Friday, March 11, 2005

Advice from the Pros

For the record, I'm no expert when it comes to this Hollywood thing. I don't have any particularly good advice to give, just my experiences to share. Sometimes, I discover something that works. But, most likely, it works for me only. Occasionally, you might find something that works for me also works for you. And I guess that's why somebody might be interested in reading my stupid musings.

With that said, I just went to a book signing by a professional agent named Tony Martinez. This was a private book signing, so we got to ask a lot of questions. He gave a lot of answers. It sounds like agents hate managers, and vice-versa. But one of the surest ways to screw up your career is to get with a bad manager with a bad reputation.

Anyway, I don't have a manager and who knows if I ever will. But he also said that it's way harder these days for an unknown actor to get anywhere in Hollywood anymore. Why? Because of two basic phenomenons: Reality TV and veteran movie stars doing TV.

These days, many of the new shows and just pilots for new shows require their talent to be name actors -- celebrities. They want someone recognizable, bringing instant familiarity. That's the reason why Paris Hilton has carte blanche in Hollywood now. Everyone knows her, for one reason or another.

So, this agent, who doesn't represent A-listers, has some stories to tell in his new book, which should provide insight for beginners like me. (I've linked the book at the column to the right, along with some other recommendations the author made.) I bought his book yesterday and will begin reading it on the plane later today. Well, that is if they'll let me get on a plane. Apparently Backstage West just issued a recommendation for the book and it's been sold out at Samuel French bookstore ever since. They said that it's like sitting down in a bar with an agent and hearing him speak.

He gave one anecdote that I want to share. Sean Hayes was an unknown actor with a blank page for a resume. A small boutique agency gave him a chance just on his likeability. So then there was this pilot floating around for several years called Will & Grace. They even shot it a couple of times but no network would touch it. So, along came Sean Hayes and -- BAM -- instant career. I don't watch the show so I don't actually know who Sean Hayes is. I'm guessing he's Will. Then again, he could be Grace.

So with all the doom and gloom being forecasted for the industry, it's the little anecdotes and footnotes of someone making it big that keep you going. But you gotta start somewhere, and you need an agent, just to get in the game. (I'll get to that as soon as I gather my thoughts.)

I used to go to this church in the University District in Seattle. The pastor told this story of the monk who prayed to God to let him win the lottery. So, the lottery came and went and the monk didn't win. The monk asked God about it and God said, "You could've at least bought a ticket."

I should end it there but a friend asked me yesterday to buy flight insurance and put his name as the beneficiary. He said he'd pay me back if the plane landed safely. He claims it's his way of taking care of "everything" for me. And, of course, he'd get to drive a new car to the funeral. But I just called it the $20 Travel Insurance Lottery. I think I won't buy it just to spite him....

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