EVERY MAN, EVERY WOMAN A CELEBRITY

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I had a “come to realize” moment today while on my bike: EVERYONE has some grade or ranking of celebrity.

In the Old Days, there were celebrities, and then there was everybody else.  If you were an actor in a movie, you were probably attached to a studio contract, were effectively working in a separate universe, with separate parking, restaurants and work spaces from the rest of society.  You knew movie “secrets”.  You mysteriously vanished from this material culture into another, more ephemeral one, one that flickered on screens across the world, and in which you always looked amazing, albeit colorless.

Now we have so many grades of celebrity that it is truly “infinity valued”, meaning that there are infinite degrees of being known and talked about.

That’s one of the reasons modern information gathering and metrics have become so necessary; people want to know WHERE they lie in the order of things.  Who knows me today?  How much?  Where?

I have my acting credits on IMDB.com, (the Internet Movie Database) a site that is used by the entertainment industry for information on actors, directors, writers and others.  Like all the other actors I know, I have a ranking that ebbs and flows like the stock market.  Last week, to my surprise, after being ranked comfortably just under the 20,000 mark (among the 20,000 most popular searches for persons, living or dead, on the IMDB site) I found myself suddenly ranked #1444!

Was it my appearance on America’s Got Talent that caused people to suddenly look up my credits?  Probably.  Now that I’m off the show, and am just a normal, workaday actor again, my ranking is going steadily down, down, down… at the moment I’m at, let me see… ah!  #4525.

I got pretty excited for a moment there.  What a leap!  That’s what my friends who work on Wall Street must feel when something in their portfolio spikes!  Of course, they have figured out a way to turn that into a new condominium, or a trip to Fiji.  I haven’t got that down yet.

But then I realized, perhaps naively, that EVERYONE is a celebrity to some degree.  To some website, YOU are very important.  To some groups, YOU are a key player.  To some organizations, YOU are vital.  (One hopes that the groups that find us important are not just the IRS or the NSA.)  To your family, well, YOU are pretty irreplaceable.  Even if you happen to be in the doghouse this week.  (That would put your ranking temporarily with the guy holding the “Plese help me” sign on the offramp.)

So, celebrity is a matter of degree.  I guess that’s pretty obvious.  But to me it was a bit of a breakthrough.

You ARE important, of course, whether or not you are listed on the IMDB.  You would be important if you weren’t listed anywhere on the Internet, although that’s now hard to fathom.  Your importance is in the eye of your beholders, the minds of the people you deal with every day.  The thoughts of your family and friends.  You are important to me, heck- you read my stuff!

Is this too sappy?

You can rate me at SappyBloggers.com.  I think I’m currently… let me see,… Ah!  #44,561!  Wow!  I’m up from #60,000!

Art is a Battle

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Writing, painting, choreographing a dance, making a YouTube video in the back room… it’s a savage battle. 

The TIME to create has to come out of something, dug out of the schedule like a vein of gold ore chipped out of granite.  Time extracted out of the myriad pointless activities of the day, the mundane chores, the necessary rituals, the acceptable, the understood, the predictable.  The things one does because one has always done them.

Translating “important” tasks into art is a battle of wills– the will of the artist against the robotic “will” of the upholders of the status quo, a will that exerts itself against the artist with a dreadful and remorseless automaticity.

How many times have you been interrupted from your daily job with a command to hurry up and get that song written, that painting started or that poem finished?  Unless you are a professional with a deadline, it’s possible that it never has happened to you. 

And even if you are a professional, a cascade of other “needful” little activities will land on you whenever you try to focus on something artistic that exists in your mind only, and just outside boundaries of the physical universe.The battle to keep you from creating something unique, something wonderful, something divinely YOU is a bloody one, even if nary a shot is fired.

And then of course, there’s the blog you started that needs regular contributions, and in which, to your embarrassment, your own attention is hopelessly diverted, away from the gentle and invisible impulse to create something artistic that only YOU can do… if you could only break away.

Uh… Like this.  The End.  There, I did it!

Published in: on August 22, 2013 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Looking Back

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Now that I’m back home in the bosum of my family, I have had a chance or two to reflect on my experiences with America’s Got Talent.

I had a much better time than I thought I would have in New York City; I had a pretty good amount of free time in a city I love, I got really lucky with the weather, and I got to do my act at Radio City.

There was a last minute hiccup or two; of course, the sound went out for the first 20 seconds or so, and not only couldn’t the TV viewing audience hear me for those precious seconds, but neither could the judges, nor I them.  But I didn’t fully grasp the severity of the problem at the time, and so it didn’t throw me off so that I lost control.  I knew something was up, but I didn’t fully understand what was going on (or NOT going on.)

The other hiccup was a threatened one; the producers told me that if the show ran long, I’d possibly only be able to do six voices, not eight as I had planned.  I decide not to make a big deal out of it, but I was a bit crestfallen with the idea that I would have much less of an impact with fewer voices.  Also, it didn’t even occur to me at the time that my 90 seconds would be reduced because of the other acts running overtime… that seems a bit unfair in retrospect.

I also was told that I might not be able to have George W. Bush on my list (for the audience to Tweet in) because he had gone in for heart surgery that same day as the show. 

So, there were a few last minute things wriggling around backstage and onstage.

As it happened, former Pres. Bush made it thru surgery without a hitch and his name was preserved on the list (although the Tweeting audience opted for Jay Leno) and the show ran remarkably on time, despite the cobra.  So I was told a few minutes before I went on that I could do eight voices instead of a truncated six. Phew!

All in all, I was very happy with the results, and you can see the act by clicking HERE if you are interested.  

I owe a big, BIG thank you to everyone who spent time watching the show and voting on multiple platforms, and for all the kind words.

I’ll be presenting my live JIMPRESSIONS show on Sept. 6, at 8 p.m. back in Hollywood, at The Acting Center Theatre, 5514 Hollywood Blvd, LA CA 90038.  Click here for tickets:

http://www.theactingcenterla.com/jimpressions

Published in: on August 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm  Comments (2)  

The Aftermath

Okay, so first off, THANK YOU!

So many people wrote and tweeted and emailed… all the modern communication channels, to tell me they voted and told others to vote… it was just like being bathed in pure love.  I am so grateful and so amazed!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The other thing is… I’m EXHAUSTED!

That was one stressful week.  I tried to sound cheerful and relaxed in my blog, didn’t want you to feel uncomfortable, or panic or anything.  Didn’t want anyone to call in sick for work, drive out to New York and buy me a smoothie…

But it was like being on HIGH ALERT for seven straight days, culminating in a suspense-filled evaluation of my ability to be on HIGH ALERT. 

The last thing I’ll say before I crash into bed is this:

I had a BLAST.  Being able to do my impressions, to a full house at Radio City, on live television, to hear the validation of the judges, to a standing ovation with my mom in the audience, with my beautiful wife in the audience, KNOWING that YOU and a thousand other friends were out there pulling for me… was just indescribable.  It was worth all the struggle and the sleepless nights, and the bother of being part of a “reality show.”

So, THANK YOU AGAIN, and I’ll be back again soon to tell you more.Image

Published in: on August 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm  Comments (4)  

The Day Before THE DAY

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So, what did I do on my “day off” before I go on TV tomorrow night on America’s Got Talent at Radio City?

After a brief, somewhat perfunctory hair appointment, I had lunch with my very old friend from elementary school, Coleman Gregory, and we had a good New York kibitz in a diner on Madison.  Who comes walking by but another (younger) old friend, Benjamin Welch.  That’s a typical New York thing; I had just been wondering what random friend I was going to run into.  Check!

Then I walked up Park Avenue thru Grand Central Station, which looks marvelous, very clean and spiffy, and arrived shortly at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, where my mom was having tea in the lobby, having just arrived on a plane from Atlanta.

She is here to support me, and I’m delighted that she came out.  It’s heaven to have such a generous and supportive, loving mom.  If someone ever offers you one, don’t hesitate.

Tamra arrives in a little while, so I had to clean up my room, get some flowers…  I had also set up a temporary sound recording studio in the room, making creative use of the hotel pillows, cushions and ironing board, so that had to go:

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Now I’m going to go over my act a little bit more, tomorrow is THE DAY, so I have to be much more than ready, I figure I have to really be beyond ready, especially if I want to win and take home the Golden Fruitcake, or whatever the prize of this show is.

I guess this is as good a time as any to thank you for reading and for being interested, and if you vote and tell your friends to watch the show and vote, too, I will be much in your debt.  If I have to pawn the Golden Fruitcake to pay you all for your trouble I think I can manage that.

So, you may not hear from me tomorrow on this channel, but you WILL hear from me on NBC, tomorrow night, 9 pm East and West coast, and 8 pm in the middle of this great land of ours.

Onward!

Thanks again!

Onstage At Last

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Today I finally got to step onstage at Radio City Music Hall.

We blocked my set for the cameras, lighting and sound, and I got to see the view from up there.  Big hall! 

This magnificent theater really is a monument to the era of spectacular, pre-rock arena, live entertainment, an era that still clings to life thanks to the visionary architects of Radio City, which is truly a work of art in itself.

Every aspect of the theater and it’s several lobbies has been designed to harmonize with the whole; the restrooms, the lettering on the external neon signs, the doors, the carpeting, sconces, murals, sculptures… it’s a tour de force of Art Deco and a treasure for everyone who lives in or visits New York.

My friend Kathy was explaining how one of her relatives helped design the mechanism that operates the massive curtain, which has so many different choreographed ways of revealing the stage that it was considered to be a show in itself.  The CURTAIN.

So, it was great to enter at last, to walk down the aisle, approach the stage and hop on to rehearse.  I can tell you it felt very comfortable.  Even in my new shoes.

You’ll see me there, Tuesday night on NBC, 9/8 central!

Published in: on August 4, 2013 at 11:15 am  Comments (1)  

WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG?

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DAY FIVE IN NEW YORK CITY:

You might wonder, what the heck takes so long that you have to be in New York City an entire week prior to the broadcast of America’s Got Talent?

Well, it’s a BIG show.  I’m just a tiny, tiny part of it, but on the night all elements have to come together and work like a well-oiled machine.  So, it’s nice to leave a lot of time, and frankly, I’m happy that I have had five days to re-acclimatize myself to the pace and energy of this city.  Nothing against Los Angeles, but compared to a New York minute, LA’s is still rooting thru the drawers in the kitchen looking for the stopwatch.

Tomorrow will be my first day of actually walking on the stage at Radio City to block and rehearse my bit with the crew.  I expect it will be somewhat sobering, if not paralyzing. Once again, I’m glad I’m here early enough to be defibrillated in plenty of time for Tuesday’s show.

I’m now preparing by doing some research, watching YouTube videos of the great celebrities I will be paying tribute to in my set.  God, I love YouTube.  You can really see the span of a great performer’s life, and get an intimate sense of who they have been over the years.  It makes me love them all the more.

I do better impressions when I love the actor, I find.  They have something to teach me, and I’m grateful to be in their presence, even if only on my laptop.

So, tonight I prepare to bring my various beingnesses to the stage, and tomorrow, I get to find out what it feels like to actually stand where generations of Rockettes have stood, tapped, and, in that wonderful Toy Soldier dance, fallen backwards in a long line.

I’ll let you know tomorrow what it feels like.

Thanks for reading.

America’s Got Talent, this Tuesday, August 6 (Holy CRAP– that’s three days from now!) on NBC at 9/8 central.

 

The Rain Must Come

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My memories of New York City in the summer always includes big, loud, wet thunderstorms.  It gets monstrously hot and humid, then finally the clouds just LET GO.  I got caught in many when we lived here, soaked deliciously through and through.

Especially great when you are heading to an audition in a suit and tie…

Several things magically appear when it rains- umbrella salesmen blossom, seizing the day.  Like today, when I left my hotel to walk the few blocks down to Radio City Music Hall in a good old NYC downpour.

Another thing that magically appears is hundreds of discarded umbrellas, turned inside out by the winds that careen through the corridor of tall buildings, rendered useless sometimes seconds after purchase.  Disposable!

Something disappears, too, whenever it rains–empty cabs!

Luckily, I’m so close to Radio City, I don’t need to rely on any transportation, and I love to walk in the city, in the rain, the snow, whatever.  In California, we really don’t have weather, we have a sky that changes pastel tones.

Today I had an excellent rehearsal with the producers of America’s Got Talent and we are all on the same page.  I am very excited about Tuesday’s offering and I have plenty of time to really polish it and get it ready.

Last night I was at Radio City, doing some press and hanging out downstairs where they corral us contestants, and we all watched the broadcast together.

Once again, surprises!  I’m delighted that my counterpart in impressions, Angela Hoover is moving on to the Semi Finals, she is a marvelous entertainer.  She did something very, very risky in her set this week, imitated two of the judges.  I have a policy of never doing impressions in front of the celebrities themselves, if I can help it.  It’s a no win for me, since they generally don’t appreciate it, for the simple reason that they don’t hear their voices the way we hear them; they are, like most people, rather put off that their voices sound “weird” on tape.

But America rightly judged Angela as deserving (her Heidi Klum and Mel B impressions were fantastic) and she will be returning to Radio City for more in a few weeks time.

How will I fare?  I intend to be very entertaining and hope that America will be delighted and willing to overlook the fact that I should have grown up and gotten a real job quite a long while ago.

Thanks for reading, thanks for following me on this journey, thanks for voting and spreading the word.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it!

 

Published in: on August 1, 2013 at 9:55 am  Comments (1)