Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Improvisation

This summer I am thinking of taking an improv refresher. I have taken several improv classes over the years and always learn a lot! The last time I did this was Second City about 7 yrs ago. So I think I will go back to them. Those of you who are interested in pursuing any kind of career that requires acting or "personality" I highly suggest improv classes. Most cities have them available at every level and welcome beginners. This is the kind of improv you do in groups, not stand up comedy, (which I know very very little about. If you want a good story on that, get Sarah Silverman's biography, "Bedwetter". Goooood read).

Back to improv, what it does it help you stop censoring yourself so that you can be more expressive and creative either as a performer, person, or professional. Plus, it's like free therapy, you laugh so hard at yourself and others in class. Improv classes are also great for kids and teens, it really helps them come out of their shell. Your classmates and teacher are always supportive and that makes you feel safe to go outside your boundaries. If you ever get an improv teacher that isn't supportive change teachers!. Acting teachers can be mean, and I've had a few and that can be good for you, not with improv, has to be "safe".

Monday, April 25, 2011

Perception IS Reality

One of the most important lessons we should all learn, that perception IS reality. This is true for ourselves as it is for others.

This is why con artists get away with what they do. If someone is very well dressed or in a uniform of some kind, most of us automatically assume they are worthy of our attention and trust. We have no "evidence" other than what is presented to us.  Another example is if someone claims to be an "expert" on something we will tend to believe what they say, even if their only expertise is selling us a product and bumping up their commission.

In the entertainment business there are many example of this. Nothing personal Mel Gibson, but he had us all snowed for many years. His image as a good husband, good Catholic, and father held up over numerous incidents of boozing and cheating. It was all chalked up to partying too much. It wasn't until we could no longer ignore the drinking, cheating, anti-semitisim, arrests, and abusive threats recorded on tape that public opinion changed. Remember Britney Spears meltdown a few years ago? We all thought Kevin Federline was the problem there...until we were faced with photos and more showing that Britney really was mentally ill and Kevin was the normal one! Can't finish this subject without bringing up John Edwards. This smiling, baby faced family man had us all reminiscing about the late JFK. Edwards was a top candidate for President until he, noble man that he was, dropped out to care for his ailing wife.  It wasn't until again, presented with repeated evidence we all realized that he was hiding his mistress and love child, and paying them off with money from questionable sources, and that's the real reason he had to drop out of the race.  Hmmmm....maybe he really was just like JFK.....we all know what a rascal he was!

My parents, limited as they were in resources, did teach me one of a few important lessons by example. To try to present the best image possible when you leave the house. In other words, put yourself together so you don't look like white trash. This is overlooked by so many people today who literally leave their house in the same sweatpants and t shirt they slept in and expect to be treated with respect. I also remember the ladies championship lacrosse team who showed up to a group lunch with former President Bush wearing flip flops!! This was so tacky it made the papers.
You've probably noticed I have little to say about entertainment today. There is a film being shot in town, "Lay it Down" with Bruce Willis. Don't think I'll be working on it as I was flat on my back sick when it was being cast for principles and extras.

Looks like the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists may finally merge. Long overdue. This should have been done 14 yrs ago when it was first attempted, before the internet took over so much media. Now I fear it may be too little too late. I really hope our unions do combine and become stronger. It is challenging enough being in the business with the unions. Without them I fear we would all be chewed up and spit out, since show business is the kind of business that many will work for free, those of us actual professionals benefit from the union, sometimes at a minimal level, but sometimes on a life changing level.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

All is well....until it's NOT

It started innocently enough....a tickle in the throat, little tired, and then it slammed into me like a semi truck........................pneumonia....................that BITCH!

Just to remind us who's in charge....NOT US.....but some freak force of nature.........sickness comes and sickness goes.....whenever the hell it wants!

So, needless to say I have very few actual memories of last week.....besides shaking like a junkie, burning up like the little girl in Exorcist while sweating like the late Chris Farley, and gasping for air like a chain smoker....(remember them, "chain smokers"? we all knew one).

My main accomplishment for the week was staying OUT of the hospital!  I did it......good thing because I have a $5,000 annual deductible on my "cross your fingers and hope nothing happens" health insurance.

Late in the week as the haze started to clear, I was able to check out Second City Improv perform a couple of shows.....good meaty improv, and I know from experience what that takes! One of the shows was "family friendly".....which makes it so much harder as there is so much you cannot "go there" with...it makes the actors have to be more creative.  When I took impov in performing arts school our teacher, the awesome Pat Dade, would not let us "do it blue"...i.e. adult! She said that was too easy and we would be learn improv much better by having to work harder at coming up with real material and not just "lapsing into blue".

Goodnight, and thankfully you can still get cough syrup with codeine.....if nothing else works.....that does!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Back to life, back to reality

Another awards show has come and gone and I'm back in "housewife" mode. A week ago I was onstage with Reba and backstage with Dierks Bentley....,and today my only "excitement" was the bank, dry cleaners, gym, market, laundry, etc.  I thought about it and came to the conclusion my life is 20% glamour and 80% monotony, but I suppose that's true on some level for all of us ......!
I'll take 20% over nothing.

It is a treat working with such talented artists, who are allowed to be just that...artists. Jon Fogerty rehearsed "Proud Mary" with Wynnona Judd and I think we all about fell out of our chairs! It was amazing, the energy coming from the guy who wrote that song....and hadn't performed it for a very long time due to some publishing rights problems. Glad to see he has found it again.  How many bad versions of that song have we all heard at karaoke, or by some wedding or garage band, to hear it how the songwriter intended made me tingle :)

Next month they are bringing back the Billboard Awards, so that'll be a great gig. The Billboard Awards were off the air for about four years....don't know why, maybe they were retooling it. Anyway I'm glad it's back!  The production company on this show likes us to be more fully involved rehearsal actors than the company that produces the ACMA's. So we do plenty of singing and dancing and not just presenting and accepting.

Standing in for Martina McBride the other day I was handed a mic and told to sing "When Will I Be Loved" for her since she was not there for that rehearsal. I could have and would have happily done it. But one of the female singers of "Little Big Town" stepped in and did it instead...probably a lot better than I would have. Also enjoyed being serenaded by Vince Gill while standing in for Carrie Underwood. THAT was a treat!  I have always been a fan of his and remember him performing at the Grand Ole Opry about 12 yrs ago, which was great! Didn't think I'd ever be working on stage with him, so that's progress....slow.....but progress.

Some of my friends in town are doing the 48 hour film festival this weekend. This is an international festival with projects in several cities worldwide. You meet on a Friday, are handed your "idea", which you then have to write a script, shoot and edit within 48 hrs! I would have offered myself as an actor for this but I have something else going on I can't change.  They have this festival in other towns across the U.S. as well. www.48hourfilm.com.

There's supposed to be a Bruce Willis movie shooting here in May. Will have to find out who's working on that and if I can get in on it. Haven't been on a movie set in a few years. It's been all TV when I have been working on the set.....which isn't that often.

Still miss my beautiful kitty...takes awhile to get over losing a pet doesn't it? It's been almost 3 weeks and getting slightly better. Does anyone know of any truly non allergenic cat breeds? A member of my household is allergic, so a new cat would have to be that.

I'm not feeling very witty or clever tonight but I know I'm supposed to write anyway, so I did. Signing off....

Anna Wendt for Reba McEntire, Nancy O'Dell

Karen Wendt for Miranda Lamber


www.acmcountry.com

Monday, April 4, 2011

VIP one minute, nobody the next....


It's funny how I can be on stage rehearsing with the biggest performers in country music and an hour later just be another spectator at the show sitting in the nosebleed seats.  That's how it is though. Once rehearsals end and those credentials are no longer valid, you're "one of the crowd again". I'm not complaining, I'm used to it after 15 yrs in the entertainment business and 11 years as a professional rehearsal actor. It's just funny when some security guard is making me go through the weapons scanner twice and I'm thinking, I was just on stage with Reba McEntire an hour ago!.....but nobody would really believe that, so I just have to laugh it off..... 

I remember standing in for Anastacia for Vh-1 Divas several years ago. She was walking from her dressing room to the stage to rehearse with Celine Dion, in full dress, all glammed up, and a security guard stops her and asks for her "badge" and won't let her go any further. She's like "I'm ONE of THE DIVAS", I don't have a "badge"! We were all laughing, including her. A crew member walking by saved the day. On another note, I always felt a little bad for Anastacia because her  career was just taking off big with her hit, "One Day in Your Life" and she got breast cancer. She recovered but lost a lot of ground in the music business.

So for yesterday's Academy of Country Music rehearsals I presented an award for "ACM Song of the Year" as Nancy O'Dell, presented an award as one of The Judds for "ACM Top Vocal Duo", introduced Carrie Underwood and a few other bits and pieces, the highlight was accepting the award for "Entertainer of the Year". But then I gave the award back, because it was just rehearsal, of course.

I was thinking again yesterday that I wonder if most people realize how hard famous entertainers work. They really do, the majority of them, work harder than most imagine. Free time is not something they have much if any of. For awards weekends like this, it's every hour scheduled for interviews, rehearsals, photo ops, fan events, sponsor events, photo shoots, it goes on and on. Anyone who thinks you can be a world class famous performer and just "show up" after you've "made it" is SO wrong! Having a bad day or lazy day, or God forbid a hangover which destroys your singing voice for a whole day, when there are things planned that affect your record label, your endorsements, your band, etc. is just not an option.  There's too much money and credibility at stake. I see this up closer than most people so I know what I'm talking about. Hey, I don't feel sorry for them, don't get me wrong! They have amazing careers and are getting to do what all artists and performers dream of, make their living on their art...a very very rare and small group of people in this world can do this. But it is a daily commitment and that I respect.

Today I'm off to work in a few minutes to head to rehearsals for "Girls Night Out"....it's a tribute to the female superstars of country. The performers themselves will be there and so us rehearsal actors will probably just be presenting, accepting awards and introducing the acts. I always enjoy doing this in dress rehearsal as it's like a free private concert. What a  t r e a t !  Among others, Vince Gill is performing, with his beautiful tenor harmonies, which all of us ladies l-o-v-e! And The Judds are fittingly, performing their song, "Girls Night Out"...can't believe that song was released 25 years ago! Hard to get my mind around that....time flies....just a reminder not to take any worries too seriously, they'll just be a memory before you know it.


"guitar central".....backstage



Sunday, April 3, 2011

This is Country Music...

For some reason I love simple this song by Brad Paisley. Reminds me of growing up listening to George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Pride and Loretta Lynn on my parents console stereo, which was preceded by John Denver on the 8 track. Remember some people had 8 track players in their car? That was really cool back in 74'!...along with the "keep on truckin'" bumper sticker.

While watching Brad rehearse with Alabama yesterday I was reminded of the first time I ever saw him live which was with my sister at Fan Fair in Nashville in 98'. He was so skinny with this huge guitar and a giant cowboy hat, he looked like a 12 yr old boy who snuck out of the house and on stage. He was just releasing "He Didn't Have to Be", the song about a step father, which was his first big hit I think. Anyway, my sister and I are always like those two old men puppets in the balcony from The Muppet Show, critiquing everything and our take on Brad was he'll probably have to beef up, put on some weight, change to an electric guitar and he'll have a shot! And that's what he did. If you keep doing what you're doing you'll get better and better at it and now he's amazing with that guitar and of course one of the biggest stars in music.

What a treat to see Alabama harmonizing again. Wonder why they retired? I think it was from 20 yrs of touring constantly, living on buses, hit after hit, winning every award time and again. they were just "done". 
"There's an old flame burning in your mind...that tears can't drown and make up can't disguise. That old flame might not be stronger, but it's been burning longer... than any torch I might have started in your eyes"
I always liked that song about someone carrying a torch for an ex. Who can't relate?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

For This Rehearsal Only

If, when you are rehearsing as a presenter for an awards show, you don't say, "for this rehearsal only" when reading the winner, you get your butt chewed.....big time! So far I haven't made that error ...knock on wood.

Yesterday my sister and I stood in for "The Judds" as presenters. I hear they have a new reality show coming out. And also stood in for Nancy O'Dell....again, been doing that alot this past year, first as stand in host for the ACA's (a different country music awards show), then for "New Year's Eve Live" at Mandalay Bay Beach.  Her star is shining brightly these days as the new host of Entertainment Tonight....so I will bask remotely in her glow...for now.

Ronnie Dunn, formerly of Brooks & Dunn, performed solo for the first time on the ACMA stage. As many know, Brooks & Dunn parted ways after 20 years of a hugely successful career as a duo. Many noticed that they didn't speak to each other for quite a long time before going their separate ways...probably just like most "married couples" they ran out of things to say! What a great body of work they put together, my faves being, "Neon Moon", "Indian Summer", and "My Maria". Ronnie's first single as a solo, "Bleed Red" is powerful and his voice is stronger than ever! Love his "cowboy" tattoo, wonder if it's new.

I've thought of getting a tattoo, but probably never will. I always said I'd never get one unless they're made of crystals....and low and behold they came out with some that are! Club Tattoo (I think that's the name) in Planet Hollywood Miracle Mile Shops does them...they are awesome.... Maybe I'll get nipple crystal tattoos.....kidding!!