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July 27, 2012

Originally Published:
BackStage
The Human Face of Hollywood

July 14, 2012

This has been a month of many questions and few answers. I have worked on two more episodes of Californication since my last dispatch. I have had two auditions. The results are still floating in the ether and could lead to a job if I’m lucky. My book of stories, The Dangerous Animals Club, is being published by Simon & Schuster (new release date September 25). All of that is positive. It is also only one side of the coin.

The things I’ve mentioned, as wonderful as they sound, have much of their wonder rooted in the world of speculation: the ghostly world filled with dreams of success and the blessed escape from the fear of house payments.

Reality is different.

I am never told if my character on Californication is continuing. I never know if I am in the next script. I usually get a phone call a week before the start of shooting. There is no time to learn lines and prepare with any sort of comfort.

I am certainly out of control on the audition front. I never know when I will get one, and when I do, there is rarely time to prepare for it. It becomes an exercise in controlled terror.

For my book, the publisher is organizing a series of performances. I am trying to put together one-man shows on my own while working on the other projects. It’s overwhelming.

And then I get a call that puts everything in perspective. My father fell in his living room. He broke his leg and needed immediate surgery. I had to drop everything and fly to Texas to be with him.

I called up Tom Kapinos, writer and executive producer on Californication. I said, “Tom, I hate to ask you this, but am I in the next show?” Tom laughed and said, “Yes! You are!” thinking he was giving me an island of relief in my sea of insecurity.

I said, “I have a terrible question to ask you.” Tom said, “Go for it. I love terrible questions.” I told him about my father and that I would have to leave town. Tom instantly responded with a different voice: not the voice of a producer but the voice of one son talking to another son. He said not to worry. They would work around what I needed to do.

The human face of Hollywood is surprising when you see it. But it is always there. It is usually hidden behind the layers of stress that come with last-minute rewrites and continual disappointments. All of us, from the actor to the casting director to the producers to the heads of studios, are driving under the influence — the influence of the madness that comes with this business.

It is comforting to know that the people on the other end of the camera want you to succeed. They want you to have a good day. They have fathers and loved ones and cats and car repairs that are driving them crazy too.

In a month of more questions than answers, I was reminded that the answers I thought would give me peace of mind aren’t answers at all — and the questions aren’t real questions either. They are all part of the noise that distracts us from who we are. Sometimes it takes a phone call to remind us of what that is. In a call from a hospital in Texas I was reminded of what matters. In a call with a producer in Hollywood I was reminded that we’re never alone. It just feels that way sometimes.

And my dad is doing better, thank you.

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3 Comments
  1. john ramsey permalink

    All of your stories are so relatable and well told. You were the very best guest I have ever had on my television show (WAVE 3 Listens , NBC affiliate) here in Louisville, Ky. I know you are busy but drop me a line now and then if you are so inclined.
    Much Respect
    John Ramsey

    • John, thank you for the wonderful afternoon – you were such a great host, I felt I could talk to you all afternoon (and maybe we would have!). I promise to stay in touch and hope to see you again soon.

  2. Morgan Benjamin-Gainor permalink

    Just enjoyed D.A. Club. Loved it. Thanks for sharing, loved every paragraph! (I’d recognize you anywhere).

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