Archive for March, 2012

This article is a tribute to the value of acting and the value of the actor. Beyond this, I would add my belief that we are pursuing a developmental process of the actor and the person that can further elevate, invigorate, and define the desire to be at our best as we continue to become better. Those of you that have continued your work have found that we are a special breed of person. We are given this remarkable opportunity to survey the human condition (the conflicted self) as an actor, while simultaneously delving into the intricacies  of our own development (the less conflicted self). This is a major undertaking, but I can think of nothing more worthwhile. Our work is both developmental and instrumental. As we continue our work together and you begin to work on the specifics of vocal/physical/emotional integration, I believe you will become an actor that does not have to look to the British Actor as the gold standard, but will actually set a new standard of actor that is inclusive of their instrumental precision actively unleashed with American emotional drive. I would prefer to not make it a choice between the British or American actor, as to whom is better, I would rather want to integrate, not separate the two, period. Enjoy the article. Look forward to your thoughts.


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This was sent to me by one of our crew, Valerie Azlynn and I wanted to share it with all.





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The Most Astounding Fact (Neil DeGrasse Tyson)

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1. TIFFANY HINES has booked her first Series Regular role on a pilot. She will be playing the part of SHANE in the new pilot, “Americana.”

2. JULIA WHELAN has graduated from her Tea Sommelier studies and is officially credited. Her tea company is called, “BreedLove Blends.” She has just completed training the staff at the “Marriott Napa Valley Spa and Hotel” in proper tea making and service along with setting up their tea menu for the Hotel and the Spa. They will be carrying her specific blends. She is also currently shooting a Hallmark Movie called, “The Confession” where she plays the part of ALYSON. She has also just been nominated for an audiobook award.

3. JULIE MCNIVEN tested for the part of EMILY in the pilot “First Cut.”

4. DANIEL DITOMASSO continues to frustrate the industry, while simultaneously being frustrated by the industry. He booked a part on the new pilot, “Last Resort” and was blocked by Business Affairs from getting his Visa processed. Job lost. He was also going to be tested for the new Pilot, “UNTITLED BERMAN/WRIGHT/DINNER PILOT” for the part of Dr. Brett Robinson. So far, they are refusing to deal with the Visa issue as well.

5. MAX ADLER is currently shooting a Guest Star spot on the new Pilot, “Last Resort” playing the part of STERN. He will also be returning to “Glee” for another episode right after that.

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I was quite moved by this article about Jeff Zaslow. Who, you may ask, is that? Nobody, just somebody we look for in ourselves.

The brief e-mail arrived late on the morning of January 24. I keep looking at it.

It was from Jeff Zaslow. We first became friends more than 25 years ago. We got together as often as we could when we found ourselves in the same town, usually for long, laughter-filled dinners; Jeff, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, in recent years became the author of multiple big bestselling books, most of them on inspirational themes.

He was going to be making appearances for his latest book, “The Magic Room,” and he had looked at his schedule and saw that he had a few days between speeches in the South. He knew that I’d been holed up in a hotel on the west coast of Florida, trying to get some writing done. He was going to take those two days between speeches to join me and just hang out.

So we talked on the phone, and arranged the days. Today — Sunday, March 4 — is the day he was to arrive.

On February 10, on his way back to his home in suburban Detroit from a book signing in Petoskey, Michigan, the night before, Jeff was killed instantly when, according to police, his car skidded on a snowy road and was hit head-on by an oncoming semitrailer truck. He was 53.

Jeff’s wife, Sherry, his three daughters, Jordan, Alex and Eden, and his parents, Harry and Naomi, have suffered an unfathomable loss. The obituaries and tributes written by his friends and colleagues have all centered on Jeff’s never-ending thoughtfulness and compassion. The tributes have been entirely accurate; the constancy of Jeff’s kindness was one of life’s rarities.

Today, when Jeff should have been arriving for our time together, I’d like to pass on a lesson from him that I believe can be used to great effect by anyone, regardless of his or her line of work.

It has to do with the book that first made him a bestselling author, “The Last Lecture,” written with Professor Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon University. The book was a publishing phenomenon: 5 million copies sold in the English language alone, translations into 48 languages around the world.

Some people thought that Jeff got lucky with that book.

But luck had nothing to do with it.

In early September 2007, Jeff was working on a Wall Street Journal column about a trend he was hearing about at U.S. universities. Professors were thinking what they might say if they had to deliver one last lecture, and were in fact giving those lectures, summing up what had been meaningful in their lives.

As he was reporting the piece, Jeff learned that a professor at Carnegie Mellon — Pausch — was going to give what might literally be his last lecture. Pausch was dying from pancreatic cancer.

It was going to be inconvenient for Jeff to go from Detroit to Pittsburgh for the speech; there was a problem with the price of the flight, and the schedule, and he also had obligations to attend to in Michigan that day. It would have been much easier just to call the professor and get a quote, or have the university send him an audio or video recording of the lecture. Remember: Jeff didn’t even know, at that point, whether Pausch’s lecture would warrant a whole column.

But he got up that morning in Detroit and — Jeff being Jeff — decided that he really ought to see for himself.

He was an established and respected Wall Street Journal staff member; no one at the paper would have faulted him for doing a quick interview with Pausch on the phone.

Jeff got in his car and drove more than 300 miles from Detroit to Pittsburgh to sit in the audience and listen to the speech. A five-hour drive there, and then a five-hour, 300-mile drive back.

It paid off spectacularly, of course. The column — moving, tender, insightful — was a sensation, and the book that he ended up writing with Pausch gave Jeff a new career in the top echelon of American authors, and provided financial security for his family.

But — and this is what is important — it was nothing he didn’t do all the time. In his work, he always went the extra step — the extra hundred steps. He never took the easy way.

I remember, seven or eight years ago, well before “The Last Lecture,” Jeff had come to Chicago to interview an old-time vaudeville performer. To the best of my recollection, the newspaper story was going to have something to do with audiences, or audience reactions. The old performer was going to be one sliver of a longer piece. An easy phone-call interview.

But Jeff didn’t do things that way. He flew to Chicago and, suitcase in hand (he hadn’t checked into his hotel yet), met me at the restaurant where we had arranged to have dinner. At one point we talked about why, at this stage in his career, he still pushed himself so hard. He said he just wanted to look into the man’s eyes when he interviewed him the next day. He felt the story would be a little better that way.

At the end of the meal we went to the coat-check window; they had taken Jeff’s suitcase down a long flight of stairs to store it on a basement level. Jeff didn’t want the young woman to have to carry it up the stairs, so he went down to get it. I stood there and watched as he came up the steep flight of stairs, visibly weary, huffing, sweating, lugging the heavy bag; we looked at each other and both of us burst out laughing.

“Look at you,” I said. “You look like ‘Death of a [cuss-word-adjective] Salesman.'”

“I know,” he said. “Why do I do this?”

We both knew the answer. He did it because it was the right way to do a job. And it doesn’t matter what a person does for a living. It can be the lawyer who stays late to look up a few more citations of case law, to give his client the best possible chance. It can be the teacher who goes over the lesson plan one more time, adding something vital to it at midnight, even though the students or the school administrators will never be aware of the effort she has put in. It can be the factory worker who takes it upon himself to check the specifications a third and fourth time, wanting to be absolutely certain that the product will be as close to perfect as humanly possible.

Does it always pay off, as Jeff’s 10 hours on the road paid off with “The Last Lecture”? Of course not. It hardly ever pays off that big. Most times, your boss, your colleagues, your own family will never know that you put in the extra effort when you didn’t have to.

But you’ll know. That’s what counts. And when the day finally comes when you have your big success, when you get your big break, it won’t be because you made the extra effort once. It will be because you made the extra effort every time.

Jeff did. And that’s the lesson I’d like to pass on for him. Especially today. The silence at the dinner hour tonight is going to be awfully loud.

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One of the crew, Jimmy Brighton, came across this passage in Tom Robbins, “Villa Incognito.” I found it applicable to many of your individual pursuits.

-This is a girl speaking to her teacher/fatherly figure-

“The fine things you taught me can be seen on one level as a negation of the wisdom passed down to me by my ancestors (Zen-piqued) – but I am, I think, the better for the lessons.  One cannot arrive at no-mind unless one has a mind to start from.  The brighter the mind gleams, the softer the silence of the eventual no-mind, just as the overturned bucket that was once brimming seems so much emptier than the bucket that never held milk in the first place.  Thanks for filling my little pail.”

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