Tuesday, March 20, 2018

AEA and non-AEA Salaries

From another Actors Access Breakdown:
"$445/week for AEA Members
$300/week for Non Union"
• If smaller roles are designated non-union, this is cool. Theater is EXPENSIVE to do and smaller theaters can't afford AEA salaries plus pension/health contributions (That $445 translates into closer to a cost of $600 when health/pension are included.)
• But, if all the roles are being offered to either non-union OR AEA actors, then the theater seems to be suggesting that it can AFFORD to hire AEA actors in every part. If so, and if it wants to hire non-union, then it should pay AEA and non-union actors the same. I know of at least one theater that pays the same salary to union and non-union actors (I'm sure there are more), and kudos to it. That theater also offers health insurance to all actors if they want it.
• Or, I'd like to see the theater at least clarify that it can only afford a certain number of AEA contracts--regardless of the roles for which they're to be used--so compensation doesn't feel so arbitrary. Seems like an easy fix.

Actors Access Breakdown of the Day

"Please include social media links in notes. $125/day deferred, negotiable for name talent."
• You want to defer my pay? 
"No, not any more, thanks. Can't afford you."

• You want to defer my pay of $125 per day AND want my "social media links?" 
"Um, no, child. No."

• Oh, wait, if I'm a "name" talent, you'll pay me more/not defer my pay? 
"Whaaaat?..." (said in a Donald Glover delayed take)... "Nooo.... If you can pay 'name talent' you can pay me." Here, you reveal you DO have some money stashed, but just don't want to pay actors, if you can help it, unless they're a star, and have a million followers.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

In Memory of Zach Doss

Zach, a 34-year-old writer whom I and many friends and colleagues who attended the U. of Houston in the same era knew and admired, unexpectedly died this week. His passing touches a nerve (though I don't know if Zach would approve of a euphemism such as "passing," as he was more direct than that.) He is already missed, even by those such as myself who didn't know him well enough.
Zach and I did NOT hit it off when we first met, to say the least. I found him youthfully arrogant and he found me ridiculously old and stodgy (we were both right about each other!) But, since we both roamed the same bit of ground at the same time, we became FB friends, after we each left UH, and I came to respect and like Zach very very highly! I don't often suffer correction from friends ("stodgy" is the word I used above), but more than once, I leapt to accept some correction from him, because he was often right, and always stood up for others whom someone like myself seemed to treat unfairly. I was looking forward to someday being in the same room again with Zach, because I wanted to say to his face how much I'd come to enjoy knowing him, albeit through the public, epistolary form of FB. I regret having waited. Zach was a good man, whom I didn't know well enough, and whom I'll miss.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

America's Original Sin

For reasons I can trace back to my childhood experiences of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, my parents participation as trainers in the Freedom Rides, being called "Kike" on school playgrounds in Vermont, having black foster brothers and sisters, and simply being exposed to what was in the cultural air in the late 1960s-mid 1970s, race in America matters a lot to me. Perhaps more than any other social ill I think of racism as America's original sin, a sin which I see neither the Right nor the Left in America addressing, nor do I see it effectively addressed by identity politics, which too easily loses a universalist spirit I intuitively believe we mustn't leave behind, even as we rightfully embrace the particularity of racial and ethnic experience. (I am firmly of the belief that 'race' is a made-up category without empirical justification; I roll my eyes every time someone is 'shocked, shocked' to discover their DNA makes them 'part' black, or Jewish, or whatever.)

I hope to find a place in tv/film in which I get to help explore stories of America's original sin in ways that find our common humanity.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Booked first Network TV Acting Job

Next week I perform as an actor in my first (legacy) network TV show in a strong/large costar role that's story centric. I'm freak'n thrilled. I even get to act with a tv/film star whose work I've long admired (I'm mindful of set etiquette, though, and would never fawn over a star, which just slows the work down.)

I look forward to posting details at air date.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018


ALTERED CARBON, on Netflix, satisfies my sweet tooth for sci fi urban dystopias, yet it plays out the same old film noir premise of a high society murder that turns out to involve sexual and other depredations of the bored rich. Owes a lot--for me, too much--to Raymond Chandler (whose work I adore, save for the misogyny), who's mid-20th century male understanding of women seems woefully inadequate to any future, dystopian or otherwise. At the center of this story women are literally treated as throwaway commodities, but I don't have confidence that the writers and directors are handling that with any sense of irony; it comes off as an unthought-out echo and appropriation of Chandler, done for the t and a.
The show also demonstrates what’s both right and wrong about ‘diversity’ in casting. On the upside: more diverse casting is great to see here, and at least three of the major characters are non-white. On the down side: people of color are still being used to authenticate the Caucasian hero and anti-heroes at the center of the action.
I'd like to see dark sci fi move away from the 'film noir' mash ups that have worked well until now but, for me, are paying fewer dividends.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Visiting the Pluralverse

Here's what you know only a little later in life: choices have long tails. Consequences last, and create further consequences, bad and good. Just as possibilities for real life narrow, you find yourself living evermore with the shades of lives-that-might-have-been, with the multiple possible universes of what might have been proliferating spontaneously from the twin fuels of your imagination and regret. Increasingly, you have one foot in, and one foot out, of the 'here' and 'now,' and you find yourself time traveling, visiting the pluralverse of all your incipient and abortive selves.

On the Rocks Today, In Deep Water, Tomorrow.

Today, I’m washed up on the rocks of my creative resistance and trying to ease myself back into deep water. I’m super mad at myself for being a terrible and nonproductive writer! A bad person! A nincompoop! A ———- (choose your favorite self put down!) I wrote this draft wrong so am stuck with a stupid final 45 pages after a reasonably readable 75 page beginning. I know I have to tear this thing apart and simplify in the next draft if I’m to get anything out of this except a learning experience. I’m deeply aware of how much better, richer, deeper, and more insightful are the imaginations of every artist I respect than is mine! In other words, I’m trapped on the rocks of ego.
So hard for us to accept our own peculiar genius in the light of our admiration for the insight, beauty, and talent of others! I’m in awe at the constant reinventions of form and genre that I see others commit daily in making their work and in creating an audience for it. 
My father was an extraordinarily difficult man who left me a legacy that’s like nesting bombs—inside each bomb is yet another smaller bomb—exploding regularly inside the protective concrete bunker of my crumbly brain. But one smart thing he was clearer on than I am: the only audience for our work may be ourself and that’s ok. Unfortunately, I thought his work was mediocre, but what do I know? It did something for him. Maybe I’m doing what he did. Maybe that’s ok? Maybe. Seems self indulgent. Like reading a book in the middle of the day while others are building the Brooklyn Bridge.
I take consolation in this: our lives never quite mean what we think they do; our contributions tend to be unseen by us in the privacy of the minds of others we may have touched, not through our big achievements, but through less intentional acts and through character. ‘Character is fate’ is not just an aesthetic dictum, nor an epitaph for the individual self; it’s how we transmit good from one to another, ‘fate’ created by one character effecting change in another, in a profluent chain reaction.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


The DNA that shapes my life and career amid the tribes of gypsies--actors, writers, teachers, artists--to which I always, but ambivalently gravitate is a search for home, which of course I never find, for reasons that have nothing to do with making art, or with these fluid (but intimate) communities of sojourners. As good work rarely gets done on the run, the corpus of my work will, in the end, be small; the best of what I leave behind will be what was achieved on the fly and informally in the form of a few good friendships and any contribution I may have made , on the side, to keeping some dialogues going.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Current Audition Material

Duke Senior, Shylock, Henry IV, Leontes, Malvolio, Macbeth, King Lear, Orsino, and the occasional Dogberry are my current go-to Shakes monos. Not sure how I feel about 'em. The most difficult one for me is Dogberry, so I do it only in a pinch. Leontes is also tricky but he goes deep for me so I keep swatting away at him. I'm going to work on some Claudius and Petruchio, as well, and maybe brush up some Holofernes, whom I love. I need to rotate between enough monos so I always have something in the pocket with which I'm not too comfortable and makes me a little nervous to do.
The contemporary pieces I'm rotating are Roma, Roy Cohen, Johnny (Frankie & Johnny in...), Christy (Lieut of Inishman) and the occasional Midas. Gonna add in Hook, Lockhart, and Alfieri, which I haven't done in awhile. I'll do them better now. Dialects I'm least embarrassed to trot out are Dublin(ish) Irish, RP, and a soft R American Southern; a NY dialect too often alludes me, probably because I'm the kind of guy who says, "alludes me."
I have two on camera sides I'm currently doing but am keeping an eye out for more.
Actually, don't need the monos that often, any more, usually only for EPAs, which I hate and mostly avoid, and the occasional citywide open call, which I enjoy.