Little Post Holiday video fun... this maybe viral... maybe real... I don't know and I don't care... it's awesome... the gal on the left looks like she's waiting to face the death sentence.
Monday, December 29, 2008
It is with this level of NYC theater street cred that gives him the voice to lambaste Norman Leo Butz's performance in the revival of "Speed the Plow". Lead Actor Jeremy Piven (who I respected a whole lot more before Entourage) famously dropped out due to Mercury Poisoning (Rumors that heavy drug use and lack of committment forced Piven out). Butz has been tapped to jump in and take the stage.
However after a few weeks of rehearsals and such, apparently he's not off book and he's using prompters off stage, and he's... on the stage. It's a little perplexing because for Gosh Darn Sakes, this is Broadway, not some College Stage Production. So, Daisy Really takes him to task, calling his work pretty much unacceptable. I think it's a matter of an actor being a little overwhelmed by the pressure of carrying a straight play on broadway. However, producers are sticking with him, what choice do they have? However, even I think that being a well paid stand in, you should be doing everything in your power to be at least off book. I have no idea what level of committment his co-stars are giving him... maybe they don't want to rehearse. However, memorization is like breathing to an actor... it's not something you should have a hard time doing.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Hey! We love Doctor Steve Brule, and we're stoked that the old DSB has created a little tutorial on how to make a viral video. You know what a viral video is right? It's like some dude singing in a tree and then he falls out of the tree, and it's so funny people email it or post it on their blogs and befor eyou know it, that dude who fell out of a tree has a million hits, and then marketing people in a room call him a genius, and then they go to his house and say, "Hey, you should work for us, we want to hire you to direct a commercial for Pepsi." So, then the Tree Dude, does another viral video for about six figures, and it's basically him singing in a tree, only this time he's holding a can of Pepsi, and when he falls out of the tree his fall is broken, because he lands in a pool of refreshing Pepsi... Pepsi! Savor the holidays!
And now for your enjoyment! Dr. Steve Brule, You Turkey!
Monday, December 22, 2008
We turned 1 years old this week! Yep, Art of Function was unleashed upon the unsuspecting humans nearly a year ago this week. We're super excited to survive a tumultuous year of labor strikes in media, a new president, news media flim flam, tons of cool gear, the rise of Mike Daisey, and yours truly posting videos of people doing odd things in the name of expression. 2008 was a great year for AOF, not so much the U.S. economy, but great for AOF!
Friday, December 19, 2008
When I first came to Hollywood, I took a class with Wendy Phillips. Her husband used to attend class, and he told us how a certain A-List actor still attended acting classes to this day to stay sharp. It showed that in Acting, like many arts, the process of self discovery is the paramount goal of the artist, and that journey never ends. That is why the journey is so beautiful.
However, out of all the actors in the world, many seem to lack an understanding of this important tenant. They think a few workshops in the bag, and they are good to go. Then the y wonder, why they never book any work. Did you know that Doctors have to attend education seminars every 4 years in order to maintain their license? Did you also know many other professions require that same level of continued education? If they have to do, why should we as actors stop doing it? However, so many folks refuse to go back into the Studio to work on their craft, and some never even start. It's this problem that truly saddens me. Because learning about your art, your craft, is so incredibly enriching. It's a community process that helps you become the artist you want to be. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why people choose to step aside or away from an opportunity staring them in the face.
Many young actors fall into two traps, that I see:
The First, "I've been told that I'm super talented, so I figure don't need training. I can see why some actors would need training, because they lack talent, but since I have it, I don't need training." Now, I'm not making this quote up. An actual actor (who was not talented by the way) told me this... out loud, in front of other people. It's this level of misguided understanding of what acting is, that really handicaps a lot of people out there. Talent may get you in the door, but training gets you the role. You know why? Because in a town like Los Angeles or New York, there are talented actors everywhere, and they have training, and talent and training will beat someone with just talent any day of the week.
The Second, "I've got a degree from the Muckety Muck Institute, I've completed my training. I don't need anymore." Oh, what a trap this one is. Academic degrees do little to provide practical application to students. This not the fault of the Academic circile. Academia is meant to provide a broad introduction to different styles and theories as it relates to acting. The Goal of a University is to broaden your perspective, not provide you with on the job training. Many actors, fail to realize this. They may know in their head the difference between Mesiner or Adler, because a class had them spend a few weeks discussing the techniques, but they probably have never really dug into the technique for themselves. But they 'know it'. So, in their minds, they have been trained. They have a degree they spent a lot of money on, so who could blame them for seeing their training as a process you can actually finish.
I want to share a little anecdote with you. I once had a potential student who had graduated from a very prestigious East Coast school, come to audit my class. I asked him where he received his training. He mentioned the school, I acknowledged the prestige of it. I asked him, what training he had received or who he had studied with since coming to L.A. He said no one, he didn't need it. He had a degree from Blah Blah Blah. "Okay, fair enough, can you tell me what brought you to my class?" His response, "I met with an agent and he told me I needed to be in a class. I just want to take one for a few months to get it on my resume." I tried not to roll my eyes, "Okay, well, jump in the exercises as you feel lead. Let me see what you've got." We started doing some exercises, and I noticed he wasn't stepping on stage with anyone. I turned to him, and I asked him to jump up. He shoke his head no. I decided not to press. At the break, I pulled him aside, and asked him why he wasn't getting out of his chair. His response, "Because I don't know how to do those exercises." He looked very shaken. "That's okay," I said, "You're here to learn, right?" He kind of shrugged his shoulders, "Yeah, I guess."
This happens a lot. I call it Univesity Ego. A degree creates a false sense of accomplishment in many professionals, and acting isn't excluded. A degree is beneficial but it is not the end of your study.
I'm not relaying this as something I've just observed, but experienced. I myself have a degree in theater. I came to Los Angeles, and was told I needed to study. I had no idea why, since I had a degree, but I did anyway. I studied under four teachers in three years, before finding my 'home' studio, where I studied for 2 and a half years. My teacher asked me to start teaching for him after that time, but I still to this day go an take one shot classes every month to keep my chops up. For me, the class work is the most rewarding. It's where I really get to stretch myself.
And it's in that last statement, "Stretch Myself", that I want to really emphasize on. An artist is only finished growing and learning, when they seal your casket shut. I read a memoir by Sir Alec Guiness about his life, and in his later years, he recounted that he got the same joy and nerves in his 70's before walking out on stage, that he found he had in his twenties. That passion for the art has to be cultivated through work and pushing yourself. It's why the painter or sculptor rents a Studio, to have a place to explore. It's why the musician picks up more than one instrument, or practices for hours each day. We can never be finished becoming better at what we do. There is no bottom to what lies inside of us, and our ability to pull it out for our audience.
I contend that the process of experimentation and growth for actors (or any artist) is the most rewarding part of the art itself. It's where our lives change, and to pass that up because of ego, shame, or ignorance is completely devastating to me. It makes me sad for people. It's like watching them tear up a million dollar lottery ticket, because they mis-read the numbers.
I work with a lot of actors who come to L.A. with no experience acting, it's just something they want to try. Maybe they had a mid-life crisis or a quarter life crisis, I don't know. However, they are fresh and eager. They know they need to learn how to act. The whole experience is a wonderful new journey. After a little bit of time training (sometimes a year, sometimes a few months) they start booking work. It never fails. I think it's because they do not carry all the baggage coming in that I mentioned above. They just want to learn. It's the perfect attitude to become the artist you want to be.
However, Ego, Shame and Ignorance are not the only enemies of growth. Perhaps the biggest hurdle for some artists is Procrastination. So, many people say, after the new year, I'm taking a class. Or they say, after I get my tax return. Or maybe after the summer, and then before they know it, they are a year older and no more the wiser. It is so key to act on your impulse as an artist. By it's definition an impulse is quick and sometimes lacking prejudice, but artists, have to live in that world. I once met an actor in a class, who had elected to give up his cell phone, cable, electricity (no joke) and gas for the car for a month, just so they could stay in class. That's dedication. This guy rode the bus, in Los Angeles, and read plays by candle light, so he could be in class four days out of the month. I once heard another famous Broadway actress say that in her early days of studying in New York with Sanford Meisner, she had to waitress to make ends meat, while waiting for the big break to come. She used to say to her co-workers, "I work 40 hours a week, so I can live for 3 hours on Wednesday nights." That's the mentality artists need to have at some point in their lives.
I know that many of you reading this are the creative type. You may be an actor, or writer, or painter... you have a creative spirit inside you. I challenge you to consider how you will cultivate that creativity in the new year. Some of you are probably thinking, I really need to jump start this project. You may think that you need to audition more. I would challenge you to consider taking a class. It's simple, it's effective and it gets the right momentum and energy flowing in the direction you want to go. However, before you embark on this, check your ego and your fear at the door. You will have a lot more fun that way.
Remember, you're never finished growing.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
In a display that may show more the ever widening divide between the coasts in the creative unions, especially SAG, I was told today by several sources who attended the Town Hall in Los Angeles, last night that an overwhelming amount of people turned out to express their support of Alan Rosenberg and and the 'Yes' vote on the strike. This was a big turn over from the NYC meeting where several members turned out in droves to play down the strike authorization vote while simultaneously calling for Alan Rosenberg's head on a platter.
This is no shocker as Rosenberg has repeatedly appealed more to the Feature Film side of the acting business, almost completely ignoring television, which makes him Hollywood centric. A lot of TV shows are shot in New York, and the board in NYC has already voted a no-confidence on Rosenberg... which is not good, by the way.
After the meeting NPR caught up to Rosenberg, and he changed his tune a bit on the 'Yes' vote. In the past Rosenberg has painted the 'Yes' vote and a step towards an actual strike. Now, he's saying it's merely a threat to be used as a bargaining chip at the table with AMPTP. I think he knows a lot of members do not want to strike, and he's trying to pull back a little on his own rehetoric to gain more support. Cheap tactic in my opinion.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I was reviewing my top 10 lists from last year, and I was beginning to formulate in my head some top 10 lists for movies and music for 2008, then I realized, that I have not really seen anything this year or heard anything this year that really blew me away.
Last year, we were treated to movies like "No Country For Old Men", and "There Will Be Blood". We had records like the soundtrack for "Once". You already know my opinion on the television product out this season. Very, Very lack luster. It seems the only good thing to come out in 08 was the web series "The NoHo Show" (yes, I am shameless).
Granted, a lot of the 'artsy' movies haven't really come out yet and are just now trickling in, but outside of a few, I'm not dying to go out and see anything yet. Usually, I will take an afternoon or two to see a bunch at once, but this year nothing is motivating me out of my chair.
Album wise, I'm usually plugged in, but nothing on the Indie Scene or Mainstream scene has been that interesting or relevant this year. If you disagree, please, comment away.
As I thought about this, I wondered if the Business distractions of commercial art product was distracting the focus of the artists themselves. It's no secret the music industry is in turmoil as it shifts from the firm album distribution model to the less lucrative, but explosive digital model. If you look at recent comments from Smashing Pumpkins front man, Billy Corgan, you would think that musicians are focusing more on how to adapt to the new digital audience and how they can make that profitable than turning out work that matters artistically. Corgan claims that folks like iTunes have killed the album, and are teaching consumers to buy singles only. In his mind, that means bands do not need to undergo the album process and should just churn out singles as they come. It's a valid point, but a shameful self admission that money is now the motivating factor for bands that at one time were considered ground breaking acts.
Over in Hollywood, the writers strike definitely handicapped the current television season and turned viewers away... pushing people to back log viewing of DVD's through netflix instead of tuning into primetime fair (although, I for one still love the Office and 30 Rock).
The current labor stalls with SAG show a faltering quality of product out there in terms of critical acclaim. However, despite the economic down turn, movie houses are showing profits above 2007. I would argue that most folks in Hollywood are more concerned about whether or not there will be work out there in 2009, than they are about what that work is, and with zero movie production in Hollywood right now due to the ongoing stalled negotiations (the default strike)films previously deemed unreleasable are now being dusted off and trucked out to the masses. It's kind of getting ridiculous.
Obviously, I am not naive enough to overlook the fact that good art has a certain dollar value attached. Money motivates everyone, but it's difficult to stomach a climate where the creative product is overlooked to an even greater degree because of the doom and gloom of a transitioning entertainment industry.
Monday, December 15, 2008
SAG Leader Alan Rosenberg and Chief Negotiator Doug Allen were basically high jacked at the Town Hall meeting in New York tonight. Apparently, Alec Baldwin stood up and called for both Doug and Al to resign their posts. They were both called, inept, deceptive and Hollywood Centric.
There are several petitions and online circulations calling for SAG to take the deal while high profile members call for a No Vote on Strike Authorization. Stife and Division have come to the last major Hollywood Union hoping to get a better deal out of the AMPTP.
Sources report that the majority of folks basically argued that leadership had blundered the negotiations and that SAG should take the deal today and live to fight a more united battle in three years when the deals are up again for renewal. This is something we have been arguing for for quite sometime on this website.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
So, do you remember the Golden Globes? I bet you kind of do, but it's been so long since we had them. As you recall last year they were relegated to a half hour news special on NBC due to the writers strike. This year the may not happen due to the SAG strike. I think that is sad. I like the Golden Globes a little more than the Oscars, because they do a dinner style presentation, and I love it more because the folks get a little tanked before the ceremony begins and then sometimes say things they regret later. That's good TV.
Anyway, the Golden Globes, is the precursor to the Oscars, and a fairly important notch to have in one's belt, because a win in the category means your quote goes up. The nominations are also kind of important because they usually motivate me to get my butt out of the house to go see some movies.
I post the full list below for your consumption.
BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
Warner Bros and Paramount Pictures
Imagine Entertainment, Working Title, Studio Canal; Universal Pictures
Mirage Enterprises; The Weinstein Company
An Evamere Entertainment BBC Films Neal Street Production; DreamWorks with BBC Films and Paramount Vantage
Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros.; Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
ANNE HATHAWAY, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
ANGELINA JOLIE, CHANGELING
MERYL STREEP, DOUBT
KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS, I'VE LOVED YOU SO LONG (IL Y A LONGTEMPS QUE JE T’AIME)
KATE WINSLET, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
LEONARDO DICAPRIO, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
FRANK LANGELLA, FROST/NIXON
SEAN PENN, MILK
BRAD PITT, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
MICKEY ROURKE, THE WRESTLER
BEST MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
BURN AFTER READING
Working Title/Releasing Company; Focus Features in association with Studio Canal
Summit Entertainment, Film4, Ingenious Film Partners, Miramax Films; Miramax Films
Blueprint Pictures; Focus Features
Relativity Media, Playtone, Littlestar; Universal Pictures
VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
Mediapro; The Weinstein Company
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
REBECCA HALL, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
SALLY HAWKINS, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY
FRANCES MCDORMAND, BURN AFTER READING
MERYL STREEP, MAMMA MIA!
EMMA THOMPSON, LAST CHANCE HARVEY
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
JAVIER BARDEM, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
COLIN FARRELL, IN BRUGES
JAMES FRANCO, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS
BRENDAN GLEESON, IN BRUGES
DUSTIN HOFFMAN, LAST CHANCE HARVEY
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Walt Disney Pictures; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
KUNG FU PANDA
DreamWorks Animation SKG; Paramount Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX (GERMANY)
(DER BADDER MEINHOF KOMPLEX)
Constantin Film Produktion GmbH; Summit Entertainment, LLC
EVERLASTING MOMENTS (SWEDEN/DENMARK)
(MARIA LARSSONS EVIGA ÖGONBLICK)
Final Cut Productions Aps; IFC Films
Fandango; IFC Films
I'VE LOVED YOU SO LONG (FRANCE)
(IL Y A LONGTEMPS QUE JE T’AIME)
UGC YM/UGC Images/France 3 Cinema/Integral Film; Sony Pictures Classics
WALTZ WITH BASHIR (ISRAEL)
Bridgit Folman Film Gang/Les Films D'Ici/Razor Films/Arte France/ITVS International; Sony Pictures Classics
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
AMY ADAMS, DOUBT
PENELOPE CRUZ, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
VIOLA DAVIS, DOUBT
MARISA TOMEI, THE WRESTLER
KATE WINSLET, THE READER
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
TOM CRUISE , TROPIC THUNDER
ROBERT DOWNEY JR, TROPIC THUNDER
RALPH FIENNES, THE DUCHESS
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, DOUBT
HEATH LEDGER, THE DARK KNIGHT
BEST DIRECTOR – MOTION PICTURE
DANNY BOYLE, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
STEPHEN DALDRY, THE READER
DAVID FINCHER, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
RON HOWARD, FROST/NIXON
SAM MENDES, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
BEST SCREENPLAY – MOTION PICTURE
SIMON BEAUFOY, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
DAVID HARE, THE READER
PETER MORGAN, FROST/NIXON
ERIC ROTH, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY, DOUBT
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – MOTION PICTURE
ALEXANDRE DESPLAT, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
CLINT EASTWOOD, CHANGELING
JAMES NEWTON HOWARD, DEFIANCE
A. R. RAHMAN, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
HANS ZIMMER, FROST/NIXON
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – MOTION PICTURE
“DOWN TO EARTH” — WALL-E
Music by: Peter Gabriel, Thomas Newman
Lyrics by: Peter Gabriel
“GRAN TORINO” — GRAN TORINO
Music by: Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens
Lyrics by: Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens
“I THOUGHT I LOST YOU” — BOLT
Music & Lyrics by: Miley Cyrus, Jeffrey Steele
“ONCE IN A LIFETIME” — CADILLAC RECORDS
Music & Lyrics by: Beyoncé Knowles, Amanda Ghost, Scott McFarnon, Ian Dench, James Dring, Jody Street
“THE WRESTLER” — THE WRESTLER
Music & Lyrics by: Bruce Springsteen
BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Showtime/John Goldwyn Productions/The Colleton Company/Clyde Phillips Productions
Universal Media Studios in association with Heel and Toe Films, Shore Z Productions and Bad Hat Harry Productions
IN TREATMENT (HBO)
Sheleg, Closest to the Hole Productions in association with HBO Entertainment
MAD MEN (AMC)
TRUE BLOOD (HBO)
Your Face Goes Here Productions in association with HBO Entertainment
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
SALLY FIELD BROTHERS AND SISTERS
MARISKA HARGITAY LAW AND ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT
JANUARY JONES MAD MEN
ANNA PAQUIN TRUE BLOOD
KYRA SEDGWICK THE CLOSER
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
GABRIEL BYRNE IN TREATMENT
MICHAEL C. HALL DEXTER
JON HAMM MAD MEN
HUGH LAURIE HOUSE
JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS THE TUDORS
BEST TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
30 ROCK (NBC)
Universal Media Studios in association with Broadway Video and Little
Showtime Presents in association with Aggressive Mediocrity, And Then...
Leverage and Closest to the Hole Productions in association with HBO Entertainment
THE OFFICE (NBC)
Deedle Dee Productions, Reveille LLC, Universal Media Studios
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES –COMEDY OR MUSICAL
CHRISTINA APPLEGATE SAMANTHA WHO?
AMERICA FERRERA UGLY BETTY
TINA FEY 30 ROCK
DEBRA MESSING THE STARTER WIFE
MARY-LOUISE PARKER WEEDS
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
ALEC BALDWIN 30 ROCK
STEVE CARELL THE OFFICE
KEVIN CONNOLLY ENTOURAGE
DAVID DUCHOVNY CALIFORNICATION
TONY SHALHOUB MONK
BEST MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
A RAISIN IN THE SUN (ABC)
Sony Pictures Television
BERNARD AND DORIS (HBO)
Trigger Street Independent Productions in association with Little Bird and Chicago Films and HBO Films
A Co-Production of BBC and WGBH Boston.
JOHN ADAMS (HBO)
Playtone in association with HBO Films
Spring Creek/Mirage Productions in association with Trigger Street Productions, Everyman Pictures and HBO Films
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
JUDI DENCH CRANFORD
CATHERINE KEENER AN AMERICAN CRIME
LAURA LINNEY JOHN ADAMS
SHIRLEY MACLAINE COCO CHANEL
SUSAN SARANDON BERNARD AND DORIS
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
RALPH FIENNES BERNARD AND DORIS
PAUL GIAMATTI JOHN ADAMS
KEVIN SPACEY RECOUNT
KIEFER SUTHERLAND 24: REDEMPTION
TOM WILKINSON RECOUNT
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TV
EILEEN ATKINS CRANFORD
LAURA DERN RECOUNT
MELISSA GEORGE IN TREATMENT
RACHEL GRIFFITHS BROTHERS AND SISTERS
DIANNE WIEST IN TREATMENT
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURES MADE FOR TV
NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
DENIS LEARY, RECOUNT
JEREMY PIVEN, ENTOURAGE
BLAIR UNDERWOOD, IN TREATMENT
TOM WILKINSON, JOHN ADAMS
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I have hesitated to post anything as it pertains to the fact that I now own an iPhone. I wanted to have a few weeks to really tool with it to find out if it is indeed worth hype.
I can with 100% confidence that this little monster is completely awesome.
The fact I no longer have to carry two devices with is great. The syncing of calenders and email and contacts with mobile me is a dream come true.
The application store alone is sheer genius. In fact I am writing this blog for you from my iPhone thanks to an application called blog write lite.
There are so many pros when it comes to this device it is no wonder it is the #1 phone in the U.S.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
So, I have friends who are friends with T.R. Knight and I have heard nothing but wonderful things about him as a person. However, today it was pushed that the star walked off the set the other day and asked out of his contract with Grey's Anatomy because he is unhappy with the storyline for his character, Dr. George O'Malley. I don't blame him. I agree that the storyline for his character has been somewhat weak in comparison to previous seasons. He seems to float aimlessly in show.
However, this is not a posting about Grey's Anatomy's creative direction. This is also not a blog about whether Mr. Knight is selfish or acting unjustly. I realize he has a three year contract and some people say he should honor that. As I read this story, I ultimately asked myself, why? Why would you leave a paid acting gig? A well paid acting gig? And I'm not alone. I have several friends who have seen this story and said, "He's ungrateful." or "He doesn't know how good he has it." Maybe he is and maybe he doesn't. I don't know. However, for many of us, the acting roles are few and far between these days. Walking away from a six figure a year paycheck to do what you love seems odd... it seems confusing.... it seems self destructive.
However, if the reports are true... T.R. Knight has done exactly that. He's walked away.
It's interesting that Knight is the second high profile star to complain about the writing of the show. Catherine Hiegl was very vocal last year about her displeasure with the character of Izzy Stephens. This year it's not much better as she finds herself haunted by a ghost or something.
I love acting, and I think Mr. Knight does too. So, how bad must life be on that set to warrant quitting?
Monday, December 8, 2008
So, if you're an actor it's hard to keep booking national commercials and televisions shows. In Los Angeles, there is an estimated 300,000 actor seeking work, so go figure... it's tough to keep a job. So, a lot of folks take less than wonderful gigs to pay the bills. Brad Pitt was once the El Pollo Loco Chicken.
One thing that actors do is take theme park jobs. They are steady jobs, usually covered under AFTRA or some Union and they pay okay. They're easy to do, and you get to act a little.
One of the new 'legendary' fun positions at Disney land is to be Jack Sparrow. People love Jack Sparrow. Apparently, some women love Jack Sparrow so much they like to show him their boobs. Disney land is a family friendly place, and that means that boobs are a non starter. However, Disney, known for their Draconian ways, decided that a few bad apples needed to spoil the fun for everyone. So, they canned their Jack Sparrows and replace them with fairies for the new Tinker Bell attraction. So, the poor guys playing Jack are out of the a job because Disney security could not do theirs. That's tough.
By the way, when did Disneyland turn into the new home for woot girls. For love of Sanity, Ladies, it's Disneyland, not Cancun!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Dear Mr. Claus,
I hope you have had a truly fruitful and rewarding 2008. Hopefully, your retirement investments have weathered the bad economy. Mine have not done so well. Oh, well, live and learn. By the way, did you hear that they canceled Knight Rider, honestly it's about time. Right? I hear Heroes is next, but I watched it this week, and it's kind of getting good again. What do you think?
Oh, by the by, go check out Frost / Nixon and Yes Man in theaters this month. I know it's a busy time of year for you, but I have small parts in both, and I hear they're pretty good.
Anyway, I've been a real good blogger this year. I've managed to keep this one you're reading up for an entire year, and I'm really excited for where Art of Function is at and what it has been a forum for this year. As you know I shut down a few other blogs, I started up, but recently filled my writing slate with a new blog called Indie Majority. So, go and check that out. Oh, and go check out THE NOHO SHOW, that's my internet web series, I produce and direct!
On a personal note, it's been a great year, with the greatest gift of all being my son, Maximus coming into this world. It has been wonderful to watch him grow up this year. And even though a full night's sleep is a distant memory, I'm really excited that he is in my life.
So, on to the list. I'm a pretty happy guy. I already have my top three gadgets (Mac Book Pro, iPhone and Kindle). So, I decided to pair down the list in cost this year for some cool lower end stuff. Everything with the exception of the camera lens is under $60, and most of it is under $40.00. It's pretty interesting, and it contains a lot of odds and ends that I think are cool. I've factored in my increased use of the DSLR camera I purchased last year, and my new hobby Krav Maga. So, enjoy! I've tried to list everything by the most inexpensive price and by use through Amazon.com because that's a fairly reliable online source for buying gifts.
Amazon Gift Card: With my new Kindle, I download all my books digitally for purchase so, I have abandoned other book retailers like Barnes and Noble and Borders. Plus there are a ton of other cool stuff at Amazon.
iTunes Gift Card: Yeah, it's an addictive little app the old iTunes. That's why I love me some gift cards.
Nikon 55 - 200mm Zoom Lens: So, I'm a slave to my Nikon D40x. It's an awesome DSLR camera, and I've been meaning to upgrade the lens for quite sometime. This would be an awesome gift, however a little expensive, but I could also use a cool camera strap (link here) or I thought it would be good to protect my little investment with this cool Camera Case Armor by MADE (link here).
The Leatherman SERCA LED Flashlight: This thing is super bright and super durable. It's also better for the environment and is more power efficient than the traditional incandescent flash light. Plus Leatherman is a manly brand.
Gears of War 2: It's really the only game I have on the Xmas list this year for the Xbox 360.
The Front Pocket Wallet with Money Clip by Perry Ellis: It's a nice little wallet with room for more than three credit cards while maintaining a slimmer profile. And it's inexpensive for a wallet.
UFC Offical Fight Grappling Gloves: Since, I've taken up Krav Maga it's become apparent you need some good gloves every once in a while. These gloves are great for in class training as you do not need to remove them to practice grappling techniques.
Everlast Pro Style High Performance Training Gloves: I'm hoping to jump into the bag classes at my studio and you need a bit more padding on your gloves than what the above grappling gloves accomodate.
Under Armor: Compression shorts are a must when you're doing any training, and after owning my first pair of under armor shorts, I'm hooked. However, it's great to have more. So, if you want to get me some great (click link here). However, I'd be up for anything by underarmor. Size XL for shorts and XXL for up top.
Kleen Kanteen Water Bottle: Hey, if you are a fan of the Blog, then you know about our appreciation of the SIGG water bottle. Well, we have a new favorite, and it's called Kleen Kanteen and it's the same as a SIGG but with a wider mouth. I prefer the black model.
Tool Logic SL 3 Fire Knife: Ever watch Survivor Man or Man vs Wild? I do. And if you've ever watched Bear Gryllis light a fire with one of those sparking knives, you kind of get the chills. Well, here's one of those knives on the cheap!
Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket: I need a good water proof rain jacket that is nice and light. I have plenty of heavy coats that do not block out the rain. In Los Angeles, we get more rain than super duper cold.
So, that's it big guy. If you can somehow find a way to get a resolution to this darn SAG / AMPTP thing done then that would really help out in a big big way. However, what I am most looking forward to this year is going to a big family gathering like last year, and just hanging out with my family. I think as a whole I am pretty blessed in that regard.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
"Los Angeles, CA (December 01, 2008) - Today’s open letter, full-page ad from the eight entertainment industry moguls is confirmation of their continued refusal to bargain with Screen Actors Guild. In an effort to push negotiations forward in the face of AMPTP stonewalling, we asked two of the CEO’s who signed this letter to get involved in the talks in September. They refused. We wish they had taken us up on our offer. It better serves the industry to negotiate than to buy and respond to $100,000 newspaper ads.
We are still waiting for the CEO’s or their AMPTP negotiators to make a good faith effort at bargaining with us. Agreements with other guilds and unions can’t dictate actors’ terms just because they are part of a pattern set by the DGA. Actors issues are different and must be heard and addressed.
We are still waiting for our turn. We want exactly what the DGA got – the chance to negotiate an agreement that addresses the needs of our members. No other guild or union can negotiate a pattern deal that fits the industry and SAG members, any more than ABC can negotiate license fees for NBC. No one has our proxy.
Our issues are different – not better, but different and we deserve to have our unique issues and very valid concerns resolved in negotiation. Agreeing to fairly negotiate the unique needs of actors would mean that the CEO’s are honorably engaging in the negotiations process rather than continuing to stonewall.
Our message to the CEOs is this, “Gentlemen, please understand, the pattern does not fit. Now that you have at least acknowledged our effort to achieve a fair contract for actors, perhaps you would be willing to sit down with our negotiating committee and resolve our issues?”
Here is the response from the AMPTP:
"SAG's press release proves that SAG is now officially out of touch with reality. The Producers negotiated with SAG for 46 days - and over that entire time SAG failed to justify why it deserves a better deal than the six other agreements negotiated so far this year. On a day when the United States was officially declared to be in a recession, when Governor Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency for California, and when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 680 points, SAG continues to demand more and better than everyone else. Unfortunately, the chasm between reality and SAG seems to widen by the day."
So, here is the bad part of all of this. AMPTP has clearly become frustrated and if you have watched their behavior in these labor negotiations, you know one thing, if you piss them off, the more stubborn they become. The more they feel they have the upper hand, the more stubborn they become. SAG has never been able to actually understand this. The first team DGA knew this and they knew how to corerce the AMPTP into making a deal. AFTRA also made a deal. WGA made a deal following in line with DGA. It's quite simple. SAG is the last to the table. They get the scraps. Could they have avoided this? Yes, they chose to sit back and let the WGA and DGA do all the heavy lifting and then were shocked that all of their own demands were not discussed. They didn't even start negotiating until after AFTRA had already secured a deal. This mixed with the inevitable failure of a strike vote is simply frustrating the producers because it means more months of stalled momentum on the actual issue... Getting a deal signed. This is what is allowing the producers to sit back with arms folded and say, "Prove it to me." The reality is, they can't. Plus, SAG has to realize the AMPTP is in a bind. They can't reinvent a new model for one Union when six others have agreed to the terms of another model. It's not fair to the other Labor Unions.
Now, I know that the Producers have a ton of money. I get it. It's unfair, they won't share. Blah Blah Blah, Whine whine whine. Hollywood is profitable... who would have thought? Some big bloggers out there want to point out how hypocritical the producers are when they have so much money in their own accounts and then they complain about the economy. Look, let's be smart for once. The Moguls are businessmen and women. They're job is to maintain a bottom line for their corporations. They are not in the business of fair. It's not part of their job description. So, stop whining about it, and produce a compelling argument for why you want more money. Oh, that's right... you can't.
Before you head out this holiday season with the intent of getting your chubby little cherub of a child to pose with Santa for the most adorable of adorable photos, I want you to read this article. Then think long and hard about what you are about to do to your little bundle of joy.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Is it just me or is this freaking Key Blank, just plain awesome, maybe even Badass or Radical, or as my friends in sixth grade used to say, Badical (a combination of Badass and Radical mixed for complete dominance in the area of superlatives). I am going right out to my local Key stand, to see if they have this template. Then, I'm getting all keys redone. Oh, here's the website for the company who came up with this thing.
However, despite the arguments brought forth in the lette rabove, I also would like to point out one more. When you have 100,000 options for a sevice available to you, the cost for those options goes down, not up. SAG's membership is incredibly bloated for the scale of work currently offered out there. Many members are paying dues for a union that provides labor protection for people who may never work on a project. It's kind of insane. This is why the producers do not want to pay the actors more money, because they know there are lots of people out there they can put in movies and on T.V. who will not quibble about the money. Think of it this way, if we had just 1,500 cellular providers out there, how much money do you think you'd have to pay for cell phone service? Probably not the fifty bucks you pay now. It would be more like 5 bucks.
However, SAG loves them some money. So, they won't turn anyone away.
This is ultimatley why this Union drives me nutes. There is no certification to be in SAG. There is no board that looks at a talented actor and says. Yes, they deserve to be a member of the Union. For example, You fall ass backwards into three days of extra work, and you're in the union. Does it make sense that all you have to do is stand there, and you get to be in a union?
You didn't have to have a speaking part. You didn't have to audition. You just have to be able to stand there. I'm not saying background isn't hard work (there are long hours involved), but as someone who has done it to make ends meat, it's a role that really challenges your acting chops. This is why so many talented trained regional theatrical actors give up and go back to where they came from. They've trained, received degrees, have years of experience, but for some reaons agents treat them like the plague because they cannot make friends with one of the nine extra casting agencies in L.A.
I worked some background a few years back. Everyone I talked to didn't even call themselves an Actor. They 'just did this for fun', or did it for the extra cash. Many had never even taken an acting class and didn't plan to. One guy saw me reading a copy of a play. He asked me what I was reading. I said a play. He said, "You mean you can buy copies of plays to read? I didn't nkow that". However, this guy was a member of the Screen ACTORS guild.
SAG has created this problem. They take anyone so they can so they canc ontinue to support the corporate model they have created for themselves. The Union is so bloated it needs a bigger deal to keep it up and running. It's no secret to anyone that SAG is fundamentally broken. It's model is corrupted and not working. This negotiation process is just one further example of why it needs to be dissolved, and re-invented.