Casting Call

When you've spent your career working in the fanciful world of film and television production there are many stories to tell. Naturally, all this stuff actually happened because honestly, you can't make this stuff up.

Let's talk about casting this time around. It's a very important part of any production and there's always a few casting stories to tell. The first story involves a production house I worked at some years ago. The all important job of casting a television commercial was the task of the day. The client had flown in for the session and he sat in a large conference room with the casting director. A long line of hopeful actors formed outside the room each eager to score the well paying television gig. After a long morning of readings the client slumped in his chair. “These guys are good,” he said. “But I still haven't seen the guy I want. This commercial is very important for our company. I need to be sure I’ve cast the right actor.” It was now noon, and after delivering a stack of pizzas the studio delivery boy made his way through the main conference room. He was a funny, outgoing guy well liked by all at the studio because of his infectious enthusiasm. Spotting the script on the table, he quickly snatched up the script pages and delivered the lines just for the fun of it. The client suddenly bolted upright in his chair. "That's it!” he shouted. “That's the guy I'm looking for.” Can you imagine a story that’s more Hollywood? This is the kind of thing that only happens in the movies. Yet, here it was taking place in the real world. Not long after, the studio messenger boy was instantly cast in the television commercial, signed a contract and joined the Screen Actors Guild. This kind of thing doesn’t happen in real life. However, sometimes it does.

My second casting story is personal. I arrived at NBC in Burbank where my old buddy, Norman Edelen was writing a television show. Norm and I were more than old friends, we were business partners. Our production company, Vignette Films, Inc. was responsible for educational films, TV logos and government training films. When our company went belly up in the seventies, I returned to the cartoon business and Norm became a screenwriter. At the time, he was writing a television drama for NBC. Naturally, not knowing my way around the studio I quickly became lost in the Burbank facility. I managed to wander into a room where two well dressed people were seated at a long table. Before I could get a word out the man and woman suddenly brightened. The two looked me up and down, then turned to each other. After a nod and a smile they suddenly said, “You'll do just fine. However, you'll have to shave off the mustache.” Yes, it's true. I was indeed sporting a mustache in those days but why would I need to shave it off? And, who were these people anyway? It turns out I had wandered into the casting room of a television show and I had just scored a job as on camera performer. Plus, I managed to do all this without even doing a read. Just think. I could have had a whole new career as a television actor simply because I had taken a wrong turn in a television studio. Think these events are unusual? In a wacky town like Hollywood I've found that nothing is unusual.

So, there you have two of my wacky Hollywood casting stories. Of course, there are many more zany tales from Tinsel Town and they include several very attractive young women. I'll tell you about those one of these days.

NBC Television back in the nineteen seventies. This kid could have become a star. Who knew?

NBC Television back in the nineteen seventies. This kid could have become a star. Who knew?