26 August, 2009

The One That Got Away

When you work in this business long enough, there’s bound to be a moment when you look like an ass. Could be relatively big – studio that passed on E.T. (happened) – could be relatively small – an Assistant asked an Executive when she was due, though the Executive wasn’t even pregnant (happened, I was there) – but, big or small, they’re eventually inevitable. And, while of course these blunders happen in businesses other than the movie one, they just seem bigger in a town as small as L.A. where everyone talks, and simple little blunders are simply never little (at least not in a business as crazy as this one, in a city as crazy as L.A.). I’ve certainly made my fair share, but there’s one that keeps staring me in the face, at least lately. Lather on a heavy glob of coincidence – there’s a tie-in story with the same TV Show, the episode RIGHT BEFORE IT – and I thought, well, blunder or not, I’d better share. I hope you enjoy.

When we were in Pre Production on Backstage Pass, everyone wore many hats, especially Jace, Andy Barth and me. Well, one of mine was Casting Director; that is, while Jace, Andy and I sat in on the three-full-weekend sessions, and Jeff Hamm and Stephanie Chernak were key in helping out, I was the one that took it upon myself to set up with Backstage West and the like, be sent the boxes full of headshots to go through, weed-out, and prep-for those weekend sessions, AND then deal with contracts (some of our Cast were SAG) and negotiations thereof (because they were SAG, I then had to set us up as SAG-signatory; a daunting task to be sure, but one I’d never personally dealt with before, so interesting and educational indeed. Anyway …) One of the young ladies that sent in her headshot was Kate Mara, and for a long while she was on “the short list” to be called in for the female lead. But then – ready to see the egg on my face? – I pulled her out. Don’t remember why, really, just didn’t feel it for whatever reason. But, no, I never even called her in to be seen.

And who’s Kate Mara? At the time – remember, while Backstage Pass came out in 2006, we shot in 2003 – she was in an Ed, a couple Law & Orders. In 2003 and after? She exploded. Four Nip Tucks. Six Jack And Bobbys. Brokeback Mountain. Five 24s. We Are Marshall, Shooter, four or five others and … wait for it … the upcoming Iron Man 2. It seems ever SINCE I put her picture back in the boxes-full of hundreds of others, she not only didn’t get to be part of our little movie but (and, let’s be honest, perhaps better off for her) went on to much bigger and better. But for whatever reason, out of those hundreds of photos that came in, I still remember hers – not many others, and I’m sure there are others that sent in photos, didn’t get called, and are now “somebody” – but every once in a while, there’s Ms. Mara, smiling back at me, laughing it seems at my badly played hand.

And who DID get the female lead in Backstage Pass? Why, the lovely Tiffany Brouwer, of course. I remember seeing her picture in those hundreds and thinking, “She looks like Katie Holmes.” (I, it’s no secret, have always had a crush on Katie Holmes.) So I brought Tiffany in; really, just because I liked her photo. And she not only read well, but looked the part, was incalculably polite AND professional, and we cast her immediately. She hadn’t done too much before, and, really, hasn’t done too much since (though I do give her credit for How I Met Your Mother and CSI: Miami, both shows I enjoy). We’ve kept in touch, last saw each other at Lucas & Katia’s wedding, and she definitely deserves her big break, but you know how this town is. Time goes by and we cut to me watching Entourage two episodes ago (“Murphy’s Lie”) and who do I see with Vince – and then under Vince – on the college campus? “Hey, it’s Tiffany Brouwer!” I said! “Good for her!” A crazy town indeed.

So there’s one of my friends, the female lead from my first feature, in an episode of Entourage (not just a hit show, but one I’m a fan of). Good for her, indeed! Of course, I can’t help but think of Kate Mara, who I always seem to think of not just when I think of Backstage Pass BUT WHEN I SEE HER IN ALMOST EVERYTHING SINCE (I’m not bitter). And, so, who do I see in the very next episode of Entourage as E’s secretary at George Segal’s Management Firm ("No More Drama")? Why, only Kate Mara, of course.  But there it is, yet again, my own little blunder staring me in the face. (It’s not terrible, I know, but I hate missed opportunities; while working with Tiffany was a gem both professionally and personally, I never got the chance to work with Ms. Mara RIGHT BEFORE SHE HIT!  And, well, cest la vie.)  There I am watching Entourage, and in two episodes in a row, there’s the girl that got the lead in Backstage Pass, and the one that got away.

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