Chasing fame on Next Stop Hollywood
Here in Hollywood - the neighbourhood where I live, that is, not the ephemeral concept - you can't swing a bag full of 8x10 head-shots without hitting an Aussie.
That's because it's still de rigeur for actors, presenters, writers and "stars" to up stumps and come to Los Angeles in search of stardom, and if not stardom, just plain work. The lure of the industry is strong, and, so the thinking goes, this is where you come to make it happen.
It's not necessarily a shot in the dark. Directors, agents, casting directors and other actors regularly praise the work ethic of Australian performers; as Sam Worthington once told Esquire in 2009, "Aussie actors take fifteen hours to get to America — we ain't going to waste our fucking time and money. And that means we're not going to waste their time."
That may be true in many cases, but you'll have to wait until 9:30pm this evening to see if the six 'stars' of ABC1's new docu-reality series, Next Stop Hollywood, will follow in Worthington and his mates' hard-working (or working at all) footsteps.
Directed by Gary Doust and produced by The Slap's Tony Ayres, the six-part series will trace the footsteps of six aspiring (and not so aspiring) actors, from AFI Award-winning Craig Anderson of Double The Fist, to established actress Radha Mitchell's cousin Penelope Mitchell, to fresh-faced newcomer Michael Clarke-Tokely.
(You can also watch small introductory videos about each of the... castmembers? contestants? at Next Stop Hollywood's YouTube channel.)
As Daniel Burt noted this week in the SMH, We see the machinations familiar to actors: self-interest veiled as curiosity (''So - are they still casting?''); deep superficiality (''I'm air-brushing my headshots''); misplaced proactivity (''The situation is looking a bit dire - I'm going to get my nails done''); professional faux pas (''Please get off the premises''); humble bragging (''I'm alongside Kate Winslet and then there's just me, like, this complete goofball''); attempted networking (''He hung up on me'') and melodrama (''My life is doomed!''). No wonder actors spend so much time trying to play other people.
The success or failure of shows like this - regardless of the participants' personal success or failure - depends on the "characters" involved, and Ayres and Doust have clearly spent a lot of time finessing the mix of personalities and talent levels in their six expats.
"I don't think any of these actors wanted to be seen as a Kardashian," Doust told The Age late last year. "They are quite serious about their craft and it was probably more a case, when we knew which actors we wanted, of us reassuring them that it's not a reality show. I still think the risk for them in terms of putting themselves out there was [higher] than becoming famous.''
Who's going to actually make it? My money's on Anderson, but then that imagines a Hollywood in which talent, dedication and a genuine personality are valued over youth, beauty and networking.
So really, it's anyone's guess. Next Stop Hollywood starts tonight at 9:30pm on ABC1 and runs for six weeks.