Friday, February 13, 2009

Portraits: New York City

I was reading this article in today’s NY Times, when I was reminded we are in a recession. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just wake up and realize this, but sometimes I tend to forget what’s going on in the real world. By day (morning, noon and most of the night) I live in a wondrous world where people get whatever they want, no matter what the cost: $800 worth of uneaten dinners (they were too cold and heating them in a microwave is, apparently, out of the question), $1200 make up chairs, $900 back pillows, $1000 in a car service (wait and return to/from Barneys) even though the passenger lives four blocks away from said store. I could go on, but the excess, the waste, is overwhelming.

Reality does hit on casting days, when the plastic, brightly-colored Ikea chairs are lined up against the wall in the hall and the actors come in to audition. Today was “cute, blonde girl in cafe” yesterday was “pudgy comb-over diner.” Walking past the recent visitors to our casting couch, I noticed the following:

1) A recent Tony nominee (who won rave reviews in her latest musical, which closed last month due to the recession)

2) A writer/director (and sometime actor) whose most recent film was critically acclaimed, but whose funding for his next feature fell through when his investors lost their jobs and their fortunes

3) A TV Pilot queen, who was clearly over-qualified for the part, but there were whispers about her needing money

4) A former West Wing cast member (also over-qualified, but see above)

Meanwhile, back in the production office, lists are being made of items cast/crew would like in the welcome baskets in their trailers for the first day of shooting. These items range from: “A case of Smartwater, to organic chips from Trader Joe’s, Cuban cigars, iPods (with access to download new songs every day), a nice case of a ‘vintage’ red wine, and daily fresh flowers (white only).”

There are people who see too much pain and suffering in the world, especially in times like these. But knowing that exists and yet, seeing others spend so much without batting an eye or taking a second to think about it, is almost as bad to witness. I can’t do anything about it, I can’t control it, and there isn’t anyone saying “NO.” So, the cycle continues, the egos inflate and the demands increase as the dow takes a dive. And, all I can do is look over at the waste treatment facility, conveniently located next door to my office, and laugh and cry, until the credits roll.

“Money is everywhere but so is poetry. What we lack are the poets.” - Federico Fellini

NY, New York