ACTORS' & DIRECTORS' CORNER

I just read a review of 2 1/2 Men by a “communications professor” by the name of Robert Thompson.  He admitted that while watching and critiquing the show, he would rather be balancing his checkbook.

The fact is, 2 1/2 Men is the only truly honest depiction of male and female behavior in our current American and possibly worldwide culture. It deals with real-life situations, and the greed, dishonesty and scamming that goes on at all levels of society and industry, producing the norms of life today. Its popularity, continuing with huge audience followers watching reruns, deny the premise put forth by this professor of communications.

Continue Reading Could “Two and a Half Men” Be Better Than Ever With Ashton Kutcher?

This is a wonderful gathering of old-timers, like myself. If you’ve been in the business for 20 years or more, you qualify to apply for membership. We meet for a hearty lunch about once a month (except for summer) at the Sportsman’s Lodge in the Valley. There is always an honoree, being gently roasted by a panel of fellow workers on the dais.

Lately, the place has been more than usually crowded with participants of the Showbiz. My photographer pal, Dave Keeler, wanders around snapping pictures, and if you’re lucky, he might catch you with some old friends, which he did for me at a recent meeting. (If you click on the picture, it will enlarge it.)

 

 

If you’re interested in joining, this is their website.  Just find somebody who’ll sponsor you.

 

 

 

 

Celebrities are full of stories about their exploits, their famous friends, who they mix with, who they work with.  It’s often to do with the size of their billing, or their latest agent’s gaffes.   Then there are the less famous.  People like me, with stories more down to earth, but, I think, more interesting, unless you’re a fan follower.

This is by way of saying that I went to a play the other evening, at the East-West Theatre downtown, a play called “Wrinkles”.  Couldn’t believe what I saw, for there, playing the lead, was my old fellow worker at, of all places, First National City Bank, Park Avenue, N.Y.  5th floor. The year was 1963, the place the computer room, midnight to 8 am shift, Burroughs check sorting machine.  His name – Sab Shimono.  I remember him as a delicate, shy, self-effacing youngster,  wrestling with the machine just as I was.

I met him after the curtain came down, and we swapped a few stories in the car-park.  He has developed into a splendid actor, and reached an age of maturity reflected in his command of the stage.

I plan to see more of Sab.

 

 

This is addressed to my professional actor friends, full members of the Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA, and Equity.

It is to say that I am tired of being invited by student directors to act in their videos, or films, for their benefit and for nothing.  This is a huge step backward to the very beginnings of these esteemed organizations, back to the twenties and thirties.  Student actors, go ahead.  Professional actors, STOP!

Continue Reading Copy, Credit, Meals

When you get to my age, a refresher covering most aspects of an active life in the Showbusiness is always a good idea.  Also, the nature of the current showbiz tends to get away from you.  With that in mind, I noticed a 1 week movie-making course being given just down the road from me, at the premises of Universal Studios (which brought back memories of the House Calls disaster).

Continue Reading Career Overview

I have to admit that this is the only sitcom that I hurry home to watch. It’s a lesson in comedy writing construction, and one notices that it remains listed at the top of the public’s favorites after 7 years.

A lot of this is due to Chuck Lorre, and readers deserve to be linked to his website, which will provide a lot of "insider" views on showbiz, comedy, and life in general that are really worth reading.

Excellent article in today’s NY Times, about the difficulty of cramming other people’s words into your brain, and making them come out as though you had just thought of them.

Learning lines

I never heard of having a prompter sitting in the first row, and mouthing your lines to you, as apparently Matthew Broderick has availed himself of in the opening performances of Starry Messenger. Or having a tiny speaker in your ear, as apparently Angela Lansbury did during her recent foray into Blithe Spirit.  She says that’s to be expected if you’re 84.  Poor Mr. Matt Mulhern just got himself fired from the Hartford Stage Company for pasting a few errant lines into his hat, and then referring to them out of dire necessity. Then there’s my ex, who has thrown her hands in the air, and just reads the damn thing, in her discourse about her grandmother in Nightingale.

Me, I’ve always had terrible trouble learning lines. I started out as a BBC radio actor, and reading the script became the normal way to do it.  Even now, I scan the page into my head, and still read it. The scanning process takes a while. During my days of weekly rep, I was fast.  Now, a rate of an ASA of about 6, if I’m lucky.

There’s the method approach. First get the character, next the thoughts, the feelings in sync. and the words will undoubtedly come. Maybe.  Maybe not the author’s words, but perhaps something even better(?)

But there will always be blocks, words or phrases that refuse to jump into place.  Then trickery is used, links from pictures, initials, numbers, anything that works.

There are some freaks who are blessed with a magic brain, that remembers and hangs on to everything in a flash, no problem. And that’s just not fair.

 

 

Standup is tough. I know, I’ve been doing a few open mikes. My subject is Old Age. You have to make it funny. It’s the only medium I haven’t tried, and it’s very challenging, for it requires writing skills as well as performance with a hand mike, and a good sense of humor.

I see that my ex, Lynn Redgrave, just opened a standup show called Rachel and Juliet at the Folger in Washington DC.  She needs to know that some comedy tricks are considered hack, like falling over. Some fans saw it, and put it on their blog.  Here, read about it..