Sex Behind The Scenes – Actors Dating Actors

Sex: It’s the entertainment of nearly anyone involved in entertainment. It’s our hobby. If you haven’t dabbled in the backstage intrigue that is showmance, you’re either smart, a reticent recluse, or harboring halitosis that steers colleagues a good 10 feet away from your path.

 sex behind the scenes

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Ssex and actors

Showmance.

It isn’t one’s love for the latest stage hit that has developed a cult-following accompanied by a marketing campaign that includes relentless merchandising of the show on T-shirts and towels. But it’s similar to what happens between two emotionally and romantically charged people involved in a show who are attracted and then collide. And sometimes even an airbag or condom can’t provide safety.

First of all, in full disclosure, I must admit that I am not unblemished when it comes to my past sex life (no comment on the present). So no morality play here. My last showmance was over 20 years ago. It has continued ever since with my partner who I met during a national tour of “Annie” (o.k. … stop the giggles).

Sex: It’s the entertainment of nearly anyone involved in entertainment. It’s our hobby. If you haven’t dabbled in the backstage intrigue that is showmance, you’re either smart, a reticent recluse, or harboring halitosis that steers colleagues a good 10 feet away from your path.

Now why, you may be pondering, am I writing here about a sometimes salacious subject when this column is about acting and casting? Because relationships — especially intimate, when mingled with business — matter. There’s great importance of image integrity needed over intimacy when engaging in, maintaining or separating from a showmance. Your career can be greatly affected.

There’s an anecdotal punchline that’s runs rampant and rings true in our business of show: “There are only six people working in this business.” Our community, while large in hopefuls, is very small when it comes to actual participants. Rumor and “adjusted facts” are spread in our club of creatives with as much ferocity as tabloids that target a celebrity for something salacious.

You have got to be mindful of how your romantic endeavors — either sincere or temporary — are seen by others with whom you work. As I’ve written in my book, this industry is all about image, image, and image. That goes for participants on both sides of the curtain.

And it’s not only image that one must be mindful of when courting a fellow company member. Take in account how your relationship will affect the project and your peers. I worked at one summer stock company where each season the less-than-reputable producer routinely chose a chorus girl to be his behind-the-scenes playmate. One of which he married and soon thereafter divorced. Others became pregnant out of wedlock. With each fling that was flung, the company focused on generating rumors about the relationship(s). Eventually the producer’s attention of amore was ostracized. Company cohesiveness exited stage right and never came back for a curtain call.

I’m not advocating for or against following the heart or libido while you work. That’s your path to follow or ignore. Just know that outside influences (co-workers and employers) can cause action that will inhibit your new partnering and, more importantly, the design of original intent: work.

Showmance Caveats

1. Gossip

Apart from politics and tabloids, nowhere else other than in entertainment is rumor ravaging of others a joyful pursuit for those who have little substance in their own lives. If you begin any relationship, sexual or romantic (and yes there are differences between the two), you and your partner(s) would do best to keep the relationship out of sight from others. As a director, casting director and former actor, I have seen many, many companies become divided because of inter-cast/staff romances. Jealousies and alliances form. Be discrete for the success of both the relationship (or tryst) and the project.

2. Producers

Some producers, particularly among the non-union theaters, have an unspoken “morality meter” they mentally mind for their employees. They prefer that the people in their hire not utilize the workplace provided as a supermarket for sex. Keep your intimate relations far from producers. At least until a wedding or commitment ceremony; then hit them with your registry list. Producers tend to have more money than you and your out-of-suitcase peers.

Even if you believe your mating manners in a company are not excessive or are above honor, still keep it from producers and creatives who hire. At least those who are not close friends of yours. If the intimate mingling is with a producer or creative, then you really want to keep your relationship quiet. At least until you have to invite guests to the wedding/commitment ceremony. We can be jealous, bitter bitches when snubbed.

3. The Heart

For the newbies to the business and the veteran idealists (both of which I was long ago), ground yourself. Sex does not equal love. Love does not equal sex.

What intimate relations that may develop in the heightened emotional state of collaboration may not have happened elsewhere. The atmosphere of working and/or living close under stresses and adrenaline may spur attractions and situations that you would not normally follow in the “real world.”

From long ago I recall sitting in the living room of Shawnee Playhouse’s cast house as two infatuates of each other were snuggling on a couch across from me. The young lady was very much enthralled with her new beau. Then came the cold water statement from him to her: “Don’t get too cozy, honey. I’m not here for long.” Ouch. That romantically reticent actor later got his own TV series and several Spielberg films. The actress? A lost casualty of the business.

Sometimes show romances live beyond the show. Often they’re just that: show romances. Either way, go with some common sense, respect for others, and discretion. Enjoy discoveries. Carry condoms. (Some folks have on-hand assorted-sized engagement rings.)

My best,
Paul

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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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Actors everywhere who are trying to succeed in the business, young or old, on stage or on camera, anywhere in the world, take note:

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Best Time of Year for Finding a Talent Agent

This week: Timing; Finding a talent agent / Changing talent agencies

Talent AgencyWhen is the best time of year for seeking an agent?

Before and after pilot season. And…the summer.

Casting will have slightly slowed to episodics, films, Broadway and regional theater. Agents are freer to explore expanding their client lists. Agents are also cleaning their client lists during summer; dropping actors who have a history of:

– Being high-maintenance

– Not returning emails, texts, and or calls regarding audition appointments

– Under-performing (i.e. call-back ratio is low, actor doesn’t book jobs that are commisionable)

During this sluggish semester agents, aside from sitting at their desks surfing the web, are seeking new clients while dumping troubled  and lackluster clients. June to July’s end is the best time for anyone without representation (or represented actors seeking a change) to seek their champion.

Early to mid-summer is the time of year when agents have time on their hands – which is often taken up by anxious clients asking their reps, “Where are my auditions?” You would think these inquiring actors would know that year-after-year this is hibernation season for casting. It’s cyclical folks.

Agents are more receptive to taking on new clients before the hustle of pitching for projects picks up again in late July, mid-August. There’s no better time of year for seeking an agent, fully prepared with an effective audition, revamped marketing materials and honed interview skills.

My best,
Paul

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plus Hollywood & Broadway actors in Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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How Actors Solve Problem Producers

This week: Problem Producers… Accusations & Resolutions

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Miller, Pritchard, Akins and Brinkley. Just some of the more infamous producer names associated with alleged, questionable practices in relation to one or more of the following; arson, fraud, embezzlement and/or provision of unsafe work place conditions. Add now to that short list of names, often whispered with contempt by actors, directors, designers, stage mangers and some civilians, two more. Troutman and Waldman. Theatrical producers in Florida who recently got more attention than desired when they abruptly canceled a production while in rehearsals and the abandoned actors were left in Fort Lauderdale with no money and means of return to New York. Solution? Actors became activists and went to the press.

Two weeks ago I received an e-mail from one of the affected actors, Heather Gault, who is also a reader of this blog and my book. Let’s begin there:

“Dear Mr. Russell,

I wanted to write and tell you about a disturbing incident that happened to me and my fellow actor co-workers last week….

Recently, I and eight other actors were flown from NYC to Fort Lauderdale to perform a production of the Cy Coleman musical ‘The Life.’ We arrived and began rehearsals as planned, and things proceeded fairly normally for two weeks. Last Tuesday, we were called from our rehearsal by the producer, Jamison Troutman, who told us to leave the theater and go home, that the show had lost funding and would be canceled and we were not going to be paid. The next day, we were informed that not only would we not be paid for the week of work we had just completed, but that the production team (Troutman and Director/Producer Gary Waldman) was unable to fly any of us home–an obligation they had to us explicitly stated in our contracts, no matter what. There were six of us living in a cast house with no car, no paycheck, and no means home.

Then, Waldman and Jamison did the unthinkable (as if it got worse!). They told us it was our fault that the ‘money’ had fallen through, and that the only way we could redeem ourselves and the show would be to work for free on good faith that they would pay us . . . sometime. Naturally, we said no way. And so they pretty much left us to rot in our little house, and told us to leave via our own means…”

Gault went on to detail that local press both print and televised began to cover the story once she and her fellow actors went proactive to the media.  The accounts in the Miami Herald match the claims that the show was canceled and return transportation for the stranded actors was not provided. Eventually a local Good Samaritan helped pay for the actors to return to New York.

Unfortunately this kind of alleged producer behavior is not new nor is it rare. Particularly in the non-union world of the arts. Most producers are well-meaning, reputable, and often charitable to both the community they reside in and to their employees. Such as Richard Rose, the producing artistic director for the Barter Theatre, Charles Abbott of Maine State Music Theater and the Prather family. Unlike Rose, Abbott and the Prathers, it’s the few problem producers that go rogue on morals which cause actors, directors and designers to be wary of most if not all producers no matter how honorable. That’s unfortunate.

I worked for several producers who were less than Dickensian. One of them having been sued by Actors’ Equity after AEA withdrew its members from the producer’s productions upon complaints from the actors of unsafe working conditions; 2 AM rehearsals held in parking lots  and company members forced to sleep in the aisles of one of the theaters. That was over twenty years ago. That same producer remains in business with two, Keystone state, properties. (Arson Update: https://answersforactors.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/an-angry-call-to-alarm/)

Most producer abuses occur in the non-union circuit (both stage and screen). Several reasons for this I believe. First and foremost there’s no union jurisdiction. Secondly most of the talent on and off non-union stage and screen is younger, with higher expectations which often can not always be provided by a non-union budget. And so after years of less-than-happy employees the non-union producer becomes less than happy themselves. But high expectations is not always the cause for a producer, union-regulated or not, for behaving poorly. There are people out there who for lack of a better phrase but accurate; just plain suck.

So what can an employee of a rogue producer do? If you’re union, you have that organization to back you up. If you have representation, your agent or manager can try to negotiate a solution… if the producer is willing. If you’re non-union, there’s not much you can do. But, there are ways to make known to others a problem producer and/or to solve a major complaint.

First; try to negotiate a solution with the producing entity via constructive and calm communication. Don’t angrily confront the producer or antagonize. Communicate first through the chain of command (if one is established). Also, whomever you speak to, whether it’s a stage manager, company manager, assistant to the producer, whomever; treat the producer not as an unfair employer but as a person who may have their own challenges of which you’re not aware. I know from my own experiences with rogue producers (and there were too many) that my first suggestion seems Pollyanna. But hostility rarely wins. Also, be cautious of the manner in which you speak of your dissatisfaction to others within the company. Your dissatisfaction/complaint may not be relevant to others. Or, you may be speaking with someone who is close to the producer.

If resolution cannot be reached either through yourself, representation or your union you always have the option of leaving the situation. O.K. I hear in my head some reader screaming, “Right Paul but what about breaking the contract? I’ll be sued or get a bad reputation”. Union contracts offer an out. Non-union contracts? Well, if the producer is not obliging by the agreement put on paper between you two then the contract was broken and is null and void. Your reputation?

I recall working for a less than dishonest non-union producer who when I inquired for a change in housing that would include a working bathroom, didn’t have broken windows that allowed pigeons to enter, wasn’t cramped with eight people to the one and only room, and wasn’t above a loud nightclub he hissed in return, “You’ll never work in this town again.” And I calmly shot back. “Where, New Hope?” I remain in the business. Sadly, so does he.

The Internet has been a great tool for spreading information for both positive and negative experiences of those who work in the arts. One place online is Non-Equity Deputy found at:  http://nonequitydeputy.com/Default.aspx. Here is a grass roots web site that provides visitors to share both favorable and unfavorable tales of working the non-union circuit. One caution: Sites like this can also be abused by some disgruntled, anti-socialite users spreading uninformed gossip or malevolent postings. Verify with others within our community both positive and negative feedback on anyone (that’s what many directors, producers and casting personnel do with the gossip and work history feedback of actors).

If you encounter an experience which rivals that of Gault’s and her cast mates in Florida, go to the press. BookMoreWork_TelseyQuoteProblem producers do not like their communities to be aware of possible unfavorable behind the scenes behavior. But again, caution; the problem must be as severe as that in Florida. If you’re just unhappy about 12 hour work days, rustic housing and dressing rooms without heat; that’s typical non-union, regional theater. Get used to it.

Now, this may have seemed like producer bashing. No, it’s a heads up about those few producers with poor behavioral patterns. I have great respect for many of the men and women who, despite a declining public interest for the arts, provide employment for artists and entertainment for those seeking a diversion of creative intellect. As Sondheim wrote, “Art isn’t easy…” That applies to all involved.

My Best,

Paul
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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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Jobs Available

This Week: Sources for Survival – Overlooked jobs available now

I’ve been keeping quiet (at least publicly) about the economy a.k.a. The George W. Bush Legacy. As someone who is a news & political junkie I didn’t want to add voice, of what I know privately about some endangered producing entities both clients and non-clients, to the already depressing, non-stop, talking heads on MSNBC, CNN and that other cable network which my father faithfully watches.

Being the media addict that I am I listen and read intently for, what may seem to some, obscure indicators of things to come while digesting the parsing of Reuters, Olbermann, Matthews, Scarborough, Cooper and others. I also look to my e-mail in box. There is hope that we’re nearing the end of economic darkness. And now that pilot season has ended, casting is done for stock and regionals, and studios shutter for the summer; additional sources of income are needed for the entertainment workforce. Desperately.

I’ve recently been receiving a fresh influx of long ago familiar e-mails, which tapered off last fall, to one of my far too many e-mail addresses. Notices from senders from when I used to occasionally straddle the civilian world with my present career path. (If you think being on this side of the audition table garners big bucks can I sell you on the idea that Tim Gunn’s school-uniformed, sex-slave is Karl Rove?… shudder.)

Marketers seeking help are writing once again via missives to my AOL alias. Like cockroaches, marketers never go away… permanently. Marketing is one of the few areas of employ that neither firewalls or the Bush Legacy can kill. I used to be a part-time marketer. From writing ad copy for beers (which I never drank) to being, what you may or may not recognize as, a Brand Ambassador a.k.a. a promo model. The latter of which I’d never think myself to be but was.

There are civilian, survival jobs folks. And you don’t have to be pretty or intelligent (I think I just insulted myself… and the populous of Alabama).

If you can walk, be reasonably polite, follow instructions you can be a Brand Ambassador which can entail anything from giving free test drives in a new Caddy to strangers on the streets (did that in Philly for six weeks) to handing out Cliff Bars in Times Square (did that for a day). The hours are easy, the pay reasonable but not always immediate. But there’s pay. And best of all you don’t have to live in New York or LA to get involved. Repeat… you don’t have to live in NY or LA. Though I no longer do marketing (other than my own) I get offers of work from all over the country as I did this week for events in Connecticut, Florida, New York and elsewhere across the country.

Now, as I penned in that monster of an acting book I wrote, you do have to be careful of what marketing-staffing companies you get involved with. Below I’ve listed a few of the better companies for you to investigate.

OK, so you might be saying, “Paul, I ain’t no model.” or “I hate dealing with the public.” Fine. There is a side line job perfect for you presently hiring. Government.

The 2010 census is hiring. Now and next fall. All across the country people are needed to help with the census. Part-time and full-time. Take advantage of one of the few, at present, growth industries (albeit short termed). Following this missive is a link for finding more info on jobs with the 2010 census.

In ACTING Make It Your Business I, and the actors I interviewed, talk about a number of other civilian jobs opportunities available to get by. Now more than ever those jobs are vital to the survival of anyone involved in our industry.

I won’t go into doom and gloom here. I’ll keep what bad industry info I have and instead share some positive news that is beyond our community. Signs of hopeful growth and confidence are increasing. Slowly. While not at digital age speed impatience, present indicators are better than they were from several months ago. All of us need to follow that trend. Personally, I see June/July as a time when the indicators of better times ahead become more apparent. Those indicators are there now, but they’re faint whispers. Better a whisper than silence.

COMING NEXT SUNDAY: Deceitful Producers & Scam Exposed

Besos,

My Best,

Paul

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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Marketing Job Links:

NOTE: (None of the following companies receive a commission or fee from the talent. If you come across a marketing staffing company that asks for a fee or commission one word; RUN)

Mirrorball (Based in NYC; they are a progressive, hip company. They also happen to be the company I wrote copy for many of their clients):

http://www.mirrorball.com/main.html (click on contact page for job info)

GMR (One of the event marketing leaders in the field and a company I worked for): http://www.gmrmarketing.com/

U.S. Concepts: http://www.uscpromomodels.com/

Event Pro Strategies (A sub-contractor that provides staffing):  http://www.eventprostrategies.com/index.php

GC Marketing Services (A sub-contractor that provides staffing): http://www.gcmarketingservices.com/home.html

2010 Census Jobs Link:

http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/

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