Monday, February 18, 2008

Goodbye, Ashley Callie

Award winning South African actress and restauranteur Ashley Callie passed away Friday, a week after being in a head-on collision. She was young, talented and beautiful, and had become a household name for her role as Leone Haines in long running soap "Isidingo".

The year above Ashley at drama school, I remember having the most enormous crush but, in typical Emery fashion, failed to do anything about it. We acted together in "Cloud 9". I remember vividly a scene where I was to make her cry, but always came short because I didn't want to upset the person behind the role.

The last time I saw Ashley in person, she was at her restaurant in Melville. It must've been 3 years ago, during a visit home. She popped out of the kitchen and I saw her and gave her a hug, saying we must catch up. But she was off before I could finish, racing back to the kitchen on another full night. Next time I saw her was on TV in Isidingo during our trip back this past Christmas. She looked so perfect in her role. Damn good choice, I thought.

A couple of weeks ago, I dropped off my showreel to a place here in LA and, as I was waiting, glanced at the bookcase to my left. My eyes fell on one book. A play. "Cloud 9" by Carol Churchill. I flipped through to 'that scene', the first time I'd read it since 1991. Over a decade ago, but still just as fresh. I left with a smile.

Thank you for being you, Ashley. I'm sorry I didn't make the time to see you. You will live on in our hearts and our memories.

Click here to visit the Ashley Callie Tribute Site

Monday, February 11, 2008

Strike is Over but No-One's Talking

I was overjoyed to see that a tentative agreement has been reached in the writers' strike and the machine can start up again within the next day or so. It's somewhat ironic that just as Hollywood can go back to work, they (or a large percentage of the industry) won't be able to talk. No, it's not a dreaded airborne 'lergy that's rendered thousands voiceless. Instead it's their cellphones that are down for the count.

Most of Hollywood has switched on to the Blackberry phenomenon, renowned for being the communication device of choice among producers, directors, writers, agents, actors, assistants and - well, anyone who aspires to be any of the aforementioned. Sadly, BB bit the dust today in the US. Not a few, not just in one area, but every single Blackberry device in North America has been reduced to a $500 phone book. Nice.

According to FOXNEWS:

An outage has disconnected BlackBerry smart phones across North America.
AT&T Inc. says the disruption Monday is affecting all wireless carriers.
AT&T first learned about the problem at about 3:30 p.m. EST.

There's no word on the cause or when the problem might be fixed.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion did not immediately return a phone call.

First there wasn't anything new to talk about for 3 months and now they have got something to say, nobody's listening 'cos they can't get through! I pity the poor assistants and unpaid interns across this town, who were no doubt dumped on from a dizzy height and will continue being abused until the BB service comes back online. Be brave, my friends, be brave.

Luckily I have a "normal" phone, which means I'm not affected by this problem. It also means I'm not a producer, director, agent or assistant and - unless the writers can call each other on their Crackberries and vote to end the strike, I won't be able to call myself an actor much longer, either. So get to it, Blackberry.

Can you hear me now?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

RIP Roy Sheider

Iconic actor Roy Scheider lost his long battle with cancer and passed away today in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was 75. Roy was nominated for 2 Oscars; for the French Connection in '72 and All That Jazz in '79. But he was best known for his role as the police chief in 1975's Jaws - the first movie to make $100m at the box office. Who doesn't recall seeing that film for the first time and even now, some 33 years on, there must be precious few movie goers who haven't seen it.

I had the fortune of working with Roy, albeit briefly, on a little movie some years ago. I was only in one scene, but that was with him and I was taken by his charm and warmth. In fact, the warddrobe department put me in one of the suits set aside for the man himself. (A useless bit of trivia which may have more to do with the film's budget than the fact we both had a 30" waist - not bad for a guy of 69!)

Roy wasn't your typical leading man. He had a bit of a weathered look about him that, together with his skill and intensity, ensured his characters were never surface studies. Even towards the end of his career, in spite of his frail physicality, he remained as weighty as ever. He could still pierce you with a look.

Thank you, Mr Scheider. You remain an inspiration.