Starting tonight, I officially journey into a new phase of my acting career: crime reenactor. (Cue music: Da Da Da Dum…)
First up is an episode of Unusual Suspects titled “Death of Innocence” in which I play a neighbor who witnesses a crime. It airs Sunday, February 23rd at 9pm on the Investigation Discovery network. If you should miss tonight’s premiere, no worries, it will also be repeated frequently.
Mixing the recipe for murder…Wahahaha
But Thursday things really heat up when I portray the killer in Deadly Wives’ “Acid Lady.” I am the bat shit crazy real-life woman who kills her perfectly lovely husband by boiling him alive in a vat of acid. While this is a tragically horrible true crime, I never had so much fun as an actress. Catch this show on the LMN network on Thursday, February 27th at 10pm eastern time. Again, this episode will air into infinity, so if you miss Thursday’s premiere, you can catch it in subsequent airings on LMN. In fact, watch it once by yourself, then a second time with your husband. That should fix any marital disagreements forever…
I’ve wondered lately given America’s — heck, the world’s — obsession with fame just what the cost of that fame really is.
The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman comes to mind. The genius with which he mined his characters for every ounce of humanity — pathetic and poignant both — takes a toll on an actor. On a person. How can it not?
As an actress myself, I understand the catharsis of touching on certain emotions and the wrenching agony of accessing others. I am not, nor will ever be, in the realm of Mr. Hoffman’s prowess. And because I don’t want to dredge up and dwell in those minefields of anguish, I never will be.
But another consequence of fame is being bluntly tossed aside when the business — and the public — is, for whatever reasons, done with you. Some celebrities adapt, even plan for, this phase in their careers. Many, many more do not.
In fact, I’ve encountered several of them not only in my acting life, but also in my “money” job as an English tutor. An idol from an 80s sitcom, a crush from a 70s cop show — I’ve met both in their homes. One is a divorced, but well-adjusted dad; the other is a hoarding recluse.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Life is hard. From our vantage point down on the ground celebrities may look like they have it better as they orbit the galaxy, but sometimes the spotlight is simply too bright. Remember, all stars — eventually — burn out.
Creative calendar photographs may not be entirely new (remember the movie Calendar Girls?), but when executed as cleverly as this one from a German retirement home they are still really fun. Here are the recreations of twelve classic movie poses. The models range in age from 75 to 98, and the movies they pay tribute to include Titanic, Easy Rider, The Seven Year Itch, and Dirty Dancing.
Buiting, William Buiting, a svelte 89 years old
Dirty Dancing: Thanks to computer graphics, 92-year-old Johann Liedtke didn’t really have to lift Marianne Pape, 79
Easy Rider’s Walter Loeser (left), 98, and Kurt Neuhaus, 90
Irmgard Alt, 79, and Siegfried Gallasch, 87, have got the fever: Saturday Night Fever
Joanna Trachenberg, 81, and Horst Krischat, 78, as Giant’s Liz Taylor and James Dean
Martha Bajohr, 77, as Cabaret’s Liza Minnelli
Blues Brothers Margarete Schmidt (right), 77, and Lothar Vishnevsky, 76, are on a “mission from god”
As Marilyn Monroe, Ingeborg Giolbass, 84, has got The Seven Year Itch with Erich Endlein, 88
Just a spoonful of sugar and a flight over London for Mary Poppins’ Erna Schenk, 78
Erwin J. von der Heiden, 80, also known as Rocky
Holly Golightly or Marianne Brunsbach, 86, is having Breakfast at Tiffany’s
King (and Queen) of the world: Titanic’s Erna Rutt, 86, and Alfred Kelbch, 81
No, I’m not talking about the golden age of Hollywood (although I do love that period). I’m talking about the resurgence of old broads leading the charge — and awards — in today’s Tinseltown.
For the first time in years, I actually feel optimistic about this business I love (well, love/hate). Because this year’s awards season has pulled a reversal and nominated its oldest skewing spate of actresses in years. The average age of best actress nominees for the Academy Awards is 55; in fact, only one — Amy Adams — is under 40 and she’s 39. Of course, this list includes Meryl Streep, 64, and Judi Dench, 79, both acting goddesses whom have been acting in high-caliber fare forever.
Courtesy of Merie W. Wallace/Paramount Vantage / October 29, 2012
But my favorite “overnight fame” story this year is that of 84-year-old June Squibb of Nebraska. An Oscar nominee for supporting actress, Ms. Squibb has been acting for pert near seven decades. Talk about tenacity.
Until her 60s, she took small parts on Broadway and in regional theaters. She didn’t even begin her film career until 1990.
This all makes me love Ms. Squibb, not only because I relished her nominated performance, but because it gives me hope that at any age dreams can still come true.
So here’s to you, Ms. Squibb. Whatever happens on Oscar night, you are an aging gal who inspires.
Words that could apply to many things in life — a romance, a job, a TV show. Okay, that last one may seem weird, but, as an actor, it is a frequent occurrence for me.
Say, I love a show with a certain serial killing anti-hero that just ended its run, but for years I cannot get into the casting office no matter how many George Washingtons I throw their way. I start to hate the show. I stop watching it, can’t watch it because it pains me; literally, hurts me (Stella?!? Am I being melodramatic enough?). Then, suddenly, in season seven, yours truly finally bullies her way in… and books a job. Guess what is quickly my favorite television show again? Yep, Dexter.
Or there’s a comedy on the National Broadcasting Network with a fair-haired former Saturday Night Live funny lady, but I’m certain that I’ll never be called to casting, much less reach that heady zenith of booking a role. So I stop watching the show, grumbling that it’s the cool kid’s birthday party I’ll never be invited to. But a couple of months ago, I schlep down to Mid-Wilshire on a Friday morning and by the next Tuesday afternoon, I am shooting a scene with Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation.
My point? As Sting once sang, ”If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.” Sting’s lyrics were inspired by Richard Bach’s “If you love something, set it free; if it comes backs it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was.”
In other words, let it go — whatever it is: job, first love, friendship. If it is meant to be, it will come back to you.
I never had what I would call “formal” acting training, but, while living in New York City, I did take classes at various renowned studios — Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, Herbert Berghof.
Some of these classes reminded me more than a little of the type of acting class noted in the song “Nothing” from Chorus Line where the teacher implores his students to improvise and “Be a table, be a sports car, an ice-cream cone.” After first feeling degraded, the student ends up feeling “this course is nothing.”
I remember in one particular class at the Strasberg Studios, we each had to relax by writhing in a metal fold-out chair. We would jut out our limbs and kick and punch, all in an effort to loosen up our instruments — our bodies. I felt like a spaz. Then the teacher would walk around and “test” how relaxed we were. She would lift an arm and, if adequately loosen up, said arm would twist like a barely-filled sand bag.
I was always as nimble as rebar. We were also to relax our face and loosen up that most important conduit to communication — the mouth. But every time the teacher checked the flexibility of my jaw, working it from side to side then up and down, I heard, “Zat is ze tightest jaw I ever felt. Zhou are not relaxed at all. Zhou will never be an actress.”
Just like in “Nothing,” I felt like a failure. But I also thought, this is crap.
And, as I prepare to watch myself in a scene with Amy Poehler on the premiere of Parks and Recreation this week, I feel comforted in having the last laugh. With my tight-jaw and unlimber body, guess who (Zhou?) is an actress after all.
Well, the new fall television season is on the horizon and we actors here in Hollywood are mighty grateful because that means we are auditioning! Yay, possibility of employment!
As a result of my recently busy schedule (goodbye summer couch sloth), I have been ignoring my blog. So I thought (yes, I can still think… barely), why not combine the two? Thanks to today’s technology, auditions are always taped (usually by the casting office), but a few I have recorded myself because I couldn’t physically get into the office for various reasons.
Here are a couple of those links. These are for primetime shows, but I’m not disclosing which ones because these scripts are covered by copyright. They have been recorded via iPad, the first one in an acting class. The last one is for a hospital scene and shot in my kitchen with Bitty as my scene partner. Again, today’s actor has to make do the best she can.
Oh, and when you judge, (and you will, we all do), be kind. I am, after all, a crazy sensitive actor…
Last night, Bitty and I had the pleasure of joining my longtime friend (and old college roommate) at the Hollywood Bowl to see 24-year-old violin wunderkind Ray Chen. Chen is dating my friend’s daughter, so we were like groupies at the Ed Sullivan show viewing The Beatles.
The Hollywood Bowl marquee
Aging Gal and her college roomie
All the family, aka Cheering Squad
Ray with the Hollywood Bowl orchestra
I’m told that Ray, who gets very animated when he plays, thinks of a “story” or background behind the music…
Ray on the Bowl’s big screen
And then… we got to go backstage
Ray is playing a 311 year old Stradivarius violin…
Ray was nice enough to even give us a personal show in his dressing room