Friday, May 30, 2008

Tough Week.

In my ongoing, Wednesday night acting workshop, whenever someone breaks character by cracking up, we call it a “Harvey Korman”– a tribute to the ad-lib moments on “The Carol Burnett Show” that were so hilarious that the man just couldn’t keep a straight face.

Harvey passed away on Thursday. Here’s one of his classic Blazing Saddles scenes, by which to remember him (best word in the piece: “Methodists”):

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thanks For Hanging Out, Guys.

As an actor, I could count the number of times I’ve needed a pick-me-up on one hand. If I were holding a calculator.

A few months ago, my neighbor took me to a special screening of The Bucket List. Good movie. Great post-movie festivities.

On stage, in a very cozy theater, taking Q&A, were Rob Reiner, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. It quickly evolved into a love fest. Morgan divulged having had a drink or two before coming on stage, and was feeling no pain. Jack was having the time of his life, holding court as the world’s most charismatic 70-year-old.

I remember, when I first wanted to be an actor, my brother told me it was a good pursuit for me– he didn’t see me as the 9 to 5 type. And seeing these three men reinforced that this business isn’t work. Sipping a scotch in your limo before taking stage in front of an adoring crowd? I’ll gladly list that on my 1040.

Rob, Morgan and Jack, feel free to help recharge my batteries any time. Just call me on the celly.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another Way I'll Know When I've Hit It Big.

My bathroom sink will actually match my bathroom.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Honoring A Legend.

My favorite word is “potential”. I’m a huge fan of anyone who achieves everything possible in his/her life.

Sydney Pollack passed away Monday. He was one of my idols, and the living embodiment of potential. Here are some highlights from his life:
  • Though he was mostly known as a top director, he was also an accomplished actor, and always had a strong presence in films like Michael Clayton, Tootsie and Husbands and Wives. He also recurred as Will’s dad on “Will & Grace”
  • Before directing Out Of Africa, he spent three years trying to perfect the script. The film won seven Oscars, including best director
  • When his lifelong friend Robert Redford asked him to join the Sundance Institute, Sydney donated a lot of time, helping young filmmakers learn their trade
  • When the Sundance Institute took over the U.S. (Sundance) Film Festival, it was Sydney’s idea to move the festival from September to January, knowing that running it during ski season would draw more attention
  • He was the first filmmaker given permission to shoot inside the U.N. Building, for the film The Interpreter
  • He was married to the same woman for 50 years
My friend Molly, who wrote a screenplay that Sydney considered directing, met with him, and found him to be outgoing and brilliant. I was really happy to hear that. And all the more sad to see him go.

Yes, Your Honor, What Was I Thinking.

Everyone’s done something of which they’re not proud. A tribal arm tattoo. Signing that “Girls Gone Wild” waiver. I sat in Judge Judy’s courtroom.

With the exception of “The Tonight Show” and “The Price is Right”, all the clapping and cheering on TV is paid for. It’s just too tough a task to wrangle an audience and cajole them into applauding if you don’t toss them a few bones.

To make some extra cash, I spent many endless hours sitting in on case after case with Judy. Flip on an old repeat and you’ll catch my catatonic face, in the first row behind a hussy plaintiff.

Here’s what I learned: if you loan so much as an ice cube to your roommate, get it in writing. Don’t lend your boyfriend anything. And for God’s sake, don’t waste the court’s time trying to get your money back because your miniature Dachshund grew too big to fit through his doggy-door; Judy’ll tear you a new one.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Before You Read Below, See If You Can Guess Who This Actor Is.

My friend asked me a great question yesterday: would I rather be a successful working actor who is recognized from time to time, or so hugely famous that I’m swarmed Brad Pitt style. For me, it’s a no-brainer– I would love to see what scary famous is like. Any actor who tells you otherwise is probably full of it.

I prefaced my answer with this, however: the most important thing for me right now is to stretch my range as an actor. That’s why I still go to class, and why I love to challenge myself. The fame will naturally come as a result of the range.

Oh yeah– the guy in the above picture, playing George W. Bush, is Josh Brolin. I was shocked when I found out. Speaking of range, in the past year, Josh went from dirty New York cop in American Gangster, to Texas vet running for his life in No Country For Old Men, to small-town police captain in In The Valley of Elah. Next he'll be W., in a new film by Oliver Stone.

Now, I know that my Republican friends think that a George W. biopic by Oliver Stone sounds as ludicrous as a health-and-beauty book by Amy Winehouse, but I can’t wait to check it out. I’ll have my personal assistant reserve 12 seats– including one for the midget in my posse.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Okay, I’ll Make One Exception.

I’ve made the claim that the people in Los Angeles are not only not shallow, but very friendly. That is, unless, you sign a $36,000,000 contract and are batting .167. Yikes.

My Rebuttal.

I took some friendly fire from some readers about my undying love for Los Angeles, so allow me to point out yet another of the finer features of the Greatest City on Earth: no mosquitoes. Not a one. Never seen or been bitten by one my entire time here.

It’s just one of myriad reasons I would lie and embezzle or pimp out my dog in order to stay living in this town. Peace.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Summer Hiatus Fun.

Now that TV shows have ended their seasons, the acting business has really slowed down. Which gives me idle time. Which means I can run experiments like seeing how long it takes a Pit Bull to get to the innards of a stuffed polar bear. Set the clock for 30 seconds:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Weekend Epiphany #2.

You can’t throw a punch without hitting an actor in this town. It’s been said there are 200,000 of us, but I’d be willing to bet it’s ten times that.

Friday night, TV Land aired the pilot episode of M*A*S*H, featuring this guy, George Morgan, as Father Mulcahy. George didn’t have a line in the show, and then was replaced after that lone episode by William Christopher, who went on to appear in 206 episodes over 11 years.

Which brings me to weekend realization #2: the path to making it big as an actor often seems a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, stuffed inside a slightly shoddy handbag that smells of cheese.

Imagine the odds George Morgan had to buck in order to win that role, only to be unceremoniously replaced, then have his face rubbed in it for over a decade. Do you think a day passes in which he doesn’t want to punch William Christopher in the throat?

I’d be surprised if the man's face isn’t permanently frozen like it is the picture above. Much respect, G.

Weekend Epiphany #1.

My senior year of college, I attended the Preakness, the second leg of horseracing’s Triple Crown, in Baltimore. For all the class and pageantry of the grandstands and race at Pimlico, the infield, packed with 50,000 drunken jerkoffs, is more reminiscent of Sodom and Gomorrah.

One of my vivid memories of that afternoon includes a muddy footprint on my friend John’s chest, affectionately placed there by a hillbilly skank who wrongfully accused him of tossing a bottle at her head.

Which brings me to my weekend realization: turning a year older is never fun, but three days after my birthday, I saw the above photo and felt warm all over. This guy, dodging flying beer cans as he races across the top of the Portojohns in the Preakness infield, made me appreciate being a grownup, living in a nice city, pursuing a career that I love.

Thank you, rednecks.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Special Guest Blogger.

Caught up with my friend Mark the other day. I hadn’t talked to him since I bailed him out of Disney jail.

Mark is an great writer/creative director in New York, and he’s contributed a killer article to AdWeek. It's focused on the ad business, but his thoughts apply to all careers, especially mine, which is changing daily.

The more hits the article gets, the more AdWeek will ask Mark to contribute, and I for one would love to learn from more of his insight.

You’ll understand the above visual when you read Mark's piece by clicking here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Hot Racist.

Cali is one very blue state. Like, Windex blue. But occasionally I bump into a new immigrant with a fresh perspective.

Her name was Vanessa, and she was a cute blonde who had just moved here from Arizona. I met her at the swank bar at the Viceroy Hotel.

She was there with a friend, and as the friend was off in a corner getting friendly with a guy she met, Vanessa mentioned her disproval of the guy, because he was, well, Jewish.

I held my tongue. Okay, gimme a break– this was way back in 2006, and I was young and didn’t know any better. Especially when Vanessa then asked me, “You’re not Jewish, are you?” I told her when it comes to religion, I pretty much do whatever Oprah tells me to do.

She brought me back to her place.

Turns out Vanessa’s intense bigotry was only outweighed by her Victorian prudishness. So no action for me.

Maybe there is a God after all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It’s My Birthday.

I was gonna put on my good suit for the occasion, but it’s still in the dryer.

I did think of the perfect gift you can give me. I picked a bunch of movies– ones that flew under the radar that I think are great, and I want you to rent them. That would be my kind of birthday present– supporting films that Hollywood should be making, and the subsequent trickle-down effect of me being able to audition for them.

After you watch them, leave comments or email me what you think. Or if you’ve already seen a few, feel free to comment now.
  1. Autofocus
  2. Big Night
  3. Dancer, TX. Pop. 81
  4. Dirty Pretty Things
  5. Heavy
  6. The House of Sand and Fog
  7. Igby Goes Down
  8. In the Company of Men
  9. It’s My Party
  10. Junebug
  11. Lars and the Real Girl
  12. The Last Kiss
  13. Life as a House
  14. Love Jones
  15. Roger Dodger
  16. Saved!
  17. SLC Punk
  18. The Secret Lives of Dentists
  19. The Station Agent
  20. Tadpole
  21. The Tao of Steve
  22. Tigerland
  23. The TV Set
  24. Welcome to the Dollhouse
  25. The Woodsman

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Just Give Me An Ounce Of This Guy’s Talent.

Thanks to moments like this on “30 Rock”, I can't watch Alec Baldwin in anything (including The Departed) and not crack up.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Personality Profile.

I’m a wiseass. Wait, let’s pause while legions of my friends throw down their Xbox controllers to fire off strongly worded, if badly spelled, emails of outrage and dissent.

Sorry guys, I am. And when I was asked in a casting workshop over the weekend to improv a scene that showed who I truly am, I ran with it.

I rehashed it below, and here’s a little background: I happened to get paired up with a former classmate of mine, Barry, a sarcastic gay guy in his 50s, and our only direction was to create a father/son relationship. Barry, by the way, happened to be wearing a Velcro brace under his shirt as a result of a lower back injury.

ME: Dad, we gotta talk.

DAD: What’s wrong, son?

ME: It’s about your new lifestyle.

DAD: Do you have a problem with me coming out of the closet?

ME: No… but why’d you have to come so far out of the closet?

DAD: Meaning?

ME: You’re a total man-whore.

DAD: I am not.

ME: You slept with my best friend.

DAD: What, do you expect me to sleep with people my age? Forget it.

ME: He wasn’t even gay.

DAD: He is now.

ME: I know! You’re like some sort of gay superhero.

DAD: Guilty. By the way (unbuttoning his shirt to reveal the Velcro brace) this is very slimming.

ME: See? Who asks his son for a girdle for Father’s Day?

DAD: You resent me for leaving your mother.

ME: No, I understand that. It’s just our relationship is really odd. Most dads take their sons to a ballgame. You want to go get mani/pedis.

DAD: We can go to a Dodger game.

ME: Not after you went down on Tommy Lasorda!


The scene was a hit and the casting director loved it. Sometimes this business makes you want to go home and curl up in the fetal position. Other times, when you knock it out of the park, you feel like a million bucks Euro.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

And It's Not Too Late To Get 125 Of These For $154.99.

My mom had her Costco membership revoked this past week, after, out of the kindness of her heart, she leant her card to someone and that someone was an idiot with it.

So, as the doors rolled open early this morning at the Costco here in the Marina, what did the worker shout out to me, my friend Jenn and dozens of eager shoppers waiting outside? “Happy Mother’s Day!”

Ironically well-put, amigo.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Honey, Please Pass The Heroin.

My friend Mark asked if I could write a little more about how I prepare for various roles. Luckily, contrary to what any ex-girlfriend tells you, I’m a giver.

Last night, in a casting director workshop, I was faced with a bitch of a task: a scene featuring a couple who were both hooked on heroin. I, the husband, confront my wife, who took money earmarked for baby formula and used it to get high.

The obstacle for me, as an actor, was that I’ve never ingested a drug stronger than Metamucil. And trying to get into that frame of mind in ten minutes was gonna be as difficult as dragging William Shatner away from a craft service table.

With the clock ticking, I picked up on a stage direction that described my character’s mind as “cloudy”. So I figured I had one possibility: hyperventilation. Right before my turn to perform, I took deep, heavy breaths, and by the time I got to my fiftieth, I was on the brink of passing out.

It completely worked. Rather than acting like I was slightly incoherent, all I had to do was fight my real dizziness, and focus on expressing my anger and disappointment in my wife.

One of these days, maybe I’ll get a scene about a guy addicted to TV, or marshmallow Peeps. Then I’ll be a Viking.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

All Rise... The Former Hot Chick From “Dallas” Has Reached A Verdict.

Beware evildoers– commit a crime nowadays, and you’ll judged by a jury of your grade-D celebrity peers.

Presenting “Jury Duty”. Not having a real job allowed me to be home flipping channels and discover this gem. And I must say, the only thing worse than actually serving jury duty is watching it on TV.

However, there’s a part of me that feels like maybe I should just skip the heartbreaking starving-actor years, my first big break, the starring movie roles and inevitable career fizzle, and go straight to appearing on this piece of claptrap. It would be a time saver.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

.יְהוּדִי לִפְנֵ אֶגוֹכֵּן

On the first day of an acting class taught by Stan Roth, teacher to the stars/member of the tribe, Stan divvied up scenes for each student from a large pile in his hand.

As I approached him, he was looking down at one particular scene, and said, "I have one for a Jewish guy." He then looked up at me, shook his head and said, "No way."

I didn't know whether to be honored or offended.

He’s The Brains, The Looks And The Muscle.

I want to pitch a TV show to a network in which my nephew and I play a couple of detectives who patrol the mean streets of Los Angeles.

My partner is a rookie cop/loose cannon who doesn’t play by the rules, and I’ve been assigned to keep him in check just days before my retirement. If we can learn to stand each other, the bad guys don't stand a chance.

I call it “Diaper Patrol”.

Monday, May 5, 2008

My Reign Of Terror Is Over.

Since I spend two-thirds of my adult life in acting workshops, I regularly harass my friends with text messages, begging for a Yankee scoring update.

My apologies to all you guys, and your nightmare ends thanks to my newest, favorite form of technology. Just text your team’s name (or MLB for all games) to 44636 (4INFO) and you’ll get a free, instant scoring update.

It’s downright fantabulastic.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Kickass Silent Character Actor Sighting Of The Month.

John Voldstad, a.k.a. Larry’s other brother Darryl, from TV’s “Newhart”.
ArcLight Theater, Friday night, before Iron Man (which rocked).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Suck It, Tampa.

I know way too many people that form way too many cockamamie opinions about Los Angeles without ever living in, let alone visiting, this town.

These people should be shamed like Japanese companies used to shame their employees. They should be made to stand in front of their building in their underwear shouting apologies and self-accusations while being berated by their superiors. Ah, the good old days.

L.A. is the greatest city on earth. The people here aren’t shallow, we don’t binge on coke and while our traffic isn’t great, it could be a lot worse. Couldn’t it?

Your honor, my witness: today, forbes.com released a list of the U.S. cities with the worst commutes, based on traffic delays, travel times and how efficiently commuters use existing infrastructure. The worst commutes were those that ate up the most hours and were the least reliable.

Eight of them are worse than L.A. In order:
  1. Atlanta
  2. Detroit
  3. Miami
  4. Orlando
  5. Dallas
  6. Tampa
  7. Washington, DC
  8. Houston
Thanks to school and otherwise, I’ve lived in three of these places and I can totally vouch.

Now, allow me to wrap up this blog entry, so you non-Angelenos can get a beat on that weekend traffic. Salud.

Monkey Boxers, 1999-2008.

Pronounced legally dead this morning. You might remember them from an earlier post here.

The world is a less white-trashy place today.