PILOT SEASON BOYCOTT

Forbidding sign “No Video” on white – vector

Let the record state that Team Lintz will not be attending pilot season this year. Nope. Not doing it. A spiritual being that none of us can see planted a large hand on my head whenever I thought about heading west and pressed down firmly while my limbs windmilled helplessly. STAY, it said. Ok, invisible spiritual being that none of us can see, you got it!

And guess what? I am so so fine with that you guys, because pilot season sucks so, so badly! If you’re not an actor, pilot season is when you basically uproot yourselves to a temporary housing situation in Hollywood for 1-2 months, homeschool the kids, help them prepare auditions that come in at a fast clip, get them to coaching sessions at the last minute that cost over $100 a pop and drive them to opposite ends of the greater Los Angeles area at all hours of the day in, hands down, the worst traffic on the planet. I’ve been known to weep aloud upon receiving a last minute email about an appointment in Santa Monica at 4:40.

Not only that, you are doing this knowing that the entire enterprise will most likely be an exercise in futility because 10,000 other child actors are in Hollywood doing the same thing. Only so many jobs, guys. In the five years that we have gone to pilot season, we have booked exactly one pilot and this is a successful ratio. You arrive with high hopes, and leave wishing you were dead. But like child birth, you forget the part where you were screaming and punching your husband in the face when he was demonstrating breathing exercises for you during a particularly trying contraction (not that that ever happened to us), and there you are again on the 405 at rush hour a year later.

However…….I’d like to let you in on a little industry secret. This is something that your agent won’t tell you. Your manager won’t tell you. If you hesitantly bring it up, they will immediately start verbally flailing around and saying it’s non-sense, but it’s not. And I, the pied piper of anti stage-moms, will tell you the truth.

You don’t have to go. You. Don’t. Have. To. Go. YOU DON’T.

I will now support this point with several real life examples. The very first time we went to LA, we got lucky and Madison booked a pilot. Easy peasy, thought I! However, the second year we went there, Mackenzie decided to stay home. She wanted to focus on school, and discouraged by her last LA expedition, didn’t think she would book anything anyway. The rest of us went out there and performed several ritual sacrifices to no avail. Meanwhile, back home, Mackenzie booked a series regular role on Under the Dome off tape. From our house. In Atlanta. Somewhere Alanis Morissette nodded sagely.

The next year, Matt and I went out there again. Madison and Macsen too. Zero. Nada. Defeated utterly. We came home and Matt booked his largest role to date, a lead role in Pixels. Off tape. From our house. In Atlanta. The next year, Matt and I went out there AGAIN. Madison, daunted by “the great studio apartment debacle” of the year before (you have to save money somehow), stayed home and landed a series regular role on Bosch. From the taping room in our basement. In the state of Georgia.

What the hell are we doing? Why are we draining our bank accounts, and our reserves of sanity with these futile expeditions when it seems to me, that if you send in a good enough tape, and are exactly what they are looking for that you could land a perfectly great job from the comfort of your own home. I’ll pause while you skeptics (led by our beloved manager) hem and haw and say words like getting in rooms and face time!!! I’m all about face time! Literally. Face time me into a callback.

Nevertheless, even I did not believe my own hype and so last year, Macsen, Matt, Mackenzie and I, for the fifth time, made the trek across country. Lest any of you are still unconvinced that this was a bad idea, I have one more trick in my bag and it’s called let me relate the account of just DAY ONE of pilot season 2016. I wrote it down.

8:00   Wake up early, try to get right with the Lord. It works not at all because God does not ever go to Los Angeles.

8:30  Prep Matt for a feature film audition that we have to tape.

9:00  Get Macsen’s school work set up and wrestle him into his desk chair. He asks for a pencil.

9:01 Realize that with the 9500 things I packed for school, pencils were not one of them. Dig around in the bottom of both back packs while shouting something along the lines of, “NEITHER OF YOU HAVE A SINGLE FREAKING PENCIL IN YOUR BACKPACK? HOW DO YOU SURVIVE AT SCHOOL!?” They stare at me blankly.

9:10 Drag Macsen away from the iPad he retrieved while I searched for the one nubby pencil I found in my suitcase that they will now share as I refuse to be defeated.

9:15 Teach Macsen a math lesson while simultaneously making breakfast.

9:45  Drag Matt away from his PS4 that he secretly played while I taught Macsen his math lesson and tell him to begin school. He says he doesn’t know what he has to do.

10:10  Email Matt’s teacher to find out what he has to do, then drag Macsen away from his iPad to do spelling.

10:30 Drag Matt away from the PS4 he snuck back to while I was doing spelling with Macsen to tape his feature film audition.

11:00 Assemble and send tape for feature film while yelling into the other room school-like instructions for the boys. None of these instructions will be remotely followed.

11:21  Yell a lot about iPads and PS4’s and where I’m going to put them. The words up your butt and around the corner are used.

12:00 Gather all things necessary for Macsen’s audition that afternoon.

12:05  Lose keys.

12:30 Find Keys. Head to Mackenzie’s house which is 30 minutes away (don’t ask) because before we go to Macsen’s audition, I have to coach Mackenzie for her audition. Grab lunch on the way. Lunch will never cost less than $50 no matter where you go.

1:12 Leave boys at the neighborhood basketball court to play while I coach Mackenzie. They aren’t happy with the type of basketball rim on this particular court and say it won’t do. I roll my window up against their protests and drive away.

2:30 Coach Kenz for her audition.

3:00 Pick up boys from basket ball court. Prep Macsen for his audition that afternoon.

4:00 Drive an hour during rush hour into Hollywood for Macsen’s audition.

5:00 Drive an hour and a half in rush hour traffic BACK to Mackenzie’s house while wondering if meth is really that addictive.

6:30 Make dinner then head to Walmart because Matt has an audition tomorrow, but has not packed any pants. Not a single pair. I would think packing items to cover the lower half of your body would be a fairly obvious inclusion, but no. I also need to get the school supplies that no one thought to pack because I have to live everyone’s lives for them. Mackenzie also requests batteries for her fairy lights in her new room at her new house. I don’t even make a mental note of that nonsense.

7:30 Just AFTER I’ve paid, gotten back in the car and have driven away from Walmart, Matt texts me and says he has no socks either. I hang up on him, and turn to give a deadpan look to the imaginary camera filming our imaginary reality show.

8:00 Begin prepping Matt for his pilot audition the next day.

8:30 Leave Macsen at Mackenzie’s house to spend the night because Matt’s pilot audition is super early the next morning and I don’t want to leave Macsen alone at our house.

8:45 1/2 way home realize I forgot the pants I bought for Matt at Mackenzie’s house. He has no pants to wear to his audition the next day and no socks. My arms literally refuse to execute a U-turn. I just cannot. He will have to go pants-less and sock-less, like baby who is potty training.

9:00 Cry.

9:05 Do one more prep session with Matt for tomorrow’s pants-less audition.

9:30 Collapse into bed. Realize I can’t find my phone. Spend 39 minutes ripping apart the entire house, car, and every orafice on my body to find my phone. I cannot NOT have a phone in LA.

9:31 Cry again.

9:32 Pray.

9:38 Promise God I will never go to pilot season again if He finds my phone.

9:39 Find it. It’s in my shoe………what the….no memory of how it got there.

9:45 Watch the last 15 minutes of the Bachelor. Realize that at least I am not as pathetic as the women on this show. Then again, they are gorgeous and drinking wine and I am
catatonically staring into space clutching a cell phone and eating handfuls of M and M’s in a strange bed.

Ok.  So.  Multiply THAT day by about five weeks and you will find yourself wondering if this is, in fact, what a nervous break down must feel like. You will write to the President to suggest, rather than water boarding, that he may consider sending prisoners of war to Hollywood and putting them in charge of multiple child actors because in about 3 days they will tell you whatever you want to know. Or like me, you will total your rental car on the very last day in town and as you sit there, concussion forming, both airbags deployed, you will whisper to the sky, in final, irrevocable defeat, “Never. Again.”

So we didn’t go this year. I didn’t care what the ramifications of that decision were because nothing would matter anyway if I DIED, which I would have done had I gone back to that city this spring.

And here it comes. Wouldn’tcha know. Point proven yet again.

After three taped callbacks, and a taped screen test, Matt landed his first series regular role on a television show called The Alienist, opposite Dakota Fanning. From Atlanta. In our house. In our very own comfy taping room. Unbelievable. We don’t call it the magic taping room for nothing! (thumbs up and a cheesy grin)

So HA! Take that Los Angeles! Up your butt pilot season! The invisible hand didn’t send us out west this year because He knew that we would be going East instead!  Yep. You heard me!  We’re going to Eastern Europe.  Budapest to be exact! Where we will spend the next four months……and four months next year maybe…….and arguably four months a year for the next several years of our lives.   Four months a year in Eastern Europe, where I’ve been told to bring my own peanut butter, taco seasoning, and salad dressing. And where they don’t use ice.

I might should have gone to pilot season…….

Why I Stopped Watching Westworld

Tonight I stopped watching Westworld.

I’m so massively bummed.  It was such a great idea.  The script was so unique, so intriguing.  I literally couldn’t wait for the next episode.

But then I’m pretty sure it became porn.  And I just can’t.

Why, Westworld?  Why must you assault me thus?  Why in the middle of a really unique compelling story that I am devouring like a bag of kettle corn at the Cumming Fair, do you have to slam a gigantic orgy scene?   Do people want to see this?  Am I the only prude?

You eased me into it subtly with your show about robots that look remarkably like humans who live in a theme park where real people live out western fantasies.  The robots, called hosts, get killed in saloon shoot outs or stage coach robberies over and over again as new guests arrive.  When they are repaired, you see them naked on the robot repair table.   Ok, I get it, it’s not “real” naked, it’s “robot” naked.  I can deal.

They are also naked as they sit on stools having conversations with the park techies for evaluation purposes.  Ok, I guess.  I mean, I don’t visit my therapist for evaluations naked; I usually have clothes on by then, but fine.  Be naked.  Even though the entire time I’m watching, I am wondering how Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton FEEL about being naked so constantly, and did they put up a fuss, or are they “true actors” understanding that naked makes you vulnerable yet powerful at the same time! (according to interviews I read with both actresses, the latter is true).

It’s not just the women in this show.  The writers were so fair.  Lots of full frontal for the men too.  About time ya’ll got a taste of your own medicine, but man!   Is it just me that has no real desire to view the male genitalia, or have I just been married too long?  (Love you, honey!)

I hung in there because it seriously is the most imaginative script I’ve seen in a long, long time.  I needed a show.   The Gilmore Girls reunion was not available just yet.  So Westworld.  Awesome.

But tonight, there was a brothel scene that had me like HOLY HAIL, that is a visual image that I do not want to be having.   My reaction reminded me how one of my daughters felt when she worked with a kid who would regularly flash pornographic text messages in front of her face.  “Hey look!”, he would say, then crack up.   My daughter’s response was an exclamation of disgust and arms in front of her face.  As it continued, her protests became more vehement, and I should have had the little punk fired 100 times over because this clearly falls under the heading of sexual harassment, a policy which is strictly observed on film and movie sets.   They have very intense meetings with cast and crew about it where they word things very seriously with grave faces.  Sexual harassment is bad!  Never, never do this!   And yet, when the characters in their show flash me similar imagery, it’s art.

Or maybe, Westworld, you’re sexually harassing me.

Too sensitive?  Legalistic?   Was I just not understanding the over arching themes of real humanity here?   I didn’t know.   So I posted something to this affect on Facebook asking if Westworld was simply porn disguised by a hell of a story line.  The reactions were not surprising.   100% of the women that responded agreed with me.  I hate that too!   So gratuitous!  Just gross.  Isn’t there a way to create good entertainment without it?

There were three men that responded.  One accused me of being hypocritical because previous posts had shown my love for Game of Thrones, which dances along similarly pornographic lines.  And also that my daughter had performed on one of the most violent televisions shows in history.  True.  More on that later.

With the second male responder, I engaged with in a very respectful debate after he said that he was not offended at all (but respected my right to be offended) because in Westworld, a brothel like that would absolutely exist and so it serves the story.  I agree to some extent, but felt like there are ways to indicate that sort of world without making us experience it quite so graphically.   To bring it closer to home, I asked him if he would be ok with his wife or daughter playing the chick who was face down in some guys crotch?   He said that he would if they were ok with it, but that neither of them probably would be, and would not perform such a role themselves.

So herein lies the question that gnaws away at me as an artist.

If your moral and ethical boundaries do not permit you to perform a certain role, should they permit you to view the piece as a whole?  After all, if it’s ok to view them, then get out there and perform them.  If you’re an actor, that is.  Don’t make another artist do all the dirty work.   But if you’re saying that it’s not something YOU would do, that tells me that something in your conscience isn’t sitting quite right or as a “true artist” you would do it.   And if you won’t do it, why does your conscience permit you to watch it?   I suspect it’s because of what guy #3 said:  Yeah, it’s so bad, I know!  But the story is so good that I just put up with it.

Exactly why I continue to “put up with” Game of Thrones, Rome, Vikings, The Tudors, and White Queen.  Clearly, I’m a sucker for period drama.   There were many times in all of those shows where I averted my eyes feeling, well, sexually harassed.  But the story!!  It’s so good!   So compelling.  I can’t NOT watch, can I?

Another thing that got under my skin is the fact that almost all of the actors in the scene in question were background actors.   They get paid a whopping $72 per 8 hours.  You may be able to tell me that they knew what they were getting into, but you cannot tell me that 100% of those actors were entirely comfortable.   SAG even felt it necessary to send a letter ahead of time to make sure they knew what they were in for.

Could they have said no?  Absolutely.  But behind every tableaux of graphic sexual encounter, is a girl (or boy) who is just trying to make it.  Who moved to Hollywood with a dream.  I guarantee you, when that young girl pictures her career it is not pretending to give someone a blow job.   She would probably prefer not to be pressed up against a wall with a stranger.  But she thinks, this is a start.  It’s Westworld!  On HBO!  If she can just get her foot in the door by painting her naked body gold and draping it across a principal actor who probably doesn’t even speak to her when they call cut, then maybe something better will happen.

After 25 years in this business, let me make something clear.  Nothing better will happen.  They are paying you $72 a day for this.  You don’t even have any lines except maybe to moan louder.   No one is paying attention to you in the least.  You are a prop.  A piece of furniture.  This job is not the stepping stone you think it is.  So if you are going to pretend to have sex with five people at one time, at least get PAID for it, like Evan and Thandie.  You are worth more than $72 a day.

Why are they doing it then?  Because there are becoming fewer and fewer benign options.   A few months ago, Mackenzie came to us and said, “Mom.  Dad.  I honestly don’t know how I am going to make a living in this business.”   After the cancellation of Under the Dome, she had moved to LA to make a go of it. She had done fairly well, landing a lead in an independent movie, and a short play in less than a year.   However, she was severely hampered by the fact that 50% of the auditions she was offered contained one of three scenarios.  She either had to be naked, simulate sex, or simulate sex with the same sex.  All three made her uncomfortable.   It is hard enough to make a living in this business when you are willing to do any and everything.  But when you have to pass on 50% of the auditions you are getting, it becomes a pipe dream at best.

To be fair, we have always been a bit more liberal with violence than sexual situations.  Maybe that is hypocritical.  But when Madison got shot in the head on The Walking Dead, she did not, in fact, actually get shot in the head.  However, when you have to press your naked body against someone to simulate the most private act in humanity, you cannot escape pressing your naked body against someone while simulating the most private act in humanity.  I know you are not actually having sex, but it is much closer to the real thing than Sophia’s head wound.   And the consequences, especially for children, are not something we are willing to risk. (Yes, children get asked to do some pretty astonishing things in this business, too. It would make your hair curl.)

So when is it just too violent and too sexual?   When is the price of art just too high?  The line is grey.   But the more we watch it, the more we put up with it, the more they will make it.  We have given them permission.  And pretty soon there will be nothing left for anyone with a sense of decency or privacy, or any sort of moral and ethical boundaries to perform.     Which makes me sad.  And hopeless.

So while it will only be a drop in the bucket, while it will more than likely make no difference in the grand scheme of anything….while HBO and Netflix will flick my concerns off their shoulder like an irritating fly…….I have to stand up in the face of what I THINK…..is straight debauchery.   Someone has to say no, I do not want to see your disgusting, pornographic brothel scene.

And that’s why I stopped watching Westworld tonight.