Freudian Slips: The Odds of a Pilot Taking Off

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

April 12, 2010

The Odds of a Pilot Taking Off

actor Jimmy Smits

The odds of a new television show airing on prime time are approximately four hundred to one. That means there are three hundred ninety nine promoted failures for every new TV Guide listing. If a production garners enough financial banking to actually hire cast and crew then role cameras to film the pilot, the odds of it airing on TV markedly improve to about 80 to 1.
If I could live long enough to work as an actor on eighty pilots, just one of those episodes might land Nielson ratings. Not exactly a body of work. If I stopped to consider the long shot odds of an extra like me making the final cut in real time discernable frame on a TV pilot, I should give up acting if fame is an objective. Lucky for me, I enjoy my experiences on a set however insignificant my role.
Such was the case when filming began locally for a new NBC television pilot called Garza. Bankrolled by Conan O’Brien and starring gifted actor Jimmy Smits, the show is being promoted as a former Supreme Court Justice entering private law.
I filmed three scenes, most noticeably as a protester on a capital punishment case. A murky fog rolls off of the dark Atlantic Ocean as actors complete rehearsals outside Resorts casino in Atlantic City. In between takes of omni audio wild track as they say in the biz, the prayerful nun placed to my right performs raspy impersonations from the movie Exorcist. The principle actress to my immediate left ignores the nun, me and everyone else as she mentally prepares for her upcoming scene after being propped and wardrobe approved.
The director yells background action. Supplanting his stand-in, Jimmy Smits stridently walks by me on cue for the first take. He carries a strong confident presence. The actress next to me separates herself from the throng of protestors. She and Smits engage in passionate dialogue a few feet from my mark. I mouth pantomime shouts at Smits. I think to myself that living in the moment doesn’t get any better than this. Although hired to protest capital punishment, watching the execution of Smits acting constituted a dream come true. I doubt anyone will compliment my heckling of Smits in my role of a nighttime. After all, the odds are against me. It was only my third TV pilot.



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