Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Supporting Cast.

Most design sucks, most art sucks, most music sucks, most movies suck, most food sucks, most books suck, most TV sucks. Hell, most people suck. That’s part of why good things are so special.

This year I’d like to mention more about the people who give me the fodder to write a fresh blog entry six days a week.

Many of them aren’t actors, either. Like my friend Andrew, who emailed me the above pic of his front door, and asked, “Am I the victim of a hate crime? Do you think a bunch of Jewish hooligans put this on my door???”

Then there was the time Andrew sent me this text: “On the airport paging system they are looking for Mohammed Alajmi. That can’t be good.”

A few weeks ago, he shot this pic:
And we had this conversation via text:

ANDREW: At a Phoenix Coyotes game. Guy in front of me going full yarmulke.
ME: Sending a public message.
ANDREW: He’s keeping it real.
ME: Real Yiddish.
ANDREW: Wants me to know.
ME: If he can get one goy to text his Jew friend, that yarmulke has paid for itself.
ANDREW: If a Palestinian approaches him, I will obviously get the hell out of here.
ME: Duck and cover. It’s gonna get explosive.
ANDREW: Wearing a yarmulke is like doing a full-time Tebow.
ME: Only gayer.
ANDREW: You know he’s religious without even talking to him!
ME: Of course.
ANDREW: It’s like his own personal hockey helmet!
ME: With God reflecting the pucks.
ANDREW: I may start wearing a cross outside my shirt full-time.
ME: Embrace your Long Island Guinea side.
ANDREW: Cross with a wifebeater.
ME: Spot on.
ANDREW: And a satin Mets jacket.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Recap.

You’d haul your butt through the vet parking lot too if you just had a syringe stuck in it for the first time… While fighting a cold, I had time to catch up on my DVR. Forget sitcoms – this is the best thing on TV right now… I voted for Christopher Plummer, Steve Buscemi, Alec Baldwin and the ensemble cast of “Boardwalk Empire”, and they all won SAG Awards last night. Even while deathly ill, I’m a kingmaker… I did make it out to Asanebo in Studio City for dinner. Their lotus root chips only strengthen my theory that you could deep-fry a catcher’s mitt and it would taste kickass.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Can I Sue For A Hostile Work Environment?

While working at an office on a writing assignment, this is what I’ve had to stare at all week.

Friday, January 27, 2012

In Which I Literally Set The Record Straight.

When people misstate statistics, I feel such a burning desire to straighten them out that my TMJ flares up in my sleep. But it’s not an obsessive-compulsive thing – I’ve read like a hundred articles about it.

And there’s one stat in particular that I have heard so many acting teachers and coaches F up, and as apparently the last hetero male actor in all of Los Angeles, it’s on me to stop this.

Here’s what they all love to say, as a motivational analogy to help us accept rejection: “Babe Ruth could not have been the home run king without also being the all-time strike out king!”

Right, except on the all-time list of most strikeouts for a batter, Babe Ruth is not first. He’s 99th. And after a couple of active players pass him this season, he’ll be 101st.

Am I going overboard? Nah. The only thing I’m guilty of is loving the Yankees. And wanting to punch the next misinformed acting teacher in the face. And shove a coffee filter down his pants. But, in my defense, I believe assault should be legal if a person is a jerk.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Get Your Butt To LA, Part 35: There Will Be Lulls.

Sometimes you’re in the zone, booking auditions, nailing roles, driving doubles into the gap. And then most times, it feels like trying to move a sleeper sofa up a flight of stairs.

These are the lulls. Every actor no matter how successful has suffered through them. Sometimes you’ll get so sick of moving like a slug. You’ll want to move like a cheetah. Or a slug driving a remote-controlled car. Well, maybe something more plausible than that, but fast.

Remember, it’s impossible to work every day. It’s why you can never ask an actor if he’d recommend his agent. 99% of them will tell you their agents are worthless, and not getting them auditions. But do you really think agents are ignoring us? Don’t our paychecks put food on their tables? Trust me, they’re submitting us. And so are the agents for 12,000 other actors for each role, so hang in there.

Tom Hanks has said that after “Bosom Buddies” went off the air, he didn’t work a year, and one year for an unemployed actor felt like five years. He began to accept that he’d had a good, short run, and now it was over. But then he auditioned for Splash, and thirty years later he’s still working his ass off.

That’s how it works. And by the way, this isn’t a business of “turns.” Really? Like, “When will it be my turn to play shortstop for the Yankees?” Relax. Everyone who wants it bad enough makes it.

So have fun in between the work. And know that it won’t always be this way. Patience and persistence. And when that big, life-changing opportunity arises, be ready.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Special Guest Blogger: George Clooney.

I’ve got a super busy day today, so I’m turning over the reins to double Oscar-nominee George Clooney, who had a really good interview recently in Esquire. I was able to at least choose the most interesting stuff, so think of it as me cutting your steak for you. You’re welcome. Here's George:

Hey, this is Einstein. He’s part cocker spaniel. I found him online, called the shelter and told the woman I really liked him, and she said, “Well, we don’t know if Einstein will like you. We’ll bring him to your house, but if he doesn’t like you, he can’t stay.” When she pulled into my driveway with him, I started to panic that Einstein wasn’t going to like me, so I ran into my kitchen and rubbed turkey meatballs all over my shoes. The second the woman opened the door, Einstein threw himself at my feet and she said, “I’ve never seen him react like that, ever!” and left him with me on the spot. Now he follows me everywhere, thinking of me as the guy with meatball feet.

Here’s the thing: we used to lead the world in making things. But we don’t make anything anymore. I miss that. But Hollywood still makes things. We still export a couple billion dollars’ worth of original, new product overseas – big time with big money.

Somebody asked me, “How can you relate to being a father?” Well, I’m not running for president, but I played that role in The Ides of March. I wasn’t an actual lawyer when I did Michael Clayton, and I don’t fire people for a living like I did in Up in the Air. It’s a job. Acting is playing pretend. There are method actors that are really wonderful. I don’t bash anyone’s way of working because the results are all that matters. But for me, I don’t have to do heroin to play a heroin addict.

I have a real interest
in pushing the limits of things that studios don’t want to make, because I can. I won’t be able to at some point in the near future, but right now while I can I want to do it. So when you’re 80 years old and they ask you what you did, you can say, “When I had the keys to the car, I drove it as fast as I could and as hard as I could. I took it to places the owner didn’t really want me to take it.” I understand that at some point they’re going to repossess the car. I don’t mind that. I just want to be able to say we gave it a shot when we had the time.

There are ten of us, and we’ve been best friends for thirty years. I remember when Richard Kind’s dad suddenly died, Richard was very grown up about it, leaving me a message: “My dad died, I’m in Chicago, the funeral’s going to be in New Jersey tomorrow. I’ll talk to you when I get back.” It was 5 o’clock in LA, so I called up the guys and said, “We should be there.” They were all around the country, so I got a jet and we spent the whole night flying to San Diego, Denver… We landed in Trenton, New Jersey. We got to the synagogue, and Richard, who didn’t have any idea we were going to be there, got up to speak and saw his nine best friends sitting in the back row. We all understood there are moments in your life that are passages, like your father dying and making you the man of the family. We knew how important that was at the time.

People forget that I was married. I love that, Will he get married? I don’t talk about it because I don’t think about it. I don’t ever question other peoples’ version of how they live their lives. Everybody has their own version of what they think I am and what they think that is. I’m just living my life and doing the best I can. No matter what I do, I’m somehow upsetting someone in some way or making someone happy. I can only live my life and my version of it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Ten Favorite Films Of 2011.

I trust award shows. They tell me how much to care about different dead people.

And today the Oscar nominees were announced, so I’d like to list what I think are the best films of the year. Here are ten I really liked, in order:

1) The Descendants. The best thing about movies is you get to see stuff like a woman cheating on George Clooney for a change.

2) Beginners. If I found out my dad was gay, he’d have a lot of explaining to do about all the short-sleeve dress shirts.

3) 50/50. Seeing as the odds of surviving are even, I’ll take cancer over marriage any day.

4) Limitless. If I had access to 100% of my brain… hey – if I say one more syllable it’s a haiku… poop.

5) The Artist. It’s amazing this film is so good, seeing as on paper, it has everything you hate: no color, no sound, tap dancing and a French dude.

6) Bridesmaids. Guys presume this is a chick flick, but I don’t recall a Traveling Pants chick crapping in the street.

7) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I never saw the Swedish version, but I was totally rooting for an Ikea joke in this one. Done and done.

8) Moneyball. Talk about getting some good wood: this movie combines baseball with my favorite writer, Aaron Sorkin.

9) X-Men: First Class. I’ve always thought a guy (in this case, Michael Fassbender) with a British accent was a bit of a “dandy”, but this is simply one of the best super-hero movies ever made.

10) Midnight in Paris. Regardless of Owen Wilson being 180° from Jewy, this film totally works.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Recap.

Eight weeks old, and I’ve already got Ricky trained to only watch scripted TV. That’s my boy… Actually, we had a big scare Saturday night when Ricky got a hold of an amphetamine at a friend’s house and I had to rush him to an animal hospital when he started having seizures. I almost had one myself when I received the $1500 bill… How great is the Pacific time zone? I watched my Maryland Terps play basketball at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Nothing like going to breakfast after you’ve watched a game… The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is excellent. Two hours and forty minutes, yet I wish it was even longer… Rest in peace, Joe Paterno. I think my favorite JoePa memory, beyond becoming the winningest college coach or ignoring child rape, has to be the time someone stole the glasses off his statue at PSU. That’s an instant classic.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

And I’ll Also Stick A Broom Up My Ass And Sweep Up.

Reality TV is what happens to television when there’s no order or planning. Hitler and Martha Stewart would have hated that lack of planning.

And it seems to be official now, according to the following breakdown in the casting notices, that the jerkoffs who bring you reality television have run out of ideas and expect you to do their jobs for them:

Send us a short, thirty second to one minute video about why we should pick your reality show idea. Share your video and get friends to vote! We'll take the best idea(s) to our partners and make one concept into a reality!

Sure I can. Watch how fast I go.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tracy Riffs.

I hate reality TV. In fact, I’ve had an impacted ass-full of it.

So now that Tina Fey has had her baby, it’s great to see “30 Rock”, the best show on TV, back on Thursday nights. (Though I’ve been getting my fix of it three to four times a day thanks to syndication.) And you can get 30 seconds of goodness as well, with the above clip of Tracy Morgan, in which his character goes back to find the building in which he grew up in and has a meltdown. It’s priceless.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Get Your Butt To LA, Part 34: Once Again, Learn To Speak Actor.

One of the things expected of you here in Hollywood – besides dating someone so young, people will assume you met at an Amber Alert – is being a total pro in front of the camera.

A few months ago I listed some terms all actors should know to help them look like seasoned vets. Here are a few more:

Profiles. This is often used during commercial auditions. After you slate (state your name into the camera before performing the audition), the casting person will want you to turn to your left, hold for a moment, then turn to your right, providing a view of what you look like from different angles. Sometimes added after this is a nifty gauge to reveal your age, in which you hold your hands up palms-out in front of your face, then turn them around palms-in. As a result, you may want to start doubling up or the hand lotion, or fly around the earth like Superman and try to reverse time. Up to you.
Used in a sentence: ME, INTO CAMERA: “Hi, I’m Matt Shevin.” CASTING PERSON: “Okay, and profiles… and hands…”

Back to one. During filming, when a longer shot calls for movement from you, this is the term used to reset the scene from the beginning for the next take. On a commercial I was in, I had to navigate a minefield of a kitchen, picking up a big bowl of fruit, peering over my wife’s shoulder as she browsed her iPad, bringing the fruit to the dinner table, talking to my kids, etc., etc. After each take, the director wanted to shoot the whole scene again all at once, so he had me go back to the mark from which I began. It’s shoots like this that make it key to really keep your energy up and stay focused. Alec Baldwin won’t do a scene until he gulps down a big concoction of caffeinated beverages that he likes to call his “acting juice.”
Used in a sentence: “Okay, everybody back to one!”

Two-shot. For almost every shoot, multiple camera setups are used to create a scene. Let’s say you and another character are having a conversation. First, the director will shoot the other character’s close-up, over your shoulder, then move the cameras to the other side and shoot you. Next comes the two-shot (or master shot), of both of you in the frame together. Supposedly, Jack Nicholson, as proficient a technical actor as they come, will purposely do something subtly different during two-shots that ruins the continuity of a scene (like drop his fork in a dinner scene) so that later, the editor will spot this “mistake” and have to use more of Jack’s close-up shots, giving him more solo screen time.
Used in a sentence. “We’re going to do the close-ups first, then move on to the two-shot.”

Eye-line. On a close-up shot of just you, the crew will tell you were to focus your eyes as if you’re talking to another character. It can feel a little odd because it may not be where you would normally be looking when talking to a person, but on camera it looks right. Sometimes a crew member will stand in a spot reading the lines of the character opposite you so you can focus on him. Other times you’ll just look at a piece of colored tape stuck to the set. I’ve heard Tom Hanks is such a pro that he’ll always show up on his off day to do a scene with you from behind the camera, because he wants to help you get it right by giving you his take in full character. He’s a stud.
Used in a sentence: “Where’s my eye-line?”

Go get ‘em.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Random Shots I’m Deleting: An iPhone™ Purge.

This one makes me so upset I may need to open up a can of whup-tushy.

When I shot my role in the commercial for Mr. Coffee, the cast and crew was assigned parking in a garage at a nearby Best Buy. I pulled into a spot on the top deck, and was so excited to get to the set that I skipped the elevator and went straight for the staircase, where I found this gorgeous early-morning view of the sun shining through the colored windows. The perfect beginning to a perfect day. I reached for my iPhone when it hit me: a stench of piss so strong it knocked my head back.

I don’t recall how I managed to get the shot off, seeing as I was too paralyzed with hysteria to hit the button. It was then that I realized: they should just make Best Buy stairwells out of Purell.

Thanks a lot, hobos. I needed that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Go Union.

How do you spell “guild”? (I’m getting a tramp stamp.)

This is the best time of the year to be a member of SAG, when screeners arrive in your mailbox so you can watch them and vote for next week’s SAG Awards. It’s also a good time to be under house arrest with a seven-week-old puppy. I’ve watched 18 movies in nine days.

By the way, The Artist is amazing. I was hesitant like many people seem to be because it’s a silent film, but I found it to be brilliant and tragic and it moves swiftly and you don’t even realize it’s silent. Can’t recommend it enough.

Time to go watch number 19. And yes, I will submit to a drug test.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekend Recap.

That would be Ricky enjoying his Michael Vick chew toy… Ricky went with me to a baby shower, thus blazing the trail for more Pit Bulls to get more shower invites… If it weren’t nauseating enough that my little brother and I have dogs named Lucy and Ricky, my new neighbors are named Jerry and Elaine… Forgive me, but I don’t think Jesus died so people could leave their Christmas trees on the side of the 110 Freeway… THRILLED that George Clooney and The Descendants both won last night, and that Ricky Gervais was brought back to host after he blasted everyone last year. If you missed his monologue, take a gander here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Not To Worry, Studio City Bobcat…

I don’t like white people either.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Oh For F’s Sake.

Thanks to my personal stylist Jenn, I have a closet full of shirts that look great, always catch folks’ eyes and are rarely worn by other guys. I was glad when my hero, Yankee pitcher Mariano Rivera wore one that I own, horrified when the character Cameron on “Modern Family” wore another, but now words can’t describe what I’d like to do to the one I own that Joran van der Sloot wore the other day in court when he pleaded guilty to killing that woman in Peru.

Though on the bright side, this does explains all the negative comment cards I’ve been getting on dates.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Get Your Butt To LA, Part 33: You… You’re Good…

So maybe you weren’t the most talented person in your high school. I’m sure you remember the guy who was. Good for him. But just because he can sing on key in Godspell doesn’t mean he has the makeup to come out here and succeed. In terms of singular talent, this is like being elected president as the legal-weed candidate.

What I’m trying to say is I don’t want you to think for a second that you’re not talented enough to become a working actor. And I want to apologize for taking the long way to get there. Pretentious analogies are like supermarket cupcakes – shitty.

There’s no such thing as “natural talent.” Sure, I have friends that are show-offs, or have great voices or can lie with a straight face. My dry cleaner may do a bitchin’ Christopher Walken imitation (albeit with a Pakistani accent), but is he destined to become a star? Not really. The dude’s perfectly happy getting the blood out of my clown suit each week.

But you, you’re the driven one. You’re the one who understands that talent is one thing, but fortitude is another. It’ll take time to develop your craft, and you’re perfectly willing to sacrifice the kickass house I assume dry cleaners own because for you, there’s no more fun and no better career than acting. And you know that it’s not so much about luck as it is about being patient and persistent, getting that one line on a TV show that leads to getting two lines on another, which leads to a guest star on yet another and eventually a big role in a film.

There are people who are not very good actors who maintain long and successful careers. You’ve discussed them with your friends walking out of theaters for years. But talent is in the eye of the beholder. Having the drive to come out here is most of what it takes. Overcoming nervousness in auditions is a good chunk as well. And talent will come with great acting classes and work. Remember, every actor, including Meryl Streep, started at zero.

So stop doubting yourself. And don’t let others doubt you, too. I understood when my mom worried about me becoming an actor. Worry is like Gatorade for Jewish mothers – it replenishes their electrolytes.

Get your butt out here. Now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This Week In @mattshevin Tweets.

  • (ABOVE) Hey wannabe: Pauly Walnuts would never fly coach.
  • Penn State. 49 days without a child rape!
  • My new puppy has a black tail, which also happens to be the name of my favorite magazine.
  • Hey LA Fitness, instead of just promising you’ll stop playing the same 20 music videos every day, I’ve got an easier solution. #arson
  • Guys who wear kilts at their weddings. #PurgingFriendsOnFacebook
  • I imagine the guy who owns the year-round Halloween store in Burbank going home at night and rolling around in a big pile of money.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Well Worth A Listen.

I am all for famous people using their celebrity to do good things. Like Naomi Campbell, who’s hosting a charity auction to benefit the victims of her own mood swings.

And Alec Baldwin, the most talented dude in the best show on TV, is now using his fame to create a very interesting podcast, in which he spends 24 minutes each week interviewing other big names like Chris Rock and Michael Douglas.

Alec stars in films and TV, hosts the Oscars, and now has a kickass podcast. The man does more each day before I’ve had my first cup of wine. Check it out here:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Weekend Recap.

I’d better enjoy Ricky’s portability while I can – he went from four lbs. to seven lbs. in one week… I’ve noticed the two dangerously crazy guys at my gym – one an albino type who mutters homophobic phrases while he works out; the other a Latino, Iraqi war vet with PTSD who’s your ally one day and seems to have orders to kill you the next – both share a commonality of wearing short-shorts… Anyone else glad you don’t see rollerbladers anymore?... I saw a redhead at Von’s Supermarket wearing an “American Idol” t-shirt. I've never been so turned on and off in all my life.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 Deaths That Sucked.

I mentioned last year that my friend Michael, upon seeing my “Deaths That Sucked” list, asked if there would also be a “Best Deaths” list (which I’d have given to the Indianapolis Colts last year, who were upset by my Jets.) This year’s best death, however, is easy: Osama Bin Laden. Suck it, bitch.

And if I could go one further and have a “Best Births” list, hands down I'd give it retroactively to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s illegitimate son. I love that kid.

Meanwhile, here are the sucky ones:

Pete Postlethwaite.
Steven Spielberg called him “the best actor in the world.” So while I’m sad to see him go, it’s nice to move up one notch.

Liz Taylor. The media claims she was the most beautiful actress of her time, but I only knew of her in her fat Elvis years. She did do a bunch for charity, so her death technically sucked.

Sidney Lumet. He directed 40 films, and had almost as many marriages. Stud.

Jeff Conaway. Long before he was exaggerating his drug habit for reality TV, he shot one of the top five sitcom scenes of all time.

Peter Falk. After he died, the LAPD issued a statement saying they were proud to be associated with Peter’s character Colombo. And then returned to their regular duties of being racist scumbags.

Bubba Smith. The only one on this list I met in person. And while he was kinda batshit crazy, he was a gentle man.

Patrice O’Neal. This one really sucked shit because he was only 41 years old. But I was happy that after I blogged about his death, a few friends of mine got really hooked on his standup on YouTube.

Harry Morgan. My favorite line from his run as Colonel Potter on “M*A*S*H” was in response to the question “Why do women ride side-saddle?” to which Potter replied, “Would you marry a woman who didn’t?”

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Mr. Coffee Commercial.

Caffeinated goodness, from this past year.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year And All That.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to say yes – yes to love, yes to life, yes to staying in more.

Actually, I prefer to take stock of my previous year before I reset the odometer, and I must say I'm proud of my 2011. I booked roles in four commercials, a movie and the cover of a magazine. Not bad.

But what resonates most for me from this past year actually occurred in a casting workshop. It was a scene from the TV show “Terriers,” in which I was playing a sarcastic, angry detective toying with and then laying into a serial date-rapist. I was so locked in that I didn’t even realize an earthquake was occurring. It blew the casting director’s mind, and felt better than any other moment in 2011.

Some actors come out here to be famous, but all they wind up accomplishing is clogging up the freeway. And that’s okay. I'm sure they know many things I don’t. What colors go with mauve, for instance.

My New Years resolution is the same one I make every year: just become the best actor I can be. That, and to get a tattoo that says “I Will Regret This.” But that’s it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Christmas Gift To Me.

Life will deliver moments when something daunting is about to happen, when you know it’s daunting, when you’ve done everything you could to prepare for the moment, but still, you just don’t know. I felt that way when I graduated from college, when I moved to LA and, incredibly, on New Year’s Day when I was about to take a look at a Pit Bull puppy. Oh my God. There is no stopping this now. Please tell me this will turn out all right. You take a leap of faith with life. You inhale and exhale. You hope.

Seven months earlier I sat on the cement floor of a vet’s office, and pounded my fist on that floor and cried as the techs took away my 11 year old Pit Bull and put him down. And I thought I’d never get over it.

But last month the emptiness of being without a dog began to surpass the hurt of losing one. And for the first time I thought about getting a new puppy.

Back when Petey was dying, I wrote in a blog entry: “My friend Daniel told me that after Petey is gone, I need to get a new dog, because a good owner like me should always be taking care of one. And my friend Carolyn, a super-talented actress who proved once again my theory that actors are truly supportive, came with me to the oncologist, and sat with me there for three hours, and asked the doctor all the tough questions for me while my head was spinning. Who does that?”

On Sunday, Carolyn came with me to see the new puppy, and right away we didn’t like his situation: living outside, weaned off his mother too early, filthy after having been blasted by a skunk and not bathed. But as bad as he had it, the little guy came right up to me, wagging his tail in circles just like Petey. He was only five and a half weeks old, way short of when I should have been taking him, but he was coming home with me anyway and I was going to be an owner all over again.

There’s nothing quite like a puppy. They smell good. They fall asleep in your arms. They get you wicked laid. But I was justifiably worked up as I was about to take Ricky home, knowing in ten or eleven years I’d be back at the vet’s office, wishing there was something – anything – I could do to keep him around for just a little longer. I dove in anyway, and even as I spend the next couple months getting up every couple hours during the night to take this tiny guy out to pee, I’m really happy to do it. I’m a dog owner.