Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Back on the Boards

After a week off, I'm going back into rehearsals today for the same show I closed in July. Reason is that the show, as expected, is touring out-of-state for at least a couple of weeks, and the producers took this opportunity to change the script a little, and change the cast a lot.

I remember Michael J. Fox and Justine Bateman giving an interview once, near the end of their long-running sitcom "Family Ties". (That was the name, wasn't it? The one where Meredith Baxter played their mother?) Anyway, the interviewer was asking the inevitable questions about whether they knew at the beginning that their sitcom was going to be a hit, and how they initially adjusted to their new status as celebrities, and Fox and Bateman answered by way of recounting a story. It seems there was originally a different girl cast in the part eventually taken by Tina Yothers. Everyone was excited during pre-production and rehearsals, and the kids had started bonding somewhat when, the Thursday before their first Friday taping, the original actor was yanked out and Tina Yothers stepped in.

And Michael & Justine just looked at each other, realizing the same thing could happen to them.

So no, neither Michael J. Fox nor Justine Bateman were giddy with delight, or happy to be celebs, or any of that. Instead, they took a pass on the sports cars, saved their money, and didn't really relax into their roles until after their first contract renegotiation.

All of which is my exceptionally roundabout way of saying that I suppose I should feel flattered that I'm just about the only member of the original cast to be continuing on with my show, but I feel instead that it only underscores my last rant about placing more value on being a good co-worker/friend than on your talent. The other members of my original cast didn't bow out voluntarily, but I don't think it was because they were bad in their roles — they were just, um... indiscreet with some of their opinions, and occasionally openly adversarial with the director, so the producers honored their contracts with them and then moved on without them.

I suppose I sound like a dinner guest in the Damocles household, but the fact is that one gets used to it. Every actor knows the transitory nature of our business, and you either have the stomach for it or you don't. Still, I've been on the other side of the equation before (including one colossal, spectacular incident which I'll probably purge my brain of soon in this venue), and I can't help but feel that some "damage" could be better controlled and more doors opened if actors would place less emphasis on marketing and landing a gig, and more emphasis on favorably impressing those involved with any gig they do happen to land.

Yeah, I'll have to fess up to my Spectacular Failure soon, lest anyone reading the above think I'm lecturing anyone other than myself.

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