Today I found myself on set doing reshoots for a film I was in back in May.
The production team had also added a couple of additional scenes that I was newly written in to. It was great. I love to work. We shot these scenes on the property of the American Film Institute. While lights were being setup, I had a bit of a break underneath some shade (it was around 100 degrees on set. I drank water, I sat down and had an interesting chat with a young production assistant who said that he had just seen “Instant Family” and was kind enough to mention my performance and I thanked her. She went on to say that I will probably be famous now. It was a good thing I had just swallowed my drink of water. I was amused by the statement and at the same time, a bit nostalgic.
There have been many circumstances in my career where I believed, “This is it”, This part will be the one that launches my career into stardom.”
I have already mentioned that in my first year, I had three movies that I thought were my ticket to working actor status at the very least.
There was one event that I was actually told by one of the most powerful television producers, that I was going to be famous. At this time in my career, I was going out a lot on auditions and general meetings. On this particular day, I had three auditions. The first one was in the late morning in Santa Monica for a commercial. The second one was in the Mid-Wilshire area for an Independent film. And the third audition was in Venice for another commercial. My agent calls as I hit the 405 north and tells me that I have one last audition at Warner Bros for a television show. I safely make my way to Warner Bros right before rush hour. I grab my sides and by the time I start to sit down, the casting director calls my name. I entered the room, smiled, and slated my name. I look at my one line and deliver it with complete earnestness, “Abe, we’re out of peanuts.” I thanked the casting director and was about to walk out of the room when she asked me if I could come back later in the day for a callback. I said yes, went across the street to a fast food restaurant and called my agent.
The two hours I waited at that fast food restaurant were absolute torture.
I found out that the show was a new show that was created and produced by Diane English, creator and multiple award-winning producer of “Murphy Brown”, and that the character I was reading for, was a possible recurring role. I was also asked to report to the stage to read for the director of the episode and for Ms. English herself. I walked into the soundstage and found that I was one of five actors waiting to have the chance to grab that brass ring, maybe. The role was for a waiter that works at “The Blue Shamrock”. It was one line, that didn’t even belong to the character. It was a line that was used to see who they would cast based on looks and the ability to make one line sound natural. The other four actors were either, taller, better looking, or lighter-skinned than me. I didn’t stand a chance. I read my line to the most powerful woman on television at the time, thanked her and the director and made my way back to my car. It was a very long walk. By the time I got to my car, my agent called me and said I booked the part. I was to start the following Monday.
That’s where the story should go on to say that the show ran for ten years and that I was nominated for five Emmys and on the fifth try won my first Emmy. I would go on to other shows where I was part of the regular cast and finally landing a show where I was the lead. This would translate to movies and so on and so forth. The show only lasted three seasons. I was in 56 episodes and all but three shows made the final cut. I felt I was so close again and after the show got cancelled, I had to start all over. What lesson could I possibly learn from this sadomasochistic experience? Success is always just around the corner, just as long as you are walking down the same street.