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Friday, February 11, 2011

EXCLUSIVE Interview with Carmen Aiello of Carmencasting in Los Angeles


Some of us decide to take the plunge to LA. We know it isn’t for everyone, but we wanted to see what you had to look forward to on the Best Coast. We recently had a chance to interview a great hero of ours. Carmen Aiello has toiled tirelessly for Chicago actors as a casting agent in Los Angeles for a few years now. We met him at Twinkerbell’s in the San Fernando Valley for cosmos, astroglide, and chatting about the Biz!!!

Hi Carmen! Thanks for meeting us in this Leather Bar. What would you like to drink?

Body shots on you and I'll lick the salt off of the Roach!

This just got awesome. While we are waiting for the drinks, tell us about why you decided to come out here to LA.

Honestly? Well- first, I think that people thought I was crazy to do this. I’m the least likely to have moved to Lala land. Look, I wanted to help actors. That was simple. And I’ve worked with the best Chicago actors and they are really fucking tough artists. And I wanted to represent Chicago’s best. I felt...I felt that , well, it was really emotional for me to make this transition. And the most talented people needed someone who understood them. So either it was New York or L.A. and I don’t want to have a toilet that transforms into a sink in a cockroach infested studio in New York- so I chose L.A.. Where I could have a car and do what I wanted.

Drinks are ready. So, what is it that you do exactly out here? Put some salt on Eric.

I’m ready to bite the lime out of his mouth. It’s early to think about drinking but this is a good start to a Friday. This lime is really sour, y’all!
I’m an artist. Let me explain this. I help actors. My passion has always to be surrounded by actors my whole life. It’s all I know. They are crazy people with strong desires and passion. I want to embrace that and help people who deserve it. Chicago actors are driven. It’s inspiring. And you guys are hot. Fuck this whole Hollywood look. Give me some corn fed midwesterners.

There was a real fat dude on The Cape the other night that I (Eric) went to college with. If that jerkoff can get paid, I know I can.

Well...I think L.A. is catching up with the real world.

So tell us. If I was a young good looking actor, and just moving to LA, what would I have to do to get in front of you?

Well, I don’t have a couch yet in my house...so there goes that idea. But really...I work as a Jr Agent and I’m casting three SAG Feature movies and helping artists. It’s not always about look. The blonde hair blue eyes is way over. If you can act, you can book a role.

Now, Carm...is that oversimplifying a bit? Is it a little about who you know, as the saying goes?

NO! You guys. No. no no no no no no no no no no. NO! I will crack out my whip here.

It seems like, I see some people who studios continuously try to sell us over and over again, even though we clearly don’t like them. Including, but not limited to: Simon Baker, Mike O’Malley, etc. Why do they get so many chances?

Baker from The Mentalist?

Mmmm hmmmm.

Well. I mean, how many plays do you see with the same actors and you are like “UGH, why not someone new????” I mean... you have to develop and persist change. You have to be a bit unruly. And that’s what I’m doing. Provoking change. I have had at least 10 unknown Chicago actors go up for series regular roles in the past month. I did it through passion and the belief that they are worth it. One Chicago actor is testing on Monday for a major television show. He has no credits. NONE. And he doesn’t look like Simon Baker. At. All.

Good, because that guy looks like he took a 2x4 to the nose. Is he supposed to be hot on The Mentalist? Should have ducked those punches, Simon.

We are in a leather bar- you can do whatever you want to him.

Carmen, walk us through the process of getting information to you. How do I even get a chance to meet with someone like you?

Well...you mean if you didn’t know me? I mean, if you came out here I would come see you. Hello. I’m not a bitch. Well...I’m not a bitch in my profession. I could be YOUR bitch if you asked nicely.

Yes, you could. But let’s say...oh...John Cheeseman from Ohio State moves to LA. Didn’t know you, but wanted to take the right steps...how should he staple his resume to his headshot?

I’m just a regular guy on a mission. I mean, I guess people have contacted me through Facebook and cold called me on my cell (which is not fun) but I’m decent and I listen. I mean, I have a job to do and I have to look at all the resources and time it takes to get to know someone. I’m not a hookup. Meeting me is more than a one night stand. We don’t get to home plate on the first meeting. I like to develop relationships with actors. And sometimes it happens right away. I have to know they are serious. I have to know they are talented- And when I say talented, I mean they have knowledge of theatre, TV, FILM and the ability to handle large and small roles. They have to be interested in themselves. Not just wanting a quick fix. I have no interest in making someone’s dream come true from the air. I worked really fucking hard to be here. Really hard. And I want to know someone can take the difficulty of being an actor. I did well in Chicago and I have knowledge of dance, theatre art and, now, TV and FILM. I want someone who I can relate to and can teach me something about myself. Those are the people I am drawn to. So it happens when it happens. It can take years or a week. You know? Hard work and passion.

You keep saying the word “Hard” and it is making me think about that little twink over there. I could bear down on that little bastard big time.

He’s in a sling. Too easy.

I bet he’s no Simon Baker. Anyway, when you finally get somebody you are interested in, do you sort of...send them out to different agencies, or...I don’t know how it works.

It depends on the needs of that individuals career. Listen, I have worked for crazy people. One boss pounded her breasts and screamed at me on my first day of the job for a major television show I was a casting assistant on. But I was able to get an amazing Chicago actor a read with her. So it was worth it. I didn’t come out here and, well, yes I did. I came out here and three days later found a job doing exactly what I wanted to do. But I have worked for crazy people and tried to help actors at each job. So it depends where I am. Now I work for an amazing woman who will listen to my creative ideas and I’m casting. So I can pass their information on or see if there is a role in the movie. But the rest is up to the higher-ups and producers. At an agency, you have to be signed or “hip pocketed” by an assistant. That means the assistant is taking care of your career- not that you are sucking them off in their pocket.

That would require some big pockets.

Hip pockets? I got into major trouble at an A-list agency. I was a lead floater. I pitched over 20 Chicago actors and no one has ever done that. I sabotaged my career there because I believed in these actors. And now one of them is starring in a Malcolm McDowell movie that I’m casting directed by Chicago director Frank Merle. So...Hip pockets are private. Discreet. On the DL. It’s like being gay in Hollywood. You shouldn’t disclose that you are hip pocketed at an agency. Like you shouldn’t be gay in Hollywood. Don’t say anything.

I see. Good thing we are here in the Valley. So tell me (Andy) what the craziest thing you have ever done is.

(Eric) Once I banged some dudes on the balcony of Wrigley...oh, you meant Carmen.

I guess I missed a lot since leaving Chicago. Where were you guys when I was single out there?

In a van.

You can fit three people in the back of a van. I’m insulted.

Answer the question, sir!

I’m glad you finally know my title. Yes. What’s the craziest thing I’ve done? Professionally?

Whichever. Professionally or just in life. People like to know who they are dealing with here.

Agh! Um. Tried to play sports? Be in Boy Scouts? Crossed the border of Mexico at 3am on a Friday night.

Were you headed to a brothel in TJ to try to break the gayness out of you?

I was trying to break the gayness in the hot Mexican men. Hola amigo. This is going to get me in trouble.

Carmen, we want to thank you for meeting us here. You are a good friend to us Chicago actors and I hope we ALL get a chance to be around you more. You are a hero.

I really miss you guys. There are some amazing Chicago actors out here. Real quick. I gotta say this cause I have to represent them- it’s my job. Dana Green - saw her last night at South Coast Repertory Theatre in Midsummer Nights Dream. Remember her? She made an incredible living in L.A. doing theatre. Jordon Hodges, Brenden Hill, Rebecca Jordan, Lisa Rothschiller, Jimmy Slonina, Richard Ragsdale, Christopher Johnson...

Well, we gotta go...

Steve Walker, Kyle More, Joey Christopoulos, Aaron Boucher, Dehlia Miller, Molly Erdman, Cesar Jamie, Jamie Hoggson, Joe Canale, Adam Silver, Ronald Conner, Jason Karasev...

Okey doke. Well, nice to see you out he-

John Rushing, Maggie Suma, Alexandra Billings, Andre Ing, David Rispoli, Jacqueline Zook, Jenna Johnson, Dawn Barber, Joey Honsa...

OK, this isn’t the Nam Memorial, Carm-

David Dastmalchian, Erin Killean, Lindsey Fisher, Melissa Pryor...

(Andy to Eric) What should we do? This is getting really creepy.

(Eric to Andy) Should we just leave? He just keeps talking...this is like a gay horror movie.

(Andy to Eric) Maybe if we pretend we are dead, he will just walk off.

Nicole Adelman, Tony Casale, Linara Washington and Ian Forester- who told me to come out here in the first place. I’m just so lucky to know so many incredible people. Everyone has made it here and the journey is epic. I’m forgetting people because there are so many. But we have a gifted bunch and it’s growing incredibly strong.

(Eric and Andy stop feigning death) Well thanks for buying us the drinks. Can we have a ride?

A ride? Yeah baby I’ll give you a ride. Turn around.

RUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNN!!!!!!

4 comments:

  1. "Well. I mean, how many plays do you see with the same actors and you are like “UGH, why not someone new????” "

    Man, do I know what he means. It seems like I can't even go into a theatre in Chicago without seeing Tom Hickey. Either onstage, or in the alley, or creeping round the women's dressing room. Like, right now, he is in 12 shows.

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  2. Carmen Aiello is a real inspiration

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  3. this man is an american hero.

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