April 15, 2002
Another morning in Hollywood. 60-degrees on the way to 80, light breeze in the air, sun poking through the morning fog. It's not much different than any other day. No one whizzing by on Coldwater Canyon knows that today is much different to me than yesterday, than last Monday. No one knows the potential the day holds. It's the magic of the Hollywood actor lifestyle. When I woke up to start my day yesterday, there was nothing that could happen that day that would radically change my life for the better. Sure, there could have been bad things. I guess you could always fall down a hole or have a piano crush your head, but the upside was pretty small yesterday. It was just a normal, pleasant Sunday in California.
But Monday. Now there's a day. I woke up today the same as did yesterday, but today, I go to a building and perform about two minutes of material and then some people tell me if I am about to make a lot of money, with the potential of being on television for the next 7 years and making a lot more. That's not a bad place to be.
It is a rare place to be. There are only a few months during the year when an actor can be told such a thing. And in those few months, very few auditions lead to that place. This year, for me, it was only three. For many years, for me, it was zero. These exciting mornings existed, but only for other actors driving around the city. I was dutifully driving to tutor my high school students, knowing I would get only so much per hour. No megabucks possibilities then.
But today. Today was the end of a long, long road. Many auditions, multiple work sessions, a collection of tests, and finally, as the dust prepared to settle, I found myself at the very end of the road. And by my side was everybody else. For the producers of this show, this was it. They were scheduled to start rehearsal tomorrow. There would be no more tests, no more searching for the right guy, no more holding on. They had to cast me or the show would most likely go bust. For the network, this was the end as well -- the very last role in the very last pilot of the season. It was time to turn their attention to making the damn things. And they just had to get past me.
One of the writers approached me in the waiting room. "I just want to let you know that you are our choice for this role. You've got it. This is just about going in there and claiming it for your own. If they have a problem with you, we are ready to go to the mat for you. We want you to do this part. We are completely behind you. Just go in there and knock it out of the park."
It's mine? This part felt like mine at one point in this process. That point was nearly a month ago now and it ended with a phone call saying they were going to keep looking. I have been very hesitant to allow the feeling of "It's mine" to return to the surface. So don't tell me it's mine. That's just going to make it suck even more if I don't get it. I do like the idea of them going to the mat for me, though. ABC can't push us around, right fellows? That's the movie-makers talking. It's tough talk and I like it. Bring it on, Lloyd Braun.
The usual suspects gathered for my test. Actually, half of the usual suspects gathered, half of them were passing on this morning's festivities. Was that a good sign, that were so sure I would get it they didn't need to be there? Or was it a bad sign, that it was so unimportant they had other things to do? Either way, the man of the hour finally stepped in. Lloyd Braun, the big chief. He was the man we had to conquer, either by me blowing him away or by the boys going to the mat against him. He wasn't leaving that room until he cried 'uncle' and gave a poor kid from upstate New York a pilot.
I went in and gave the scenes my all. Though my opinion is biased, I would say it was the best performance of these scenes that I had turned in, and there have been many. I hit the jokes, I hit the different levels, I hit the ball out of the park. And even if Lloyd didn't see it, we still had the three boys in gear to go to the mat. What'll it be, Mr. Braun? What's the call? We're ready for you.
I was told later that after I left, all three writers turned to Lloyd to hear his comments and figure out how to counter any of his arguments, to make sure this process moved forward from here. All eyes focused on him, burning into his skull in the heavy air. He opened his mouth to speak, to begin the battle for the future of the show. His words turned out to be the starting pistol:
"Yeah, he's good."
We're off and running.
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