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OK, fine, maybe you've got the chops and you've got the looks, but you've missed the fame boat five times over. Your clean-cut mug and obvious talent got you out of Skokie, but you're still slinging pizza shooters six nights a week at TGI Mulligans in Studio City. Why won't anyone let you become the new flash in the Hollywood frying pan? Why doesn't anyone notice your raw talent and chiseled visage? You're destined to be the modern reincarnation of Cary Grant, clearly, if only someone would notice.

Cue, the Internet-based casting startup that will get you noticed — if, of course, you deserve to be. Starcast is not a bunch of guys on a couch mocking videos of your craft for their own entertainment. It is serious business.

Founded by Gary Beer, the man behind cable TV's Smithsonian Channel and Sundance Channel, Starcast takes your craft as seriously as possible. The setup is pretty simple — you log on and pay a nominal fee (right now it's about $10 and supposedly won't go much higher [Update: it's now free]). Then you pick a professionally crafted script, videotape yourself performing it, and voilà! Your video will be seen by legitimate high-level casting agents, reviewing Starcast footage in hopes of finding the next Tom Cruise. If you're truly gifted, they may rate you as one of their “Best Performances,” marking you for further attention.

Starcast home page; Credit: Screenshots courtesy of Starcast

Starcast home page; Credit: Screenshots courtesy of Starcast

Beer co-founded the service with partner Jules Haimovitz (whose lengthy résumé in the entertainment industry includes stints at MGM Networks and Dick Clark Productions) after realizing that there were no quality platforms for would-be actors on the Internet: “I've always felt that there are no good institutions for emerging actors … just like Sundance is for emerging filmmakers.”

Starcast's revenue model is exclusively fee-based — there's just that one payment to upload a performance. At its current price point, Starcast easily competes with the live casting workshops actors typically use to get noticed, where fees can run from $30 to hundreds of dollars.

Right now, Beer assures us, “Every casting director is quite interested” — and that's even though, thus far, he has used only Facebook for word-of-mouth marketing. “We haven't turned on the spigot with respect to advertising.”

So what happens when Starcast does start advertising? Will all of Skokie's would-be stars with a webcam flood the Starcast system with mediocrity? Beer swears they're ready for it. “The system is designed exactly for that kind of thing,” he says. “The [script] pieces we have for each demographic are challenging and meant to show a range of emotion. It's not for complete beginners.”

So, actors toiling away at Ruby Chumpstein's, if the professionals on the other end like what they see (and why wouldn't they? This is you we're talking about), you may finally get the attention you deserve. Even if you're still stuck in Skokie.

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