Holy, moly, I only saw 163 movies in 2002, a full 60 shy of my record! (Though the cool part is, I was in a few of them this year!) Let me tell you, life in NYC certainly didn't seem any less busy this year, and maybe that's why I saw fewer flicks. Most of the names in my letter won't mean anything to you, but I like talking about my friends, and introducing them to each other. And I want all my friends to know I'm thinking about them. Anyway, I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and a wonderful year. Here's how I spent mine, and I hope to hear about yours:
I rang in the new year outside the city in Westchester with Peter and some of the kids from the summer acting workshop. Being only a few months after 9/11, the city was still somewhat subdued during this warm winter, though the “silliness” which ruins this town was already making a rapid resurgence. I jumped right in to my 143 auditions for the year, met with some good agents and casting directors, shot a commercial for the YMCA, continued singing classes, and went right to work on the sketch comedy show that airs in NYC only (“Shameless,” the one Scrubs blatantly copied). Also in January, I flew to Indiana for 2 days to sell one of my houses there (in an attempt to liquidate assets to buy a larger property in NYC or Los Angeles... more on that later), took part in a staged reading, began teaching 2 classes at The Cooper Union, and shot the first of several Hofstra University student films... all while still working 8PM to 4AM Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights for JPMorgan.
By February 20th, I had been on one set or another 21 days of the year. I began looking at warehouses in the NYC area in earnest, and Mike was helping to look at apartment complexes in LA. I met up with my old friend Tina, shot a few more short films, and also began working a day here and there for Don Case, a HUGE commercial casting director for whom I audition all the time.
March brought a visit from my old IU friend Vince from Australia, my 3rd film shoot with Andy Fallstead, and a lot more “Shameless.” You haven't seen anything until you've seen a crazy guy in hospital scrubs (me) yelling “play that funky bagpipe, white boy” with an Irish accent at the St. Patrick's Day parade. I took my ONE vacation for the year over Spring Break to FL to visit Mom and go indoor skydiving again....you gotta try it!
Several major events occurred in April. First, I auditioned for Warner Brothers to voice several of the classic characters (Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, Porky, Yosemite, Foghorn)... they're just doing some exploration to see who's out there. It went very well, and the casting director finally just stopped me when he was able to stop laughing. Dave (creator of Shameless) and I began 2 weeks of casting for new sketch players, and let me tell you, the casting pool is SURPRISINGLY shallow. We saw several HUNDRED people, and found only a handful of decent actors. Finally, on the 15th and 22nd, miracles took place. I got LASIK surgery (1 eye at a time, due to my challenging eyeballs) and now see better than 20/20. My father was beginning to change his mind about surgical vision therapy years ago, and I became convinced that the technique had progressed enough for me to put my eyes under the laser.... by far the best money I've ever spent. Of course, being a performer to my core, I asked the doctor if I could bring Dave along to film the second one! (Pictures should be on my web site sometime soon...it ain't pretty!)
In May, I shot an internet soap opera episode that won an audience poll, shot my second movie with Steve Herold of “H.R. Pukenshette” fame, shot a Campbell's soup commercial, and did a fill-in set of puppet shows for my old pal Granpa Cratchet. I had an offer accepted on a $2.8 million warehouse in Brooklyn, and then promptly had my silent partner drop his funding for the project. He put me in touch with a mortgage broker who “guaranteed” she could get the deal done with only my equity, and seven months have passed with nothing but complete incompetence on her part. In the interim, Dave and I (the remaining non-silent partners!) have been referred to dozens of people, all of whom say the deal is “a no brainer,” and none of whom can seem to deliver. If the incompetence of these financial people is any indication, the economy is in trouble for a reason.
In June, I did four commercial voiceovers and went to the acting workshop again. My pal from 4th grade Mike Kendrick was in town briefly, as he now flies for ComAir. I saw my friend Sara in a play and saw a few movies with her and my other movie pals Mandy, Amanda and Trey, plus Peter and folks from the workshop.
In July, I went to Peoria, IL (with a pit stop in Bloomington) to do another fill-in show for Granpa Cratchet and had cookouts at Peter's new house (MUCH nicer than the old one, and with a GREAT yard) and Trey's (nice yard, even for Harlem!). I began taping “Kirby” which airs on FOX Saturday mornings. Yahoo! Dave and I also flew (he's a Cessna pilot) to visit my UVA friend Laurel in upstate NY, and flew again later in the month with Amanda and Jen to sing Karaoke in CT (Dave will take any excuse to fly). Surprisingly, the airspace restrictions over Manhattan were lifted (mostly) and the views were spectacular, though different.
August brought a party at my friend Robin's, my friend Holly's move to warmer climes to marry the center for the Titans, a staged reading and another acting workshop, plus an audition and callback for a GREAT one-man, multiple-character show. I didn't get it, as the theater was attempting to be the first to do something artistic and cast a woman in the lead (male) role. Although it would have been great to have performed it (in CT), not doing it certainly was easier on my hectic-feeling schedule.
I flew to IN again in September to finish working on one of my remaining houses there... the last tenant, who seemed like an honorable man did over $4,000 damage to the house. Remember that movie with Michael Keaton (Pacific Heights)? This was about as bad. My friend Ago had a nice party at his place, and I went to see Mandy in a play, and singing at a showcase. I also had a few parts in the staged reading of Peter's Broadway-bound play.
Shameless was still plugging right along in October, nearing completion of a full 18 episodes of the “Dangerous Hospital” sketch for a screening in Jan 2003. Laurel came to town for a visit, and I took several nice trips out of the city and booked an Off-Broadway play, most notable perhaps because not only was a HUGE casting director doing the casting, but another was also directing, at a very well-known theater. It was only a 5-day run, but it was both educational and a lot of fun. Plus, I turned 28....again.
I taped another commercial in November, shot more Shameless, taped more Kirby, and headed off for a week in FL with the family for Thanksgiving (and more indoor skydiving!). Earlier in the month I had finally been laid off from JPMorgan... I saw it coming due to mismanagement of the company as a whole (Enron and WorldCom were clients) and my department in particular. Although I'm poorer, my sleep schedule and free time are much better now! (For instance, I got to see my friend Kathryn from JPM in a play- she got a personal good mention in the Times!!) Late in the month we got our first few snow flurries in the city, though I've been out of town for both subsequent big snow storms.
I was barely home from Thanksgiving when I flew off to IN to sell another house. This was MY house, and I was somewhat ambivalent about selling it, because I LOVED THAT HOUSE. The same woman has agreed to purchase the remaining two in January. Had she bought those 2 first, I probably wouldn't have sold mine (though it was in the best condition, naturally!). Now I'm dealing with what to store until I get the building deal done in NY (which should have been done months ago, right?!). I'll have just about cut my ties to Bloomington after 12 years, which is kind of sad. I went to my friend Veronique's birthday party, saw my friend Jorjeana do stand-up comedy, and my old pal from GA Bill Hilbers came through town for a visit with his girlfriend. I spent the holidays with Mom and Justin (part of the time down in Cherry Hill visiting the Smiths and Dzian, and part up in NYC seeing Proof and the Rockettes and museums), and got lots of nice toys. I hope you did too!
Have a fun and interesting 2003! Peace and love always,