News

Cat That Shed 2 Lbs. of Matted Fur Is Adjusting Well to New Hair and Home

  • PEOPLE.com
Paul Russell says it was like a scene out of the movie Alien.

When he went to check in on the cat of a distant 82-year-old relative who recently moved into a nursing home, he had no idea there was a second animal living under the same roof — “animal” being the operative word, because he couldn’t determine what exactly it was.

“Out from under a bed it darted,” he tells People. “At first I thought it was a cat that had a blanket on top of it. The next day I went into the creepy old cellar and it was hunkered in a corner.
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BBC Three Orders Amanda Knox Docu From NBC News’ Peacock Productions

  • Deadline TV
BBC Three has ordered a docu on the Amanda Knox case update from NBC News’ Peacock Productions — Peacock Prods’ first UK commission out of its new London office. Peacock predicts its one-hour special, Is Amanda Knox Guilty? will be the first TV docu on the case since an Italian judge announced the second guilty verdict on January 30 — it’s scheduled to air on BBC Three on Monday, February 17. Peacock Productions opened a London office last October, headed by Managing Director Steve Anderson. The film is produced in association with filmmakers and journalists Paul Russell and Andrea Vogt, who followed the Meredith Kercher murder case from its beginning in November of 2007 and who produced a feature length documentary on the case. The update features exclusive interviews with Stephanie and Lyle Kercher, Meredith’s brother and sister; as well as defense lawyers and experts from both the defense and the prosecution. The
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Is Amanda Knox Guilty? documentary for BBC Three

BBC Three has announced one-off documentary Is Amanda Knox Guilty?

It is the first documentary about Knox since she and Raffaele Sollecito were found guilty for a second time of the murder of Meredith Kercher. The judge announced the verdict on January 30.

Made by filmmakers and journalists Paul Russell and Andrea Vogt, the 60-minute film includes interviews with Stephanie and Lyle Kercher - Meredith's brother and sister.

Peacock Productions Managing Director Steve Anderson said: "Andrea and Paul have followed every twist and turn of this story and captured all of the key moments and important interviewees.

"We are grateful to the family of Meredith Kercher for their co-operation in the making of the programme."

The film also includes interviews with defence lawyers and experts from both sides of the court case.

Is Amanda Knox Guilty? is the first BBC commission from the new London office of NBC News' Peacock Productions.
See full article at Digital Spy - TV news »

Keep on Top of Talent Agency and Casting Office Contacts

  • Backstage
No cheating.Which of the following answers below is the correct response to the question?Paul Russell Casting's current land mail address is:a. 159 West 25th Street, Suite 1209, New York, Nyb. 525 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1005, New York, NYC. 38 West 38th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, Nyd. 330 West 38th Street, Suite 1208, New York, Nye. None of the aboveF. I have no clue…Retain your answer for later. If your response is based on any of the below scenarios, you will likely have the wrong address. You're wasting money and valuable time not just in sending marketing materials to my office but also for many of your talent agency and casting director mailings.- If you're buying pre-printed mailing labels that are advertised as having the current addresses of talent agencies and/or casting offices affixed to them or CDs with similar imprinted digital information. - If you rely on...
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Agents: Another Option to Signing (Without Spending $$)

How can you additionally pick the lock of the gatekeepers and land an agent?Well, if you've read my book you know that I and the agents and actors involved offer many little-known and useful ways for finding an agent. But there's one more way to breaking down the vault door to your champion of talent: Me.Well, not all me. Please, I can't be that narcissistic this early after breakfast. Give me at least until I've washed the fading curls and munched the midday muffin. But back to me. Well, casting directors in general. (Because, honestly, I prefer to be more of a hermit than hoarder of the light.)Know a casting director well? When's the last time you subtly asked them for help in finding an agent? And sometimes you may not even need to nudge. But voicing a shout-out for help has never stifled anyone's advancement.I
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Actors Pretending to Be Real People Pretending Not to Be Actors

Reality doesn't exist.Thirty-one. That's the number of breakdowns via Breakdown Services released to talent agents in the past twelve months for reality programming seeking actors as 'real' people. It's been no industry secret that those 'real people' you see on "Survivor," "Big Brother," and similar non-episodic programming that clog our cable providers have not been filled solely with people pulled from the local mall; they are sweetened with actors who are cast in sessions put together via submissions from talent agencies. If this is news to you, welcome to reality. Among the 'real' shows revealed in my breakdown search seeking 'real people' (who just happen to have real talent agents), the projects included:– An untitled, reality/fashion show seeking 'real' photographers who by coincidence are also actors. (Faux-cameras need not apply.)– A non-union, major cable untitled reality show looking to tear apart BFFs—who happen to be actors—as
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Angels and Whores

If film directors can have a director's cut of a movie when released for DVD, what about authors with manuscript material that may have been cut because it was considered too controversial for print? In an interview I had with one of the participants for my book, we delved into an area of discussion that was potentially inflammatory and too candid. I made the choice not to include the material. Thus the following never went from my notes to the manuscript.What follows—in raw outline form—is something that not even my editor read. To protect the identity of the interviewee, their name and gender, for this exercise, has been excised.So here we go; one of the possibly too-honest-for-publishing segments that never before went beyond my laptop.***********************"Pet peeves?" I asked. "The gay mafia," Name Withheld [hereinafter referred to as N.W.] begins to name past and present casting directors and directors who are
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How to Lose an Agent and Manager in 10 Minutes

The following is a true story. No actors, agents or animals were physically harmed during the debacle. (Bruised egos are another story...) I was recently sitting in the office of a talent agency, doing what I do, when I took a break from work. As my digits were drubbing the keys of my Hp with Windows Vista (grrrrr), I overheard one of the agents next to me call out to an assistant: "Make sure you put in the cover letter that he got an M.F.A. from Nyu. Because [casting director's name withheld] is snobby."Prior to this, the agent had received a phone call from a new client who was fresh out of school. The actor had heard—through the thorny thicket that is the actor grapevine—that [well-known director's name being withheld] was casting a major production of a language play and that final auditions would be held the following day. The actor requested the agent
See full article at Backstage »

The Casting Couch: Real and Virtual Foreplay

  • Backstage
A reader recently reached out to me asking for guidance on a taboo subject that I idealistically would like to believe had perished coitus interruptus long ago. Banished to the age of film noir. Relegated to the sovereignty of sex films. What is it? The casting couch. The practice of demanding sexual favors in return for casting a performer in a theatrical, film, TV production, etc. A coy colloquialism in reference to the office couch of a casting director, director, producer talent rep. or any entertainment industry gatekeeper. (You won't find this at your local Ikea.)The reader's detailing of requested debauchery from a professional began:"I'm an actor and model based in NY. I find myself on the casting couch being propositioned over and over again. I recently made a Friend request [on Facebook] to a manager with, 'How r u? I'm [name withheld].' That led them to believe that I was
See full article at Backstage »

Accents at Auditions: Use 'Em or Lose 'Em?

"Ze play is ze—How you say?—is the thing, yes?" — "Come Play Wiz Me" from "Anyone Can Whistle" by Stephen Sondheim I'm reaching way back for this one. Questions have been piling up. The following had been lost for so long it was beginning to resemble the acting career of Mackenzie Phillips. A reader—long ago, when Susan Boyle was "the it girl"—inquired:"Paul, how important is it to use an accent at auditions?"A vague, but important inquiry. So let's get specific here on a solution. There are several audition scenarios for which I can foresee the utilization or avoidance of an accent. Auditioning for a Specific Role You've been given sides. The breakdown for the role reads that the character is French. What do you do about an accent? First there is a question you must ask of yourself and/or the person who has provided
See full article at Backstage »

Political Play: Getting Ahead as an Actor

Author's Note: Politics play a large part in our game that is entertainment. To help you navigate some of the perils that is the art of the possible, I'm sharing with you a peek into an upcoming entertainment industry manuscript that's waiting for the recession to end. What follows is part of a larger series on how to work and play nice with others around us in entertainment. LoyaltyOne client I had in auditions turned to me one day and said, "I'm a loyalist." He's been loyal to me and my career, and I have returned in kind my devotion to him and the organization. Now before you think this is going to develop into a romance (far from it), it's a relationship built upon trust and mutual respect. And both of us have benefited—I probably more so, to my chagrin.In our business, loyalty and trust is often viewed with cynicism.
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The Cattle Call: Slaughter or Refuge?

EPAs: Worthwhile or worthless?I don't like covering material in this column that I've previously touched upon in my book—mainly because I want to explore new insights here. But there's been a question from a reader ("Virginia") sitting in the answering queue for so long that it was about to file for divorce from my laptop, citing abandonment.Virginia's query? Should represented actors—that is, those lucky enough to have an agent and/or manager—attend EPAs?Answer: Yes. Why? Well not to rehash material about which I wrote several lengthy pages prior in that Random House pile of pulp and print, I will expand here with additional insights. For those not familiar with what are EPAs, the initials are audition short-hand for Equity Principal Auditions—a.k.a. Everyone Packs Auditions. It's Actors' Equity version of an open-call that is open to any member of Equity. (But never
See full article at Backstage »

Actor Angst: Getting Seen

The barbarians are the gates. I recently received a missive of misery from a reader. It's not that he/she was whining in woe. No. The misery was more germane to just how the game of getting past (or to) the barbarian gatekeepers—re: casting personnel and/or agents—is often as frustrating as getting a NYC subway train that doesn't reek of urine (or that is the one-man-tour coach for someone loudly sings a cappella in between harangues to fund their "art"). The reader's query of grief began: "Hey Paul: Why is it practically impossible for non-represented actors to get seen for roles they could be exquisitely appropriate for?" Well there are a number of rea-... oh, you have another question. Please go on."Is it because no casting director wants to be the first to take a chance on a self-submitting actor and possibly be proven wrong?"Man,
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Actor Sexuality: A Career Impediment?

Homosexuals can be the biggest homophobes in our industry. Several weeks ago I received a disturbing note from a reader:"I've heard that sexuality can keep you from getting represented and/or cast. One of the friends I was talking [to] told me he was going for theatrical representation and the lady didn't want to rep him because she heard he was gay. So, his team had to cast doubts on what she heard and she ended up taking him. He has a boyfriend, but now he is staying out of the gay scene and trying to put out the 'sex symbol-type image' for the females. This wears me out."It wears you out? As an openly gay man, I can't believe that a community in which we work and share our lives—which is supposedly progressive on issues such as sexuality—can still behave like the near adolescent mind-set on Fox News.
See full article at Backstage »

Experience vs. Sheepskin: Verdict?

Author's Note: I typed this tempestuous tome nearly a year ago, moments after the soon referenced incident occurred. Now that an opportunity has come for this to go live, I thought about editing my prior venom below. But that would not be honest nor fair to those who expect my candor. So here we go... warts and all. I'm annoyed. Peeved at my younger self and irked by academia. I was recently contacted by a performing arts school to teach a Business of Acting course. My credentials? – I teach a similar course to Nyu-Tisch students. – I've spoken and taught master classes on the campuses of Yale, Temple, Elon, Northeastern, The University of the Arts, and numerous other training programs for performers. – I've worked on multiple Broadway productions. – I've been associated with film casting for 20th Century Fox. – I've toiled long nights and days for HBO multiple times. – I've been at
See full article at Backstage »

Actors: Ill-Mannered and Indebted

Several months ago as I was going through the piles of actor mail I came across a familiar piece of "Thanks for the audition... " correspondence but it had an odd twist. The actor writing me penned on the card: "Paul, it was great meeting last week at the Nebraska Shakespeare auditions! Thank you for the feedback." Uhmmmm. I wasn't there.Because of the economy and budget cuts, Nsf didn't utilize my services this season. So either there's a Paul Russell clone running around at audition studios (God help us) or this actor possibly attended the Nsf auditions but didn't pay attention to who actually was in the room. (Bzzt! Perception penalty. Thanks for playing. Next.)After every audition or paid seminar I (as well as other casting personnel) receive these note cards of gratitude. I have no qualm there. It's a nice gesture by the actors who send them and
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Actor Jealousy and Comparisons

Comparisons, they happen. Especially in group settings such as the collaboration that is the performing arts. And they can destroy the harmony and productivity of any project. The comparison can be a seemingly innocent thought, such as a dance captain musing to themselves that one the dancers in the theatrical company has a better extension. Or it can be a morale-damaging comment carelessly (or with malicious intent) spoken by a secondary role actor that they believe they have superior skills than the actor playing the leading role. Comparisons do damage, whether spoken or silently pondered. While you may think comparing is helpful to better oneself, be careful. Human nature often goes towards the negative like a sexual compulsive to a bathhouse. Either situation—the chatting comparer, or the salacious sexual compulsive—leaves them feeling empty and less than their worth. Jealousies fester.We all do comparisons of ourselves to others.
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An Actor's Most Guarded Secret

Every summer my partner and I spend many of our weekends at an all-male, gay, campground in the mountains of Pennsylvania. (For family in the know, it's the one with the big green wooden gate and the bunny under the pine tree. 'Nuff said.)Ok, so what have my too-close-for-comfort encounters with randy bears and wolves in the woods have to do with actors? There's an unspoken truth; one closely guarded common secret held secure both by many actors and nearly all gay men. Their true age.Whenever the other half and I go to this particular campground (or any gay gathering), we're always asked, "How long have you two been together?" Knowing that my sidekick protects his age with more secrecy than his Atm pin number, I created a reply that would respect his privacy and give a true answer as to how long we've been together: "Four presidents long.
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Paranoia, Phonies & 'Phrauds'

I despise thieves of thespians and the shadow these delinquents cast upon honest professionals.Despite having been an actor prior to jumping the audition table to directing and casting, it wasn't until the release of my book, as well as teaching and writing for various publications—when my visibility went from 'that guy behind the audition table' to 'that Paul Russell behind the audition table'—that I fully realized just how cautious actors are about relatively unknown-to-them casting, representation and/or educational opportunities. My anonymity, which I greatly enjoy, and career stature had lulled me into a false sense of security that actors were trusting of entertainment professionals. Wrong. Oops. My bad naïveté. Colleagues of mine—reputable agents, veteran casting directors, established teachers and other long-career-termed entertainment professionals—and I are suspect to a segment of the acting community. Why? Several reasons. First and foremost is because younger and/or
See full article at Backstage »

Actors Effectively Exploiting Social Networks

I found a wonderful status on Facebook recently:"Christopher ******** Today - Auditioning for a role on 'Law & Order: Svu' & auditioning with CD Jamie Schulman (Jen Euston Casting) & CD Jessica Kelly (Chrystie Street Casting) Thursday - auditioning with Agent Holly Vegter (Hartig-Hilepo Agency)"One day later it was followed by an updated status:"Christopher ******** got a callback for 'L&O:svu'! Just finished auditioning with CD Jonathan Strauss who loved my work. He wants me to go back today @ 4:15 to audition with the Director of this episode of 'L&O:svu.' Then I will be meeting & auditioning with CD's Jessica Kelly (Chrystie Street Casting) & Jamie Schulman (Jen Euston Casting)." Finally! An actor, among the thousands who have befriended me as a "networking receptacle" using their Facebook status for something other than telling me:– My cat is in heat and so am I. – I hate life and people. You should too! – I
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