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Feelings Mixed on Casting Change

Mar 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Casting directors were of mixed feelings about whether year-round casting would give them more opportunity to find fresh faces-a break from casting the same people in pilots year after year, such as Rob Lowe, Heather Locklear, Andy Richter and Amy Yasbeck.
Sharon Klein, senior VP of talent and casting at 20th Century Fox, said year-round casting should open up the pool to newcomers.
“These people get pilots all the time because they go into a room and they know how to sell themselves,” she said. “They are pros. When you are sitting with new producers and you have four weeks ahead of you to do something and someone comes in and blows you away because they are so good at the process, you’re going to want to go with them.
“You can’t try to find yourself and your auditioning techniques while people who have done it before are coming in and nailing it. When it’s off-season, actors will have more time to prepare.”
However, others said there are just very few actors and actresses out there that networks and studios think can carry a TV show.
“We are constantly looking for new faces, but it’s very hard to find personalities and actors who the public wants to stay with for what can be five to seven years,” said Mary Buck, senior VP of casting at Warner Bros. Television. “You can take an actor and put them in a feature film and if it doesn’t work the first day, you can try to get the performance out of them the next day. In television, we have very short time frames. You do go back to those people you know can deliver.”
Viewers also see the same faces over and over because there is a limited pool of actors and actresses in their 30s and 40s and a high demand for them, casting directors said.
“That is a category that is slower to change,” said Gene Blythe, executive VP of casting at ABC. “You either have a job or you are so in demand because there are so few out there it’s a race to see how you can entice someone to sign up for your project. The fact is there are only so many people around in those age ranges that can be in these shows.”
That’s a big reason why “we never give up on anybody,” Mr. Blythe said. “You’ll be auditioning an actor for five to seven years, and suddenly he turns in a great tape and there’s the performance you’ve missed. He’s finally learned how to audition.”
Or the actor or actress finally found the perfect part. Lauren Graham was in a string of flops before she landed The WB’s “Gilmore Girls,” and Jason Bateman was a pilot perennial in recent years before winning critical praise for his starring turn in Fox’s freshman sitcom “Arrested Development.”