April 15, 1998
I didn't really have time to drive home and then back over the hill before the one o'clock appointment time, so I went over to the Century City Shopping Plaza and sat, looking over my lines occasionally, trying to relax and concentrate on the necessary changes.
I walked over to ABC Headquarters at about 20 minutes to one. The offices and waiting area were quite posh. A small collection of actors had begun to assemble. One 65 year-old man, one 13 year-old girl, and a handful of small boys, each accompanied by a parent. My competitor was not in attendance yet. The casting assistant, Susan, appeared and gave us some bottled water and a chance to see the room where we would be reading for the network. I liked that. I walked down with her and checked out the scene. It was the most imposing of the rooms I have ever read in, but also the first that resembled a stage/audience set-up. Though usually a very comfortable screening room, today it's wooden floor in the front of the room would be holding aspiring actors as the plush comfy lounge chairs on the carpeted risers cushioned the butts of ABC's top brass, all looking to put together a hit show from these artists parading past them.
Back to the waiting area. Rick Millikan arrived and gave me a note on one of the lines. He also asked if I was nervous earlier. I confessed that I must have been because I felt my reading was a little flat. He concurred without being mean and suggested I simply liven it up a bit. Have fun with it.
One of ABC's casting directors, Eric Mathre, was also in attendance. I approached him and we chatted for a few minutes. Oddly enough, he asked about my little sister, Mary, the "one who does hair." Puzzled, I told him she was fine and getting married in August. When I complimented him on his amazing memory for a tidbit like that, he confessed, "Well, I've been to the website once or twice." See, even Mary can benefit from the Ducey website. It won't be long now before she has her own show. (Or at least is doing someone's hair on a show.)
Finally, it was time. The old man and young girl went first. Then me. We only did the first scene and it went quite well. It was much looser, more relaxed, and funny. They liked it plenty. I then waited outside the door as the other actor performed. He emerged and we sat patiently for a couple of minutes. The decision? They want to see the second scene.
Now the second scene at the studio test was not very polished. I was not very familiar with the last page because it was new and we were not instructed to prepare it. But an hour at the Century City shopping plaza had changed all that. This time the second scene was a killer. It came out relaxed and believable and yes, funny, again. As the last words from the last line left my mouth and the gathering of suits gave a warm laugh at the final joke, it all felt very right. From the depths of mediocrity at eleven had risen a nice little performance at one. Even if I didn't get it, I knew it had gone as well as I could have hoped. That felt good.
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