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Well, as of right now, the Rambles work, but I can't seem to answer any questions.
So I'll ramble.
Last week, we held auditions for a new series I'm working on as Story Editor/Writer/Producer at Sony for the WB and Mattel.
It's too early to give you any details on the show, but I think I can talk about the audition process in general terms.
Auditions took place under the watchful eye of our voice director Sue Blue and her engineer Pat Torres. Sue's directed a ton of shows, including MEN IN BLACK and the upcoming STARSHIP TROOPERS. I was there for most of the auditions, and Sue, Pat and I had a really great time.
We had five lead rolls to cast (three male, two female), and the nature of the rolls were such that we largely had five distinct groups of people coming in to read for each part. But all mixed up and in no particular order.
The actors had each received audition "sides". These were monologues that I had written up for each character that would demonstrate the characters personality and range. Give the actor the opportunity to prove (or fail to prove) that he or she was right for the part. The side I wrote for the lead character was just too darn long. So we cut that one down, which threw off a couple of actors at first, but in the long run made it easier on them -- and us.
The actors would wait in the waiting room (hence the name) and we would take them into the booth one at a time. We three jokers were out in the control room, so they couldn't hear us unless we wanted them to or unless we forgot and left the button on. (No major faux pas this time, but over the years, I've had a few embarrassing moments with that button.)
We'd usually ask the actor if he or she had any questions about the character. We'd do our best to answer them, and then let the actor read the side through once without much input from us. Then we'd generally do a second or third pass, where we gave them direction. Sometimes people who did lousy first reads, did great with direction. That's a good sign. Sometimes people who did decent first reads, didn't improve much with direction. That's not as good a sign. Sometimes people were so good, we wouldn't do a second take. Maybe just pick up a single line or two that we felt could be improved on. Sometimes people were so obviously wrong for the part, we wouldn't do a second take, and just pick up a line to be polite -- or deceitful, it depends on your point of view.
Basically, you're looking for good acting instincts. Do they notice and pick up the various acting beats? After you point them out, do they hit them nicely or force them? Etc.
And just as important, you're listening simply for vocal quality. Do they sound like the character you have in your head? Sometimes they don't, but you like it anyway. They redefine what the character SHOULD sound like. Keith David was like that for Goliath. So was Thom Adcox Hernandez and Bill Faggerbakke.
At these auditions, at most auditions I've ever been to, the actor has no way of knowning how well he or she did. Cause we're equally polite to everyone. It's selfish, basically. Ever try rejecting ten or so people per hour? It's tough on each of them of course, but they only have to go through it once. It would be brutal on us. And everyone reacts differently. Some rejectees would get pissed. Others would beg for another chance, etc. Nightmare. So we smile and tell everyone they did great. It sucks, but I can't fathom an alternative.
Even if we like someone, we don't want to be too effusive, because, we don't know who we still have left to see. We might like the next guy even better, and so you don't want to make promises.
LESSON: Don't become an actor unless there's just nothing else you can see yourself doing. BRUTAL PROFESSION. Writing's not much kinder, by the way.
Anyhow, we lucked out this time. Saw a ton of great people. Now, unlike Gargoyles, I'm not the top dog on this show. I'm a Producer -- the guy on the line, but Sony has two Executive Producers on the show, who are my bosses. Plus Sony has a development executive assigned to the show. And the WB and Mattel have (at least) veto power over the final casting choices.
So what Sue and I did (with help from Pat and Cynthia, Sue's assistant) was put together a voice CD, with about seven actors per character on it. We eliminated all the people we hated, and by consensus put our best choices on the CD. I felt very good about the CD. I liked most everyone on it, and feel confident we'll have a GREAT voice cast, even if my personal first choices aren't chosen.
I did rank my picks (on a separate memo) for the Exec Producers. We'll just have to see how it all turns out.
A side benefit of all this is that I got to see a bunch of people that I hadn't seen for awhile.
Thom Adcox Hernandez auditioned. Of course, I have seen him recently, at the Gathering and at a few movies that we attended together with our respective mates, (RUN LOLA RUN and AN IDEAL HUSBAND). But it's always great to see Thom.
Marina Sirtis, Brigitte Bako and Sheena Easton all gave great audtions, and it was terrific to see them again. (Of course, it doesn't hurt that they're all knock-outs.) They all have fond memories of Gargoyles. Marina said that at Star Trek conventions, she signs more Demona dolls than Troi dolls everytime.
I also saw Gregg Rainwater (Coyote Trickster, Natsilane/Nick, Young Peter Maza). James Avery (Shaman). And a few others too. (I'm blanking out. It's late.) They were all terrific. I wish we could cast them all.
Unfortunately, I couldn't be there for every audition (seven hours a day for four days), so I missed seeing Kath Soucie, Tress MacNeil and Rocky Carroll. Bummer.
But I did get to meet Ben Vereen, Lauren Tom, Rosalyn Chao, James Marsters (who plays Spike on Buffy) and a bunch of other people that I really admire.
Frankly, the voice stuff is the most fun part of my job.
Sorry, but for the second time since this latest server crisis began, an answer I took some time on didn't post and was lost. Before I go in and start answering questions again, I'm just going to see if things are posting properly with this latest test ramble.
SUNDAY (or what was left of it)
Got up. Showered. I was major damaged goods by this time, but I had had such fun. Went downstairs. Said some goodbyes. Dominick interviewed me for his German magazine. Had an interesting conversation with Steve Jackson and Christine Morgan. Talked with the G2000 folk some more. Said good-bye to Thom. He told me about his and Jen's plan to tattoo themselves. I told them both if you don't have the guts to get a tatto in your hometown, you're better off skipping it.
(Side note -- Saw Thom today [7/12]. He showed me his new tattoo. Sorry, Jen, looks like he stood you up.)
Jen cabbed me to the airport and kept me company until my plane left, which was incredibly nice.
Flew home. Got home. Hugged my kids and wife. Told them what an amazing time I had, and suggested that next year may be the perfect time for them to come along.
And that's it.
But again, thanks everyone. I had an amazing time.
You guys are the best.
SATURDAY - (a.k.a. THE BIG ONE)
I dragged myself out of bed just in time for the room service I dopily ordered the night before. The food was fine, but now I was running late. Showered, etc. And ran downstairs.
Took us a little while to get our acts together, but finally Thom, Jen and I sat down to hold auditions. I gave everyone the same shpiel. LOUDER AND SLOWER.
All of you who auditioned were great. I hope the experience, whether or not you got a part, was fun (and maybe educational). We had a huge turn-out and auditions ran at least an hour longer than we had anticipated. (Causing a cascade of lateness that continued throughout the day.)
When we were finally done, we set about casting over KFC brought to us by Van & Sara. Just for the record, the cast was:
Charles E. Calvert
Thanks, gang. And thanks to everyone who auditioned.
Lanny & Sara are becoming regulars at this. ("The Greg Weisman Players" Hmmm. I like the sound of that.)
We took a quick break and then went almost immediately into rehearsal. Suddenly people who had given very loud auditions were whispering. It made me a bit nervous. Mr. Punctual, Thom Adcox, locked himself out of his room, and was late to the rehearsal. Which gave me a lot of opportunities to rag on him. Thankfully, he's a good sport.
We finished up and then brought people in for the performance. I can't say much about the show, but it's a pilot that I wrote for a new series. My pilot was rejected, and they hired a new writer to do the version that will air in the fall. It was a messy business with both sides hiring lawyers, and though I still feel ripped off, it's over. But I'm glad someone at least got to see the version I did.
I think the performance went pretty well. My cast was great. I'm not sure the script was as much of a crowd pleaser as ROTG was last year, but I have no complaints. When it was over, I answered a few quick questions for people who couldn't be at the dinner, then I went upstairs to make a phone call and relax for a bit while Dinner was being set up. (That actually took quite a while. So again, I wound up bouncing upstairs and downstairs a few times.)
Finally, we went in. Dinner was very good. And it helped being the guest of honor as I got my food first. We (the guests) all ate while everyone else got their food, and then I moderated the Q&A while the audience ate. The Q&A was the most fun of all. Some really good questions, and I admit that I really got on a roll there with my answers. People tried to stump me, but I was just unstumpable that night. Very fun.
After dinner, Thom and I went back to my room to chill out a bit. He and I really had a great time. Didn't realize how much I missed the guy.
We came back downstairs for the costume parade. Becca and Jack as Lex and Goliath stole the show, but there were a bunch of great costumes. Was that AJaye as Angela? And that Graeme guy? (Whoever graeme is.) Wow. Anthony shaved off his beard between the radio play performance and the ball to play Tony Dracon. (Shows almost as much dedication as Aaron.) Skippy the Klingon won Ms. Congeniality. Vannessa as Lady of the Lake and Sara as Hyena, plus Jen as Saloon Girl Demona. Bluebonnet, Lexy... The list goes on. Again, wow.
Thom and I needed ice cream and some air, so it was back to 7-11. Thom revealed that during his AM/PM commercial he had to consume 100 bigsticks. He can't go near them anymore.
We returned to the ball. Vanessa dragged me onto the dance floor. I attempted some swing moves that must have seemed so convincing that I was later complimented for my line dancing ability. (Go figure.) Anyway, it was very fun.
Tim Morgan had missed the Starship video friday night, and Thom wanted to show us his reel, so we started off on a VCR hunt. We wound up in the Morgan's room watching Battle of the Gargantua. Then made our way up to the con suite. About 20 of us at first, watching tapes and talking. As the hours past (and as I got punchier) the numbers dwindled. Thom called it a night around 3am. But I stayed up until 7am with Christine, Tim, Stephen, Flint, Heather, Jen and... ARGGGH... Who am I forgetting? So sorry.
Anyway, I think I was literally drunk on the adulation you all fed me all week end. I started pontificating to poor Stephen. In my memory, it was all very pompous, though both Stephen and Christine have been very gracious about how helpful I was.
Anyway, I was just having a fantastic time. Too great to go to bed. And no, I'm not going to discuss "the game" in print. You nuts?
Finally, at seven I made myself stand up. Flint had snuck away and Stephen was asleep on the couch. It was time to try and sneak a few hours of sleep.
But I was too wired. I rested in bed. That's the best I could do. I think I finally dozed off around 10am but Thom called me at 10:30 to see if I wanted to grab some coffee. Thom's dead now. (Just kidding...)
Anyway, that was Saturday (with a good chunk of Sunday). Part IV of the diary will be pretty pathetic but I'll get to it eventually.
I DO NOT mind tons and tons of questions. I love that.
I do mind tons and tons of questions within the same post. That makes it difficult for me to fit in a quick answer between doing other things. It bogs down the process.
I know it's a bit of a pain, but please ask multiple questions (particularly questions on different topics) in multiple separate posts.
I know we're all excited to have ASK GREG back.
But those of you posing multiple, multiple questions in one post are killing me and not getting your money's worth. I can't just sit down and answer them quickly. So I wind up giving very brief responses (or non-responses) to most or all of the questions that come packaged together in mega-posts.
I understand that if you're asking multiple questions on the same very specific topic why you'd want them all together. So I'm not going to set any absolute rules. But use common sense. I know it's slightly more time consuming to have to submit individual questions one (or say two) at a time. But I promise you, you'll tend (more often then not) to get more worthwhile answers for your trouble.
As I said, I went to bed way too late, so I got up very late too.
I was wearing my grey gargoyles t-shirt, so even people who didn't recognize me personally knew I was there for the con. Lots of people said hi. A Fan, who I've met three years running, complimented me on the shirt like three times.
Found Jen, met Stephen in there somewhere, and Ogre, got my box of radio-play scripts which I had shipped ahead to Thomas.
I had missed breakfast, and things were just getting organized, so I decided to walk to Taco Bell for some lunch. It was raining as I walked along the expressway, and all I'm thinking is that I'm gonna get Stephen Kinged for a Taco. But I make it back without dying. (Last time I was in Dallas I was in a very bad car accident, so I have a reason to feel paranoid.)
My cousin Debbie picked me up at the hotel. She doesn't know anything about Gargoyles beyond the fact that I worked on the show. When I came downstairs, the first thing she said to me was that there was a guy flashing a huge gargoyle that was tatooed on his chest. I got to see it much later. (Aaron that was you, right?) But I thought it was hilarious that he was flashing Demona to perfect strangers.
Debbie gave me a quick driving tour of Dallas. Then we stopped by her house in "The Bubble", which isn't too far from the hotel. Then it was back to the hotel to change and get ready for the opening ceremonies. Things were running a bit behind schedule, so I kept bopping up and down from my room to the con. Saw Pogo, Kanthara, Lanny. (It's so great to see people who have been to all three cons. And I'm finally learning the names. Though I mispronounced Lanny for like the eighteenth time. Sorry.) Then we got going. Thomas got us started. Everyone seemed very happy to be there. I know I was.
I got up and started my presentation. I showed the same old stuff again. Told the same old anecdotes. (Only slightly abbreviated.) The original Garg pitch. The original Garg promo. The New Olympians Pitch. The Bad Guys Reel. Also added the Dark Ages pitch to my repetoir and showed a promo for Starship Troopers. It all seemed to go over very well.
Then I took off to have dinner with Debbie and her husband Larry... But...
When I got to my room to drop off the tapes, I had phone messages from Thom Adcox (calling from Dallas-Fort Worth) and Frank Paur (calling from LAX). They couldn't reach Jen of Thomas and so were leaving messages for me. I had to keep going downstairs and interrupt the Clan Feud game to talk to Jen and then race back upstairs to talk to the guys. But we finally told Thom to get in a cab and Frank to take a later flight. (Neither thing happened.)
I went out to Dinner with Debbie and Larry, then back to their house to look at some pictures of their kids (who were away at summer camp, so I didn't get to see them). Then back to the hotel. By this time Thom Adcox had arrived. (He and Thomas eventually found each other.) So we hooked up. Took a quick trip to the con suite, but we had already missed the G2000 party. And Thom was hungry. So we hooked up with Sara, Vanessa and Garfield (the guy with many names) and went on a hike across Dallas. Burger King and Taco Bell were drive through only. So we headed for 7-11. Next door was a pizza place. And while we were waiting for the pie, Vanessa and I went next door to get root beer float fixings. Believe it or not 7-11 had NO root beer at all. So I went back to the pizza place to get the root beer there, leaving Vanessa alone in the less than safe 7-11. (It's not that I'm unchivalrous, it's just that I'm an idiot.) I went back to get Vanessa and the ice cream. Then we all returned to the hotel to eat in the lobby. Met Wanderer. By this time, we were beat, so we called it a night.
Went back to the room. Watched CRUEL INTENTIONS which was o.k. And eventually went to bed.
To be continued...
(And as usual, if I've forgotten anyone or anything, forgive me...)
Contest #2 (This one's all but impossible)....
At the time of "The Journey" there were ten clans extant in the Gargoyles Universe. Some were flourishing, some barely surviving.
By the year 2158, all ten would be in much better shape and two more clans would have already have been launched.
In the century that followed, two more, for a total of FOURTEEN clans, would also be launched.
Name the location of all 14 clans.
Same rules apply as in the Arthurian contest. Name all 14 correctly if you want a response. No hints for partial or partially correct answers. Guess as often as you like, but always on a separate "question" post to ASK GREG.
There will be a prize of some kind.
Officially restarting the contest...
In the Gargoyles Universe, there are eight survivors from the days of King Arthur. (I know I once said seven, but I forgot someone. Which isn't like me.)
Here are the rules. You have to name all eight correctly. Partially correct answers will receive no partial credit. I won't say you got three right and five wrong or whatever. I won't provide any hints at all beyond the following two names:
1. King Arthur
2. The Lady of the Lake
You have six more to guess. Remember, I'm looking for their Arthurian names. Yes, I've mentioned that Duval is one of the survivors, but listing him doesn't count, i.e. it doesn't count as a guess as to who Duval is, who the survivor is.
The winner will get a prize, I think. Nothing of any worth, but something. (Maybe a xerox of my recording script for Pendragon, complete with all my scribblings. That sort of thing seems to go over fairly well.)
You can guess as many times as you like. But always post it as a separate "question" to ASK GREG. Don't lump it in with other questions. And don't make multiple guesses on the same post. Just eight names. First to give me all eight correct in one post, wins.
And better than ever, don't you think. Sure it took awhile, but how about a standing O for Gorebash. The new ASK GREG digs look great.
As promised, as my first ramble...
A GATHERING '99 DIARY (of sorts)
I had such a damn good time. So let me start with an apology. I'm gonna forget some stuff. I met so many people. Some for the 2nd or 3rd time. I tried very hard to remember names, faces, etc. But I'm bound to screw some of it up. Just forgive me.
My back is killing me. I get up, I can barely move. Barely lean over the sink to brush my teeth. I don't know how I'm going to endure a three hour flight to Dallas. So I make an emergency call to my chiropractor. He can fit me in. But now I have to shower, pack and drive over there for an adjustment on my way to the airport. Nothing like starting a trip with pain and stress.
By the end of the weekend, I'll have forgotten about both. (You guys. So great.)
Anyway, "SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE" is playing on the flight, which strikes me as a VERY good omen. I promised Christine I would start her book on the way to Dallas. And I do. But I can't resist this movie, even with goof airline edits on my fourth viewing, so I get less reading done than I had hoped. (Sorry. Christine. I'm still reading a chapter a night (give or take). I just finished the "castle" section. The "Curse" to follow.)
Spike and her boys pick me up at the airport. We have fairly light traffic and get to the hotel pretty easy. My hotel room is ready. I see Jen. Unpack. Call home. And go out to dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse with Thomas, Jen, Christine, Tim, Becca, Sara and Patrick. The Spaghetti Warehouse is a dead-ringer for L.A.'s Spaghetti Factory, right down to the cable car in the middle of the restaurant. I can't help wondering who ripped off whom. Dinner is fun, but I'm still feeling shy. And I know everyone's still acting way too impressed with me. (That'll change. Yes, yes, you may still be impressed with me, but you got better at hiding it.)
We go back to the temporary con-suite, and video tape the DARK AGES & NEW OLYMPIAN pitches. I meet Demona May and Anthony and someone else (sorry). My back, though better, is still killing me, and I had promised my wife I'd phone her before she went to bed, so I call it a night. I'm actually way too excited to sleep much. I wind up staying up way too late. But I can sleep late Friday.
To be continued...
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