
  2. Best character name ever: Johnny Hooker
  3. Portraying my real-life dream of having a hit put out on me
  4. I sleep with a sexy, foreign chick who’s been sent to kill me. And get saved by a fellow gangster who shoots her seconds before she shoots me
  5. Fulfilling my all-time second dream: turning down a crappy sequel

Friday, April 25, 2008

Let’s Toast The Man.

Two weeks ago, my friend Dave and I waited for a casting workshop to begin. In strode the casting director, and not a prototypical one– normally they’re young, cute women; this was an older, rock ‘n roll type of guy.

His name was Al Guarino, and we quickly came to find him to be atypical in every way. He didn’t hand out scenes based on our headshots, but instead looked us in the eyes and chose accordingly. And he really taught us, and brought out so much in me that in just one night I felt like my acting skills vastly improved.

I was damn impressed. And so was Dave, who had to leave early that night but called me the next day to find out how the rest of the evening went. He really liked Al, too.

Today I got a call from the woman who organizes the workshop. She told me Al had a heart attack while driving over the weekend, crashed his car and was killed.

In a town recognized for its shallowness, it’s important to credit the people here who take the time to share their knowledge. And it’s all the more unfortunate that one of them is gone.

For anyone reading this who was lucky enough to know Al, there’s a wake for him this Sunday afternoon at Ireland’s 32 Pub, pictured above.

Thanks for everything, sir.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kickass Kick Ass Actor Sighting Of The Month.

Martin Kove, who played the sinsai in The Karate Kid.
ArcLight Cinemas, Hollywood, Saturday night.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Don’t Follow That Minivan.

Hope you can stomach another story about my tightfistedness, cause I ain’t tired of writing ‘em.

I was in a play at a theater in Hollywood, which was next door to an expensive parking garage that graciously offered free parking for the first 90 minutes.

Every day during rehearsal, actors would one-by-one run next door, moving their cars every hour and a half. On opening night, I decided to attempt this trick in between scenes, and got caught behind California’s slowest moving minivan. When I finally pulled into a spot I took a moment to panic, then sprinted back inside (in full 19th century wardrobe) and arrived seconds before my entrance. I gracefully delivered my lines wheezing and drenched in flopsweat.

For the rest of the show’s run I happily shelled out the cash.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday Trivia.

Every trash day I walk my dog past these buckets, customized with office chair wheels so that the people who live here don’t have to drag them the entire three feet into their driveway.

Are the owners of these cans as old as:
A) Dirt
B) The Ark of the Covenant
C) Larry King

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Agoraphobia Is Your Good Fortune.

The grand I spent on new brakes on Friday pretty much ensures I’ll remain a shut-in throughout the next millennium. Congratulations, Netflix. And as a complete acting geek I’ll try to glean as much as I can from DVD audio commentary. Here are my favorites so far:

Ocean’s 11– Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia. At one point it gets stone silent for over a minute, and Pitt, Damon and Garcia realize they aren't speaking because they love watching the film so much.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou– Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach. Anderson and Baumbach recorded the commentary at Greenwich Village restaurant Bar Pitti, where they wrote the film, so there's some great dish-clanking in the background.

A Beautiful Mind– Ron Howard. Ron justifies his standing as the nicest guy in Hollywood when he mentions his hope that, after seeing this film, whenever you see a person walking around and talking to himself, you won't just dismiss him as crazy.

Road to Perdition– Sam Mendes. Two cool facts he pointed out during this one: the diner that Tom Hanks eats in along the highway was purchased by the movie’s propmaster on eBay, and Jude Law chose to pluck out much of his hair to make his character creepier.

Bull Durham– Ron Shelton. Shelton talks about dictating the entire opening voiceover by Annie (“I believe in the church of baseball”) verbatim into a micro recorder on a long car trip.

Election– Alexander Payne. My favorite of all time, including my favorite commentary line of all time, as the hapless Matthew Broderick backs his sedan out of his driveway: “The Ford Fiesta... the car of the impotent man.”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Talent Switch Has No "Off" Position.

My friend sent me this pic, taken last Thanksgiving of me bringing my A game pilgrim-style.

Judging by his sons, I killed. My niece, however, was a tough crowd.

Friday, April 18, 2008

What I Got For Being In A Commercial.

The Lord giveth. Some jerkoffs taketh away.

I was in a commercial for an investment company. It was low paying– just 200 bucks– but I was new to Hollywood and proud I had beaten out a slew of other actors for the role.

After the commercial's production company had some sort of staff shakeup, I didn't get paid. So I filed a small-claims lawsuit, which cost me $50.

They chose to ignore the lawsuit notice and didn't show in court. So I hired a sheriff to make sure they got the next one. My updated tab: $125.

The company’s lawyer hopped to, called and cut me a check. The check, naturally, bounced. My bank charged me a $25 fee. And I had to file another lawsuit

Scoring update: $200 of my money to be in a commercial for a million-dollar investment company.

By now I had grown a permanent scowl, kinda like Cindy McCain. I did my homework– so much so that I wound up explaining the law to the nice, but unenlightened judge on my third trip to court that at this point I was eligible to be rewarded twice what I had lost. His honor ruled in my favor: $800.

Two days after the ruling, the company went out of business. Grand total: not only did I not get my 800 bucks, I lost 200 trying to corral it.

And people wonder why I’m the kind of guy who’s waiting for the McDonald’s dollar menu to stop being so pricey.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Just Add Upside-Down Bacon And Lettuce.

I’ve received a few emails from friends about Monday's mention of the upside-down tomato garden, so I felt obligated to give it some cred.

Cool, huh? Just because my living space is about as cozy as an MRI machine doesn’t mean I can’t become one with 25 square inches of earth. And at $74.95, after eight years of upside-down goodness it'll practically pay for itself.

Remember, only 24 shopping days ‘til Mother’s Day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Can Die Now.

I’ve got as many odd quirks as anybody, but one of my less detrimental ones is a total obsession with monkeys.

It started when I was a baby, and was fueled by my mom, an antique dealer who regularly brought home every monkey knick-knack she could find. My bedroom back in New York is filled to the ceiling with hundreds of 'em.

Yesterday, I almost suffered an aneurysm on set when I got to meet Crystal, a Capuchin monkey. That’s her, above, and she is super trained and super sweet. I even shook her tiny hand (FYI– monkey paws: cold and leathery.)

Forget about Kevin Bacon. I am now one degree of separation from Crystal the Monkey.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

He's Wearing My Pants.

Actually, I wore his.

Yesterday, I was a photo double for Jason Patric in a new film called My Sister’s Keeper. Jason wasn’t available for a courtroom scene, so I put on his wardrobe and took his place in shots that didn't feature him close up.

It’s a massive tease for an actor to spend a day on a set without any dialogue. But my glass is always full to the point of overflowing, and I had a helluva time. I was paid to have a front row seat to watch a master– Alec Baldwin– literally hold court. And rub elbows with Cameron Diaz, Joan Cusack and Abigail Breslin. That beats working for a living.

Jason, be assured I was very careful with your clothes. I even shook twice after every pee.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sitcomy Goodness.

On a recent flight, while paging through the Sky Mall catalog and wishing I could afford that upside-down tomato garden I so desperately need, I looked up and saw that following the in-flight movie, a TV show was about to air.

Gotta hand it to CBS– the show “Big Bang Theory” was never a thought in my mind until they had me as a captured audience. And one episode got me hooked.

It’s on tonight at 8 p.m., and I think it’s hilarious. The premise: a cute actress moves next door to two physicist grad students. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon (the tall one), really steals the show.

Here’s a preview. Pardon the silly, inexplicable background music:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Which Will Happen First?

A) Cubs win the World Series

B) Jesus returns from the dead

C) My crappy gym removes the blank pic-in-pic box from the TV by the bikes

Friday, April 11, 2008

Puttin' My Butt On The Line.

I got a call for an audition for a prime-time soap opera, and was told that I’d need to remove my shirt for the casting director after auditioning my scene. This was three days before the audition, so I had a bulimia-filled weekend of starving and exercising like a maniac.

Monday arrived, and I performed the scene and removed my shirt. Piece of cake. Then the casting director asked me if I’d be willing to bare my butt as well. I suppose we can thank “NYPD Blue” for blazing the trail for men to show their rear-ends on prime-time TV. Where do I send the muffin basket.

My instinct was to not flinch and just drop trou. Any hesitation would count against me as a comfortable, professional actor. Inside, however, I was feeling something akin to consternation, or maybe constipation. Like when I listen to Kenny Chesney sing, or eat heavy German food.

In the room, along with a female casting director, was a guy running the camera and a female assistant who had read lines opposite me. Great– witnesses. That said, I manned up, and down came the pants and boxers. I cupped my nuts with my hands and turned around, not knowing what to expect. What I found was that it was not so horrendous, and actually felt very much like I was disrobing at a doctor’s office. Calming breath.

I wound up getting a callback, which was great. I’d like to think it had more to do with my acting skills than my tushy, but I suppose either one is a good thing in this town.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Special Guest Blogger, Michael J. Fox

One of my favorite excerpts from his autobiography:

"Celebrities are the recipients of a hell of a lot of free stuff. At a time when I could afford to buy whatever shoes I wanted, I'd be invited down to the Nike showroom in Santa Monica, handed a huge duffel bag and invited to help myself to all the swoosh-emblazoned swag that I could stuff inside.

Once, on the 'Tonight Show,' I talked about life in the states: 'It's great, except for the beer. American beer's a little watery.' A week later, through my kitchen window I saw a giant Moosehead truck laboring up my driveway.

Even better than the real prize in this particular box of Cracker Jack: the wink. You can't buy the wink– the unspoken acknowledgment from almost everyone you encounter (shopkeepers, bouncers, maitre d's, airline ticket clerks, and even the uncivil servants of the DMV) that you've been deemed worthy of a new set of privileges; that for you the norms don't apply. You are no longer just plain folks."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Personal Critic.

I never head out to an audition without first running my lines past this guy.

Above, I finally nail the timing on a tricky scene from "'Til Death". And if I can make a Pit Bull crack up, I am money.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Matt's Favorite Things.

Oprah’s audience members take home her faves. You guys get mine:

O’Keefe & Merritt Oven.
Its broken clock truly is right twice a day. And that slight gas leak lets you know: it’s working. Retail value: probably bought for some wampum.

Laundry Hamper.
Exclusively at Target, one of a matching set of 60. Retail value: your pride.

Andiamo Luggage.
Toddler’s diarrhea brown. Retail value: free for your Bar Mitzvah.

1996 Nike hiking shoes.
Scale the Palisades and still be home in time for tonight's episode of “Webster”. Retail value: the minimum hourly wage of a small, but earnest Indonesian child.

Slightly smoke-damaged. Retail value: suburban New York home my mother almost burned down.

Kills roaches and ants, and has a country-fresh scent. It’s a triple threat. Retail value: priceless.

Building Houses With The Bluths.

As a guy who came dangerously close to having to retake wood shop in summer school, I was hesitant when my friend Ann asked if I wanted to participate in her company-sponsored Habitat for Humanity event.

Then Ann, who works for Fox Studios, mentioned the cast of my favorite TV show at the time, "Arrested Development", would be participating. Three days later, I was a drywallin' fool.

It was a nice touch of irony that on "Arrested", the Bluth family business is real estate development. But unlike their lazy, self-absorbed TV counterparts, these actors really got their hands dirty. I peeked into the house attached to the one on which I was working, and saw David Cross swinging away with a hammer. Michael Cera dug trenches. Unfortunately, Annyong was nowhere to be found.

Posted outside of each future Habitat home is a biography of the family for whom the home is being built. The one on which I worked was for a saint of a single women who was adopting a brother and sister from Africa and bringing them to live here. Words can't describe what it felt like at the end of the day to have worked so hard for such an amazing cause. But I'll give it a metaphorical shot: it was like cutting a line out of a kilo of cocaine and snorting the kilo.

Guys, trust me– visit Habitat's website and volunteer. Your therapist won't know what hit you.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Help Me Help The Big Guy.

As positive as I try to remain in this business, there are days that I could really use an Advil. Or Tylenol. Or that HeadOn stuff that you apply directly to your forehead.

On these days it's crucial to have friends that root hard for me to succeed and push me to get there, and I am blessed with several of them. Right now, one of these friends needs me to step up for him.

His name is Ben Mall, and he's a very talented advertising creative/copywriter, and one of the most selfless men I know. So much so, that when his wife suddenly wanted to move from his beloved Texas to Portland, Ben dropped everything and went with her.

Being the new guy in town has been a real chafe for Ben to scrounge up a job, and he needs one badly, so if anyone has connections to some advertising work in the Portland area, please hook him up.

You can read more about it on Ben's blog here.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Hack actor, in my casting workshop last night– if you ever answer your phone in the middle of my scene, and then chat until I have to stop and ask the respected casting director if I can restart again, I will break that phone over your skull.

And if you think I'm kidding, ask anyone.

Have a terrific weekend.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Beg To Differ, Jim.

Today I procrastinated DVR-style with a marathon of the show to which my blog pays tribute: "Inside the Actors Studio".

James Lipton, your show is great. Love the beard. But I have a beef with that Bernard Pivot "what profession would you not like to attempt?" question.

Guests each week give their typical answers: anything with numbers, operating a jackhammer, etc.

But I've mentioned before that it's important for actors to always believe the character their playing believes he's right. Whether he's filing a 1040 short form or cutting open his mother's belly like a trout. How can you fully portray something from which you distance yourself?

So I'd have to abstain. For me, every career is interesting, and I wouldn't pooh-pooh nary a one. Mopping up a porn store video booth? Bring it on. Handling Mel Gibson's PR? Where do I apply?

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, my lost afternoon feels somewhat worthwhile. Tomorrow I'll go back to my usual, productive behavior, eating peanut butter with a spoon and putting my underwear on my dog.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wanna Be In A Movie? Buy A Plane Ticket.

Forget your acting classes, workshops, and agents, and get on the blower to Delta, United and JetBlue. It's the Matt Shevin Proven Route To Acting Success™, and I personally guarantee it.

Just about every actor in Hollywood will vouch. It never fails for me.

The key, however, is to purchase a ticket, but not actually take the trip. If you do, you'll be screwed– like me, in Scottsdale last week, when I got a call for a callback for a film.

Or two months ago, when, right before an audition for an independent film, the director asked me if I was available for his shoot on the 2nd of March. I said yes, but knew I would be in Utah that week. For practice, I auditioned anyway. The director called three days later and offered me the role.

Or two years ago, when, sitting at a baseball game in Seattle, I got a call that I was being given a role in a commercial but was needed that afternoon. I cried in my Raineer Beer.

Next up, I'll be booking an Alaskan cruise. And putting the kibosh on working opposite Tom Cruise.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Kickass Actor/NFL Star/Beer Pitchman Meeting Of The Month.

"I get paid to practice; I play the games for free."

It means preparation is a bitch, but gameday is glorious. I've quoted it often, including Wednesday night, to a fellow actor who was growing weary of the daily grind.

The next morning, at LAX airport, I saw the man responsible for it: Bubba Smith.

I covertly took this pic of him before summoning up the guts to approach him, and when I did the man was outstanding. He talked to me for half an hour about his family, his football career, the Police Academy movies and the Miller Lite "tastes great, less filling" commercials. Here are some things I learned:
  • Even though his mom named him Charles, she never once called him that
  • He has a 15-year-old nephew who is 6' 9 1/2", 325 lbs., and USC is already recruiting him for football
  • He never lifted weights until nine years after his playing career
  • He doesn't own a cell phone. He believes women invented them to keep track of their men
  • Super Bowl III, a game in which his Colts lost to the Jets in the biggest upset in NFL history, was fixed
  • There are more Police Academy movies on the way, now featuring Bubba in charge of new recruits
As I approached him, he was chatting with an older white woman who knew he was a celebrity, but wasn't quite sure which celebrity. "You're not Morgan Freeman, right?" she asked. Bubba kindly shook his head. And I never hated being Caucasian more.