The Casting Couch

The Casting Couch

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Next Big Thing: Lily Collins

So this post is probably way premature, but I'm not too concerned with that. I think its best to start spreading the words now...LILY COLLINS. Lily is the daughter of famed singer Phil Collins (yay, Phil Collins Sundays!!), and she's not someone to ignore. The 18-year-old high school student has been modeling for awhile now and is just now starting to get into acting (recently inked with UTA). Not only is she stunning, but she's smart and fun too. Moving out from under her parents' roof, she's starting school at USC in the fall (Broadcast Journalism at my Alma Mater) where she hopes to stick around LA and pursue acting a bit further. I wish her all the best and am super excited to see what she churns out. Remember this face because I guarantee you'll be seeing and hearing "LILY COLLINS" again soon. Love her!

Check out how well she holds her own in front of the camera in this brief interview with TROUP, Live at the Viper Room:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Bob Iger Experience

So I had the opportunity to be a part of a Q&A session with Bob Iger this morning, Mr. President and CEO of Disney himself. It was an interesting experience to say the least. I'm not normally one to namedrop or brag about my experience, but I think its helpful sometimes to get insight into what the big whigs are like. The first thing I noticed was that Bob Iger truly is a gifted speaker. He speaks freely, and eloquently, and nothing about his words seem forced or inauthentic. He's very charismatic, but still, I was more impressed with how down-to-earth Bob was. He maintained an impressive sense of humor, and he was very open and honest about each question that was posed to him, no matter how trivial and ridiculous it seemed to the rest of us (one lady actually asked Bob Iger why there were "don't feed the squirrels" signs on the Disney lot). He talked about his recent trip to Russia to expand Disney's product influence there (including an anecdote involving vodka) and you could see his excitement as he discussed the new and its broadband capabilities.

A lot of the questions people asked bothered me though...nearly every question was focused on a negative issue about the company and what Bob could do to fix it...almost all of them trivial. It was frustrating being represented by such a group. One lady even asked why they usually didn't hire A-list actors for Disney's animated movies. Because Disney doesn't need to, you moron. A-List doesn't mean "most talent" just means "most expensive." Disney is fortunate enough not to have to rely on name-value in order to market its products--all people need to hear is "Disney" and that's enough name to make people want to see it. Therefore, they have the freedom to find the best actor for the job. This is casting at its best--without all the pressure from the studio to hire a fancy name over the strongest talent. Behold, Disney's upcoming animated feature with Pixar: Ratatouille. I just love how this poster doesn't have a single person's name on it. Its not about the actor...its about the film. Way to go, Disney.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Move over Dakota...

Okay, so I have used various terms of beauty (gorgeous, stunning) to describe actresses of all ages, the youngest being maybe 13 or 14. It seems odd to apply such a term to children of this age, and more appalling to describe even younger children in this way. But seriously, have you seen RYAN NEWMAN? Holy cow, this girl is GORGEOUS. I mean, I've seen cute babies before and cute kids, but cute doesn't even begin to describe this young actress's striking look. Moreover, she's a pretty good little actress. I discovered her playing a young Miley Cyrus on the hit Disney Channel series "Hannah Montana." By age 6, she'd already been in a long-running national commercial and was the youngest person ever to be "motion-captured," working under executive producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis in the hit Monster House.
Photo Date: 16 December 2006
Photo by Maury Phillips - ©

HAPPY 9th BIRTHDAY, RYAN!! I just thought this was cute:

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Voice of "Planet Earth"

I don't know what it is about nature and a good narrator, but the two can create a fascinating visual display that we, the viewers, cannot pull our eyes away from. The right narrator can make or break a production, especially in America. We saw this formula at work on the $100 million box office smash documentary "The March of the Penguins," (of course, it helped that it followed the cutest and most bizarre birds on the planet). Morgan Freeman's star power helped make this docu such a phenomenal hit.

On March 25th, The Discovery Channel launched the BBC series Planet Earth, with narrator Sigourney Weaver replacing David Attenborough. Since, this series has received a great deal of critical and even commercial success. Now, I love David Attenborough, but I have to admit that I am very impressed with Sigourney Weaver's performance. Her voice definitely has a calm almost melodic quality which fits in well with the spectacularly shot scenes from around the globe. You wouldn't want someone who had a distinctive or distracting voice that could take attention away from the amazing film shot by these talented british filmmakers, and I feel like Sigourney is a perfect fit. I admire her for contributing to entertainment in this way. I've always admired her as an actress--while she has done some huge box-office movies (the Alien and Ghostbusters movies), she's still been able to have a well-rounded and long-running career, being nominated for all kinds of awards along the way. Plus, I feel it always impresses me a bit more when an actor or actress can switch so effortlessly between stage and screen. She's been around for decades now, and she still has just as much of a presence as ever in all the major entertainment fields.

BTW, have I mentioned how obsessed I am with this show? Watch re-runs of Planet Earth on the Discovery Channel, or catch the concluding episode "The Filmmaker's Story" this Sunday, April 29th at 8PM and see how it all gets made!

Check out this adorable interview with her as well: HERE

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The "Je ne sais quoi!"

What makes someone a star? No one really knows. There are a ton of extremely talented actors out there that just don't make it. Many who have the whole package: talent, personality, looks, everything. But those factors alone don't make a star. Its not a mathematical equation. Rather, it's an indescribable quality that separates them from the crowd. Something that pops when they enter a room, open their mouths, or begin an audition. It can happen at any moment, but its then that, as a casting director, you believe in them and know that they're the one.

So what incited this little rant? Well, frankly I'm embarassed to admit it. It wasn't a fabulous audition or moving encounter with an actor. Actually, it was me watching a TERRIBLE tv show. Worse, a REALITY TV SHOW. That show is The CW's"Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll." Wait, wait, don't close that window to never return to my blog again. Let me explain. I watched this show for the first time at my friend's house last week. It's perfect Saturday morning hangover television, mindless and entertaining. Since I had gone through everything in my tivo tonight, I decided to channel surf and came across it again. I'd been sucked in. I couldn't help but notice that one of the contestants has that quality that I just mentioned, that indescribable star quality that separates her from the rest. 20-year-old CHELSEA from Cooper City, FL just has it. She's sweet, she's cute, she's honest, and there's just something about her that you love. This was only further validated by the fact that her dancing skills are about as polished as mine (that's bad), her usually perfect singing was a little off, and yet she still didn't get eliminated (She's now in the Top 3). The girl who did have to "hang up her boa" (oh yeah, its all so very dramatic) did everything right, sang perfectly, danced hard, and yet, she's gone. Chelsea stays. Having this quality doesn't necessarily mean that she's gonna win, but it certainly means that she'll be difficult to forget. Anyway, I know it hurts my credibility a bit, but I just felt like it parallelled the casting process really well and was worth sharing. Its not that Melissa S. did anything wrong, but that Chelsea just has something more, and its not always about the craft. Skills can be improved, but bottom line is, if people don't see something more in you, then you're gonna end up falling flat. Have a great night!

PS, here is a clip of her singing with another girl (who actually starts the song). You can see how the other girl just pales in comparison.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Utilizing YouTube

Its impossible to ignore the influence that YouTube has had on the way we view entertainment. Across the board, networks are scrambling to create their own internet based channels and webisodes of popular tv shows are popping up all over. And the truth is, we can't get enough of it. Clips spread like wildfire. How long after Alanis Morisette released her re-make of the "My Humps" video had you seen it and were sharing it with friends? I'm willing to bet that after only being released four days ago, you and most everyone you know has already seen Will Ferrell's short comedy "The Landlord" on The truth is, we're addicted. We can't get enough. We love to laugh, and these clips are short and sweet, allowing us to entertain ourselves for one quick moment, then go about the rest of our day. There's also certain cultural cache with these clips. You want to be the first person to share the hot new clip with someone else, and the cycle continues. It works way faster than any tv show ever could. Thus, TV Shows are experimenting with different things and trying to capitalize on this hot new market. One way they've done that is through webisodes like "The Office: The Accountants" or internet channels like CBS's "Innertube."

MTV has chosen to take a slightly different route, and I would expect other networks to follow suit. Last week they launched their new show "Human Giant," which is a series comprised of short internet-type clips and skits. It stars three men whose internet antics were already well-circulated: Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel, and Paul Scheer. Their popular clips include "The Shutterbugs," "Cell Tickle: Indie Marketing Guru,” and “The Illusionators." Like many other popular internet comedians, (Shoes.) these guys gained popularity through live sketch comedy, including those at the Upright Citizens Brigade. MTV, known for its connectivity to the younger audience, took advantage of this cult following and gave them their own show. "Human Giant" airs on MTV Thursdays at 10:30PM, right in the peak of their revolutionary timeslot "The 10 spot."

Here is a fun clip to show you what I'm talking about here:

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Only Fashion Mag Worth Reading...

I hate fashion magazines. I hate what they represent. I hate that they perpetuate low self-esteem and an unnattainable standard of beauty. I hate that they're predominantly a giant advertisement for "beauty" products. That being said, there is one amongst the bunch that doesn't rub me the wrong that I feel digs beneath the superficial surface of the fashion world to something a little bit more. One that is not simply ad after ad of highend fashion (Vogue), article after article of how to land your man (Cosmopolitan) or make yourself beautiful (Allure). That magazine is Vanity Fair.

Vanity Fair isn't just a fashion magazine, its one that focuses on topics of fashion, culture, and even politics. This month's issue in particular focuses on environmental problems and the issue of global warming. In addition to its political featurettes, Vanity Fair is famous for its creative and interesting feature spreads which integrate beautiful photography with a particular theme. It is within these pages that celebrities, politicians, and other cultural icons are presented in interesting and truly artistic ways. You know you've arrived in the entertainment world if you're privileged enough to make it onto one of these coveted spreads.

According to Vanity Fair's Editor of Creative Development, David Friend, "With its mix of lively writing, bold portraiture, keen cultural intuition, and in-depth profiles of the movers and shakers of the age, Vanity Fair has become, by many estimates, magazine journalism's acknowledged arbiter of modern society, power, and personality" and I couldn't agree more.

February 1932. Illustration of Greta Garbo by Miguel Covarrubias.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Read About Reid.

Billy Reid
Reid is a Canadian comedian/director/producer that has been popping up in popular YouTube clips lately. He's hilarious. His quick songs about seemingly monotonous things are really quite funny, and his sketch stuff is pretty good too (I love his John Stossel parodies!). For more information, check him out at

I dedicate this Billy Reid clip to my lovely sister (who will probably kill me for this...but oh ya, sis!)

Yay, WSJ !!

I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal that I found very interesting. While I am completely content in my current job and just started this blog to keep my own thoughts and opinions organized, its nice to know other people are recognizing the efforts we make. Check it out!

How Blogs Are Changing the Recruiting Landscape
Wall Street Journal
April 10, 2007; Page B1

Corporate recruiters have long surfed the Web to vet potential hires, but now they are also surfing blogs to unearth job candidates, expanding their talent pool and gaining insights they say they can't get from résumés and interviews.

Ryan Loken, a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recruitment manager, says he spends one to two hours a week searching through blogs for new talent or additional information about the candidates he has interviewed. "Blogs are a tool in the tool kit," he says. Since he joined the Bentonville, Ark., retail giant three years ago, Mr. Logen estimates that Web journals have helped him fill 125 corporate jobs. Most of the recruits were referred to him by bloggers and blog contributors, and some were the writers themselves.

Most blog-related recruits are professionals in technology and media because jobs in these fields often require knowledge of the blogosphere, says Kirsten Dixson, a founding partner at Brandego LLC, a career-management firm in Exeter, N.H., that specializes in personal branding.

In June, Brian Balfour's blog,, inspired an unsolicited offer for a product-manager job from an executive at Zoom Information Inc. "I was impressed by the points Brian was making and the way he was making them," says Russell Glass, vice president of products and marketing at the Waltham, Mass., technology company. The blog also offered details about Mr. Balfour's work history and education. "It was a no-brainer to give him a call and see if he'd be interested," Mr. Glass says.

Mr. Balfour says he was intrigued when he heard about the opportunity. "It came at a time that was pretty right for me because I was just coming off selling a business and looking for where I would head next," he says. Three months later, Mr. Balfour, who is 24 years old, got the job.

Greg Sterling, a strategy consultant for Internet companies and a blogger in Oakland, Calif., describes job offers as "a natural byproduct of the exposure you get from blogging." He says he gets about 15 inquiries a month from companies and search-firm recruiters seeking to fill consulting gigs and full-time jobs. "My blog is a vehicle that keeps me exposed to people on a daily basis," he notes.

Mr. Sterling believes that one reason his Web journal, Screenwork, regularly generates job offers is that he has never written about wanting them. "If you [blog] to get a job, you'll be less successful," he says. "It's just like dating. If you appear too hungry, nobody wants to date you."

But Ms. Dixson disagrees. "If you're currently job hunting, say so in your blog's 'About Me' blurb," she advises. "Say you're interested in learning about opportunities in your field."

Blogs also help employers probe the qualifications of potential hires, says Wal-Mart's Mr. Loken. "If they have a blog or made a comment on one, you can see what their knowledge level truly is because résumés can be full of fluff."

Job seekers who blog increase the odds that a potential employer will find information online that the candidate wants to be seen, says Debbie Weil, a corporate blogging consultant in Washington and the author of "The Corporate Blogging Book," which was published last summer. "Everybody has an online identity whether they know it or not, and a blog is the single best way to control it," she says. "You're going to be Googled. No one hires anyone or buys anything these days without going online first and doing research."

Indiscrete bloggers can derail job opportunities. A candidate for an entry-level sales job at Zoom was knocked out of the running in December after Mr. Glass read his blog. "My jaw dropped," he says. "The person started to make disparaging remarks about the people he interviewed with."

Mr. Glass was also put off by instances of foul language and comments about getting drunk. "This was a character problem," he says. "Whether you're writing about people you interviewed with or you're making a public statement that can be construed as immoral, these are the types of things an employer is going to look at and consider in their assessment of you as a candidate."

Mr. Glass adds that he doesn't read blogs on a regular basis. He came across the candidate's blog postings because the word "zoominfo" was flagged by a system he uses to alert him to any mentions of his employer's Web site.

Some job seekers call recruiters' attention to their blogs as a way to boost their candidacy. In an interview for a public-relations job in late 2004, Kevin Dugan says he told recruiters at Cincinnati-based FRCH Design Worldwide that he had been writing a blog for two years. "Blogging was a way for me to build credibility," he says. "It was a way to show my writing skills pretty easily as well as my knowledge of blogging and the public-relations industry." Mr. Dugan, 36, got the job and continues to write his blog, which he says generates about one job lead a month.

Companies that allow their employees to continue to blog run the risk of having a competitor poach their talent. Mr. Balfour, who continued to blog after he joined Zoom, says he has been invited on several job interviews because of his blog, though he turned down the opportunities that were offered.

"We wanted Brian to continue to blog because it's a great way to show leadership through zoominfo," says Mr. Glass. "But it's a double-edged sword since he continues to receive job offers."

Some companies encourage employees to blog because they can use them to recruit others. When recruiter Harry Joiner was hired to fill two positions at Musician's Friend Inc. in November, he used an employee's personal blog to help sell his client's rural location of Medford, Ore., to job seekers. "Candidates were using Medford as a reason not to consider the jobs," he says. "As a marketer, I thought, if you can't change it, promote it."

The blog, by So Young Park, the company's director of e-commerce marketing and customer-relationship management, describes her move to the area a year ago from New York City. It includes details about her work, her experience owning a car for the first time, a bear sighting near her new home and related topics. While she started the blog to share information about her experiences with family and friends back East, she acknowledges that it has also been a good resource for attracting job hunters.

Mr. Joiner says he linked to the blog in ads he posted on job boards and in emails to potential candidates. He says it helped him get professionals to leave jobs in Los Angeles. "The blog made a ton of difference," he says. "It humanized [Ms. Park] to candidates and made the jobs more attractive."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Swoon #2

Okay, its pretty hard to steal the scene from Jonathan Rhys Meyers, but some people are just unbelievably gifted in certain...areas. So I finally got a chance to watch the new Showtime series "The Tudors." I'm kinda indifferent at this could be good, it could lose my interest and be boring. We'll see. Period pieces are tough. Anyhow, I'm getting off topic. I can't remember anything much about the performances because I kept getting distracted by a gorgeous British actor by the name of HENRY CAVILL. And I don't distract easily. I think it helps that his character is a bit of a badass and the boy does seem to have some real talent. I then spent the next hour or so trying to pinpoint who this strapping young lad really was. I can't find a picture to really do him justice though. Either way, he got my attention...and I'm gonna keep watching.

Yes, a clip. He's the hottie in the red t-shirt.

Monday, April 9, 2007

A Moment to Rave

My newest obsession is CBS's "Cold Case." I'll admit, I'm a little late in coming to this series, but better late than never, eh? It seems like every time I watch this show, I'm moved by it in some way. Its the whole Jerry Bruckheimer touch I think. For those of you who aren't familiar with the show, it revolves around a group of investigators (ala CSI) who investigate cold cases, which are crimes from the past. The storylines manage to stay creative and interesting b/c they're not bound to current events and modern forensics. Not to mention the music is phenomenal as it is tied to the time period of the case. The lead investigators are played by Kathryn Morris and Danny Pino. Danny is a good hot guy sidekick, but Kathryn brings a different quality. Even though she may look a bit generic upon first glance (thin blue eyed blond actress), there's a really striking quality about her that separates her from most. Wonderful actress. It helps that the whole series is beautifully shot, even going so far as to use the film equipment of the time that it is representing. It's a really cool show from a casting prospective, too. Each episode has the difficult task of casting both a young and old version of its guest stars. They do an amazing job creating accurate likenesses, which are juxtaposed often as they switch from past to present. Plus, like most crime dramas, it serves as a variable database of up-and-coming acting talents. I look forward to more as I just added it to my tivo. If you're an actor, I suggest trying to get on this show. It could be great footage for your reel.

Keeping on the Radar...

Whatever happened to...Chad Donella. Great actor. I was watching an episode of "Cold Case" and his face popped up as a murdered gay man who had fought against AIDS in the 80s. It was a pretty tough character and he captured it extremely well. I couldn't remember what I recognized him from, then I realized it was the original Final Destination movie. After his teen feature success in the late 90's, it looks like he turned to indies and fell back into television guest starring roles. I'd like to see him elevated to a feature or lead television role again. He's got real acting clout.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Deal Memo Dictionary

So I've had a few actors express some concerns to me regarding their test option deals, deal memos, and other legalese that might as well be written in hieroglyphics. Its a complicated matter, that's for sure. So here is the cliff's notes version for the actors out there who want to know what they're signing up for...or anyone else that is curious as to what issues are discussed when hiring an actor for a job.

Test Option Deal--this is the document that an actor signs basically agreeing to the terms and conditions of the job, should the network decide to hire them. Once this is signed, there's no going back. An actor must work, if chosen; however, the ball is in the network's court and they may choose to pass.

Deal Memo--This document goes through many drafts. Eventually, it is given to the actor once a deal has been closed and the actor is hired. It includes all the elements of the deal that were negotiated, and lists what is expected from both the actor and the company hiring them.

So, what goes on these two documents? and what does it all the mean? Well...for that...See Below:

Pay--The MONEY. Everyone's #1 concern. This should be clearly listed. How much you should get paid is a topic I'll save for a later date.

Start Date--This is the date you're expected to begin working. While this date will likely get pushed back (happens all the time), you still must be available from this day forward.

Work Days--Usually you are guaranteed a certain number or work days depending your role. This number should be clearly listed on the contract. No matter what happens, you should be paid for the days that you are granted "Guarantee."

Shooting Location(s)--Where the film/show will be shot. Pay attention here, b/c if its out of the country (even Mexico), you're gonna need a valid passport so get on that.

Accommodations--You are entitled to some sort of dressing room for each production. Furthermore, if the shoot is taking place away from your current residence, they should be providing you with somewhere to sleep...and I'm not talking about the director's couch. Make sure all of this info is in writing as well.

Meals--Obviously,they should be feeding you...this is required per SAG regulations already, but if its a non-union production, make sure it mentions something about this on the contract.

Billing--This is how you will be billed (receive credit) for the production. Main Title billing is that listed in the opening credits. The Stars usually have a single card, meaning they're the only name listed at one time. Supporting actors have a shared card, and all other actors usually end up on the "crawl" (end credits). There are some instances where there is a cameo or special guest star. In these situations, it is typical to have "and" or "with" billing, which is where the notable actor is listed as a single card with "and" or "with" in front of the name, at the end of the main title credits.

Important things to note:

A.P.D--This phrase stands for "at producer's discresion" and basically means that you are not guaranteed the element that is listed before it, so be careful with this one. What you seem promised may, in reality, just be potentially offered (or taken away) at the wim of the producers.

Personal Information--Your personal information (real name, SSN, birthdate, address, etc.) will likely all be included on the final deal memo. This is standard procedure so that the producers, network, or studio can get in touch with you directly if any issues arise.

Favored Nations--Sometimes its necessary to ensure that no one is getting paid more than you for a production. In this case, you should request a line of "favored nations" which guarantees this...particularly in situations where you're not getting paid at all, because you would hate to be the only person working for free.

Likeness Approval/Consultation--In situations when you've become a recognizable face, you may request to have approval or consultation for whenever your image is used in publicity, etc. That way, you can always make sure that you're looking your very best. Approval is rare unless you're super famous...but it doesn't hurt to ask for consultation at the very least.

So there you have it, folks. That's mostly everything that an actor should be looking out for when they're hired for a production. Its important to make sure you're treated correctly in every situation...whether it be a huge SAG feature or a non-union commercial. Now you just gotta book that job...