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Hal Needham (pictured left of Mr. Tarantino) was a legendary stuntman, writer, actor, director, and producer. His unique bravery and talent were un-matched in Hollywood. He will be greatly missed.
To The Hollywood Sentinel:
My son responded to a commercial on Disney XD for an open call audition. I took him yesterday and they did a LOT of name dropping. Even had a Disney Channel kid there (who was actually the one that the kids read for) Call backs are today. It appears that the kids who have the "It" factor are being invited to Hollywood for The Acting League's Film and TV program. Yes, if your child is talented enough, you can pay $5100 (plus all travel expenses) for them to go to Hollywood for 5 days and get filmed doing a scene with real celebrities! Oooo, ahhhh...right? HA! Except you have to put down $1000 by noon and come up with the rest in 48 hours...and when you get there in a few months, some casting guy will tell you if your kid is ready for this. ---yes, after you shell out $8k, they will tell you IF your child is ready for this...
I tried a few times (not really very hard) when I was younger to get an agent and be a singer. Seemed like every time I tried I was told that they could get me work singing if I just took this $1000 acting class or if I bought these $1200 headshots... Whatever right?! I never found anyone legit. Now I'm grown and my son is interested in acting/singing. I don't know how to help him. I'm not really sure I want to as it is more important to me that my son grow up to be a good person that to be a rich and famous person...Being a celebrity often seems to ruin people. Any guidance you can offer would be appreciated.
Bruce Edwin replies:
Miss Whatever, you did not state your name, but based on your e-mail and what appears to be a candle company you own online, I will call you Holly. So Holly, first of all, you really kind of answered most all of your own questions it seems, but I am replying to you moreso for our readers, who should read this information. Here it goes; If your son responded to an open call audition on Disney XD, it doesn't mean that Disney is involved. Disney XD is a cable channel owned by Disney, and is the official website of Disney XD for the channel. Disney is a professional, renowned film studio, and they do not and would not charge kids for auditions which is illegal. If they had a Disney talent there, that also does not guarantee anything. Stars are independent players these days. We have a star system, not a studio system, so every move made by a star is not monitored by the studio as it was in the early days of Hollywood. This actor perhaps got paid by this outside company to show up, not knowing it was shady. Disney certainly would not have known, or their lawyers would not tolerate it.
Bringing a kid to Hollywood is usually a bad idea to begin with, unless they are amazingly talented in some capacity, which-nothing against kids- but many are not. Paying an outfit to have a kid do something in Hollywood like make a movie or product, is a bad idea unless you have tons of money, are dealing directly with a producer, and know how you will get a return on your investment and have that all in writing. These days, a company doing fund raising with talent or parents of talent for a project, should have detail of the project online, for all investors to track. Also, there are strict laws regarding this which must be followed. The scenario you described sounds like a major scam, to me, and I found no information on the company you mentioned.
1000 for an acting class is too much unless it is for a long term cycle, and the instructor or school is outstanding, with major proof of successes with known stars who have trained there. The name Acting League you mention, is not known, and I would not pay them a penny, much less over one thousand. Further, even if the school checks out as solid, which this does not to me, one should never pay this much for a kid unless all they talk about is acting and they really, really want to do it with all their heart. 1,200 for headshots is ridiculous. Even when headshots were needed more so as they were before the Internet become acceptable for castings, 500 would be the maximum to pay, closer to 400. For kids below 18, that price should actually be closer to half of that figure. For any kid up to around 12 years of age you should generally not pay anything, as the child will be growing so fast, their pictures will be obsolete in a matter of months. Simply make a few hard copy prints at a copy shop from some good digital prints and don't pay any significant amount of money for it. These days, most submitting is done digitally, so one only needs hard copy headshots to bring to auditions or go-sees. Two hard copies should be brought. And unless one is auditioning daily, which many actors are not, then you don't need that many prints right away-though you do want to have them always on hand so you are prepared. One should never pay to get an audition. Entertainment laws have changed in the past year, making it now even more strict concerning entities that try to charge actors or models to get auditions. What this company is doing is illegal.
You state you 'never found any one legit' when you tried to get an agent for your singing. That is unfortunate, but really, you didn't try hard enough. There are plenty of legitimate agents and managers out here. You just need to know where to look, and be educated as to how Hollywood works.
You state that you "don't know how to help him." First of all, stop saying that to yourself. You know many ways how to 'not' help him, which you have just described to me here above. Avoid scams. Don't be duped. Don't be a bad person. So, therefore now, since you do know what you should not do, you actually do know some things you should do. You do know some ways to help him. Deal with ethical people. Have integrity and honestly and insist on it from all you deal with. Be business savvy to the way Hollywood works. Tell yourself that you do know how to help him, and then do it. Read all of the back issues of my article 'How to Succeed In Hollywood' here in The Hollywood Sentinel, where you can click on the 'Archives' button to the left of this page and read a wealth of information of free advice on exactly what you are looking to learn in this regard. Call my office for further free advice if there are other questions you have that you do not find answered after you read all of the back issues of this article series.
You also stated, " I'm not really sure I want (to help him) to as it is more important to me that my son grow up to be a good person that to be a rich and famous person...Being a celebrity often seems to ruin people." You admitted a big part of your problem right there. You stated right there that you are not really sure you want to help him. You have a counter intention to what you are discussing. You can not help your son be a success in Hollywood, and at the same time not be sure if you want to help him. It is apparent to me that you have some mental wounds concerning Hollywood and your failed purposes of being a pro singer, and you are upset over people who tried to take advantage of you. Until you get over that, you will never be able to successfully help your son with his goals in Hollywood, and on the contrary, you will be hurting his objectives. Like attracts like. If you feel that Hollywood is all bad and everyone will try rip you off, then you will be putting that energy out there, and that is what you will find.
I have had countless aspiring actors and models come into my office over the past decade when I used to see new faces, telling me about stories like yours the first minute I met them. I am guessing you may have done the same. Treat every meeting like a job interview. Would you go into an office trying to get a job and complain about the past employer? Don't do it in Hollywood either. After you get signed, and know the agent or manager- fine. But no one wants to talk about dirty laundry on a first date. And similarly, agents and managers don't want to hear about your baggage in the industry the first time they meet you. Unless they happen to directly ask, keep it positive.
You also state a position that you feel being rich and famous is the opposite of being a good person. That is a wrong postulate. Fame and fortune does not make a person good or bad. There are plenty of bad or crazy people out there who are poor and unknown, and there are also plenty of people out there who are famous and have a lot of money that are very good, honest, ethical, grounded people who do a lot for this planet and greatly help the people and animals that inhabit it. These are issues that you have, that you need to stop feeding, and need help with, if you ever want to help your son. Further, does your son really want this? Or is it you? I have seen countless 'stage moms' who secretly want to be the star, yet try to live their dreams and frustrations through their children. It seems to me that you are repeating your bad experiences and bias against Hollywood that happened to you, with your son. That needs stopped. Does your son really want to be a singer and actor, is that all he talks about? Is he disciplined enough to train for it? Is he in theatre and choir at school? Or is this just something you want for him, but are unconsciously sabotaging due to your past experiences?
You state that "being a celebrity seems to ruin people." Let me ask you this Holly, how many celebrities do you even know? My guess would be that you don't know any. So, beyond the extreme cases we see in the news that may reveal factual information, you can not really know if a persons life is 'ruined' unless you personally know them. What about all of the countless celebrities out there whose problems and drama you don't hear about? You don't hear about them unless they have a new project coming out, because they are not in big trouble, and their lives are not ruined. You are only focusing your attention on what the media wants you to focus on, and that is the few, small percent of celebrities who are in trouble. And, most of those reports themselves are taken out of context, twisted, exaggerated, or at times even false reports. If your every move was on camera, would the world think your life was perfect? Try to stop judging others, and focus on yourself.
Celebrity is simply another word for getting a lot of attention in the media. Getting a lot of attention does not ruin people. True, some people cave in when they become a star, but this was because they had problems before becoming a star. Being rich or famous is not the cause of a ruined life. A star with a ruined life is symptomatic of a person who had a ruined life before they became a rich and famous star. Fame is merely a magnifying glass to the soul. And it is either a clear picture, a false, distorted picture, or only part of the picture. The images of fame are not always real.
This mindset that "being a celebrity ruins people" reminds me of the line that "Money is the root of all evil," whereby some people believe this, and stay broke their whole life. There are good people who are stars, and there are good people who are rich and famous. And, there are plenty of good, honest people in Hollywood. So, put your bias, past pain, stereotypes, and counter intentions aside. Get real yourself, and with your son. Find out what he really wants- what 'he' wants- not you. And then, if he really wants a career in this business, then be a mother who supports him not only with a drive to an audition, but who is also a rock and foundation for his success, that is based on logic, education, and a positive attitude, leaving all negative emotional baggage behind. Then, and only then, will your son have a fighting chance to succeed in Hollywood. And, if he truly wants that, then if he tries again and again with the right mental attitude, success just may be his.
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