The Heidi Chronicles, Chapter 40: A little something "extra"
This is Heidi. Last year, she was "discovered" in the park by a pet talent agency; since then, she has embarked on a one-dog quest to break into the business. This is her Hollywood story as chronicled by Diane Haithman. And this is her "head shot": That longing look was achieved by placing a biscuit just out of reach.
Heidi has not yet performed a speaking role on stage or screen, but she's now a veteran radio commentator. If you want to hear me -- and more importantly, the dog -- speak, we'll be chatting about Heidi's career tomorrow (Tuesday) on The Pet Hour on Sirius XM Stars: Sirius 102 and XM 155, which airs at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST. We taped the show a few weeks ago. We rehearsed Heidi's "hello" in advance of the 10-minute telephone interview; then, I stacked dog biscuits by the phone and prayed Heidi would not ignore my "speak" hand signal and spend her 10 minutes of fame staring silently into the phone receiver.
She did not. In fact, Heidi was so good that hosts Cindy Connors and Nancy Glass asked her to speak again. Apparently she had them at "WOOF."
But not content with having mastered the radio medium, we're still trying to get Heidi in front of a movie or TV camera. To that end, I finally overcame my resistance and followed some sage advice we got in March from Terri Ann Becherer, director of background actors -- better known as extras -- for the Screen Actors Guild. Becherer had recommended that I go online and sign up with one or more of the various websites that offer to link up non-union extras with possible roles. Some of these sites ask you to list any special skills or props you might bring to an extra role; those "props" might include a dog.
I decided I would only visit sites that allowed me to sign up for free and invited me to post a photo, figuring I could use a shot that included Heidi. I also decided that I would take this opportunity to acquire a stage name, and chose to borrow the moniker of my late great-grandmother, Daisy Bishop.
Photo: SAG's Terri Ann Becherer offers Heidi a treat-- but not an extra role. Credit: Diane Haithman
Only one of the websites that Terri suggested, extrasaccess.com, met all of my criteria -- free, with space to post two photos, and a place to check a box that indicated that I had a dog (large). So I put up two shots of Daisy and her German Shepherd (large).
And within 24 hours, I got my first e-mail, with this enticing subject header: "Projects match your profile." I eagerly opened the e-mail to find my first profile match. It was a casting call from one of my very favorite shows, HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm"! I envisioned myself and Heidi on screen in a neighborhood stop-'n'-chat with star Larry David.
Then I read further. The role was for "FEATURED EXTRA EXTREMELY BUSTY WOMAN DDD OR LARGER."
Whose "profile" had they read, exactly? While I admit I shaved five years off my age when filling out the application for "Daisy," I didn't add any inches -- and frankly, the only thing about me that's a "D" is my first initial. Plus I didn't see anything at all about a German Shepherd, of any size.
Since then, I've been invited to apply for extra jobs as an attendee at a metal concert ("tattoos and piercings a plus"), a zombie wearing a mask but otherwise "nude at all times" for a horror movie, and an exotic "vampire body guard" who had to be at least 6 feet tall -- again, someone seems to be neglecting to check the specifics in my online profile.
I also have ignored more realistic casting options such as sunbather and upscale party guest -- I'm tall enough to do that -- because none of them called for a dog. Probably due to my failure to respond, I haven't heard much about my future as an extra-with-dog in recent days. Heidi and I will have to find another website -- or maybe come up with a different "profile." She doesn't do nudity, either.
-- Diane Haithman