When I worked as a radio News Director, I used to regularly receive emails and phone calls from people who pitched their ideas to me for a news story. I remember one such pitch involving the Coen brothers and a casting call scheduled to happen in my hometown of Kitchener, Ontario.
A guy (I’ll call him “Jerry Lundegaarde”) called me, wondering if I could help him get a story on the radio. Jerry proceeded to tell me that he worked with a casting company. They were going to be in town on an upcoming weekend for an open casting call. The casting call was for the Coen brothers’ remake of the movie, True Grit.
What a scoop! Joel and Ethan Coen were going to be in Kitchener to cast local people for their new film and someone organizing a casting call was calling, me for help. A few thoughts jumped into my head: do any other media have this story? Could I get an interview with Joel or Ethan? Most importantly, how do I get a part in this movie? I also wondered, what area locations had appealed to the Coen brothers, enough to make them want to make a movie here? A western to boot! (no pun intended)
I had stars in my eyes, thinking about how my face (for radio) would look on film. Would my role as an ‘extra’ rival that of Jeff Bridges, as the dude in: The Big Lebowski? Perhaps critics would compare me to George Clooney in: O Brother Where Art Thou, or maybe, even William H. Macy, as seen in: Fargo. As an extra, I didn’t expect the camera would get that close, but let’s dream a little, shall we. I told “Jerry Lundegaarde” how I had seen all the Coen brothers’ films. I was interested in seeing their spin on the classic film, that earned John Wayne an Oscar award for his performance.
“Jerry” seemed at ease knowing that he was talking to a real fan! He proceeded to give me the name of the casting director and her assistant. I informed “Jerry” that our Newsroom staff could interview them for a story to run on all of our radio stations in the days leading up to the casting call. The day of the casting call, we could put them in the lineup for one of our talk shows.
I casually asked “Jerry” where exactly the casting call was taking place; I figured it would require a fairly large facility. Let’s face it, once people found out an open casting call was taking place, they would flock from all over the area. And then with one word, all my hopes and dreams of stardom were crushed when “Jerry” responded, “Memphis”. “Memphis?” I queried in dismay. Now, “Jerry,” suspecting something was suddenly amiss, asked, “Isn’t your radio station in Memphis?” “No!” I responded; “Kitchener…..Ontario….Canada.”
“Jerry” quickly apologized for wasting my time. Trying to salvage what little, was left of my pride, I suggested he tell the Coen brother’s, that perhaps their next film should be about the radio business. After all, if they needed research or an extra, they could just call me.
Related blogs and podcasts: