Weekend Post

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  • Weekend Post



    Here's another bizarre casting story. And it has nothing to do with a cat.

    Mid ‘90s, doing ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. In the show she’s supposed to be the showrunner of a fictional cop show. We wanted to do the scene where she has to fire her first person. And we thought it would be fun to give the fire-ee the worst possible reaction. So we created a character of an incompetent writers’ assistant. And when Nancy finally has to fire her she has a complete and utter meltdown. She screams, “NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and just goes ballistic – wailing and shrieking and pleading and crying. All the while, poor Nancy is having to react to this. (Believe it or not, there is a real art to being able to cry funny. Three of the best: Mary Tyler Moore, Kirstie Alley, and of course, Lucy.)

    So we set up a casting session.

    We had our own little bungalow right in the center of the Paramount lot. On the appointed day, maybe ten girls came in to audition. Now you have to picture it:

    Passerby on a lazy Tuesday morning and from this bungalow they hear girls screaming and crying at the top of their lungs. They hear, “Please don’t! I’ll do anything you ask! ANYTHING!” They wail uncontrollably.

    Oh, and that’s another thing – we thought it would be amusing if they just kept on shrieking. It was the storm that never passed. So folks were treated to young women crying relentlessly.

    Talk about the worst boss in history. It sounded like we were horsewhipping these ingénues.

    One gallant individual actually entered the building to offer assistance. Once he saw six other girls in the foyer holding script sides he knew it was either a casting session or Joseph Stalin had set up shop with a production deal at the studio.

    But someone must have notified Human Resources. Later that day we were paid a very stern visit by an H & R person. “That is NOT the way we do things here at Paramount!” she told us, and then was appalled when we reacted by laughing hysterically.


    We explained the situation, she harrumphed and left. I always regret not having our secretary then scream bloody murder just as she stepped out of the bungalow.

    By the way, the part went to Jenna Elfman, one of her first acting gigs. And she was hilarious. One of our very best hires...and fires.

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