Robert Mulligan, the Academy Award-nominated director of “To Kill a Mockingbird” has died at 83. I regret not seeing any of his other films. That seems the perfect remedy to this cold spell that even has Austin in its icy grasp.
Monthly Archives: December 2008
I’m blogging from the stairs in the living room of my parents house. My family sprawled post-feast on whatever cushion like object available to them watching a brilliant old Peter Sellers move. I’ve been here for the last few days, hence the lack of posts. I’m having a hard time doing anything other than eat, drink, or being merry. I’m back to Texas tomorrow. A good friend of mine is getting married on the 23rd, so B and I are headed back pre-Christmas. We Jemisons celebrated early to accomodate us and I made the turkey (15 pounder thank you very much, it was delicious). Tennessee has been really warm and rainy. I wish we were staying longer. I am the oldest of five siblings. One sister and one brother are married so there are eight of us counting B and we are all at turns loud and funny, or quiet and funny, or loud and not funny and also inappropriate and occasionally gassy.
My parents are fun. My mom is a little woman from Ireland with white hair. She is sweet but often off in a dream world. My sister Jessica and I took her shopping. In the car on the way home, Jessica was telling me about how this man convicted of a terrible murder had come to live on Signal Mountain. I said “That is shocking.” And mom says, “Why? Signal Mountain is a really nice place to live.”
My dad is sometimes funny and sometimes an oblivious jerk. For example, he didn’t want my sister to make her own pie crust for the chocolate pie she was planning. This was because he didn’t like the pie crust she made at Thanksgiving. I tried to explain to him that discouraging his own daughter from making a pie crust from scratch was against the Christmas spirit. He looked at me earnestly and said “I just cain’t eat food I don’t like. I cain’t help it.” (My Dad is from Mississippi.) He didn’t think there was anything wrong with his protests.
My sister was hurt.
“Make the pie crust yourself if mine sucks.”
Dad: “(Earnestly) To my tastebuds it sucks.”
After my morning spent mourning my badly butchered vegetable garden, I was trying to channel that loss into some real feeling to put in my Grapes of Wrath audition at Zach Scott. I’d worked so hard and spent tons of time and money on that garden, and now it was all gone. THEY EVEN ATE THE CILANTRO. YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO LIKE HERBS, DEER. YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO LEAVE HERBS ALONE. Little did I know that the trials of the day were far from over. On my way to the theater for the audition I took the exit off mopac that leads past Zilker, just to find it blocked off for the Christmas lights in the park thing. Its a total madhouse with a huge line of cars with their blinkers on and families walking down to the park holding hands. I am supposed to be at the audition in 20 minutes. Thinking there was no way I could possibly make it I decide to turn around and get back on mopac and take the next exit instead. On my way up the service road, my car did this cute thing it does when its got a quarter of a tank of gas and its on an incline. It stopped running. And there’s another cute thing about my car, the hazards don’t work. I called B and he said he was on his way. I sat there waiting and cried a little. Just a little.
I did eventually get to the audition. B came to my rescue and we switched cars. I still didn’t get there until after 6 and my audition was at 4:40. They were really nice about it and I think I still did okay but I was definitely not in the place I’d ideally hoped to be for it. Maybe it worked for me. I don’t have any sort of clearheaded perspective on it, I’m still sort of a wreck. But I do have a new respect for the characters that feels like its physically in my body. Today, I had a little taste of the Joad experience, and it was a beatdown.
We had a windy night in Austin and I woke up and went out to water my vegetable garden this morning, like I do every morning when I’m not hungover. Only today there weren’t any vegetables. And do you know why? It’s because the bastard deer ate them all. The makeshift gate had blown open in the night and let the brutes in. They nibbled all my lettuces to nubs, pulled my artichokes out by the roots, finished off the spinach. They even ate the tiny sugar snap pea shoots that were just starting to get leafy. I picked these radishes just to feel like I was pulling survivors from the rubble. Then I sat down in the dirt and tried not to cry.
So I got a phonecall from my agent yesterday regarding the callbacks for a certain insurance commercial that I am up for. It is a cable spot. She said she had “some news” in a voice that meant something bad. Apparently, the production team had had a “misunderstanding” about what the talent in Austin were willing to work for. They intended to offer the principal actors in the spot $500 for a two year buyout. For the mathmatically challenged that’s $250 a year.
“That’s some fucking nerve.”
“Its complete bullshit.”
This is why I love Heather Collier.
To add insult to injury, the production company shooting the spot was flying in from New York. I’m sure one of those plane tickets cost more than they were willing to pay an actor for their time and their likeness to be used to shill their product for a year. That actor would also be taking themselves out of the running for any other insurance commercials for the duration of those two years. Just to put this in perspective, I was once paid $320o for a Budweiser spot that only ran for one summer in the UK and Ireland in which only my elbow appeared. (Sidenote: I actually had THREE callbacks for that spot). Texas is a non-union state, so it does tend to attract the shoestring budget contingent, but at least most people have the decency to be embarrassed about underpaying their talent. This particular company seemingly sought Austin out because they thought actors here were just so excited to be on tv that they would line up to get the chance to be exploited. Well fuck that. I am not only not attending callbacks, but I am hoping that no one does. I’m sure that won’t be the case, but it would be a lovely message to send back on that plane to New York, wouldn’t it?
Apparently, its audition season. I have three more this week. A short film audition on Thursday, and then on Saturday I have double accent duty. My first audition at Zach Scott is for The Grapes of Wrath and I go straight from Okie dustbowl, pronouncing words like “hospiddle,” to the ASF auditions for An Ideal Husband, where I will do my best posh British. Let’s hope I don’t get confused and ask Lord Goring if it will hurt the baby.
Callbacks for The Bird and The Bee were really fun. We were all in a tiny room off an office at Salvage Vanguard and its a testament to both the script and the caliber of actors present that it didn’t get boring watching people repeat the same short scenes over and over. I don’t think I betrayed my inner-fangirl with Mark Pickell or Kelli Bland. They have both been involved in some of my favorite productions in Austin (Happy Days, A Thought in Three Parts, The Pillowman) and I’m glad I have so many other auditions to keep me from constantly thinking about how much I would love to work with them.
Are you starting to see how actors basically need to constantly distract themselves with shiny objects so as not to obsess over parts that odds are they won’t get? Think I’m going to go stare at some tinsel until I lose my mind.