I don’t have HBO. Or Showtime. Or whatever it is that Entourage has been on for years. (Look, I spend enough time watching TV as it is. If I had that much more to choose from, I’d never leave the house. I like leaving the house sometimes. It’s good for me. So, lay off. 😉 I don’t have “that much cable” at home.) But of course I’ve seen episodes here and there. Screeners from the Academy, episodes online, viewing parties at friends’ homes. Yeah. I’ve seen it. It’s a good show. It’s funny. It’s heightened reality that is sometimes cringe-worthy. It’s a bunch of doofuses bumping into success in spite of themselves much of the time, and constantly proving that little in this industry has anything to do with “deserving” something. There’s a lot of spin. I get it.
But when SpikeTV recently started airing the series, I decided — like I did when Six Feet Under and Dexter and Sex and the City came to basic cable — to watch from the beginning, “edited for TV” and all. I TiVoed everything and waited for a chance to dive in. The chance to dive in came when I pulled an all-nighter this past week. I worked while powering through ten episodes all at once. My background noise for my overnight work session was season one of Entourage. And after just a few episodes, I knew what today’s column topic would be.
Don’t be Johnny Drama.
As of season one, Johnny Drama is a former somebody (he had success on a syndicated show or two, so he’s recognized and, in some circles — such as Comic Con — he’s marginally famous). But his baby brother is actually famous. He’s a name actor. He’s getting millions of dollars per film and fighting with his agent when he wants to do a low-budget indie for $60K between major studio franchises. He never reads a script before deciding to accept a role (in one particular scene, he mentions only learning the ending of a film he shot while watching the film at the premiere). He never attends any function without his entourage. And that means Johnny Drama is always in tow.
Enter the advice portion of this week’s column:
Don’t be Johnny Drama.
He’s the guy who — at every agency meeting — is asking whether someone at the agency could rep him. Hip-pocket even. Get him out on auditions. Something. Anything. They just need to know I’m still here, is the thinking.
He’s the guy who — at every director meet and greet — is asking whether there’s a role in this picture for him. Small one even. Something little he could do since his brother’s going to be carrying the film for cryin’ out loud. Don’t you know who I am, is the thinking.
He’s the guy who — at every party — is spewing a verbal resumé. Reminding everyone that they recognize him (even if they’re sure they don’t). Listing his credits from years before so folks can say, “Oh yeah. Whatever happened to that show?” followed by, “So what have you been doing since then?”
He’s desperate, for sure. But he’s also so completely clueless about how desperate he is that he’s like a toothache: constantly throbbing. And anyone who sees him coming is immediately trying to figure out a way to get away from him. In my whole, “People don’t remember you; they remember how they feel when they’re with you,” philosophy, he’s someone who is so associated with the discomfort of being hit up for a job, hit up for representation, hit up for validation for what he used to be in this town that just the sight of him is a turnoff for most folks.
It’s a great character.
But don’t you dare be that guy.
I was working with an actor last week who is desperate to get in front of a director. He wanted to come up with clever ways to get a meeting. He had already gone through the director’s agent, manager, and attorney. He had even had an audition already for a role on the project, so he’s on the radar of casting, but wasn’t advanced to a producer session. But he’s totally certain that, if he could just get face time with this director, he’d be able to convince him how right he is for this role.
If you’re in this business for the long haul (which I hope you are, truly), you’re building relationships from the very beginning. You’re connecting with people who will be in your life for decades. Trust me on this. I first moved to Los Angeles in 1993. I went away for grad school but came back in 1998 and have been here ever since. Total LA time thus far: nearly 13 years. And I’m still doing business with people I first met in 1993. We’re all tiering up and working at higher levels and connecting with more people and finding more gratification and success with each trip around the spiral.
Setting things into motion to meet a director whose film you’re dying to be in is fine. Start with a Google Alert. Find out when he’s going to be speaking to a group of young filmmakers or participating in a panel discussion at a film festival. Mail a note to him c/o DGA to congratulate him on his latest project. Ask your inner circle whether they know someone who knows him and see if you can start going to parties and networking events at which you could connect organically and simply. Because it’s going to be the organic connection, the simple connection (yes, even if somewhat manipulated to happen through your research and persistence) that yields far more results over time than the Johnny Drama approach.
So much of what I’m seeing in the first season of Entourage involves damage control on the part of the professionals on Vincent’s team. Yeah, it’s funny. Yeah, it’s good TV. But ’til you’re at the level where you have a crew of professionals whose job it is to clean up after all your missteps, try to minimize how many missteps you have from the start. A Johnny Drama is not only someone we’d prefer not to be around but also someone we’ll almost never subject to a filmmaker who hires us to populate his script. He’s someone we’ll almost never recommend an agent take on as a client. The risk is low that he’ll ever make us look good, so we’re going to say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll see what I can do,” but what we’re actually gonna do is make a mental note that Johnny Drama is still too desperate to outweigh his talent. We have many talented actors from which to choose. The only drama we want is what’s called for in the script.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001186.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.