About a year ago I wasn't producing iSpy. I was feeling more ambitious and attempting to produce a 25 minute short. One of the lessons I quickly learned as a newbie producer was how very difficult it is to attach somebody actors to a script being produced by a 'nobody'. I was approaching all sorts of named talent -- sometimes literally -- and hitting an immediate wall.
Once I finally learned this lesson I regrouped and thought, okay -- maybe there were some sort-of-nobodies I could find that were on the brink of becoming somebodies. To find them would require putting on my talent scout hat. Over too many years of watching TV and films I've gotten pretty decent at spotting people on the rise.
My piece needed a young 20s 'Missy' that could be mousy, funny, and feel like she was circa 1972. I started websurfing all the improv comedy club troupes in Los Angeles -- like Second City
, The Groundlings
, etcetera. This was the precise advice I received from my dream somebody 'Missy' Charlyne Yi -- that hilarious young personality (on the left) I kindly/gently approached in San Diego a while back.
So I'm looking at the pages of players in such troupes and I discover many of them already have representation. I'm like, shinola, just getting into one of these troupes garners serious talent attention? I mean I'm happy for these peeps, sure, but getting all the more frustrated for my own interests. For even rising stars may already be out of reach.
But I wouldn't give up. I kept looking. Then I discovered this --
She's funny. Who is that? Noël Wells. Fit my 'Missy' like a glove. So I contacted Noel via her website --
-- and heard absolutely nothing. Sadface. Look, I'm not expecting people to jump and say ABSOLUTELY, but if you pay someone the compliment of a starring role in a 25 minute piece, they might find a quick way to say thanks but no thanks.
Then a month or so back I learn that she's on her way to SNL. Ahh. Now I get it. She wasn't just 'too busy' to reply to my request... she was actually too busy to reply to my request.
That's Noël opening last Saturday's SNL. I must say in the sketches I've caught her in, they don't quite know how to use her yet. She needs to find a character to make her own fast -- so that everyone knows what this talented young lady can do. The fact she helped open the show gives me the feeling they're perfectly aware of this gem of a comedienne.
Anyhow, the talent scout in me takes a bow. I hope people will find my iSpy casting as... inspired.
When my wife and I moved into our California condo about ten years ago, our complex provided us with something I cherish: a mix of every walk of life. My neighbors are every cultural and financial type and I wouldn't have it any other way... although I'd gladly silence the mega-subwoofer-hole in the adjacent complex. But I digress.
Ten years ago my complex had a generation of kids roaming about what my wife refers to as our 'campgrounds'. These children split off into all sorts of different groups. I got to know a bunch of them.
There was one group I didn't get to know so well. Boys that were brothers and cousins to each other, all Latino. Having grown up in a lily-white conservative Massachusetts town, it was simply a new experience for this curious screenwriter.
The first time I said 'Hi' to this group -- that were all under 12 -- they presented to me their fierce street personas. They led me to believe they were either moments from joining a gang or already in one. Trust me -- I'm not being racist here -- their message was don't mess with us, dude. And so I didn't.
Ten years pass. These little guys grow into young men. They eased up on the street thing, but I noticed something surprising about one of these 'bad' boys: he's always dressed up like Brando or a... Latino James Dean.