Having some sort of name actor is almost a necessity in today’s tough film market...but when resources and manpower are limited, attracting a “star” takes a back seat to finishing the film.

As fate would have it, I had an avenue to woo a certain star, and it wasn’t going to take too much work. There was a quickie part of Eve’s boss, “Nanette,” where a cameo would come into play. This would be perfect, as I didn’t know anything about this star’s acting ability...I never saw her in action...the only thing she offered was a little name value.

I left messages telling her there is a ground-breaking nature to “Eve’s Preyer”, in that it’s not afraid to be daring, exploring dangerous emotional territory. Friends whose opinions I sought did not have the highest opinion of this celebrity, and I tried to objectively, honestly — and foolishly — convey that. (On the other hand, perhaps not so foolishly. It was good to come across as interested, and yet detached...which is exactly how I felt. After all, mindful as filmmakers must be to marketing realities, how superficial is it to have a celebrity...just to have a celebrity?) When I didn’t hear back from her, I had to close the book on celebrity-hunting — there was a movie to make.

A couple of months later, during the week-long lull in the filming between Christmas and New Year’s, the shoot for the “celebrity” scene was nearly upon us...scheduled for January 2nd. I put off casting the part of “Nanette,” because I sensed I’d make another half-hearted attempt to go hunting again. I pursued several leads — including old pal, famed talk-show host Joe Franklin. Since there was no money, my only chance was to dig up some nearly forgotten has-beens. Joe certainly was aware of plenty of name actresses who probably were not at their busiest, although the prospect of digging one up during Christmas week, at the last minute, wasn’t reassuring. (Among several Joe was kind enough to try and contact were Virginia Mayo and Fay Wray. Fay Wray! I dunno...I remembered her from the Academy Awards a couple of years ago, when Billy Crystal was chatting over “King Kong”...she seemed really out of it. Still, wouldn’t it have been an honor to work with Fay Wray!)

Joe invited me to visit him at a sound facility, and while I was speaking with the owner in his office, who would happen to call but the celebrity I was originally pursuing! (The owner and she happened to be buddies.) We started talking, and she was clearly upset that I had suggested some people thought she wasn’t a serious actress (of course, I let myself in for it with that one!), but she eventually started coming around, and said she would consider the cameo role. Wow. What were the chances she would happen to call just where I happened to be, in all of New York City. It felt like destiny.

The night before the shoot, I received a call from the celebrity that she hadn’t read the pages covering her scene, so it was still up in the air. I told Susan Nunnally, the star’s “stand-in,” that I would feature her prominently as an extra if the star showed up. During the filming, in Manhattan’s Antique Center, we shot around the part of “Nanette,” and when it became evident the star would be a no-show, Susan went on to play the role of the boss.

Epilogue: The star left a message later that evening saying the part wasn’t big enough, and criticized my professionalism in even offering it to her. Hmmm! Since she was such an expert on being professional, I wondered why she didn’t call to turn down the part early in the morning, before the shooting of her scene began...as if there isn’t enough uncertainty during the making of a movie!


Begin Anecdote series with "Is This Act Getting Together?"







Take Twelve Productions 2002