By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Acting is a crazy business. As Old Blue Eyes so immortally phrased it, “Riding high in April, shot down in May” — or, in the case of Cher, Oscar in April, infomercial in May. Still, veteran TV and commercials actor Guerin Barry was “bemused” late last year when he received an acting payment of minus 3 cents. That’s right, 3 cents was actually deducted from Barry’s account for appearing in the film Number One Fan.
“How can they give me a minus gross?” asks Barry, who noticed the deduction in his Screen Actors Guild (SAG) residual statement. “Thank goodness I didn’t make more of these shows.”
The deficit payment was a residual, that unpredictable but indispensable check an actor receives each time his work is rerun on television or cable, or sold in the videocassette market. (Coincidentally, residuals are one of the issues in the SAG strike, which is slated for next month.) Residuals can be the lifeblood of the workaday actor, continuing to trickle in years after the original role. Barry, for example, received thousands of dollars last year for a 1.5-second acting turn as a bewigged marquis in a car commercial.
As time goes by, however, shows fall out of syndication, the actor’s per-episode compensation drops, and residuals can dwindle to minuscule proportions. Still, Barry doesn’t understand getting paid in the negative column. And the –$.03 wasn’t his only deficit check of the year. He also received a –$.01 pay stub from the TV series Beauty and the Beast, he says.
SAG spokesman Greg Krizman says Barry’s negative residual most likely was issued to cover videocassette returns. At some point, Barry was paid based on estimates of the number of cassettes the show expected to sell through video stores. When an unexpectedly high number of videos were returned unsold, an adjustment was made, Krizman explains.
“This is obviously an extremely rare [occurrence],” he adds.
“People would come in with a whole stack of checks,” he laughs.
“In a way it makes some kind of left-handed sense,” says Barry. “It’s amusing to get a check worth less than the stamp on the letter informing you about it, not to mention the cost of the labor and paper.”
HOMIES UNIDOS TRIUMPH
Jose Rodriguez almost missed his court date Wednesday morning, April 19, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered. His case was closed before he got there.
Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum told a Superior Court judge that the prosecution was “unable to proceed” with murder charges against Rodriguez, who spent eight months in juvenile hall as a suspect.
Rodriguez attorney Jorge Gonzalez said his client, a lanky and taciturn 15-year-old, arrived late because he resented having to come at all. He’d protested his innocence from the beginning, Gonzalez said, and had an ironclad alibi to boot.
Rodriguez, then 14, was arrested by LAPD Rampart CRASH last August 12 and charged with a gang-related homicide. He was released from custody last month after the survivor of the double shooting failed to identify him in a live lineup.
Rodriguez and his attorney contend that the arrest was actually a frame-up, part of an escalating campaign by Rampart officers against Homies Unidos, a gang-peace project operated out of a Wilshire Boulevard church. In fact, Rodriguez told police investigators the night he was arrested that he’d been inside a Homies theater workshop when the shooting took place.
Deputy D.A. Hum said Wednesday that it was the testimony of the people at that meeting — particularly the statements of Thom Vernon and Rana Haugen, instructors at the Homies workshop — that persuaded him to drop the case against Rodriguez. “With these alibi witnesses there’s no real room for error. Either he didn’t do it or they’re lying, and they [Vernon and Haugen] don’t have a real strong motive for lying.”
It seems like a reasonable conclusion — one that the cops might have reached last August, when Vernon, four days after Rodriguez’s arrest, told the investigating officers that he could vouch for the 15-year-old. Four days after that, by sheer coincidence, Vernon encountered the investigating officer on the case at a party and repeated that Rodriguez was at the Homies workshop when the shooting took place. Both Vernon and Haugen, along with a third witness, Kim Gee, also submitted sworn declarations to that effect to attorney Gonzalez, who submitted them to the District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutor Hum said last week that the charges were not dropped at that time because detectives were unable to get Vernon and Haugen to agree to an interview. “We’d been trying to get in touch for several months, but they were advised not to cooperate,” Hum said.
Attorney Gonzalez said that account, like the charges against Rodriguez, is bunk. “The entire gist of the case, from the moment I got it, was to try to get them to look at this as a case where the guy was innocent.”