By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
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By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“Daytime. Okay, daytime,” concedes Hallee, who spent a few years on ABC’s Loving.
“That’s more than I’ve done!” Luke blurts, half joking.
A while back, Luke and Hallee kinda liked each other. Now they’re just friends, good friends. They also share the same agent, Abby Bluestone at Innovative Talent. Innovative is the only big agency that has a real children’s department. If a kid is at CAA or ICM it’s only because they are, like, Hilary Duff.
Hallee has a new boyfriend, Parker. He’s not an actor, a fact Hallee is “glad” about, but his band, the Naturals, are good for real. Stylee and melodic, they are like the Velvet Underground meets the Beatles meets Phantom Planet. They played their first show a few weeks ago at the Whisky a GoGo; it was packed and “awesome!”
Luke says a relationship right now would only be “excess baggage.” Caitlyn is a self-professed flirt who, Hallee confirms, “destroys young actors one at a time — slowly.”
“I’m not that bad, really,” laughs Caitlyn, who admits she likes a boy back home in Toledo.
During pilot season and then again between June and August, when about 150 or so kids return for a few more rounds of auditions, this place is like a cool-kids’ summer camp. Not to mention much of the time famous bands like Papa Roach, 98 Degrees or Aerosmith and a handful of cute, senior-year film school interns can be staying here as well. It’s the perfect reality-show setting for the younger set. Especially among the new kids, or “newbies” as Caitlyn calls them.
“They’re a bunch of these really pretty kids, a lot of them come from, like, Texas and Florida, where, like, cheerleading and modeling are big. So, they sort of come from that angle, ‘The prettier I look the more I’ll work,’” explains Hallee, petting Dylan on the head.
“They get a lot of the same looks. Like, the generically beautiful girls in bikinis and the sort of laid-back surfer guys. All hanging around the hot tub.”(Photo by Jack Gould)
“They don’t realize it’s like winning the lottery,” says Luke matter-of-factly.
During pilot season, both Luke and Hallee were going out on about one to three auditions a day. Neither booked a pilot, but Hallee, a former military brat, “went to studio” and network a few times. Translation: She came really, really close.
“The kid acting community is very small,” Luke explains, pushing back the chin-length blond hair from his face. “It’s all intertwined, everyone has some kind of history with each other. It’s kind of a cool thing to be a part of, and on the other hand it’s a bunch of very emotional kids, who are thrown together in certain situations.”
“It’s such a hard industry,” adds Hallee, who has done four pilots over the years and so many national commercials (“over 50 to be exact”) they aren’t even listed on her résumé. “And we’re teenagers at the same time. We’ve got the hormones, you know? It’s a confidence battle.”
“The business is full of bullshit and hypocrisy,” announces Luke emphatically. “Because it’s a business where you are constantly being told that who you are isn’t interesting enough.”
“You have to be completely confident, always at the center of attention,” says Hallee, who appeared regularly in skits on SNL, Letterman and Conan when she was still living back in New York. “It’s weird trying to find yourself. I can’t wait until I’m older and kind of beyond that stage. I want to laugh at that, like, ‘Yeah, I was a child actor and I found myself, la, la.’”
“I am a washed-up child actor and I found myself,” says Caitlyn wryly, flipping a neon-green Motorola back and forth in her palm.
“Hey,” Luke inserts. “Luke’s living under the 101! He’s a crack addict now, homeless, it’s grrreat!”
There were approximately 80 pilots cast this season and about 40 roles for actors between the ages of 8 and 16. According to young-talent agent Larry Corsa of Epstein, Wyckoff, Corsa and Roth, the casting directors will “whittle it down to like five kids,” at the end of the casting process. At which point, seven-year deals will be cut for each kid, in order to avoid any one kid having too much negotiating power.
“It’s a real struggle,” explains Corsa, who currently handles 35 kids theatrically and about 200 commercially. “You have a 1-in-5 chance that the kid will be cast and maybe a 1-in-30 that the pilot will end up on the air. And, we are trying to negotiate for as much money as we can possibly justify for the kid.”
Corsa, who lives in Santa Monica with his screenwriter wife and 8-year-old daughter (who has no desire to act, “thank heavens”), says that on top of that, reality shows have cut into the amount of work that is out there for actors, and writers for that matter. “There just aren’t as many slots on the schedule.”