Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Who Shall I Say is Calling?"

I am waiting to dial…. I am about to interview an actress that worked with Harry back in the day – I’ve done a fair bit of that over the last year.

I’m surprised at how many people I’ve managed to track down. When I started the research I thought that the pool of those that had not only known Harry but, more impressively, were still alive with a functioning memory would be sadly shallow. I was wrong; I even found his school friends from the thirties.

To track down the more elusive I have rivalled Dick Tracy, others have been a lot easier. If they are actors, and still working, then they advertise the fact with ‘Spotlight’- the casting directory. No theatrical office used to be complete without a set of these huge tomes that contain the photo, vital statistics and agent details of every luvvie looking for work. Every year the tomes grow even larger as drama school graduates, ink still drying on the emoting diplomas, swell the ranks. By 2020, to house a real set of Spotlight, casting directors will need to move offices to the basement. Good job they’re online then. After a few clicks you can have the phone number of the chosen quarry’s management.

Then, phone voice at the ready, make the call. Sometimes you get the agents themselves, especially if they are a small operation, mostly you get reception. Then, don’t ask for the agent, ask for their assistant, as all good supplicants should. Agent’s assistants are a breed with no last names. They are always “Sara at Bloggs Management” or similar. I have never had one volunteer a surname, and when you ask for it they pause, puzzled - vocally caught in the headlights for a moment, before the brain kicks in. When, having learned the ropes and served their time, they progress to being agents in their own right, one hopes there is a naming ceremony –they could be crowned with a phone headset, have Champagne broken over the bows of their office chairs and be serenely launched down Shaftesbury Ave.

They have all, assistants and agents, been exceptionally helpful - even the top bananas in La La Land. Assistants in Hollywood (Hooray for it I say) are also invariably mono-monikered. Though when you work for people with names like Bubba Crudstuckowitz and Tiff Pecksmacker, admitting to the name of Dave Smith would, let’s face it, be a bit of a let down.

The level of helpfulness has mirrored the level of clout. The biggest Hollywood agency I contacted were so friendly that it made the English in me suspect them of being either sarcastic or medicated. But no, it was just their way. It was also their way, within half an hour of me speaking to them, to have spoken to their client and emailed me his home number and a mutually convenient time to call…..

Oh yes… That reminds me… Time to call.

Telephone voice…. Check.
Dictaphone………. Check
Number………...… Check

Now, what was it again? ….. Ahem ….. “Have a Nice Day!”

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