Category Archives: Casting Directors

JULES  AZENBERG 04

Tyrannis Rex
Part Three

by Richard Natale

The screenwriter’s challenge for Act Two is seamlessly threading the studio mogul’s public and private lives. 2,260 words. Part One. Part Two. Part Four. Illustration by John Donald Carlucci.


Hollywood – 1969

The second act of his screenplay, the Untitled Jules Azenberg Biopic – First Draft, gave Dave problems as second acts generally do. Determined to push ahead, he rose every morning at seven and, hangover or not, sat down at the typewriter with a pot of coffee and waited for his fingers to magically click into action. On a day when his hands just sat there stiffly poised on the keys and not a single coherent scene emerged, Dave took a break. He and his pal Joel Rodgers went out on the town for a movie, dinner and drinks at Trader Vic’s where Joel regaled him with the details of the latest showbiz scandal. Dave listened, but without much enthusiasm. Like most current gossip, it was graphic and tawdry and destroyed what little illusion was left about movie stars’ private lives. What was Hollywood without glamour? Without fantasy?

When the muse finally revisited Dave, she came equipped with a metaphor. Act Two opens with Jules at a gaming table tossing dice in a visual motif establishing the studio mogul as an inveterate gambler and a smart one at that. For Jules proves himself an expert crapshooter, knowing exactly how long to play, how high to raise the stakes, and when to walk away from the table.

By the early 1930s, his Argot Pictures is on a roll. Most of its B-movie competitors fall by the wayside, victims of the Depression. Argot slowly buys up all the rivals and establishes itself as a viable rival to the A-list studios like MGM and Warner Bros. Here, the script hones close to the real story by assigning Jules due credit. Given his brother Mort’s cautious nature, Argot might have survived the transition to sound but not the economic reversal of the times. It took more than business savvy to keep Argot afloat: it took Jules’ ingenuity and daring.

His risky gamble is to jump head-first into larger budget movies at a time when everyone else, including the established major studios, is cutting corners. And for that he needs an ally because Jules feels inferior to the task of convincing talent to sign with Argot rather than a more deep-pocketed institution like MGM. He needs someone with the polish and finesse to talk to theater types. So he enlists a celebrated and ceaselessly charming German-born director and appoints him vice president of production. It’s a curious choice and, at first, the board expresses concern that a creative type will run financially amuck.

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Method 1 - John Donald Carlucci

Method
Part Two

by Heather E. Ash

Two child actors are up for the same film role – much to the dismay of their momagers. But one mother has second thoughts. Last of two parts. 3,610 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.


The ER doctor lifted Sam’s shirt and looked to Susan for explanation. Raised welts covered Sam’s back, already purpling. “Sam? What happened?”

Sam picked at a loose thread on the sheet and shrugged. One of his curls was caught in the bandage above his left eye.

“Samuel McGrath, answer me.” She heard her voice shaking.

“Why don’t you let me have a minute?” the doctor suggested, guiding her to the door. Susan knew what that meant. He had to question Sam alone. Ask if Mommy hits him and whether she uses her hands or a hairbrush.

She stepped into the hall. Wendy was coming toward her. “How’s Caden?”

“His arm’s broken.” Wendy swallowed and took a shuddering breath. “They’re taking a CT scan to check…for swelling. In his brain.”

Susan folded Wendy her in my arms. “Caden’s going to be okay. They’re both going to be okay.”

The door opened behind them. “Mrs. McGrath?”

“What do you mean he landed on you?”

“He said I should lie on the ground. To jump over.”

“But why?”

“He said I had to or he wouldn’t be my friend anymore. And you like Miss Wendy, so—” Sam’s voice broke and he leaned his head into her arm.

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Method Part One - Carlucci

Method
Part One

by Heather E. Ash

A mother brings her young son to Hollywood hoping he’ll make it as a child actor. Then she starts to rethink everything. First of two parts. 5,983 words. Illustrations by John Donald Carlucci.


Like so many things in Los Angeles, the rain was fake. That didn’t make it any less wet as it pounded onto the heads of the children, dragging Sam’s curls into his eyes. The director yelled cut and then yelled it again. He wanted scissors.

The make-up girl sprang forward, but only wielded bobby pins to secure Sam’s hair with steady hands and a vacant half-smile…products, no doubt, of the pill bottle Susan had seen nestled between the lipsticks.

Sam’s lips were blue. No one seemed the least concerned about hypothermia. Hell, none of the kids would have eaten lunch if Susan hadn’t reminded the A.D. of work rules. The mothers of the other two boys didn’t like that at all. “You can’t cause trouble,” Fake Blonde warned, while Fake Boobs bobble-headed agreement and added, “You want your son to work again, don’t you?” Better to let their kids starve than take a chance at upsetting the D-list director of a cookie ad. They probably thought Susan was some hopeful Okie – but she knew more about this business than both of them combined. She knew people would take advantage of you only if allowed to. And everyone was out to take advantage.

Susan slipped in behind the make-up lady and caught Sam’s eye. “This is the last take, baby,” she told Sam. “This is ridiculous.” Already twenty-six minutes over schedule.

“But Mom,” he protested through chattering teeth, “this is fun!”

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Exit Left v3

Exit Left

by Steve De Jarnatt

An actor goes to an audition with dismal prospects, high hopes and a terrible sense of direction. 2,447 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.


The cold metal doors slam shut, and I am sealed in, coffin-like, for a smattering of seconds or even for a minute or more. But this will pass. I will endure; I always have. Breathe now —  slow from the gut, deep down within the solar plexus. Slower — till the lungs, every inch, are full and aching. Hold. Exhale. Better. Yes. I control my fate. Breath of life, breath of life, breath of life.

“DING!”

My eyes open with the elevator doors, and I move to exit this vertical casket. “Wrong floor, sweetheart. I think you want seven,” warns a small corpulent woman blocking my path. We ride in silence but the woman, sensing my phobia of small spaces, kindly relinquishes as much of the elevator square footage as she can. She doesn’t know that, in my early youth, I had once been trapped in a smashed-up Buick, submerged on a river bottom with my family dead all around me. I survived off trapped air from an empty Thermos till those divers came.

Well, actually — no, that’s not really true. It had happened to my friend Kenny, not me. My invented past can seem so real. God knows I utilize it every chance imaginable for “sense memory.” Pathetic, isn’t it, to have no real trauma of your own? Is it my fault that, as the only child of diplomats, my upbringing was so uneventful? I’ve always been jealous of those raw-nerve actors with some hellish past to draw upon as grist for the creative mill. Maybe that’s why I am still a nobody with an ever-closing five year window to play leads. Yet I try to stir up faux claustrophobia to cover the anticipatory dread of an audition.

The elevator doors open, and I, Josh Barnes, the handsome-ish everyman — early 30s to mid-40s — exhale into the casting anteroom. A dozen others, all from the same narrow band of eerily similar likeness, are spaced around. Some I know, some I know too well. Most sit, many pace, all giving each other as wide berth as they possibly can. Everyone has the same three pages of ‘sides" in their hands. The room is silent but for rustling paper and the compound murmuring.

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