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The agent placed three kids on pilots this year, two shows for Carsey-Werner, the production company responsible for That ’70s Show, and one with Regency, which does Malcolm in the Middle. He said he felt he had “a pretty good chance,” but unfortunately none were picked up.
Deedee Bradley, an independent casting director, has been in the business 22 years and cast two pilots this past season. One called for two minors, a boy and a girl.
“When I have a role for someone under 16 I see everybody,” says Bradley, who also casts the young-Superman show Smallville. “That’s the only way you’re gonna find a pearl. I just see kid after kid after kid. I’m one of those people that has to see everybody myself. I don’t do it with pictures, ’cause, you know what? In pictures they’re all cute.” Bradley estimates that she saw “every 11-, 12- and 13-year-old that was in town this year.”‰
Compared to Luke and Hallee, Caitlyn is new to the acting game. The strawberry-blond daughter of two doctors got her start last year at the same New York talent convention, International Modeling and Talent Association (IMTA), that launched the career of fellow Toledo native Katie Holmes. In fact, the two actresses’ families live on the very same Toledo block. Urged on by her acting coach at Margaret O’Brien’s acting school, who also worked with Holmes, Caitlyn made a splash at the IMTA by winning Best Actress and the sitcom award and quickly followed that up by coming out to Los Angeles and slam-dunking a pilot.
“I was all enthusiastic ’cause it was starting out great,” she explains, dressed in orange Joe Boxers with paw prints on the butt and knee-high tube socks. The pilot was an hourlong “dramedy” for Noggin, the Nickelodeon offshoot. Caitlyn was the lead, but the show was ultimately red-lighted.
This year, her second pilot season, hasn’t gone so well. Truth is, she’s barely in the game. Shocking, considering that she is, well, so hot. Freckle-faced and sitcom thin, Caitlyn just looks like a rising star. But in reality, the sassy actress has hardly even been seen by any casting agents this year, unless you count a couple of auditions friends told her about and a few independents she read about in the trades. Her manager, her second in two years, tells her there’s nothing out there, even though all her peers are regularly “going out.” Her agent is nowhere to be seen.
But Caitlyn, who plans on moving to Los Angeles permanently after high school, is content to spend the summer sending out 8-by-10s and looking for new representation. “The thing is, it doesn’t matter how good of an agency you are with if no one is gonna push you. It’s all about the relationships you have.”
Caitlyn, who knows 15-year-old Nikki Reed, the writer and star of the hot independent film Thirteen, is also working on a comedic feature and two sitcoms, one about her life as an actress in L.A., and one about her life back in Ohio. “I swear if you followed me and my sister around with a camera it would be so funny.”
(Photo by Jack Gould)
The sun is setting on the thick California foliage outside Luke’s apartment window. You can hike straight up to the Hollywood sign from here, and Luke, the son of a geologist/former professional rock climber, frequently does. Tibetan peace flags hang off his balcony. An acoustic Martin guitar is in one corner of his living room. A “Local Birds of L.A. County” poster is tacked above an open Apple I-Book. A stack of DVDs, among them Thelma & Louise and Do the Right Thing, and a well-worn copy of Atlas Shrugged sit on the coffee table next to a bowl of fresh green grapes.
“Are your other child-actor friends interested in making their own films or are you an exception to the rule?”
“As far as being interested, there are a lot of people that are interested. I mean, obviously, how could you walk onto a film set and not be interested?” asks the barefooted actor, popping a grape in his mouth. “It’s just the most amazing process, so consummate, you know?”
“As far as people that are actually gonna take action, that’s kind of a smaller minority,” he continues. “’Cause, A: A lot of kid actors, who are working all the time, just don’t have time. And, B: A lot of people might not have quite the motivation to really get up and do it themselves.”
Luke pulls his knees into his chest and wraps his arms around them. “I see a lot of these older actors, friends of mine, complaining ’cause they don’t have their own TV show yet. I don’t want to sit around and wait for everyone else to make me a success. Because no matter what position you are in in this business, no matter what job you have, you are alwaysgoing to be at someone else’s mercy. So, I decided it’s better, and it’s gonna end up being a lot more fun, a lot more fulfilling, if I take things into my own hands and create my own work and tell my own stories.”