Getting A Job

I got a call from the casting director for the “untitled Chris Rock movie project” offering me the role of the Black Cop. When the call came in I didn’t pick up because I didn’t recognize the number and figured it was a bill collector. ( Even though they usually call from an area code outside of NY, I thought it might be one of their tricks). I listened to the phone ring thinking how much I hated my choice for ring tones. My voice mail played an old message first, which was the original call from the casting associate last week.

Now I’m thinking my phone is messing with me, and there is no new message. Ah, but there was! The message was from Matt, and all the news was good. I was in full nap mode, and it took a minute to sink in. I have had dreams where I’m winning everything from free vacations to jillion dollar lotteries.

The role is the lesser of the two I auditioned for but so what. I’ll get a check for several hundred dollars for a days toil, and I get to work with one of my favorite acts. In the audition, I was told Doug Stanhope is playing my partner. Doug is a very funny comic featured in season 2 of Louie on FX playing the depressed comedian who is about to kill himself.

Now I have to figure out whether to try to go back and finish my nap, or stay up and go with the little sleep I had. I have to be at work in 6 ½ hours. The battle between excited and tired is on. Excited led early but tired is way ahead now. I’ve told 3 people the news, my sister, cousin and friend whom yesterday predicted I’d get the part. I’ll tweet and Facebook when it’s much closer to the shoot date, August 7. For now, it’s…back..to…sleepytown.

The Pilot

The Pilot

Somewhere around 1999 I was asked to be in a pilot for a show called “The Court Of Common Sense.” The producer was a comedian I had worked with at the Comic Strip. After watching his set, I saw nothing indicating he knew much about funny. But hey, I didn’t have to audition and they were willing to fly me to LA and give me a couple of grand, so I agreed. This court show had comics as judges and court reporter, and I was the bailiff. The first problem ; everything was scripted. They had me saying stuff like “All rise, pass the fries!” The cases they wrote were awful and unfunny. Actors played the parts, and it was completely unwatchable. It may have had a shot if the cases were real, but I guess that would have been too much trouble.

There was a lot of optimism on the flight out, me thinking this was it! The feeling continued at the airport when a Mercedes limo swung by to scoop me up. After stopping at the hotel, I was driven to a restaurant for dinner with the cast. I had worked with the comic judges and thought we might be able to pull this off. I think I was out there for a couple of days shooting, but it was clear on the first day this project would never see the light of day. And it didn’t. As I remember, the funniest thing in the whole show were the closing credit bloopers. I had a VHS tape of it, but it got crushed when I stepped on it.

Thursday evening I got an email from the casting director of the Tom Papa pilot More Time With Family. I was invited to come in and read for the part of Burnsy, a lifelong pal of Tom’s. They wanted to see me Friday or early next week. This is the main reason I go on precious few auditions. They love to ask you to come in the day you hear about the project. I’m not comfortable going in with not enough time to get my presentation they way I want it, which is the best that I can. I told them I would love to come in anytime Monday, so I have an appointment at noon. I will know the material and have figured out the best way to deliver it. That way I can walk in and read with confidence, which is something I usually lack when I go and read last minute calls. Another factor in my favor is that Tom and I have worked together for years, and the material suggests he wrote the part with me in mind. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that I have done a half dozen or so of his Come To Papa Live shows on Sirius satellite radio. (Matt Damon saw me on an episode and is one of the exec producers of the pilot.)

The dominoes seem to be lined up, but I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s a long way from actually happening. A variety of suits has to sign off on me and yada yada yada.

Come Monday noon, I’ll be there to do what I do, and we’ll see what happens.

 

William Stephenson

The Audition Pt.2

The Audition Pt.2

I walked into the casting office 5 minutes before I was due, offering the young woman behind the desk my standard “Good morning!” She reminded me it was well into the afternoon and I replied it was the morning for me. She then asked where my kid was. I told her I was there to read for two parts in the Chris Rock movie. She was under the impression they were looking at kid actors all day. I was shown a seat to wait for the casting associate to come get me.

After 15 minutes of going over my lines I start to get pissed, wondering why they always make you wait. Five minutes later a thin narrow-faced guy comes out and leads me to the room for my audition. It’s a long winding walk past several kid actors and their parents nervously fumbling with their 8X10 head shots. Inside are the casting directors Matt and Vickie. I am greeted warmly and Matt adjusts the camera to record my audition. Matt suggests I sit for the cop reading.

Vickie and Matt read the other parts and I give them 4 readings of the “you better watch that shit” line. After the last take Vickie does that Tiger Woods fist pump and we move to the next role. I’m standing as the theater manager and we do another 4 takes and we are done. The entire audition lasted fifteen minutes. I felt good enough about my performance, but you never know about these things. Vickie asks me about working on the road and other show biz type questions. I notice pictures on the wall and was told they are either in the movie or being considered for it. I recognize a few faces including my stand up comedy buddies Dennis Regan, Doug Stanhope and Kevin Hart. I’m told the shooting schedule for my role(s) is around July 7th. They thank me for coming in and at the door I ask for a trail of Skittles to find my way to the exit. Now there is nothing to do but wait.

The Audition Pt. 1

With the passion of the greatest love of all time, I hate auditions. Most of them are a complete waste of time. I have big trouble showing my best performance to casting directors because they are part of the show business machine I detest. You know, the suits.

Auditions are usually held in the daytime. Not the ideal time for me to be awake let alone out and about. I have been a night hawk since I was a kid. Before you walk into the casting office, you see 37 other actors that look just you like heading in for the same reason you are. That familiar bummed out feeling is settling in now as you sign in at the desk and deal with clipboard guy/gal. Their headsets have gone to their heads, and they act like you came in to impress them.

This week I got a call from the casting director’s office of the new Chris Rock film project. Matt tells me they have a couple of small parts Chris wants me to read for. This is exciting news. Working with Chris elevates my performance and I’m less nervous since we go back many years. It takes Matt 2 days to email me but I’ve still got more time than usual to learn my lines. 30 hours!

I finally get the sides (section of script), for the two roles. One is for “cop” and the other for “theater manager.” Of the two, the manager role is bigger than the cop role, and I will concentrate on those lines. The reality is even if I land either role, my part could be cut out of the finished product. That’s cool because for me its all about the process of working with good peeps. I will walk in tomorrow afternoon at 4p.m. with confidence. I already have the cop part down.

“You better watch that shit.”