Why LA LA LAND Fails Actors

An actor isn’t successful unless famous. A number of actors so starved for a portrayal of the profession, even false, will champion any story about actors even if it’s Wonder Bread, idealistic mythological tripe.

la-la-land

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell
PaulRussell.net

An actor isn’t successful unless famous. A musician isn’t successful unless they have a bountiful bank account. The anachronistic movie musical LA LA LAND, filmed as a late 1940s / early 1950s movie musical set in modern day, demonstrates how Hollywood perpetuates a mythical La La Land that doesn’t exist but insists to civilians, “This is how the entertainment industry really is.” No, it’s not.

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Young, generic actresses without an agent don’t get into first-rate auditions or are plucked from one-night showcase obscurity into fame as this film pretends is reality. But yet the film, like most 3rd rate Hollywood portrayals about Hollywood, relies on worn clichés as fact: Casting directors are distempered women. Directors are cold hearted. Young actresses are all white and from Small Town, U.S.A. Jazz musicians are predominantly black, but if white they’re moody. Actors would be truly happy if the love of their life gave up his dreams so I can achieve the success I desire.

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You’d think the actors, who daily seek a respect for their profession from family and detractors, would demand Hollywood rise to elevate the portrayal of the journeyman actor. No. On my Facebook feed I read of actors fawning over the failed-to-impress homage to the glamorous Rogers and Astaire movie musicals. A number of actors are so starved for a portrayal of the profession, even false, they will champion any story about actors even if it’s Wonder Bread, idealistic mythological tripe as is LA LA LAND.

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In the entertainment industry an actor doesn’t:

– Repeatedly get 1st class film auditions without having representation
– Have a 1st class casting director attend a one-night showcase that has no heat or audience

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Even the portrayal of the Hollywood backlot is a fantasy too far cliché. A saloon set not worthy of a theme park. Actors kissing in a filmed scene, but then when the director calls “cut” the actors are bitterly fighting. And where are the actors or entertainment personnel of color? The swimming pool party scene is more West Chester than West Hollywood.

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If this is an homage to the classical Rogers and Astaire movie musicals that are the hallmark of cinema glamour of the 1940s, LA LA LAND fails in its unglamorous casting. Further disappointment comes during a promising opening number winking as a hallmark to movie musicals but then fails to drive the story as stalled drivers dance on a freeway. An opening number in a musical is to inform the audience of the story and expectations. In LA LA LAND the number “Another Day of Sun,” picked up from the cutting room floor, seems more like an exercise of instructing the audience that LA LA LAND is going to be a musical but, “We know it’s awkward for you to witness but bear with our indulgence. We’ll get to the storytelling shortly.”

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If a fantasy, which LA LA LAND pretends, then those within the entertainment industry–the journeymen actors who don’t require fame to consider themselves successful–should demand a dose of reality within the fictional portrayal of their profession. LA LA LAND perpetuates the myth that an actor isn’t an actor unless famous. They’re just a barista hoping to be discovered on a backlot, and any acting work they do that is not in the global spotlight is without merit. Move along. Next.

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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned over 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 taught master classes at dozens of acting programs at universities including Hofstra, Elon, Wright State University, and Rutgers. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information on Paul’s projects, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

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

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!

Actors Trump Hate

Anger is passion. Passion is love. Love the passion that is the fight against hate.

“This was unexpected,

What do I do now?

Could we start again, please?”

Jesus Christ Superstar – Movie

 

Paul Russell_HeadshotPaul Russell
PaulRussell.net

 

November 9, 2016 wasn’t a morning of light for many but a gray day of mourning. That on the U.S. east coast the day was chilly with rain seemed cliché for the frightening prospects from the results of the U.S. presidential election. But a darkness shadowed many hopes and footsteps the morning after the election. I was among the grieving. Lost. Hope seemed cynical. How was I, in 24 hours following, to be a positive guide to young actors I was to visit at a university?

 

I looked to actors for a flicker of light to guide me through my darkness.

 

On Facebook I posted:

 

“Help. I’m a little lost here. I’m leaving this morning for a weekend of teaching young actors at Elon. At the end of my stay at each school I visit I stress to the ambitious actors the importance of retaining their idealism. For if they lose that on their journey– its game over. With my own idealism diminished greatly, what do you suggest I tell the young actors?”

 

Over 2 dozen actors lit flares:

 

Broadway actress, and teacher Rachel Ulanet posted…

“Encourage them to get involved. Kids feel empowered when they feel that they are part of a greater whole, especially one that works to make things better for all. We have told our girls this repeatedly over the past 24 hrs, and while they are still very teary and anxious, it does seem to calm them down. Also- that they are part of the ebb and flow of history. We all are! We have lived through bad presidencies before (though admittedly yes – this one is particularly scary), AND we will get through this one.”

 

Actor, (and former student of mine) Joseph Christensen offered…

“Art arises out of times of great struggles. Remind them that these events can be a catalyst for making change and telling stories that need to be heard. Finding expression is essential now so they don’t build a blockage on their creative energy.”

 

And then there came advice which had me uncontrollably sobbing as I shared it with the Elon students.

 

Actress, and TONY recognized acting teacher Beth Baur wrote…

“Remember that they are artists. There is their power! Write, Create, Paint, Dance. Create! Let your art guide you, speak, be the voice of your spirit. Even if it explores diminished idealism!! Or the pain. Or the anger. Or the confusion. MAKE ART.”

elon2016
(Above: Elon B.F.A. Acting Majors Class of 2016, Paul Russell (center), Fred Rubeck – Department Chair (seated) and Marty the pup)

Many actors shared wonderful, hope inspiring words of support and encouragement. We must look to the best within ourselves, and each other, to trump the hate that barrels towards us. Anger is passion. Passion is love. Love the passion that is the fight against hate.

My best,
Paul

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned over 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 taught master classes at dozens of acting programs at universities including Hofstra, Elon, Wright State University, and Rutgers. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information on Paul’s projects, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

Share this:

Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors

Love Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book for Actors
ACTING: Make It Your Business!

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

This is your roadmap!”
BERNARD TELSEY, casting director – CSA
(The InternHamiltonNBC’s The Wiz – LIVE!, Wicked)
“All the right questions asked and answered…
and with a generous portion of good humor.”
SUZANNE RYAN, casting director, CSA
(Law & OrderUnforgettable)
“I love this book!
Paul’s book tells you what you don’t want to hear but really need to know
EVERY actor should read this book!”
DIANE RILEY, Senior Legit Talent Agent
Harden-Curtis & Associates
“Paul’s book made me proud to be a part of this community we call ‘show!'”
KAREN ZIEMBA, TONY & Drama Desk Award Winning Actress
“Paul Russell’s words are not only blunt & accurate they zero in on all the questions every actor wants to know but is afraid to ask!”
KEN MELAMED, Talent Agency Partner
Bret Adams, Ltd.
“I had my Business of Acting, BFA Seniors, class do book reports on a variety of “business of acting” books and ACTING: Make It Your Business came out a clear winner—considered to be essential for their bookshelves!
Dr. NINA LeNOIR,
Dept. Chair – Dept. of Thtr.
Chapman University

Get smarter on the business of acting from legendary Hollywood & Broadway actors and talent agents in a casting director Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING:AMIYB_Amazon Make It Your Business!