Have You Been Glazered?

What’s Glazered you’re probably asking yourself.

MV5BMjIzMDAxNjk4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTIzMzMxNA@@._V1_SY317_CR47,0,214,317_AL_It’s Tony Glazer, the award-winning writer and director. He is going to be the next guest in our FREE INDUSTRY WORKSHOP SERIES.

His workshop will be from 6:30 to 9:30 PM on Wednesday Nov. 12th.

The invitations for the workshop will go out at noon – 12 PM on Nov. 10th. (give or take a few minutes depending on the volume of the traffic Constant Contact has at that time.)

 

The first thirty people to sign up will have the opportunity to showcase their work for this outstanding director (a two-minute contemporary monologue).

Tony Glazer is an award-winning writer, director and producer. His plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Canada and England. His MV5BMTQyOTgyMDE0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODkzMDYyMTE@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_first feature film, Junction, (www.junctionthemovie.com) which he wrote and directed won seventeen awards for excellence on the festival circuit including best director, best picture, and best screenplay. It was also nominated for the prestigious PRISM Awards. Glazer’s stage plays include Stain, and Safe, The Substance of Bliss (2009 Weissberger Award Winner), In The Daylight, Reading Under the Influence, What Friends Are For and American Stare (which is being developed as a feature film.) His most recent directing credits include the television show Redrum, These Things We Hold and the indie film Trust Me, I’m a Lifeguard.

We would love to see you at this workshop BUT don’t stray too far from your computer on the day the invitations go out.                                      The last workshop filled in less than seven minutes.

The invitations go out via Constant Contact. If you didnt receive a notice about Tony’s workshop via Constant Contact then please email us so we can make sure your information is in the proper data base.

Cheers,

John

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The Show Must Go On…

imagesThat refrain is a testament of our dedication as performers. We’ve all known someone (or been someone) who got up out of a sick bed with a temperature of 104 and gave a show stopping performance. Or did West Side Story on a broken ankle.

But what about the flip side of the coin? What if you’ve accepted a role in a show and then discovered you had made a colossal mistake. Would you stick with it and die a thousand tiny deaths at each performance or would you screw up your courage and get out?

That’s a choice I was faced with several years ago.

Here’s what happened: I’m living in LA. I’m in the middle of a nasty divorce. I’m sleeping on a friend’s couch and trying to pull my life back together. I’m also in the midst of changing agents – another divorce of sorts – and I am feeling extremely vulnerable. I think, “If I can just get into a show, any show, and have something to wrap my mind around I’ll feel better.”

I audition for a few things and get cast in a showcase. I’m not going to mention the name of the piece or where it played because it was fairly notorious production and I like to protect the names, and the reputations, of the innocents.

Let’s just say I audition and get cast in play XYZ. The auditions are strange; the only material we have to read are a few short monologues and after we read those the director has us do some improvs. But I know a couple other people who have been cast and I think, “They’re good actors, so what the heck? I wanted to do a show and here’s a show.” It doesn’t pay anything but the writer, who is also the producer, has booked us into a reputable theatre, one that casting directors and agents will attend.

There are ten roles and the director has double cast each role. There is Cast A and Cast B. play-rehearsalCast A (my cast) will perform all the shows except for two nights and Cast B will perform those. And if anybody in either cast gets more remunerative employment on a day they’re supposed to perform the appropriate member from the other cast will take over. Sounds like a good plan to me. I just need to let the agents/casting directors know what nights I’m on.

At the first rehearsal we discover there’s no script. All we have are the monologues we read at the audition. Each cast member reads his or her monologue several times and then the director has us improv different scenarios. This goes on for a couple of weeks with the writer cobbling together scenes based on the improv sessions.

There is a lot of grumbling both at rehearsals and in the bars afterward. But with the true cocked-eyed optimistic spirit that only performers seem to have, we soldier on. “This will all come together, I know it will,” is said more than once. (God, I love actors if for no other reason than this. There is no other group of people anywhere more hopeful than we are.)

Rehearsals continue and yes, there are several neon signs flashing, telling me, “This is not 6a00d83451b71f69e20168e9bcd904970c-400wiright,” but my judgment is impaired. I’m spending my days dealing with lawyers; it seems as if every day I’m losing something: my house, my dog, most of my money. I don’t want to look at how badly things are going. I just want to go somewhere at night where I can forget all the bullshit in my life. Go somewhere and do the one thing I know I’m good at because during the day I’m getting the crap beat out of me.

Rehearsals slog on, both casts grumbling about the arrogance of the director, the ineptitude of the writer but we hang in. “The show must go on…”

We move into the theatre and things get worse. Instead of the writer and the director incorporating our suggestions, mostly about ways to improve the story, to firm up the characters (and admittedly I’m suggesting more than the others) they issue an ultimatum, “Our way or the highway.” All the actors, including me, blink. We all, for our own reasons, need the play. (If I could change one thing about our culture this would be it: far too many of us are so desperate to work we’re afraid to stand up for ourselves.)

Again, because of my impaired judgment, I can’t tell if what we’re doing is brilliant or if it’s shit. Yes, others are grumbling but that’s what casts do – no matter how good a play is something could always be better. The show plods on, with both casts rehearsing until finally we arrive at our first invited dress. I ask three friends – an actor, a producer and a writer – to come and give me their opinion. I tell them my big moment is a monologue (surprise, surprise) at the end of Act I.

We do the show and when it’s over I go out front. Several members of the audience are milling around lobby waiting to say hello to their friends in the show but my friends aren’t there. And the lobby is very subdued. No, “Oh, my god you were great.” No, “That was terrific.” Not even the “I hated the play but let me say something that sounds polite,” like, “Wow, that was something.” Or, “Oh, oh, you were up there all right.” Nothing.

After a few minutes the lobby clears out and still  no sign of my friends – this is before texting, before everyone has a cell phone – so I wait. The stage manager leaves. The house manager tells me I have to go, she has to lock up. Still no friends. All three assured me they are coming so it’s hard to believe all three would have to cancel at the last minute. I leave the theatre, the door clicks shut behind me and I’m standing outside alone. I wait a few minutes and as I turn to walk to my car I hear voices in the distance. As they get louder I realize it’s my friends. And they’re drunk – staggering into each other drunk.

When they’re about twenty feet away they see me and they shout, in unison, “Get out! Get out now.” They drag me back to the bar where they had been drinking and they say, “That is the worst show ever. It was so bad we left after the first act. We’re not drunk because we want to be, we’re drunk because we have to be.”

Later, trying to sleep on my friend Tommy’s couch, I toss and turn all night. I’m not a quitter. I’ve never left a show before. In the morning I call two of the other actors that went on last night. Their friends feel pretty much the same as mine.

I stew some more. Who will suffer if I leave? How will it affect the show? I finally come to the conclusion that tormenting like this isn’t worth it. I call the director and tell him I’m leaving. He blows up. “I knew I shouldn’t have hired you in the first place. I knew you’d pull some shit like this.” He goes on for several minutes and the whole time I’m thinking, “Geez, if you felt that way you could’ve saved us both a lot of  trouble.”

When he finally settles down I remind him the show doesn’t open for four more days, there are two casts and the guy covering me can take over. The director starts yelling again and he actually says to me, “You will never work in this town again!” I mean, this guy doesn’t know his ass from his elbow and the only reason he’s directing the play is because he’s screwing the writer/producer. And the only reason she’s able to produce the play is because of the trust fund her granddaddy set up for her. The director is still ranting when I hang up.

That night, after the second dress, my friends in the show call and tell me what the director told the rest of the cast about my decision. It’s all unflattering, mostly about how unprofessional I am, how I left them in a lurch. He told them one more thing. “Don’t images-6worry, he said, and according to my friends he said this with unabashed glee. “I made sure the son-of-a-bitch’s name got taken out of the program.”

The whole time they’re telling me this they’re complaining, saying they want to get out too. They don’t. They stick it out. The show opens three days later to the worst reviews a showcase has ever received in LA. No, not kidding, the worst. Three of the reviewers are smart enough to know where the blame belongs and don’t rake the actors over the coals but they do rip the director and the writer a new one.

The show completed its run. I was still sleeping on my friend’s couch and my career was still stalled but at least I wasn’t getting beat up while doing something I loved.

Could I have hung in there and done the show? Sure but sticking up for myself, at least in this case, proved to be the better choice. As difficult as it was to leave, taking charge of my life boosted my confidence and even though it took me a while to get my life (and my career) back on track it was the step I needed to take.

SIDEBAR – a few months later I signed with top LA agent. During the interview process he mentioned he had seen play XYZ. He joked about how horrible it was and asked if I had ever seen it. “No,” I said. “Never did.” I didn’t tell him I was almost in it.

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THE HIGHER UP YOU GO…

images-4Often a student will say, usually after a not so good audition, “What is wrong with these people?” “That director, what a jerk!” Or, “I can’t believe she was so rude.” I’m always quick to say, “Hey, there are a lot of wonderful people in this business.” And it’s true. In fact, in my forty plus years as an actor I’ve discovered that the old axiom, “The higher up you go in this business, the nicer the people are,” is true.

After five years in New York with eight off-Broadway plays under my belt I was eager to get some TV and film experience. New York wasn’t like it is today. Now there are twenty plus television shows in production and a countless number of movies being filmed here. Back then it was a handful of soap operas and maybe a half a dozen films a year, many of them pre-cast out of LA.

So I packed my bags and headed for Hollywood. Shortly after arriving I had the good fortunate to sign with an agent but he told me, “This isn’t going to be easy, selling you. You don’t have any LA credits.”

But we agreed to give it a shot. A couple weeks later he called and said, “Look, I’ve got this thing. I don’t know if you’re interested or not but they want to see you. Howard Koch is producing and Walter Matthau is starring. It’s for the American Heart Association. It doesn’t pay anything so I don’t know if you want to do it.”

I’m not sure I even heard the last two sentences. What I heard was “Howard Koch isimages producing and Walter Matthau is starring.” Those two guys were titans in the industry. Mr. Koch had produced a slew of movies including The Manchurian Candidate (original version), The Odd Couple, On A Clear Day, Plaza Suite and two iconic TV shows Maverick and The Untouchables. Walter Matthau had starred in The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three; The Bad News Bears, The Odd Couple, Charade, The Front Page, etc., etc. AND THEY WANTED TO SEE ME!

I hustled over to my agent’s office and picked up the sides. It wasn’t a great script. It was one of those “Take care of your heart and your heart will take care of you” short films that would only play at medical conventions but I didn’t care. My scenes were with Mr. Matthau. The audition was in two days. I prepared like I had never prepared before. The next day my agent called with another audition. “It’s a decent role,” he said, “but it’s a new show. No one knows if it’ll even air. It’s called St. Elsewhere. You want to go?”

Paramount+Studios+033“Yeahhhh,” I said. I was thrilled to have any audition. I did my homework on both pieces, went to the St. Elsewhere audition the next morning and then over to Mr. Koch’s office at Paramount Studios for the Heart Association audition later that  afternoon. I read for Mr. Koch and the director. My phone was ringing when I got home. I had booked the Heart Association job. Rehearsals started the next day.

I reported to the set in the morning and met Mr. Matthau. I told him I had played Oscar Madison in a college production of The Odd Couple. He was polite but didn’t seem terribly interested. After our wardrobe fittings the AD went over the shooting schedule – I was going to shoot my scenes the next afternoon. We rehearsed for a couple of hours and were taking a break when my agent called.

“Hey,” he said. “The St. Elsewhere people, they want to see you again. Callback’s tomorrow morning at 10:30.”

“Damn” I said.

“What’s the matter?”

“I’m shooting the Heart Association film in the morning.”

“When’s your call?”

“Eight.”

His other phone rang and he said, “Let me get this. I’ll get back to you.”

Mr. Koch was standing behind me when I hung up. “What’s up, kid?”

I told him about having a callback the next morning.

“What do you want?” He asked.

I turned away mumbling something even I didn’t understand.

He put a hand on my arm and stopped me. “In this business you’ve got to let people know what you want. What do you want?”

“Best case scenario, Mr. Koch? I’d like to do both.”

“If you could only do one, which would you do?”

“I’d do this one.”

“Our little film’s not going to give you much exposure.”

“I know.”

“There’s no money here.”

“I know that too, but I made a commitment.”

He smiled and said, “Let me give you a piece of advice. You’ve got to follow the money. Actors don’t always want to hear that but as a guy who’s been around the block a few times let me tell you, that’s the only way to make this crazy business work.”

Before I could say anything Mr. Koch yelled across the set. “Hey, Walter. The kid’s got a callback tomorrow morning. Can we shoot your scenes with him in the afternoon?”

Mr. Matthau looked at me and winked. “For you Oscar, anything.”

Mr. Koch talked to the director, she changed her shot list and after rehearsal as I was leaving I thanked Mr. Koch (for like the fifth time). He said, “Thank me by getting the job.”

I went to the callback the next morning and when I finished I reported to the Heart Association set. I shot my first scene with Mr. Matthau and while they were setting up our next scene my agent called to tell me I had booked St. Elsewhere. Mr. Koch didn’t get to the set until about four that afternoon. The first thing he said to me was, “How’d it go?” When I told him I booked it he gave me a thumbs up.

images-7

Now whenever I hear an actor complain about how somebody screwed them over, I’m quick to remind them that our business is filled with wonderful people. And sometimes I tell them the story about the day two giants went out of their way in order to give a new kid a shot.

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What I want is you.

On the set preparing to shoot.

On the set preparing to shoot.

One of the best pieces of acting advice I ever received happened in an agent’s office. I had been in New York just a few months when I managed to get an appointment with J. Michael Bloom. At the time, although I didn’t know it when his office called to arrange the appointment, he ran the biggest commercial agency in New York.

Prior to seeing him I had been in one other agent’s office – five, people, three decks crowded into a ten by twelve foot room – so I wasn’t prepared for what awaited me. His office was at 400 Madison Avenue. In the elevator on the way up to see him I noticed the Bloom Agency took up the entire 19th floor. And the 20th as well.

I checked in with the receptionist certain that my appointment must be with some underling. After waiting a few minutes I was ushered into J. Michael’s office. We barely had a chance to say hello when people began bursting into the room. “I’ve got Gray advertising on the line. They’re offering $50,000. Should I ask for $75,000.00?” “The Dove spot is up for renewal. I think we should ask for a $10,000 holding fee and double scale on the residuals.” “The Tide people really like her. I’m going to ask for $60,000.00. That okay?”

The intimidation factor grew exponentially; I was working off-Broadway making $137.50 a week.images-7 In-between interruptions J. Michael tried to engage me by asking long leading questions. I was so freaked out all I could do was nod or shake my head. We talked, or rather he talked, for an hour. I realized I was blowing my opportunity so I asked him if I could come back next week and read copy for him. Waiting in the lobby I had seen some other actors preparing to read copy. He graciously said yes and I made an appointment to come back.

One thing led to another – he had schedule conflicts, the show I was in closed. I got cast in another show – an English play, The Winslow Boy, playing John Wathersone – and it was a couple months before I got back in to see J. Michael.

I was a little less intimidated this time but only slightly. Again, a slew of agents barged into his office to get advice on various issues, most of them involving sums of money I could only dream of. When things finally settled down I did my reading. Or, rather I started to do my reading. Three lines into the copy he stopped me. “John,” he said. “If I want an Englishman, I’ll get an Englishman.” In my defense, I had been rehearsing The Winslow Boy for three weeks.

“Start over.”

So I re-grouped and did what I thought (at the time) a good actor should do. I read the same piece of copy as if I was a Brooklyn cab driver. I only got two lines out this time before he stopped me. “John, if I want a Brooklyn cab driver, I’ll get a Brooklyn cab driver. What I want is you.”

images-8Terror shot through me and I thought, “Oh, god. Anything but that.” Because up to that point I thought acting was about escaping and becoming someone else. I didn’t realize acting was about reaching deep inside yourself and discovering the aspects of the character that already exist in you. I thought acting was working from the outside in, not the inside out.

I’m not sure what J. Michael saw in me but he gave me the name of a commercial acting coach and told me to check in with him after I worked with her. I was grateful but when I left that day I vowed I would not step foot back in his office unless I was invited.

Two years later, after booking a lot of jobs his clients had been up for, he called.

I’ve had a rich and rewarding career and it all started that day in J. Michael’s office.
“What I want is you.” That’s what every agent, what every casting director, what every director wants – they want you. And the sooner you can give them YOU the sooner you go to work.

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Staying in the Game

You may have noticed I haven’t posted anything new on my blog for the past couple of months. It’s been a glorious summer and I’ve working exclusively on my 2nd novel. The following post came from a former student of mine and I feel it is well worth reading.

 

To be an actor is to be a hunter. You are constantly in pursuit of the next job and the next b0b0df23-2e8d-405d-a03c-bac4329f5703one after that. When your hair starts turning silver (like mine), hunting gets old.  You start wondering if it’s time to leave the business, move upstate, and open that dress shop you’ve always dreamed of. You have a choice to make: stay in or get out!  
 
For me– I’ve opted to stay in– ALL IN. Why? Because within the pursuit of acting work are thousands of  life lessons that feed my soul. Searching for learning within the highs and lows of my career has been a complete game changer. I’m not just a huntress anymore. I’m a spiritual warrior on a quest for joy and meaning.
 
So…here is what I learned this month in the acting trenches… MAKE THE ASK. It’s scary. You don’t feel worthy. There is no guarantee you’ll receive what you’ve asked for. But just asking increases your self esteem AND you just might realize a dream.
83a77906-e49b-426e-a636-9558ba8de930An exciting new musical, The Circus in Winter, came on my radar recently. It is being produced by The Goodspeed Opera House, written by Hunter Foster and Ben Clark, and directed by Joe Calarco, (a director I’ve admired greatly for years and have slowly been getting to know, but not yet worked with). Just thinking about project, the creatives, and the theatre thrilled me! Great, right? No–not great. The audition was coming and I didn’t have an appointment.
 
So, choice time–I could sit at home and stew about how unfair the industry was, or I could put on my big girl pants, write the director and ask for an audition. Which is what I did. Within minutes he wrote back and said I’m right for one of the roles and he’d put my name into casting…. And I’m here to tell you–after an audition and callback–I booked it!
 
So the lesson I learned: Honor your desires. Even if you feel scared, even if putting yourself out there makes you feel vulnerable, ASK for what you want. You have nothing to lose and you just might make your dreams come true!

Thank you, Sarah. Inspirational words!! Enjoy the rest of your summer. I’ll be posting again in a couple of weeks.

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Casting Director Shout-Outs

Last week actors who follow this blog had the opportunity to participate in one of two casting directors’ workshops. A few got to do both.

donna-grossman-donna-grossman-castingThe first shout-out goes to Donna Grossman. She is a critical and vital component of the on-camera commercial class I teach. She is the instructor for the seventh week and does an outstanding job. Here are a few comments from the class she taught on July 14th:

Having the ability to get feedback from someone on the casting side and be given adjustments/constructive criticism is so important; we as actors rarely get that! It 10151165_722348337815425_2679753837388749358_nboosted my confidence knowing that I was able to take her adjustments and give her what she asked for. John’s class definitely prepared me for that. IH

Donna was extremely approachable, gave great feedback and really had a great way of looking at copy. It is important to have that “real world” experience in a classroom.  And very rare too. SE

Donna was very honest when it came to giving feedback.  She and John both instilled a knowledge about commercial acting that I had never learned before. SH

Getting Donna’s feedback was very constructive. Having her there was a lovely way to wrap up John’s class. BL

 

IMG_6599.JPG - Version 2The second shout-out goes to David Cady. David’s workshop on July 16th was the latest in the series of free industry workshops we offer in New York. David did a great job. Here’s what a few of the actors who attended had to say:

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Walking into the room I was a bit nervous, but David and John set a wonderful tone for the evening that was positive and encouraged growth. LB

Actors listening to David's critique

Actors listening to David’s critique

Pragmatic, succinct, and extremely clear, David certainly has his finger on the pulse of the industry – I learned how important naturalism and honesty is, and how crucial NOT-selling is to a commercial performance today. Totally excellent workshop – thanks David, and John!!! AH

The concise criticism offered by both John and David helped set the tone for the evening. David’s guidance helped to clarify what the expectations would be in a professional audition scenario.  LM

John and David watching an actor's work

John and David watching an actor’s work

 

What a joy it is to meet casting directors in such an open and supportive environment! IS

I love how respectful David and John were. It felt like they really were collaborating with us to get the best results. MC

 

We’ve just finished our first full year of hosting these free industry workshops. So far we’ve had casting directors Judy Bowman, Donna McKenna, Kimberly Graham, and David Cady plus indie film producer Summer Crockett Moore and agent Jamie Harris as our guests. Almost 200 actors have been able to showcase their work.

Our goal is to do one of these workshops per month. In order for that to happen we need to increase the number of people following this blog. If you’d like to have more of these workshops, help us spread the word. Let your friends know what we are doing and ask them to sign up.

Okay, we’re on hiatus until September. I’ll be posting a blog every now and then but the rest of the time I’ll be working on my latest novel. Have a great summer!

Ciao,

John

 

 

 

 

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Correction to last post

My bad! The last post should have read: “the invitations will go out at 12 noon on the 14th of July. ” Everything else is correct. commercials

 

 

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