Listen, this particular Blog isn’t telling you anything you don’t know, and as always I’m on your side but certain realities of where we have come in this industry are just incredibly frustrating…so I’m with ya on that. It is fairly easy for me, based on policy, to see why over the last 50+ years…we no longer have much of a middle class in terms of profession income and the cost of living / college etc. But when it comes to Hollywood, while I certainly get that certain “types” of competition do make industries tighten their belts and perform operations more intelligently, it still makes it really difficult to understand why the lower end actor up to the middle class actor has all but disappeared? Hmmmm…
Now bear with me while I digress for a moment. I’m not confused that anyone, any person, any company, any stage play, and race car team, blah blah would like to have the best they can get …for their investment. I’m not arguing, nor debating that as a reality of human nature, but that would be when you’re talking about extreme needs…a particular upper management situation or something like that. And even with that said, there are still many many jobs/positions held in this country by people severely under-qualified who were GIFTED their positions by nepotism. This also happen a LOT in Hollywood but in executive offices, not real-expertise positions on a crew, stunts or editing.
So when I set that premise up, look at the jobs that made the “lower-middle class” actors be able to earn a pension from ’75–’05. Look at the Co-Stars and Guest Stars on television, a lot of the Spokesperson type commercial work and many other jobs including non-star but well-credited actors in Feature Films. Those are the jobs that gave thousands of union members over the years…the chance to actually pay their mortgage, feed their families and call themselves professional working actors…without a survival job-hyphenate.
Those days are gone, and the reason, makes no sense at all to me. Now once again, before I finish this Blog, allow me to be clear that I’m not bringing this up about the actors, cuz anyone, almost “most all the time” will accept an “offer” or even sometimes an audition if they’re bored, personally like a show, or have nothing else their working on. No, what I’m confused about is knowing the casting process as well as I do, I don’t get why (when ultimately the producers really wouldn’t care) that CD’s insist on taking exceptionally well-heeled and successful actors who’ve “already broken through” and could get Pilot auditions…and put them in sessions for jobs in which their “Hollywood Q” isn’t needed?
Why can’t those roles and jobs be presented as auditions for actors who are truly trying to make a living. Now again, I repeat, I’m merely using these two wonderfully successful and talent actors as one of many many examples…it is just fresh for me. In watching episode 5 of season 5 of Justified, I look up and see (in fairly simplistic small Guest Star roles) these two chaps: Wood Harris & Steve Harris. Look them up, trust me, you know them…and not only know them…I totally dig them both. They’re absolutely terrific. Now allow me to put a qualifier in here, maybe there is more coming for these guys and they’ll both be in some significant 4-6 episode arc of the remaining season of this show. But if not, it is frustrating.
Wood Harris was the 3rd lead behind Denzel in “Remember the Titans.” Steve Harris has been in so many things you can’t count from Minority Report to The Rock, The Practice and so many others! Again, understand that I don’t know their personal situations, their lives, their overhead, expenses, etc., but I do know how much the residuals from studio features pay “leading actors” for years and years with all of the distribution outlets we have and I know how much a “Top of Show” guest star pays on Cable. It ain’t much, and the residuals in a month would blow it out of the water.
And please people, no I’m not picking on the black guys, so step off that thought right now. I love these two actors immensely but I’m looking at casting…and then thinking about the producers and if these two guys were willing to “read” for these roles…of course I’d hire them. But my question is why do they HAVE TO BE called in. There are dozens and dozens of talented 30-40 black actors in this city…who could do the role they’re performing to date that I’ve seen…and it would truly feed their career. Actors who have not had 3rd leads behind Denzel, or 10 Series to their credit plus multiple supporting roles in studio features. Is there a solution? No, of course not, and this will not change. But just know that a lot of what has happened to our middle class isn’t the economy it is who gets brought into the room…and I just wish (I know crazy of me) that the CDs would see that. This is still a multi-multi-billion dollar industry, which has been distributed differently over the last 15 years…but there is still plenty of money to have a middle class and we should.
Always on your side, @TheKevinE