Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"Pay-To-Audition" Workshops - Opportunity & Access vs. Cost & Value

The dreaded pay-to-audition workshops are in the business of acting news again in the current edition of The Hollywood Reporter. We address this every semester in my Emerson College Los Angeles Business of Acting class. 
While there may be "pros" to this endeavor (some of my clients and past students have participated and actually benefited from the experience), there are just as many "cons" (other clients and other past students have participated and felt otherwise). Like in any service industry, there are good players and there are bad players. Vetting is crucial. How valuable might it be to pay to see anyone? That depends both on the results of the research you do (IMDB) and how legitimate the provider is.
I have never been asked to participate in one of these workshops. But I have agent and manager friends who have -- and have actually signed actors they have met as a result. 
Assignment 1: Actors ... Know what you're buying before you commit. Have realistic expectations of the experience. Be sure that the person you are considering paying to meet is worth the investment (some are; many are not). 
It's an important discussion to have. Have you paid to play before and what was that experience like for you?
You can read a related story here, also from The Hollywood Reporter:
BL



Monday, January 11, 2016

Pat Harrington - A More Than "Super" Guy ...

Pat Harrington and fellow "One Day at a Time" cast
Valerie Bertinelli, series star Bonnie Franklin and
Mackenzie Phillips.

I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some pretty remarkable people over the years -- and among them was the wonderful Pat Harrington. I got to know Pat from my work on the television series One Day at a Time. Of course he was the actor who played the usually hilarious role of Schneider, the builder "super," in an Indianapolis apartment building where Bonnie Franklin (as newly divorced Ann Romano) and her family lived. Pat won an Emmy Award as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for his role on the long running (1975 - 1989) CBS series.

I was sorry to learn that Pat died last week in Los Angeles from complications of Alzheimer's after a fall.

In March 1991, Pat and I reunited for a chat on our live,Beverly Hills coffee shop-based chat show. There isn't much of an opportunity anymore for actors to talk in detail and length about their lives, their careers and the roles that made them famous. I'm forever grateful to my longtime pal Dudley Johnson for creating and producing that little show. I'm even more grateful when I realize how fortunate we were -- and are to have this content and to be able to share it.

BL


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Emerson College Los Angeles to Debut New Sketch Comedy Course this Summer in Partnership with UCB LA

Get your improv on this summer with the brand new, first-time offering of the Emerson College Los Angeles Upright Citizens Brigade sketch comedy course. 

It’s an intense, twice-a-week-for-six-weeks program that is designed for both matriculating students and others who are interested in turning this summer into a great professional training opportunity with UCB. 

You also get to spend some of your summer with me; I’m the person who has adapted this course for Emerson LA and I’ll be involved with every class, along with our amazing UCB instructor. 

You have only one more week to register for this very limited space class. Hope you check this out!


For information and details, visit the Emerson LA website.

BL

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Veteran Actress Betsy Palmer Dead at Age 88


I have known actress Betsy Palmer since I was 15 years old. That’s a lot of years. I have been her manager since the mid-1980’s. That’s also a lot of years. I’m so sad to have to report that Betsy died last Friday (5/29/15), at age 88, of natural causes, in a hospice care center near her Connecticut home. She was one of the most gracious, kind, generous and loving people I have ever known. No holiday, no birthday, no personal event ever went unacknowledged or celebrated. Today I celebrate Betsy and the wonderful life she led. While she achieved fame and success for the work she did, she earned admiration and respect for the person she was.

There are many, many happy memories for me. One of them happened on April 1991, when Betsy and I met for a chat on the live coffee shopchat series my crew and I were doing from Beverly Hills. I have just uploaded that episode onto my YouTube page. If you’re interested in a stroll down memory lane – and some great stories, I hope you will watch it.

Sending love and light to Betsy – and to her daughter Melissa, who survives her. XX


BL

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Actors' Equity Tells Small L.A. Theatres "It's Time To Pay Up ..."


Ilove99 spearheaded the "No" on the
AEA minimum wage campaign
Actors’ Equity – in spite of the views of most of their LA-based members, have imposed a $9 hourly minimum wage for to be paid actors when they secure work in small LA-area theatres (100 seats or less, starting in June 2016). The death of the former 99-seat plan has the entire LA theatre community abuzz about what this bodes for the future of both local LA theatres and LA-based actors who have traditionally and typically seen an opportunity to work in the 99-seat-or-less arena as an opportunity to 1) take on a role that might be counter to their “brand,” 2) to have an opportunity to build their resumes (for new-to-the-business and for “working” actors), 3) to have an opportunity to be seen (also for new-to-the-business and for “working” actors) and, perhaps most importantly, 4) for the opportunity, simply, to work at their craft.

As a talent manager for over 30 years, my process and my perspective on guiding, developing and maintaining a client’s career has never be influenced by what a client would get paid for doing any job; it’s always been rooted in the answer to the question “Is this the right job for this client at this time in his career?”

My series regular clients have always returned to the 99-seat arena whenever time and opportunity allowed; my young and newer-to-the-business clients have always embraced any opportunity to (continue to) do live, local and small theatre, replicating in many ways some of their best experiences from college.

Another business of acting money issue resonates within my recent memory – the introduction of the SAG (now SAG-AFTRA) Ultra Low Budget contract which allows their union members the opportunity to work in small budget, independent (often student, grad student or recent grad student) films) giving these actors (another) platform on which to work, on which to network and on which to build their reels from. All of this for just $100 a day – far less than any actor can live off either, if they’re even lucky enough to get the job.

Actors need to work – and there isn’t, I venture to guess, a single agent or manager out there who doesn’t believe that a great opportunity for a client is worth far more than what they get paid for the job, if they’re paid for it at all.

I also venture to guess that there aren’t any (or many) agents or managers who would take their 10 or 15 percent commission from an actor’s $9 an hour pay check (or from the work in an Ultra Low Budget film, for that matter). I know I wouldn’t. Again, the “added value” of the right opportunity is worth, potentially, far more than that to all of us.

When you impose a minimum must-pay structure on a local, nearly-no-budget small theatre, you impose a process of strangulation that, if it doesn’t put them out of business entirely, will surely curtail the amount of work they can produce. The result will soon be less jobs for actors and less opportunity to be seen, less opportunity to be discovered, less opportunity build their resumes, less opportunity to stretch their acting muscles – and less opportunity for some of the greatest theatre audiences anywhere to see some great performances in wonderfully intimate spaces.

I want my clients to continue to work anywhere and everywhere a great opportunity presents itself. Would I rather they make their livings completely and fully in their chosen profession and get to give up those second and often third jobs they have come to need for the sake of their fiscal fitness? Of course. But I also think that the potential of some being able to earn $9 an hour when performing at a 99-seat venue, will also, most assuredly, cut into the number of opportunities that will exist for everyone..

The talk of the town is focused on this move by AEA – and it should be. At lunch yesterday with my pal Ken Werther, one of the best go-to theatre publicists in LA, we could do little more than bemoan how, once again, the landscape is about to change – and as many of us see it, not for the better.

BL


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Emerson College LA Student-Produced Showcase "On the Verge" Boldly Heads for April 16th Performances

Emerson College LA showcase set for 4/16/15

It's actor showcase season in LA and I'm thrilled to let industry pals and Emerson College alum know about our Emerson College Los Angeles student-produced showcase titled On the Verge: Boldly Going Where Many Actors Have Gone Before. Love the title!

This showcase is the final project for the students in "The Business of Acting" class and wraps up their semester in Los Angeles that has included academic classes, internships, professional development opportunities and civic engagement.

It' Thursday night, 4/16/15, at the Odyssey Theatre, in West Los Angeles, with performances at 7:00PM and 9:00PM. There will be a reception following each performance.

Seating is limited and your RSVP is essential. To confirm your (free) seats, please call (213) 761-5079 or e-mail EmersonShowcaseRSVP2015@gmail.com.

Hope to see you there!

BL

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bobbi Brown Makeup Program Comes to Emerson College Los Angeles!


Bobbi Brown Makeup Artistry
course launches
Emerson College Los Angeles
professional studies program
I’m eager to help spread the word about the first professional studies course being offered up by Emerson College on the school’s stunning, new Los Angeles campus. The college is presenting an exciting and rare opportunity to participate in a professional-level, five-day Bobbi Brown program in makeup artistry. 

If this is the career path in the business of acting that interests you, inspires you and/or stirs your passion, you will leave this intensive course having learned the essentials that will help get you moving on up to the next level. 

The program run from August 4 – 8, from 10:00AM – 6:00PM each day. 

For details and registration, visit emerson.edu/ela/professional-studies/fundamentals-makeup-artistry or call Emerson Los Angeles at (323) 952-6411.