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Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Agent Diaries – July 2015

Wednesday, July 1st

Happy Birthday, America!  I am looking forward to a much needed break.  I am following the lead of Los Angeles agents who are closing early today for the remainder of the week.  I will pass on going to see “Magic Mike”.  I walked out of the first film, no need for history to repeat itself.  I plan to grill and chill and read Jackie Collin’s new book “The Santangelos”.  Calgon take me away!

Monday, July 6th

I am tempted to go on holiday for the entire month of July, like Bill Maher who is on hiatus for the month. But, it is time to return back to reality. Hate when that happens.  I started the day off dealing with lots of emails from the weekend.  Only one actor did not follow directions for an audition.  My bitching is paying off.  I call that progress!

Tuesday, July 7th

Men…whatever the circumstance is, never, ever let your wife write a letter to a producer complaining you were not treated well.  Burning a bridge is never a good thing, much less when your wife is doing the dirty work and speaking on your behalf.

I love the selfie I received from Dan Bright, Mary Rachel Dudley and Tom Nowicki having a great time on the set of the HBO film “Confirmation” filming in Atlanta.



Wednesday, July 8th

How would you rate your look?  I came up with this “look assessment test” for actors to know their type. I believe that it is hard for people to look in the mirror and be honest.  Look in the mirror and honestly access yourself.  Ask a few friends to do the same and give you their opinion without your feelings being hurt.  Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  This is to help you have a better feel of what roles you are right for. Actors fall into leading or character roles.  Actors who can look in the mirror and see their true self and are comfortable in their own body are doing themselves a favor in the long run.

Plain/Unattractive (Ordinary look and below average)

Average (They might have more flaws than positive features. Not attractive, but not ugly. May see themselves as better looking than others might)

Cute (Pleasant to the eye. The majority of people are in this category)

Attractive (Not many flaws)

Pretty/Handsome (This type sticks out in a crowd.  Always looks good no matter how much makeup or what they are wearing. Above average)

Gorgeous (Beautiful, stunning, hot are words to describe this look.  Victoria Secret’s models are a great example)

Perfect. (There are not many 10’s in the world. Always subjective and determined by an individual. There is no objective standard for a Perfect 10. “Flawless“, “Perfection.”)

Thursday, July 9th

Today I am addressing parents of young performers.  It is mind boggling that this business encourages children who attend acting classes to get headshots, pursue an agent and enter the professional world of auditioning.  Every boy who plays little league baseball will not make it to the majors.  Every girl who takes ballet classes become a professional dancer.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that anyone who takes acting classes will benefit greatly from them but, does that mean they will be successful in the business?  No, it doesn’t.  I always want the young performer to “drive the train”.  If a parent wants this more than the child does then you are headed for frustration and failure – not to mention wasting agent’s and casting director’s time.  It takes a special child to excel in this business, become a booker and handle the may demands of the business – the good and the bad.  I recently received a phone call from a dad about getting his daughter in the business.  He told me she has been acting since she came out of the womb. REALLY? THE WOMB? How is that possible?  Just when I thought I have heard it all, I am shocked once again. Over 20 years ago my daughter went to an audition for a SAG national commercial for “Days Inn”.  I did exactly what I tell parents what they shouldn’t do.  I went “stage mom crazy”, biting my nails and waiting for the phone to ring when she was put on first refusal waiting to find out if she booked the job. Jordan told me she did not want to wear the bathing suit I put on her and she did not want to do this again.  I said ok and that was the end of it. In high school she told me she was considering being an actress.  I said, “Over my dead body”.  And, that was the end of that. So, don’t push your child.  If they want it bad enough they will let you know. If not, find out what your child excels in and support them in pursuing their dreams, not yours. I have dealt with a lot of parents through the years.  A few rules I have for parents is:  #1 Parents are not allowed to coach or tell their children how to act; #2 Parents cannot interrogate their child the minute they leave the audition and  #3 Look after the best interest of your child and not what other children in the business are doing.  I never want to see one of my young performers on national television because they could not handle the demands of show business and went crazy.  It can happen and it is only a matter of time before it does.  You can make sure that is not your child by keeping the business in perspective.

Friday, July 10th

EXCUSE OF THE WEEK: “I couldn’t tape the audition because I did not have a reader”.  This is from an actress who was working on a film the same day. There was not another actor who could help? I find that hard to believe.  Actors must exhaust all avenues before you turn down any opportunity.

I am starting a new club.  It is called the BTG “CC” Club.  Members are accepted when they are “consistent closers”. The 10% who consistently book in the business.  This should be the goal of every actor to strive for.  CCs keep agents in business.  CCs receive health insurance from the union.  CCs build up pension from the union. CC’s are consistent in their work, requested by casting and can close the deal.

Monday, July 13th

I can tell it is picking when I am working on a Friday night and Saturday uploading auditions.  This is a great sign for the business, not so much for my personal life.

HBO has renewed “Ballers”, starring Dwayne Johnson, for a second season.  This is great news for Florida!  A big thanks goes out to HBO, the producers and Mr. Johnson for filming in Miami.

Tuesday, July 14th

Am I the only one who is fed up in this town with the low pay perpetuity buyout for theme parks?  When did $400.00 for all usage FOREVER become a “Chance of a Lifetime”? I call that highway robbery!  Now they are bringing out of town casting directors in to cast the commercials.  It is a shame this is affecting our hard working casting directors Florida.

Also, am I the only, agent who is tired of receiving a release on nonunion commercials where the terms are different than what the breakdown stated?  Then I become the “problem agent” when asking that the release reflect what the talent agreed to when they auditioned!  Most actors just sign the release without reading it and don’t ask for a copy.  If you want to be treated as a professional, then act like a professional.  If are not given a copy of the release ask for one before you leave set. If production cannot give you one, take a picture on your cell phone and ask your agent to obtain the release for you, since it is a legal binding agreement and once signed cannot be changed.  Actors need to know what the terms and conditions for employment are before they arrive on the job. Make sure the terms are stated on the release before you sign it. If not call your agent.

Wednesday, July 15th

It is time to drop some young performers from the agency. You never know when you meet a child how well they will do in the business and if mom or dad will be good to work with.  If over a period of time the actor does not have consistent callbacks or has too many agents, it is time to end the relationship, wish them well and move on.  As Doris Day sang “Que, sera, sera…Whatever Will Be, Will Be.

Thursday, July 16th

Zach Sale had a great time in Atlanta working with Jennifer Garner on the feature film “Miracles From Heaven” in Atlanta.

The last conversation an agent wants to have with a casting director is when they call to let you know a producer is complaining about your actor not being prepared. The saying “No news is good news” is true! This happened today and I hope you are as shocked as I am.  Note to actors:  You don’t learn your dialogue in your trailer when you arrive on set, that is, unless you want to have a bad reputation and not work again. And, as big as this business is, when you screw up word spreads like wildfire.

Friday, July 17th

I feel like a kid in a candy store when I call an actor to congratulate them on booking a job.  Especially when it is an actor who really wants the role, like Peggy Sheffield. Peggy will be heading to Atlanta next week to work on the new TBS show “The Detour”.  Go Peggy!

It is not uncommon for actors  to want feedback on their auditions.  Simply put, it is not possible when you send in a tape.  Casting does not have the time or man power to give feedback on each audition.  However, if you get in the room with the director your agent should be able to get feedback for you.  I am proud of Mark Lainer and Tarik Lewis who had callbacks today in Charleston, South Carolina for HBO’s “Vice Principals”.  I followed up with casting and both did a great job and are under consideration.  The director had them work the scene numerous times and gave them the opportunity to improvise the scene.  Regardless if they book or not, they went and they did their best without complaining about getting in the  driving to the callback and asking to skype instead.

Monday, July 20th

Recently I sent out two audition notices for personal clients.  Both of them had a deadline of one week for auditions to be sent in.  Both of the clients ended up deciding on talent before the deadline.  Another example of why actors should not wait until the last minute.  If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times “The Early Bird Gets The Worm”.

Tuesday, July 21st

Today is dedicated to an amazing group of beautiful, young and talented young women who got started in the business in Florida. Long after Delta Burke, Cheryl Hines and Mimi Rogers left the sunshine state, this group have proven that the south is a great place to start your career. I hope a few girls I am developing will be added to this list and can follow in their footsteps.  

Torrey Devitto

Originally from New York, Torrey moved to Winter Park with her parents Mary and Liberty and sister Maryelle, where she spent her teen years. Torrey has appeared on “One Tree Hill” and “Pretty Little Liars”.  She is also a fantastic violin player and as beautiful inside as she is on the outside.

JoAnna Garcia was born and raised in Tampa.  JoAnna has appeared on “Reba”, “Royal Pains”, “Once Upon A Time” and can currently be seen as Betty Grissom in the ABC hit show “The Astronaut Wives Club”.

Arielle Kebbel is from Winter Park and has appeared in “Gilmore Girls”, “True Blood” & “Vampire Diaries”.  Recently I saw Arielle on the HBO show “Ballers”. You might remember her mom Sherri who was a manager and opened the door for many young actors from Florida.

Mandy Moore is another talented singer, songwriter and actress from Orlando.  Mandy has appeared in “The Princess Diaries”, “A Walk To Remember” and most recently “Red Band Society”. Mandy was represented by my good friend Zoe Boyer who worked at the Susanne Haley Agency.

Aubrey Peeples hails from Lake Mary and is my daughter from another mother.  I met Aubrey when she was a pre-teen. She is a multi-talented singer, songwriter and actress.  Aubrey built up a good resume working on “Burn Notice”, “Charlies’ Angels”, “Drop Dead Diva” and a recurring role on “Necessary Roughness”.  She decided to defer going to Harvard and move to Los Angeles after graduating high school in 2012.   Aubrey booked the cult film “Sharknado” her first year in Los Angeles. Her parents, Ashley & Wendy were helping Aubrey pack to go to Harvard, when she got the call that she booked the role of Layla Grant on “Nashville”.  Aubrey’s next big project is starring as Jem in the upcoming film “Jem and the Holograms” opening October 23rd. She also has a recurring guest star role on ABC family channel’s, “Recovery Road” coming out in 2016.

Stefanie Scott is from Indialantic   I met Stefanie thru her manager Sherri Kebbel and booked her on “Beethoven’s Big Break” in 2008 that shot at Universal Studios. She has also appeared on the Disney Channel’s A.N.T. Farm and will be starring in the upcoming film “Jen and the Jem Stones” with Aubrey Peeples.  What a small world!

Brittany Snow grew up in Tampa and began her career on “The Guiding Light”.  You might also know Brittany from “American Dreams”, “Harry’s Law” and the recent films “Pitch Perfect 1 & 2”.  Believe it or not, I met with Brittany and passed on representing her when she was a young child.  It was not because she wasn’t talented, but she already had a good agent who represented her.  Brittany’s mom, Cinda, is a manager who works with many actors from Florida, including one of my favorites, Michael Campion.

Wednesday, July 22nd

I sent an actor to Editplus to purchase footage for their reel and instead, he taped it on a camera while it played on tv.  That ain’t gonna work! When your agent gives advice, it isn’t to hear themselves talk – listen to them.  When they refer you to a photographer for headshots, this doesn’t mean using Uncle Tony who has a camera. When your agent sends you detailed taping instructions from the casting director, read them thoroughly and follow them to the letter.  Actors that do not listen and follow instructions move very quickly down the ladder of an agency, many of them out straight the door.

Thursday, July 23rd

In the July issue of Vanity Fair, I read an article about Nic Pizzolatto, writer and show runner for the hit HBO show “True Detectives”. If you worked on “Magic City” you might have met Mr. Pizzolatto, since he was one of the writers. This is a great article to read if you want to know how a writer thinks, how storylines and how characters are developed. If you get inside the writer’s head, you will be able to develop your character and bring their vision to life.  After all, that is an actor’s job!  Good writers and directors love collaborating with actors on character development.

Friday, July 24th

The feature film “Paper Towns” opens nationwide today.  Look for Tom Hillmann as Mr. Spiegelman, who plays Cara Delevingne’s dad.   Nothing makes me happier than seeing my actors credited on IMDB. Congratulations to Austin Abrams, who plays the role of Ben and his LA team, Tyler Grashman (Agency Performing Arts) and Michael Hepburn (Industry Entertainment). Although I did not book Austin on the film, I have represented him for many years. Also, a big shout out to Austin’s parents Lori and Brad for their support.  The film is based on the book written by John Green and is set in Orlando.  Production came to Orlando to shoot exteriors, but filmed in North Carolina due to benefits from film incentives.  Another opportunity lost to the actors and the crews living in Florida.

Tom Hillmann on the set of “Paper Towns” pictured with producer, Isaac Klausner, Susan Miller, Tom Hillmann and the director, Jake Schreier



Monday, July 27th

The morning started off with a bang uploading auditions and catching up on emails.  I received a phone call from a casting director for a new show filming in the southeast.  They are still looking for a few roles and wanted my input on who would be good.  The one thing required was for the actor to have a reel for producers to view.  As I was going through my list on who would be right for the roles, quite a few actors were not considered due to the fact that having a reel is not a priority for their career.

A shout out to Vivian Fleming-Alvarez, Andrea Canny, Brandy Grant, Alexis Jackson, Leyla Lawrence, Dahlia Legault, Victoria White, Fredena Williams and Nicole Paris Williams for taping on a Sunday for a last minute audition.  Within less than six hours, all of these actresses accepted the audition and did their job on a Sunday!

Tuesday, July 28th

I was pitching an actor to a manager in Los Angeles today and wanted to send some recent auditions for consideration.  I asked the actor to help me pick a few of the best auditions.  Guess what?  He did not keep them.  Actors should keep every audition they tape.  I am sure most agents do not have the hard drive space to keep auditions on file forever. I know I don’t, but you should.

If you want to watch a fun new show, check out FX’s show “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll”/  it is filled with great one-liners and airson  Thursday nights at 10:00 pm.  The show stars Denis Leary, John Corbett (hot eye candy for the ladies) and Elizabeth Gilles.  Elizabeth plays the role of Gigi and is fantastic!


Wednesday, July 28th

This is part two from “The Agent Diaires” posting from June 4th.
Thanks to Tom Hillmann  for his contribution and for always being professional to work with.

“I Don’t Do Small Roles”

By Tom Hillmann

I don’t do small roles. Because, there are no small roles. Only small actors. Every role I go for is huge– it is my character’s world, and in his world, his role in his life is enormous.

A role may only have a few lines, or even just one, but I try not to pass up the opportunity to discover something wonderful when given the chance to help a writer tell their story. 

A few years ago, many of my colleagues turned down the opportunity to audition for a role in a film because the character only had one line. I went because it was a big film, and my intuition said “go.” I was called back and met with the director. For one line. I created a real, emotional life with an “objective” and lots of inner dialogue before I spoke and kept it going after. I was the star of my universe, but didn’t project that, any more than I do when I am completely absorbed with shopping for a good organic red wine. 

The role was cut and I was cast in a role I didn’t even audition for, in a scene opposite Denzel Washington and the gorgeous, Sanaa Lathan.

Now when an audition comes through, truth be told, I do have to battle a few inner voices. My narcissistic self will always tell me the part isn’t big enough based on my perception of the “size” of the role. I try to pay more attention to my adventurous self. My adventurous self always sees a universe of opportunities, new people to meet, new places to visit, and new stories to help tell.  All the pieces of a puzzle have value, and you can’t see the big picture if the smaller pieces are lacking. There are times when I have to pass on something, but the reasoning shouldn’t be just about the “size.”

“Paper Towns” opened last Friday. I play Cara Delevingne’s father but didn’t have any scenes with her. I did meet some great people and visited a beautiful city where they filmed it. I met a great director and several producers and lots of teenagers I’ve talked to think it is pretty cool that I am in a John Green movie, even if it is just one scene. When you actually HAVE teenagers, that’s money in the bank, baby.

I call it a “cameo.”

Thursday, July 30th

Yesterday started and ended with two actors being “pinned” for the new show “Outcast” filming in Rockhill, South Carolina.  Being pinned is different than first refusal. When a casting director requests that an actor be put on “first refusal”, it means that a final casting decision has not been made.  Most of the time a few actors are on first refusal and are being presented to the client, producers and/or director.  The casting director is requesting that the agent, on behalf of the performer, contact casting before accepting a booking for another job on the same day(s).  First refusal is not a booking and the performer does not have a contractual obligation, nor does the producer owe a cancellation fee since the actor has not been formally booked. An actor should never book another job if you are on first refusal and the dates conflict with each other. First refusal is a courtesy term used in the business to make sure the actor is available in case they are booked.  In the modeling world, the term first and second option are similar to first refusal.  Being “pinned” means the actor has been approved, but the shoot dates have not been finalized. Actors cannot be officially booked until casting has work date(s).

“Vacation” opened last night and I can’t wait to see it. The film shot in Georgia last year.  Look for Alkoya Brunson & Elizabeth Fendrick…two of Brevard Talent Group’s big bookers!

Alkoya on set with his “Vacation” Family

alkoya 2

Friday, July 31st