This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.
This happened to me a few days ago. Let me preface it by saying that it's pilot season, and pilot season is very hard on all of us, but on actors most of all. They spend most of the year unemployed, dreaming of pilot season, when the networks and the studios all have projects in production, and each trill of the cell phone might mean your agent is calling with an audition to prepare for, another roll of the dice.
Okay? So bear that in mind.
Here's the story: I am meeting someone for dinner at a local restaurant. I arrive a bit early, take a seat at the bar, and order a drink. Two seats down, also waiting, is an actor I know vaguely. We wave to each other and strike up a conversation.
"How; are you doing?" I ask.
"Pretty; well," he says. "How; about yourself?"
I tell him that my writing partner and I are trying to get our pilot picked up by the network. I tell him that we're happier in production than in development -- to be casting and producing -- because sitting around thinking all day is a difficult process. We throw out a lot of ideas, we sit in silence a great deal, and ultimately, we miss the structured day and organized existence that having a series in production provides.
He nods sympathetically.
"Well;," he says, "I; haven't worked in about a year. And at first, all that unstructured time kind of drove me nuts. All of those empty, aimless days spent waiting for auditions. The isolation. The sitting around. I really thought I was going to go insane. But lately, I've come to enjoy it."
"Really;?" I ask. "How; are you keeping busy?"
"I;'ve doing a lot of research lately," he tells me. "On; the internet."
"About; what?" I ask.
He takes a sip of his beer, and then says, matter-of-factly: "About; the healthful effects of drinking your own urine." I'm a writer, obviously, and not a scientist. I can't speak for the healthful effects of anything, much less my acquaintance's new beverage choice. But I can say, without hesitation, that in all the times I've felt bored or out of sorts, had a show cancelled, been stymied for ideas, felt useless and without direction -- felt, in other words, the way a writer in Hollywood feels when he's not asleep, I've never been tempted to, shall we say, sample my own wares.
"Hollywood;," someone once told me, "is; divided into two camps. In one camp are the people you have to wait for, the people who come up with the ideas and write the scripts. The writers, in other words. They're the 'wait-fors.' Nothing can happen and no one gets hired until they write the script. And in the other camp are the people who wait for the writers. Those people are actors. Also known as 'waiters.'"
The irony, of course, is that while they're waiting for a part to come along, most actors work as waiters. And while we're waiting for inspiration to strike, most writers are eating in restaurants. I like to think that if most actors were better waiters, we writers would get our food faster and get back to work sooner. And no one would be doing "research;" on the internet.
That's it for this week. Next week, we'll suffer a pointless delay.
For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.