During last week’s episode of Secret Agent Man, I found myself in a bar comparing war stories with one of my many competitors. The topic was the worst encounter ever between a client and a casting director. My rival had just finished his tale of woe and it was pretty good—but now it’s my turn. Let’s tune in….
“How about we make this interesting? I will bet you $100 that my story is better than yours.”
My agent friend smiled. “All right, you’re on. But how do we judge this? It can’t be one of us.”
I glanced up at the bartender as she returned with another round. My instincts told me she was an aspiring actor. I asked if she had been listening and she confessed that she had.
“Perfect! That makes you the judge. And your word is final.”
“Sounds like fun. I’m in.”
“Great. Now here’s my story….”
I told them I used to represent an actor named Jack who was stuck in a major slump. The guy would audition all the time, he’d go right down to the wire, but he just couldn’t book. It was a frustrating situation.
Then finally, the gods of acting smiled down and my client ended his slump by booking a juicy guest star role on one of his favorite one-hour dramas. The show was a little too quirky for network television but it had a cult following. Jack was thrilled.
He showed up for his first day of work and everything seemed normal. They put him through makeup, he met the star, who was really nice, and the two of them had a solid rehearsal.
Then it was time to shoot. Jack was in the first shot of the first scene. He stepped on his mark, ready to go. The director yelled, “Action!” and Jack slipped into character. He opened his mouth to say his first line.
Startled, Jack looked over at the director, who was in a tense conversation with one of the producers. Then a second producer ran over to join in. Were they talking about him?
After a few moments, the first producer stepped forward and announced the show had just been canceled. Everyone was being let go immediately. There was no need to finish the episode.
People on the crew started crying. The star stormed back to his trailer. It was a horrible situation. And Jack just stood there, frozen to his mark, watching everyone around him realize they had just lost their jobs.
Just then, the casting director arrived on set. She spotted Jack and marched right over. “I had a bad feeling the moment I met you. You’re a jinx. I never should’ve hired you.”
And then she took off to console the other actors. To this day, Jack is haunted by those words.
The agent and the bartender just stared at me. They couldn’t believe this actually happened, but I swore on my assistant’s life that every word was true. It’s like I said last week: Truth is stranger than fiction.
They glanced at each other and nodded. I smiled as the agent took out his wallet and handed me five 20s.
As we walked out, I wanted to say something profound, like Rick does at the end of “Casablanca,” but nothing came to mind. So the two of us shook hands and drifted off into the night, two wounded warriors ready to fight another day.
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