Tuesday, March 31, 2009

30-Second Timekiller.

Click above for the commercial I wrote and starred in last month.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pissing On Parade: An Opinion By The Hilarious Website Inside The Actor’s Studio Apartment’s Sarcastic Helmsman Matt Shevin.

One of my top pet peeves – and trust me, there’s an ass-full of ‘em – is contrivance. Reality shows. Morning zoo crews. I even struggle with the artificial flavor in my Froot Loops.

Every Sunday, Parade Magazine appears inside my local rag, the LA Times. Yesterday’s Personality Parade section was quite the doozy. Check out a reader’s question launched at some guy named Walter Scott, who heads up the column:

Q: Jamie Foxx portrays a cellist in the upcoming movie The Soloist. I know he plays the piano, but can he really play the cello?--Justin Reece, New York, N.Y.

So interesting Justin Reece of New York, NY would pose such a question, just days before this movie debuts. Let’s have at another:

Q: What does Gabrielle Anwar of USA's hit show “Burn Notice” do to stay so fit?--Ellen Jacko, Tucson, Ariz.

Couldn’t just ask how Gabby stays so fit? Had to mention the network and laud the show? One more:

Q: Thriller novelist James Patterson has sold 150 million books. How does he do it?--C. Brodie, Knoxville, Tenn.

What a fantastically topical question, C. Brodie, considering Patterson has two novels coming out this year. And good to see you did your homework on the book count.

Look, I understand the importance of good publicity. I know when I hit it big I’ll need plenty. And I also understand Parade is a frivolous entertainment mag, but it’s still technically a form of media, and these inane questions from what I assume are fabricated readers insult my intelligence. And I ain’t even the smartest – I went to a state school.

Cut the crap, Parade, and stick to the hard-hitting material: Howard Huge cartoons, and zesty chicken recipes.
--M. Shevin, Los Angeles, Cali.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kickass Celebrity From-The-Second-Greatest-Radio-Show-Ever Sighting Of The Month.

Stuttering John Melendez, formerly of the Howard Stern Show, presently the announcer on "The Tonight Show."
Sitting next to me in a casting workshop in Hollywood, Thursday night.

Friday, March 27, 2009

That’s A Wrap.

Above, my wardrobe for my new film. I hope it explains why my bitching about my weight became as painfully frequent as "a very special episode of 'E.R.'”

Forgive me. I now plan on eating so much that by next week I’ll be able to make a little extra cash sitting on suitcases.

The shoot was outstanding, and a great way to start the day. And the way the day ended: a workshop with the casting director of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” An actress in the workshop told me that after I performed my scene, the CD nodded her head and folded over a corner of my headshot, as a reminder to herself that I'd crushed it.

Arguably my favorite aspect of acting: it allows for the chance to be great. Like being the Jesus of carpentry.

Happy weekend. Who wants a can of beer?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Candidate #2 For Beating Of The Year.

You might remember our first contestant. Number two makes that guy look like a piker.

Today I’m scheduled to finally shoot my new short film. It’s been eight weeks and three days since the last shooting day was cancelled. The wait’s been so endless it’s made the line at the DMV look like f’n Mardi Gras.

The director of the film hired a director of photography, and we were all set to go until the guy was offered a higher-paying gig yesterday and bailed on us.

A few things: 1) this city ain’t big enough for you to act so damn unprofessionally. 2) My new, enhanced memory will never forget your name. 3) Enjoy the couple-hundred extra bucks you'll make; the director would have given you thousands in work in the future.

We scrambled and got a last-minute replacement. But it shouldn’t have come to this.

I won’t throw a shoe at this guy, but I will throw a fit. And maybe an anvil. You’ll never work in this town… well, studio apartment… again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Long-Distance Emote.

I come from a long line of gadget fanatics. My dad loved them. His dad loved them. Though I imagine a gadget to my grandfather meant a bloodletting-leech back in the old shtetl.

Flash forward to modern, Nazi-free Los Angeles, and yesterday, I downloaded Skype. For those of you unfamiliar with Skype (‘sup, mom), it’s a software that allows up to 25 users to link together for high-quality video-conferencing and phone calls.

Unfortunately, I found out at the last minute that Skype isn’t video friendly yet on Macs. Get on it, folks.

The reason I needed it was actually rather cool: I had an audition with a director in another city. That's me, in the necktie, dressing up in character. After some trial and error, we settled on plan B: AIM webcam and speakerphone. I was able to read with him, and take his direction. The picture was clear and our voices synched up. Not bad.

The 2000-mile audition. Damn impressive, and it may really change the business. Hooray for science.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spanky 1, Threshold 0.

My one-year-old nephew took a header into the doorway of my brother’s kitchen over the weekend.

This morning, the house’s condition was upgraded to “stable.”

Monday, March 23, 2009

Catastrophic Memory.

I suffer from a slight case of A.D.D. And when I say slight, I mean hey, it sure is windy today. I wonder if it’s gonna rain. I should check the weather. Why do all the weathermen in L.A. have vaguely meteorological-sounding names? Dallas Raines. Johnny Mountain. And why do they wear such shiny suits?

(45-minute break between paragraphs.)

Where was I? A.D.D… of course.

My friend Jon, an actor, is the polar opposite of me memory-wise. Give him ten minutes, and he can learn six pages of dialogue by heart. Bastard.

I finally asked Jon for advice, and his very simple answer surprised me: concentration. The card game in which you lay out a deck face down and take turns flipping over two cards at once, trying to find matches. Jon bought a kids' deck, featuring ducks and cows, and it totally worked.

A few months ago, I found an online version, and began playing it religiously. Recently, I realized my capacity to memorize long monologues is off the charts better. I can take pages of material and within a half hour have them down cold. It's amazing.

This game can work for anyone in any field in which memorization plays a role. The timer below the pictures makes it actually kind of addictive. I’ve done it in 1:16, and I’m sure many of you can top that. Have at it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kickass Actor-From-The-Best-Comedy-Of-Last-Year Sighting Of The Month.

Ben Stiller, on location for his next film.
Hollywood and La Brea, Saturday.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Abe Gets What's Coming.

There’s a new film out called Miss March, written and starring a couple of guys from the very demented, sketch comedy troupe The Whitest Kids U Know.

I haven’t been this thrilled and disturbed since I used an unemployment check to buy a handgun.

Above is one of my favorite sketches from their TV show on IFC. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Festivus, Part XI.

All I know about Kansas City is that they like to hire horrendous former New York Jet head coaches. And Don Mattingly once got busted there for pissing in public outside a bar. Understood – I love a good al-fresco pee as well, Donnie Baseball.

Today, however, “The City of Fountains” (Wikipedia with the assist) moves into my top 11 favorite cities, as its film festival becomes the eleventh fest to accept The Beneficiary. And with that, I vow to never urinate on your hallowed soil, KC.

Today’s Festivus space is dedicated to another star of my film:
Lew Temple. Lew is best known for playing Cal, the cranky cook in The Waitress. In my film, he plays the pawn shop gun dealer.

Lew won me over in an instant, after he mentioned he’d played minor league baseball. I went full-force sports geek on him all afternoon, and found his story about the leap from ballplayer to actor to be as cool as it gets.

Lew played in the minors for the Astros, alongside a future pro named Casey Candaele. Casey’s mother had played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was depicted in the movie A League of Their Own.

When A League of Their Own was in pre-production, Casey was hired to help the female actors with their baseball skills. He brought Lew along with him, and Lew, after teaching Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell how to bunt, began to catch the acting bug. The producers gave him a line in the movie, and he was hooked.

While he tends to play tough creeps, Lew is one of the nicest actors I’ve ever worked with. The universe has blessed the man who can both turn a double-play and teach me a few cool technical acting tricks for our scene. Consider me crazy jealous, sir.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tax Relief.

I can procrastinate better than anyone in the world. We could probably hold a procrastination contest, but we’d never actually get around to planning it.

Which makes it all the more astounding that I’ve already taken care of my taxes. Actually, I collected my receipts, and let ace CPA Jennifer Thielbahr do the heavy lifting.

And lift me out of mental breakdown she did. I thought I owed thousands to the government, but thanks to Jennifer, I’m getting a big chunk back. She is the Jedi master of the 1040 long form.

Jennifer would blush profusely if she knew I were blogging about her, but she made my year in early March and deserves the cred. There's still time for her to whip up a fancy return for you as well. Contact her. Then get yourself a Monopoly-guy monocle and put it to good use.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oscar Training.

Actually, the award is for writing. Occasionally, me write good.

And dig the marathoner’s-anemia face. As soon as my new short is shot, I’m hitting the McDonald's dollar value menu with a fistful of twenties.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Suffering For My Art.

Every eight weeks I donate blood to the Red Cross. Partially because it’s the right thing to do; mainly because I’m a sucker for a free juice box.

Last week, however, the RNs at the Red Cross wouldn’t let me donate, after they did a routine blood test and found a rather low level of iron.

I went to my doctor, and he was slightly concerned about it being either anemia or, worse, cancer. He drew a bunch of blood, and I waited a long 48 hours for the results. On Friday he called and all results were negative. Right on.

What may have happened was a result of my month-long mission to get in as great shape as possible for my next short film, which has been delayed due to camera malfunction. A lower-calorie diet combined with an increase in exercise (I’m kicking the elyptical’s ass) can cause what my doc referred to as “marathoner’s anemia,” in which athletes beat their bodies into lower iron levels.

So I’m truly relieved. And now I’m gonna make public a promise I made to myself if I turned out I was life-threatening disease-free: I’m going to work three times as hard as I already was on my acting career. And like my friend Michelle once said, “When Matt Shevin sets his mind to something, he does it.”

It’s a good day to be alive in Hollywood. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

People Who Could Use A Good Shoe Thrown… Oh, Wait…

I read an interview recently with Will Ferrell, who said that the biggest thing he missed about being on “Saturday Night Live” was his weekly W impression. According to Will, if he were still on the show, he’d perform every Bush sketch dressed in the “Mission Accomplished” flight suit – the flight suit from the oval office, the flight suit in bed, etc.

Tonight, a live version of Will’s one-man Broadway airs on HBO. Should be interesting to see what he’s had pent up for the past seven years.

HBO, tonight, 9 p.m.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Festivus, Part X.

Slumdog Millionaire won eight Academy Awards. Eh. Call me when you hit double digits.

#10 with a hollow-point bullet is the Indie Spirit Film Festival. Thanks for the props, and for the chance to once again talk up The Beneficiary. Today, a little info on some of my costars:

John Kapelos as Roy Tidrow – I blogged about John already, so here’s something new about him: John is very politically active, and an acquaintance of the Clintons.
Interesting Beneficiary fact: John, a total trooper, kept a lit cigarette in his mouth during a very dramatic murder scene, even though he’s a non-smoker.

Julie Ann Emery as Valerie Tidrow – Julie Ann had a great role as Eva Mendes’ best friend in Hitch. And a recurring role on “Commander in Chief,” the show featuring Geena Davis as President.
Interesting Beneficiary fact: the vomit Julie Ann hurled into the toilet was a mixture of orange juice and Big Mac.

Kimberly Quinn as Margaret Williams – former Tic Tac girl, now shooting a lead role in a big new pilot written and directed by Tim Robbins.
Interesting Beneficiary fact: Kim is the wife of Beneficiary director Ted Melfi, and holding their real baby girl in the scene in which she kisses her husband goodbye.

Peter Asle Holden as Andrew Williams – Peter has a heck of an acting resumé, with roles going back to a couple of episodes of “The Wonder Years,” to more recently, “24.”
Interesting Beneficiary fact: the close-up shot of the wristwatch being taken from Peter’s bloody hand is actually my hand.

Overall interesting fact: most of the character names are tributes to my beloved New York Yankees – Roy Tidrow: Roy White and Dick Tidrow. Andrew Williams: Bernie Williams (and my big brother, Andrew.) Peter Holden: Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra, and a less-Semitic nod to Ken Holtzman. My character, Joe O’Neil: current Yankee manager Joe Girardi and my favorite all-time player, Paul O’Neill.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Little Club Soda Get That Right Out.

George Carlin once said he liked watching NASCAR because "how else are you gonna get to watch a twelve-car pileup and not be a part of it?"

The same goes for getting knifed on film.

This particular owie comes via a film I shot a couple years ago. The director sent me a copy this week, and I was digging watching me get gutted like a trout.

It's still not quite as sweet as my true-life death-wish – getting assassinated – but it edges out the fate of my opponent, who's apparently peed himself.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Breakin’ Off More Knowledge.

More of “What You’ve Learned,” from the readers of Esquire:

Dr. John sings about being at the right place at the wrong time, but I would rather be at the wrong place at the right time. -- David Davis, 39, Acworth, Ga.

If at the end of an anecdote you have to say, “It was so funny,” it wasn’t. -- Brian Gotta, 43, San Diego

Step 1: Put keys in pocket. Step 2: Open door to trash chute. Step 3: Drop trash bag down chute. Step 4: Close door to trash chute. Step 5: Remove keys from pocket. -- Christopher Head, 36, Seattle

Dr. Phil is evil. -- Bob Sassone, 42, Gloucester, Mass.

One in a row is a good start. -- Al and Di Waldman, 68 and 60, Malibu, Calif.

Take a different way home every day. -- Larry Menlove, 41, Spring Lake, Utah

As it turned out, Gore wouldn’t have been so bad to have a beer with. -- Barry Friedman, 50, Tulsa

On Sunday night, you should have enough food in the fridge, gas in the car, and dry-cleaned clothes in the closet to last you until Friday. -- Java Coleman, 35, Minneapolis

Argue in court, not on the side of the road with trucks rolling by. -- Lt. George Knowles, 49, Missouri State Highway Patrol

The last wagon of the Mexico City subway is reserved for gay encounters. -- John Morris, 26, Mexico City, Mexico

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Today’s Acting Glossary: Call Sheet.

Times in Hollywood get any leaner , and I’m gonna list my shoulder MRI on my résumé as a film credit.

The economy is kicking show business’ ass, and that, combined with the push toward more reality shows, and the dreaded Leno 10 o’clock timeslot, has made it a challenging TV season for actors. And all the more special that my friend Cindy booked a role on “The Office” and shot it yesterday.

Pictured above, is the call sheet for Cindy’s shoot. It’s printed out daily (on blue paper denoting it’s the final version) and filled with anything and everything everyone in the crew and cast will ever need: location address, parking instructions, weather, every name associated and each name’s respective start time. Plus a handy reminder about daylight savings. I checked to see if the recipe for my mom’s chocolate-chip meringue cookies was on there. It was.

Cindy’s not yet sure when the episode, called “The Michael Scott Paper Company,” will air, but I’ll mention when it’s coming up. She play’s Ryan’s mom, which may mean her character will recur. Excellent job, Cindy. And let’s get that economy fixed, Barry O.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Gettin' Britishy On My Ass.

Everyone in this business has a story. Like when I paid my way through acting class by working the day shift at a graveyard and the graveyard shift at a Days Inn.

You’ll be able to read all about it eventually, thanks to a special guest in the Studio Apartment last Friday: Julieta Sans, British photographer/writer. Check out some of her work here.

Julieta is working on an assignment about aspiring actors that’ll run in several magazines. She interviewed me about all the ups and downs (she’s focusing on the downs), then took photos of Petey and me.

It’ll take her a little while to finish the project, but I’ll mention when she does. In the meantime, back to the struggle.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Read MY Eyes, Brother.

Do they tell you you’re going to hell for being a total scumbag?

But at least you’re mobile and 24/7. Kudos on the convenience.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Welcome To The 80s, New York.

Here in the Greatest City on Earth, we like our women leggy, our celebrities wacky and our restaurants nice and sparkly.

Our eateries are mighty clean, thanks to a mandatory letter-grade policy. Last month – about a million months overdue – New York City decided to follow suit with their own system.

L.A.’s codes are super stringent. Once, in the Arby’s on Sunset Blvd.
(I was reckless-hungry), I asked the manager why he only had a B rating. He showed me the paperwork, and the place had been flagged for a very minor infraction: keeping extra straws a few feet too close to a trash can.

Meanwhile, in Manhattan, where the rats outnumber the people, the health inspection field will be downright recession-proof.

So bon-appétit, New York. Here’s to cleaning up the restaurant biz, then setting your sights on the whole public urination thing.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Gettin' My Game On.

My nightly ritual before casting workshops – besides a light spritz of Michael Jordan Cologne – is watching videos on youtube that get me in a comic frame of mind.

I stumbled upon this clip from “Will and Grace,” which I thought exemplified a great sitcom acting mantra: “when skating on thin ice, speed is your friend.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Should I Be Worried?

Don't ever say, "Hold my beer while I do this." It won't go the way you planned.

That said, today marks the 11th anniversary of the last time I threw up. Which happened to be 11 years after my previous vomit.

Am I mathematically due to yack today? If so, here’s hoping it doesn’t happen during an audition. Sure, it’d memorable, but not the good kind of memorable.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009

Best Of Park City.

Best view while peeing: Sun Lodge.
The Canyons Resort.

Best non-human sighting: moose (upper left corner), Silverado trail.
The Canyons.

Best way to top off an invigorating day on the slopes: a rousing game of Pork Rib Jenga.
Bandits, Main Street.