AUDITION FOR A FATHER ROLE IN A FEATURE FILM” read the notice, and for some reason, just after Labor Day, it caught my eye.

Emailing a theatrical resume was easy; I could readily do it. They’d asked for headshots though, and I had none. What to do? Directing them to Facebook, I’d let them browse through both nonsense pics in stage character as well as tender images of Eli or Lucy or Max and me. They’d either like me or not and life would go on.

Then the unexpected happened: some woman wrote back…and invited me to read for the part!

Carrie was sitting there as the bid came in, but I shared it with few others. (Rarely do I talk theater with others; I just don’t. This feeling different, though, I emailed Michael, and Stacy too). The Little One shot back immediately: “Amazing!”, she wrote. My son, however, had other impulse. “It is porn,” he shot back back, adding this proviso: “You are not qualified”.

One Sunday my tryout came. The venue, off Route 8 toward Akron, was not only isolated but surrounded by what even a Christian would say was an inordinate amount of foliage. It made me suspicious.

Was this a set-up, I wondered. How could it be, I answered. Indeed, the website from whence the posting came was reputable and had I not spoken directly to the lady? Did she not sound normal? Taking no chances though, I seized all but ten dollars from my left pocket, grabbed the billfold from my right, and before leaving the auto, tucked things deep in the console.

Two steps later— not even in field goal range of the entrance — another thought occurred. I’d remembered an episode of NCIS where they were trying to rescue a kidnapped agent. The bad guys had violated the captive’s mobile phone and, as I recalled vividly, Gibbs was unable to locate the victim since his phone’s GPS was down. (Just in case…this was NOT going to happen to me).

Back to the car I went, for an instant, dumping my cell on my seat.

OK, I’ll cut to the chase:

The audition went well. Leaving, frankly, I knew I’d nailed it. Bubbling, driving back north, I called Harold first.

“It was intense,” I reported, about my scene with a young actress. “An adrenalin rush. I can see how people in Hollywood are always screwing around with other actors; there’s a tension”.

“Thank God,” H noted, “That it wasn’t a guy.”

By mid-week they cast me.  My jubilation within was more for the validation—that I could leave the friendly confines of my home turf and some unknown casting agent would think I had something to offer…

Now, what to do? I knew this was a compensated role, but no one mentioned money.

But one person did I know who would know what to do. So I called him. He knew me well, understood that it wasn’t about the money, but more about the experience. Still, Griff noted, “You don’t want to get beaten if the thing goes viral”. He likened it to the naïve singers that cut one song, it hits, and they get nickels while the moguls make millions. “Tell them your concern is ‘reimaging’ and residuals,” he counseled.

So I did. Nicely. Very nicely.

And for a few days I heard nothing. At all.

The story, in the meantime, I’d shared with a few. My brother, of course, was busy googling the crap out of the producer’s website. (That’s what he does). And then there was Keith, a program friend I’ve bonded with over not only recovery but mutual disdain for PC. “Is it appropriate for a Jew to have a Catholic as his business manager?” he asked me.

And all the while…from the producer…I heard nothing.

Five days in I texted Griff for advice. “Call her,” he urged, so I did. And making a long story short, I’d been worked. “You’re too expensive,” she said, at which I reminded her we hadn’t mentioned money. My concerns were the other stuff, if at all. “We can always get volunteers,” she then said, (beginning to piss me off). “Your notice said “Compensation”, I reminded. “What did you have in mind?”
“$10 per day” came her answer. (I couldn’t make this up).

I hung up the phone, immediately, and I haven’t looked back. Oh, Stace dropped a note. “I’m sorry,” it read. (That’s what daughters say). And I finally told Michael, but only when he asked. ‘Cause we’ve been there before.

He listened to this saga, my son did, from beginning to end. No gasping, no judgments, just patience, before he spoke:

“Don’t take offense Dad,” he said warm and tender, “But you’re a moron”.
(That’s what sons say, I suppose).

Still, I didn’t take offense—not at all. I just laughed.

We both did.


  1. Aunt Helen says:

    You might be stupid, but you are not a moron. And you know I really mean it.

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