Sez Billy Joel:

"Do what’s good for you, or you’re no good for anybody."

There is a heavy, Taurean focus that one develops in Hollywood. You put your head down and ram through to get where you want to be. To get what you want. What is that? Money? Respect? Women? Fame? Mass love and adoration? The Envy Of Others? A nice house? Basic health insurance, a car with air conditioning, and a few bucks to be able to take your lover out to eat every once in a while? And perhaps this is not limited to Hollywood (just endemic therein). Perhaps in our consumption-mad race towards the end of the Millennium, when we’re all working longer and longer hours and spending less and less time doing things we actually like – only fulfilling duties – everyone is sort of compelled to hunker down and grunt towards the imaginary finish line.

And in Hollywood, things can very much become about "how this will advance my career". Everything has to somehow propel us towards that imagined goal and in this we forget the simplest of things: what makes us happy?

I bring this up as M., my girlfriend, is as we speak on the back of an incredibly heavy and powerful beast jumping five feet off the ground over a horizontal pole, wearing a hard little black hat, leather boots to the knees, and custom-made form-fitting beige pants. And I’m sure her face is flushed with total concentration and the ease of muscle movements remembered and once again surfacing.

She was a master rider for years. She went to nationals in show jumping and dressage four years in a row, but at some point realized she had to make a decision between riding and acting. So she hung up her tack and moved to New York. Well after five years, during which she’s blossomed into one of the best actresses I’ve ever had the pleasure to see bring Masha or Alma or Salesgirl #2 to glorious life, she has finally realized that she need not even make a decision. She can do both.

The random route to – within 2 weeks of first stepping into this barn, being handed over horses to train on her own daily and soon classes to teach as well – came courtesy of a play she did which was directed by the young tramp from the horrible TV show Mama’s Family (Dorothy something – a fledgling rider). Regardless of the circuitous route, her mastery came back quickly – it was lying dormant, waiting in muscle memory – and this, this one best thing: she is incredibly happy. Why? Because she’s doing something she loves, which has no end point. No goal. And best of all, it has nothing to do with the business, regardless of the fact that many of her child students will probably have last names like Spielberg, Hoffman, and Weinstein.

And I’m not even going to mention the special muscles horsewomen acquire…

Her dilemma coming out of high school, though more acute, was much like what I went through the day I had to decide if I was going to go into jazz or acting. I did eventually hang up my trumpet for good and I’m happy with my decision. But every once in a while I take the horn out of its case and run through some charts just for fun. And though I weep at my deteriorated tone and lack of fingering prowess (no "fingering" jokes please), I probably enjoy playing now more than I did when I was getting off planes in strange towns every other week, doing my homework in hotels. I’ve always felt, though, having too much one wants to do is a good problem to have.


…last night we continued editing. First, though, I had to go down to the SONY lot (the ugliest lot in LA, hands down) to record some voice-overs. We worked in the offices where he’s currently cutting Girl, Interrupted with Winona. So he showed me a few scenes, and I have to say: ass. It looks stupid, but it’s unfair to judge from a few scenes shown on an AVID.

What was doubly interesting was looking at the book of scorecards from their last test screening. Test screenings are, in my opinion, evil and stupid and retarded. It’s art by committee and I don’t agree with that. If 200 people in Rancho Cucamonga decide they didn’t like Actor X because his character was unlikable – the execs might trim his scenes, or in an extreme case, fire the guy and re-shoot. This happens on TV all the time. I’ve had friends get roles on pilots, only to have the show get picked up, and then get kicked off before they shoot the first real episode. All because the actor reminds Mary Henderson from Chatsworth of her abusive ex-boyfriend Roger. Folks, if you ever do go to one, write all over the card: "test screenings are stupid". Or write nonsense. Capice?


…after nearly a week of getting used to the notion that I was not going to be playing Sir Andrew in Twelfth Night, my phone just rang. I got the gig. Very very psyched. I just saw a production this director did and it was one of the best things I’ve seen in town in a long time. Talking with the casting guy, this seems like it’s going to be a fucking great production - they’re flying in the designers from New York and Chicago. He also mentioned that the preliminary plans call to have an actual storm on stage, with water and everything, for the opening shipwreck. Anyway, the validation is nice, but also the reality of doing Shakespeare again makes me happy.

Go me.

This is where I let Larry King take over my body for a few minutes.

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Yesterday at my audition, the door to the waiting room opens and I recognize the face walking in: it was Erin Moran. Joanie, as in Joanie Loves Chachi. She was auditioning too...so apparently the Kansas school board rejecting evolution was not a joke. Diane has a very intelligent take on the topic...one of my favorite bands is the ultra-heavy Tool. Well, when the cops were going through the evidence left in the Jewish Day Center shooter's van, I saw him pick up, admist the ammo and flak jackets, a copy of Tool's Undertow. I'm glad the media has not made mention of that...

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