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Dear Readers:

It shouldn't be news to anyone that this business goes in cycles. So do our careers, if only we can get enough distance from them to appreciate the highs and not dwell on the lows.

For Back Stage West, January through May is one of our busiest times. It's reflected in our page count, in the number of casting notices, in the size of our theatre review section. Here's hoping it's reflected in your bookings, as well.

Each year for four years now, we've climaxed our busy spring season with a live, in-person version of the paper, ActorFest, in which you get to meet both the advertisers who fill our pages and the subjects of our editorial--casting directors, agents, directors, producers, and actors. We've had some great ActorFest gatherings in the past, but our next one--slated for Saturday, May 9 at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott--is shaping up to be our biggest and best.

Panelists already signed on to discuss the process of feature film casting include top-flight action auteur John Badham, producer Beau Flynn (an indie with a Dreamworks deal), feature casting directors Debra Zane and Mindy Marin, and CNA agent Stephen Rice. On a similar panel about television casting are director John Herzfeld (Don King: Only in America and The Ryan White Story), soap CD Mark Teschner (General Hospital), ER caster John Levey, and the Disney Channel's VP of Talent Development, Tina Treadwell.

Another panel features working actors talking about their breaks and breakthroughs, and for that we've lined up seasoned talents like Nancy Cartwright, Amy Aquino, and Anne-Marie Johnson, with more to come. The final panel, "An Afternoon With ," promises to be an in-depth discussion with a legendary actor or director. We're still working on getting a commitment for that one--as I said, it's a busy time of year.

We hope you'll find time in your busy schedule to join us on May 9. Based on previous experience, it promises to be an informative, eye-opening, and memorable day for you, as it always is for us.

See you there

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