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14 April 2009

I wonder if blogging is going to get a bad name now that we have a couple of idiots in government planning to use it to send out bad messages? I doubt it. And are they just scapegoats – the plot thickens or does it? It is often the most stupid decisions that bring down the great and the good(!?).

Remember Richard Nixon – Watergate- I do, I was there in the US, watching with amazement as these supposed brilliant men, running the world, wrought their own downfall. I really believe that it is ego that gets these people in the end. The complete belief that anything they do is acceptable and that they can never cross the line. Oh well the soap opera continues. I did live in the US during the most amazing times - Kent State, unbelievable and my first introduction to the difference of policing with guns as opposed to our police who are not armed, the end of the Vietnam War, the sight of John McCain bowing to his captors. And more recently the rise of Barack Obama and his growing glowing personality gaining control of the hearts of so many people.

Jane with Leonard Nimoy The first television I did in the States was ‘Mission Impossible’. I had barely heard of the series, but I was very impressed with working with the fascinating and highly intelligent Leonard Nimoy and charmer Peter Graves. It was my first introduction to making an hour long show in seven days as opposed to the fourteen we had for our shows like ‘The Saint’, ‘Danger Man’, etc. It was all very efficiently run and the sets that were used in each episode remained in place, pre-lit.

It was then that I learned that, contrary to general belief the Unions in the US are very powerful and well respected by the Employers. In this case it was the technicians, who worked incredibly long hours and were paid very well for it. There was no calling of a meeting with the crew to see if they would be willing to work overtime- the norm in the UK and the producers knew what they could and could not get away with. It was a ridiculous waste of filming time when we had to hang around waiting for the UK technicians to agree to work longer hours. Of course the actors were never consulted on both sides of the Atlantic, so we always knew where we were in the pecking order.

Jane Merrow at Brampton I have benefited greatly from the strength of the Screen Actors Guild and wish our actors Union in the UK – Equity could be stronger. But politics have left us behind and in many instances now we have a mixture of professionals and amateurs working together in professional productions. We have a many young talented actors around now and I suppose as in coffee, the cream will always rise to the top. However a few less worthy people have slipped through and diluted the mix. I strongly disapprove of the way that some of the recent West End musicals have been cast, aided and abetted by the BBC and big Producers. This means that the audiences have to some extent been cheated of seeing real professional actors in the roles they should have played.

Of course ours has never been a fair profession, we have the well known stories of Audrey Hepburn a real star in her own right, playing the role in ‘My Fair Lady’ instead of Julie Andrews, who made the part her own. And Georgia Brown losing out on the part of ‘Nancy’, by sheer bad luck in the film of ‘Oliver’. However as I said, at least Audrey Hepburn was a real and stunning star in her own right and could sing. What if we had had a competition to find a ‘star’ on TV for Eliza? We could have missed Julie Andrews AND Audrey Hepburn. See what I mean?

Acting is very hard work and the training can and should be brutal. That’s what largely separates the stayers from the quitters. This an industry that calls for real and determined stamina and the ability to suffer rejection after rejection, which, as Lou Edelman (Producer of ‘Adam’s Woman) pointed out, is relentless and very personal, unlike many normal job rejections. I am back off to the States next month to act in ‘The Comedy of Errors’ at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. It is a lovely open air theatre, rather like Regents Park by the river. I am pleased and happy. My short films has had to be pushed back for a couple of months, but that’s OK, we are very well prepared now! Jane

More soon.
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