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FROM THIS EPISODE

Hugh Grant

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

Once, when we were trying to cast a pilot, our agent called. MY AGENT
I just got off the phone with the network.

ME
Oh.

MY AGENT
They-re concerned.

ME
About what?

MY AGENT
They think you-re going too...character-ish... with your casting.

ME
What?

MY AGENT
They think you-re casting ugly people.

ME
We-re trying to cast good actors who can do comedy.

MY AGENT
And? ME
And what?

MY AGENT
And who look good in their underpants.

ME
We are trying to cast funny actors.

MY AGENT
Could you please tell me what-s so funny about six guys who look like the Elephant Man?
Later that day we see 137 young actors and actresses. They all clutch their &quotsides;" -- lingo for Xeroxed excerpts of the script -- in white-knuckled panic. Some have worried the few stapled pages into a twisted twig-looking thing, others have methodically shredded each page (hence the term &quotmethod; acting"). Many of them have difficulty reading the words aloud. Some stumble over syntax. Others manage to get the set-up and the punch-line reversed, imbuing our simple, straightforward script with a dreamy, surreal Luis Bu-uel quality. But it-s awful for the actors. By the time we drag them to the network, they-ve auditioned for the role no less than three times -- twice for us, once for the studio -- each time waiting in the waiting room with another actor who looks similar, acts similar, and who they just can-t help thinking is a notch or two better-looking. At the final network casting session, facing a grim and humorless battery of studio and network executives -- sometimes a dozen or so -- they often crack and deliver their lines (for the fifth time) in a totally new, totally unfunny way. It-s called &quotunwinding; at the network." Later, our agent calls again. MY AGENT
Maybe you don't understand the power structure here. The network likes young, good-looking people. America likes young, good-looking people. That-s how you get on the air. That-s how you stay on the air. If you-ve got some sicko thing for circus freaks, fine. But not on network television. My God, not after dinner. People want to see someone like Hugh Grant being funny. Why don't you cast someone like Hugh Grant?

ME
Hugh Grant? Isn-t he English?

MY AGENT
Why don-t you ever see the good in people?

ME
What are you talking about? He doesn-t do series television. He not available. He-s a movie actor.

MY AGENT
Did it ever occur to you that he may have money trouble and may be in no position to turn you down? Did it ever occur to you that he may not know he-s not supposed to be interested in television? Maybe he-s ill or mentally imbalanced and that-s something you could take advantage of?

ME
He....is....not.....available.

MY AGENT
Maybe in a few years, then.

ME
What?

MY AGENT
He does a few bad movies, makes some bad career moves, and before you know it, he-s ready to do a series.

ME
Hugh Grant?

MY AGENT
He-s so good-looking that they-ll probably let you cast your precious circus freaks, just for variety.

ME
Great.

MY AGENT
But see him in his underpants first. You don't want to be surprised. That-s it for this week. Next week, we-ll think young. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.

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