Television Casting: From Guest Starring to Going to Network

12:00 pm-1:30 pm – Fashion Theater
Just like anything in life, actors have to start somewhere when breaking into television and that place is typically in guest starring roles. Back Stage taps top TV casting directors to find out what goes on behind the scenes, how often guest stars get bumped up to recurring and lead roles, and what an actor should be prepared for if they are asked to "go to network." Moderated by Sarah Kuhn, Back Stage's Film & TV Writer.

-- Junie Lowry Johnson,
Casting Director, "True Blood," "Big Love"
-- Dorian Frankel, Casting Director, "Parks and Recreation," "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
-- John Frank Levey, Casting Director, "Southland," "ER"
-- Jason La Padura, Casting Director, "The Event," "Heroes"
-- Lori Openden, Senior VP of Casting for the CW Network


Junie Lowry Johnson, Casting Director, Junie Lowry Johnson Casting
Junie Lowry Johnson currently casts some of the most entertaining shows on television, including "True Blood," "Big Love," and "Desperate Housewives." Other credits include the HBO series "Deadwood," "In Treatment," and "Six Feet Under," for which she won two Emmys for casting; the Fox drama "Prison Break" "Dirty Sexy Money" on ABC; and several of the "Star Trek" series.

Long associated with producer Steven Bochco, she cast "NYPD Blue," "Blind Justice," "Philly," "City of Angels," "Brooklyn South," and the Fox pilot "NYPD 2069." Telefilms include USA's remake of "Spartacus" and "Stealing Christmas" and HBO's "Gia" and "Mrs. Harris." Her feature film credits include "America's Sweethearts," with Julia Roberts; "Original Sin," with Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie; "Forces of Nature," starring Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck; as well as the Jim Carrey films "Bruce Almighty" and "Liar Liar."

She's won nine Artios Awards and seven Emmys, most recently in 2009, for "True Blood." Her casting partners are Scott Genkinger and Libby Goldstein.

Dorian Frankel, Casting Director
Dorian Frankel grew up in Teaneck, N.J., and majored in theater at Mount Holyoke College. Her love of comedy was nurtured during many years as an improviser. She started in casting as an assistant to Allison Jones and has worked as an associate for Eyde Belasco, Ulrich/Dawson/Kritzer, and Bialy/Thomas, on features including "Talladega Nights," "Knocked Up," "Superbad," and "Semi-Pro" and in television on such shows as "The Office," "Arrested Development," "Eli Stone," and "The Unit." As a casting director, her credits include "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Parks and Recreation," and the recently completed Chris Elliott series "Eagleheart," as well as the upcoming features "My Uncle Rafael" and "Let Go."

John Frank Levey, Casting Director

John Frank Levey has been recognized for his casting work with seven Emmy nominations. He's received four Emmy Awards for his casting work, two each for "ER" and "The West Wing."

Over the years he has received many nominations and awards from the Casting Society of America and last year was honored with CSA's Hoyt Bowers Award for Lifetime Achievement. He has been hailed for his work with actors with disabilities. John is the proud father of two adult children.

Jason La Padura, Casting Director
Jason La Padura is a native New Yorker who began working in show business at age 10. Before becoming a casting director, he was an actor and stage manager working on and Off-Broadway and at high-profile regional theaters around the country. At age 21, he made his Broadway debut in William Inge's "Summer Brave."

Jason also worked for Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival, where he worked on more than two dozen productions, including the original production of Michael Bennett's "A Chorus Line," David Mamet's "The Water Engine" on Broadway, and "Measure for Measure," starring Meryl Streep, John Cazale, and Sam Waterston at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park.

As a casting director, he has cast a variety of film, television, and stage projects. He cast NBC's "Heroes" and is currently casting the network's "The Event," debuting this fall. He has cast all the "High School Musical" films for Disney, as well as the "Camp Rock" and "Halloweentown" series of television movies. He was a judge for Miss America in 2008 and recently returned from judging Miss America's Outstanding Teen competition in Orlando.

Jason has been nominated for two Emmys, 10 Artios (winning for best children's program for "High School Musical") and is the recipient of the Media Access Award, presented by the state of California, for his work in casting actors with special needs and disabilities. He currently works in Hollywood with his sister and partner, Natalie Hart.

Lori Openden, Senior VP of Casting for the CW Network
As executive vice president of talent and casting at the CW Network, Lori Openden oversees the casting of nine popular series as well as talent development for the network. Previously, she served as senior vice president of talent and casting at UPN.

Prior to UPN, she was a freelance casting director on several pilots and series, such as "8 Simple Rules," and on made-for-television films for both broadcast and cable networks. From 1985 to 1999, she served as senior vice president of talent and casting at NBC. During her tenure, she supervised the casting of hundreds of pilots and series, including "ER," "Friends," "Seinfeld," "Frasier," "Law & Order," "Will & Grace," and "The West Wing."