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Casting
Mindy Kaling’s ‘Late Night’: Performance Review

Mindy Kaling’s ‘Late Night’: Performance Review

If you enjoy smart comedies with lots of heart, you’re going to want to see “Late Night.” Mindy Kaling wrote, produced and stars in the film as Molly Patel, an earnest chemical plant employee who ends up on an all-male writing team for a late-night talk show looking for a female hire. The show’s host, Katherine Newbury, is a groundbreaking female comic who’s fighting irrelevancy. Emma Thompson brilliantly portrays Katherine, giving her complexity and nuance. Both she and Kaling shine, backed by a strong supporting cast, as they serve up laughs with a subtle dose of social commentary.

 

Emma Thompson:

Thompson is engaging and entirely believable as an unapologetic late-night legend with razor-sharp wit. Thompson’s Katherine holds an authority reminiscent of Meryl Streep’s Miranda in “The Devil Wears Prada.” For example, when Katherine gets the news that the network will be replacing her, she steps into her writers’ room for the first time in a long time. Katherine doesn’t know most of their names and deems learning them unnecessary, assigning them numbers instead. They scramble to earn her favor, which is no surprise considering the rate at which she nonchalantly fires them. On the flip side, Thompson does a good job of humanizing Katherine, keeping her from becoming the “tough boss” trope. Katherine’s invested in two things in life: her husband Walter (played by John Lithgow) and her show. It’s with the former that she shows a more vulnerable side, keeping her humor but losing some of the acerbity. As the story unfolds, Thompson expertly navigates Katherine’s personal growth as she learns to value women in the workplace and how to genuinely care for her team.

Thompson’s dry delivery makes her jokes land with impressive accuracy as she deadpans her zingers. The comedy also works because Thompson keeps Katherine grounded throughout the film; her embodiment of the character might best be described as a female British David Letterman. Only on one occasion does Thompson’s performance fall flat. A heavy scene between Katherine and Walter plays out with overwrought emotion and falls into melodrama. This misstep is forgotten when Thompson masterfully delivers her final monologue. She gives an impressive performance overall.

 

Mindy Kaling:

Molly is a hard worker, but she’s also incredibly naive and a little lacking in the self-confidence department. She’s a refreshing twist on characters Kaling has played in the past like Kelly Kapoor from “The Office” or Mindy Lahiri from “The Mindy Project,” both of whom project a certain boldness as a cover for their anxieties. Molly, on the other hand, does the opposite, leading with her insecurities. On her first day at work, she elects to sit on a trash can because seats are limited, and on her second day, she cries under her desk until a co-worker intervenes.

But moments of real strength emerge, and Kaling effortlessly blends them into the overall character of Molly: a fish-out-of-water who’s willing to stand up for her convictions. Kaling’s written multiple scenes in the film where Molly shuts down white men complaining about the unfairness of taking steps toward inclusion in the workplace. As an actor, Kaling brings both levity and humor to these moments. Even though Molly might not be much of a stretch for Kaling to play, she still entertains the audience while tackling important issues, and her overall performance is a strong one.  

Maribeth Fox hit it out of the park with her casting on “Late Night.” John Lithgow brings depth to his supporting role as Walter, and John Early stands out as a hilarious member of Katherine’s writing team. But it’s the two leading ladies who really deliver. Kaling and Thompson make for a dynamic comedy duo, one that manages to sneak in an important message between their one-liners.

 

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Meet the Man Turning Queer and Trans People Into Superheroes

Meet the Man Turning Queer and Trans People Into Superheroes

LGBTQ characters (and actors) were rarely allowed to be superheroes — until out casting director David Rapaport gave them wings.

Crafting the language of cinema is an intricate art form. A great film evokes the senses, allowing us to tap into our souls and examine who we truly are. The alchemy happens in many ways through brilliant direction, meticulous editing, costuming, and production design. But one area that often gets overlooked is also one of the most important: casting.

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Unpopular Casting Choices That Became Iconic Performances

Unpopular Casting Choices That Became Iconic Performances

When an unknown or also-ran lands a major role–whether it’s a blockbuster franchise, sure-fire Oscar-bait or even just a deviation from the type of characters they’re known for portraying– it’s these unpopular casting choices have led to some of the most groundbreaking and memorable performances in movie history.

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Casting in LA This Week!

Casting in LA This Week!

Every day great roles are added to Casting Billboard. Below are highlighted projects from this week!

 

PetCo – Brand Video

Rate: $150 | Female/Male, All Ethnicities | Internet

ROLES  Principal   GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Female & Male / 20-60 / All Ethnicities

DESCRIPTION  Looking to cast REAL dog + cat moms/dads to star in a pet-co digital spot. This will be a super cute + fun shoot featuring you and your animal. We are looking for real pet owners who are willing to let us film their pets– preferable fun, personable + energetic animals who aren’t afraid of new people and know how to turn it on for a camera!

Lifestyle Food Shoot

Rate:  $325/10HR | Female/Male, All Ethnicities | Print

ROLES  Principal  GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Female & Male  / 23-26 / All Ethnicities

DESCRIPTION  Looking for nice hands for a lifestyle food shoot for a pizza company.

Hakuna

Rate:  $500/day (1-3 days) | Female/Male, Middle Eastern | Mobile

ROLES  Principal  GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Female & Male  / 20-30 / Middle Eastern

DESCRIPTION   10 to 30-second digital shorts for a new lifestyle mobile application called Hakuna targeted for the Middle Eastern market. Casting talent to portray friends hanging out together and using the app to communicate with other friends.

 

To see all the roles available on Casting Billboard, LOG IN OR SIGN UP HERE.

 

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The Importance of Stamina in the Audition Room

The Importance of Stamina in the Audition Room

There is endless advice to be had when it comes to auditioning. How to pick the right material, how to show off your personality, how to seal the deal. But one thing I haven’t found actors talk about that much is stamina in the audition room. When it comes to long days on set, certainly, stamina is an oft-acknowledged need. But what about long before you ever hit basecamp? I was recently at a callback for a theatre production that lasted close to four hours. While this might be a rarity, it is definitely not the first time I’ve experienced a drawn out audition or callback. It’s all well and good to come in guns blazing and hit them with an incredible first impression, but what about the impression you’re leaving them with, perhaps quite some time later? Here are some starting tips to keeping that winning energy up the whole way through.

 

  1. Pack Well. At the very least, I always have a water bottle and a granola bar in my bag when heading to an audition. This is not the time to run out of steam due to lack of sustenance. Pack water, coffee or tea, and an easily consumable snack to power you through. If you’re in heels, pack a pair of flats for down time. Have a highlighter and pencil on you in case you’re asked to read new sides. If you have a long commute, maybe bring your audition clothes with you separately so they don’t get rumpled or sweaty in the car. Most importantly, for me, make sure to bring headphones so you can listen to music.
  2. Scope out the Environment. Once you’re where you need to be, signed in, stuff settled, scope out the space. If possible, find a corner or stairwell or hallway that is near enough the sign in area that you won’t miss any new information or your name being called. Use this space to isolate yourself when need be. Focus on your sides, music that keeps you in the right headspace, perhaps some light stretching to keep your body warm. Finding “your space” has saved me on many a long audition.
  3. Choose Your Level of Socializing. Remember you are here on a mission. Depending on where you are, it is very possible you will run into other actors you know. Even if you don’t, some people naturally want to socialize in the audition room. If this works for you, go for it, but make sure you don’t get distracted from the task at hand. It is perfectly acceptable to greet people and politely let them know you need to focus. I have found earbuds (even if you’re not playing any music) to be very helpful in deterring distracting conversations. You can always catch up later. It’s game time now.
  4. Keep Your Energy Manageable. This one is delicate. You want to keep your energy high in the room without burning out in the lobby. For me, keeping my state flexible helps. If I sit down for too long, my energy drops and is hard to recover quickly, but I also don’t want to burn through nervous energy pacing around. I try to stay alert and ready by alternating between staying gently active (walking around, light stretches) and sitting for brief periods of time if need be. If possible, I try to make sure I’m on my feet a bit directly before going in the room. Again, music helps. If your energy is super low, take a bit of that granola bar and jam privately to a favorite tune.
  5. Consistent Greetings. Remember each time you walk in the room is important. It’s easy to be sunny and warm the first time you walk in. But if you’re reading multiple sides with multiple people, you might have to come in a second, third, fourth or fifth time. Do what you need to do–jump up and down before walking in, pretend you’re meeting them all over again, whatever you need–but each time should be relaxed, personable, and energized. Remember, they aren’t just choosing who is right for the part. They are choosing who they want to work with as well. Each impression counts.

 

Stamina is a skill that must be practiced and cultivated. It is invaluable. People have short attention spans. They will remember the impression you leave them with. If you want to seal the deal, you’ll need to be on your audition A-game the entire time. Hydrate, focus, and carry on.

Audition Advice with Casting Director Jessica Sherman

Audition Advice with Casting Director Jessica Sherman

With almost 10 years of casting experience and names like “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” “Bates Motel” and “Sleight” under her name, Jessica Sherman is a seasoned pro in the audition room. Her track record lends itself to helping actors overcome common stumbling blocks as well as letting them know how to stand out in the casting process. Sherman took the time to sit down with Casting Networks to share some valuable advice.

 

Jessica Sherman

What are common mistakes you often see actors making in the room?

“I think the big one for me happens before they even come into the room. It’s a lack of knowledge of the casting process. The idea to keep in mind is that by the time you book the role, especially for TV roles, there’s been approximately 30 people that have had to sign off to say that you’re the person. So the best person may not always be the one who gets the role. The person that everyone can agree on gets the role. Having that background information is a huge asset to actors because it kind of takes the pressure off a little bit as far as their experience in the room.


It’s also important to keep in mind that the relationship between an actor and a casting director is a long-term one. If you come in with that mentality, every audition is not so precious and not so stressful. There’s a clear difference between somebody who comes in with a sense of desperation and someone who comes in to do the work and have fun with the opportunity. And if someone is fighting direction or just not being a pleasant human being, I probably won’t want to bring them in again. It’s our job as casting directors to create a safe environment in the room, and it’s your job as an actor to bring in a good energy with you.”

 

What’s something an actor can do in the audition to stand out in a positive way?

“Be aware of your surroundings. We’ll usually keep a chair in the corner of the room in case actors want to use it as a tool; they don’t have to use it. But sometimes actors will walk in and go sit on it … in the corner. It’s just a nerves thing, but how you handle those first few moments in the room will showcase whether or not you’re new to this. Make sure to ask any questions about framing at the beginning of the process. If you’re planning on sitting down or standing up in the middle of the take, let the camera person know so they don’t panic in the middle of the audition because they weren’t prepared. Introduce yourself and show value to every single person in the room. Those simple things go a long way. As far as the actual audition, it’s mostly just about listening. You should listen to the reader when you’re in the scene and then listen to the direction given about it.”

 

Do you have a favorite casting story you can tell?

“There’s an actor named Ross Philips that I’ve seen I don’t know how many times, and I’ve never been able to book him. It was just never hitting for some reason. When I worked on ‘The Force Awakens,’ he made this great video where he kind of petitioned to get an audition. It wasn’t pushy at all, just very charming and funny. And because he did it, we brought him in. He didn’t book the role, but on the last project I worked on, I showed my producers that video before he came in. So they already loved him, and then he did a great job throughout the audition process and booked the role. I think this is one of his first leading roles, so I’m super excited for him.”

 

With Sherman’s advice in mind, you can bring the right mindset to your next audition. Walk into the room ready to have fun with the opportunity and take direction. Capitalize on the first few moments by taking in your surroundings and demonstrating that you’re not new to the process. And remember the takeaway from Sherman’s story: casting is rooting for you to succeed.

 

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Mario Lopez, Seth Kurland Set Latinx Family Comedy Series at Netflix

Mario Lopez, Seth Kurland Set Latinx Family Comedy Series at Netflix

Variety has learned that the streamer has given a 16 episode order to the multi-cam comedy “The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia” co-created by Lopez and Kurland. In the series, when Ashley Garcia — the world’s only 15-and-a-half-year-old robotics engineer and rocket scientist — gets the chance to work for NASA, she moves across the country to live with her Uncle Victor, a pro football player turned high school coach who’s never met a responsibility he can’t shirk.

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