March 15, 1999
It is now 1:30pm. The actual network test is at 5pm tonight, but first things first. We met this morning for a work session, and when I say 'we' I mean two Hunters, three Norrises, and three Fords -- all the actors reading for the three regular characters on the show. And when I say 'work session' I mean... well, this morning I didn't know what going to a work session would mean. From what took place at it, I don't think anyone really did. The basic idea was that the studio, Greenblatt/Janollari, wanted to prepare everyone for tonight's network event. First, they had to prepare what they wanted us to read. We had received a new scene over the weekend that all three characters appear in. They wanted to hear it and decide if it should be used this afternoon. They also just wanted to give us actors a little exposure to each other before having to show up later and have some magical chemistry if and when we read together. So those were the goals of the so-called 'work session.'
As I mentioned, there were three Fords, including me. Before we began the work session, one of the Fords went in to read by himself. He hadn't actually taken the necessary steps yet to get to the work session. Nor did he. After his solo reading he left. That left two Fords, including me. The other Ford had to go to a voice-over job or callback or something so he went first in a group of three (one Hunter, one Norris, one Ford) and then he had to go. That left one Ford, including me. And so every remaining group of three would be 'including me' for the rest of the morning.
We went in there armed with the new scene that had been written over the weekend. In my estimation, it was the worst scene I have read this pilot season. It was two guys talking about getting erections and premature ejaculation and the third guy making unnatural comments about how crazy it was they were talking about such things. On top of that, it wasn't very funny. It seemed a shame since the original script has some funny stuff it. As I drove to the work session in the pouring rain this morning, I felt beaten, like I was giving in to the least pleasant elements of Hollywood and entertainment. And then above and beyond that, I felt like I didn't have a right to complain because I was only a workday away from having a chance to be on a sitcom on TV, what I have long considered my dream. I was one of only three people in all of Los Angeles that was still being considered for this role. How could that be bad? And yet I felt like it was. It was a similar feeling to the Two Guys and Pizza experience. Even though everything seemed fantastic on the surface, I had high expectations that were not being met and that was bringing me down. After nearly a year of hoping for a well-written show that I could be proud and happy to be in, the scene that showed up on my fax machine this weekend felt like a slap in the face. I don't want to be in that kind of show
We ran the new scene first. Two groups of three went through the paces. I don't know how it went for the other group, but when we were in there, it did not get a lot of laughs from the producers and other spectators. After its third presentation, the decision was made that this was not the kind of scene they wanted to take to ABC and show the network executives. That was the turning point of the day. My spirits began to rise. I wasn't alone in my concern. Now the whole situation didn't seem so bad because it wasn't me against the world, fighting the Viewers for Quality Television battle against the entertainment conglomerate. It was really just a bad scene and I wasn't the only one who knew it.
Then they put together a makeshift three-guy scene from some of the other sides and we ran that a few times. That went over pretty well and served the purpose of seeing the three guys display a little chemistry. This was where the other actor auditioning for Ford may have made a crucial error. One advantage to the scenario was that I got to stay in the room in between groups and chat with the producers. This became an opportunity to be slightly amusing and goofy and develop a better connection to the powers that be, something that almost never happens because there's no time and way to 'get to know' a room of eight people when you just come in and do and scene and scoot out. The other advantage was that I got to do the scene a bunch of times and so with each performance I could change things and try out different ideas. They knew what I was doing and appreciated the effort to keep it interesting. So I hope the other Ford made a lot of money on his voice-over job.
They then told us all what to wear this evening and dismissed us
My audition went very well. There were about 18 people in the room and the first pair of eyes that I saw when I entered the room were Suzanne Bukinik's, who is an old friend and strong supporter. She gave me a friendly smile and I felt almost at home. I read with Bonnie and everything went just about as well as it possibly could have. No lines were lost or stumbled over. There were many laughs. I felt like even Bonnie gave me a chuckle at one point which made me feel like I was definitely doing it right. I got the call on the way home in the car...
I am Ford.
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