Monthly Archives

March 2009

AMERICAN IDOL Season 8 — Top 9 Stay Current

You’d think that on Top iTunes Downloads night, the nine remaining contestants wouldn’t have any trouble picking some great songs, considering the vast number of choices available. But there were very few high notes tonight, with only Danny Gokey, Allison Iraheta and Kris Allen turning in dynamic performances.

Anoop went first and I was happy to hear he would funk it up again with Usher’s “Caught Up” after singing ballads (very well) two weeks in a row. But, man, it was weak. The song overpowered him and it looked like he was trying to just keep up with it.

Megan chose a Bob Marley/Lauren Hill song, “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” and I thought, Wow, she’s ambitious tonight! Unfortunately, her risk-taking didn’t pay off. I’ve been fighting for this girl to stay because she’s so unique but this performance was disastrous. For the first time, I thought maybe it’s time she goes home.

And then Danny came along and kicked the show into gear. When he said he was singing the Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most,” I groaned since I don’t like country music. But he came out, gave a beautifully heartfelt performance that was his best since “Kiss from a Rose” during Hollywood week. He reminded me why he should be a front-runner, something I’ve lost sight of in recent weeks.

Allison tackled No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” this week and played guitar, which I didn’t know she could do. This girl just gets more awesome each week, despite her misguided wardrobe choices. She sings and performs like a 40-year-old woman and I mean that in the best way. There is nothing tentative or insecure about her when she’s on stage.

Scott got himself a makeover, looking much more masculine in black leather than last week’s pink pants. Musically, however, he was less compelling than the piano player at my local Nordstrom’s. He sang “Just the Way You Are” but sounded more Barry Manilow than Billy Joel.

Matt was another singer who stumbled. He tried to be all sexy and tough, also in black leather, but his rendition of the Fray’s “You Found Me” was wonky and  unimpressive. It sounded like he was trying too hard. The first few notes were too low for him; he lives best in his falsetto. He was on fire last week so it’s frustrating how inconsistent he is.

Lil put on yet another wig (love how her look completely changes from week to week) to sing Celine Dion’s “I Surrender.” Oy. I’m no fan of Dion’s music but that woman does have an incredible voice and Lil never came close to what Dion can do with that song. Paula said it best when she said she didn’t want to see an Adult Contemporary Lil. Me neither. Funk it up, girl!

Adam went back to his screeching, flamboyant persona with an over-the-top version of Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music,” one of my favorite party songs. I can never hear that song and not start shaking my booty. But Adam’s rendition scared me so much I probably won’t be requesting it from the DJ any time soon. My ears are still ringing three hours later from the screaming he passed off as singing. I will say, though, that as soon as he finished the song, he turned into a completely humble guy, giving due credit to Ricky Minor and the band. It’s as if he has dual identities like Beyonce and Sasha Fierce.

The headliner spot went to Kris Allen and he stepped up! I’ve never thought of him as a front-runner but tonight was a small revelation. He went with Bill Withers’s “Ain’t No Sunshine,” one of my faves ever, and made it sound fresh. This kid is definitely growing on me. His performance was both tender and powerful and I didn’t know he could play piano so it was smart of him to change things up.

Bottom three? Scott, Megan and Matt are my guesses. Agree?


Interview: Misty Upham — Frozen River Less Scary Than Hollywood

Sometimes when I talk to someone who doesn’t work in the entertainment industry, I find they have this notion that being an actor is all glamorous and exciting, that actors make tons of money, live in mansions and have lackeys on call 24/7 to fetch nonfat, decaf, sugar-free iced mochas and book massages. Well, maybe if you’re Jennifer Aniston.

But for most, it’s a much more difficult road. Misty Upham starred with Melissa Leo in one of last year’s best films, Frozen River, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award as best supporting actress. But in this e-mail interview I did with her, it’s obvious her life isn’t all about the limelight and limos. She remains grounded and is delightfully candid about her experience thus far in Hollywood. After reading this, I challenge anyone to still think an actor’s existence is always easy or pampered. It takes guts to pursue this life and I think Upham’s got it in spades.

PCN: What was scarier–going across that icy river in the movie or coming to L.A. on your own?

MU: Definitely moving to L.A. on my own. I had to do a lot of things for the first time. I have a lot of quirks, fear of walking across crosswalks, for instance. My family nicknamed me Monk. The river is a piece of cake. I trust nature.

PCN: I read that you rent a room in Melissa Leo’s house. How has she helped you navigate Hollywood?

MU: I did rent a room, but I’ve recently moved in with my boyfriend. She did help me a bit, but Melissa’s very much about people taking care of themselves and finding their own way. She did as much as anyone would but it ultimately was up to me.

PCN: Most actors, when they get a big break, they immediately quit their day job. Why have you kept yours at the diner/laundromat?

MU: Because the money from Frozen River was just enough to pay my car payment and my phone and have some left over for groceries. That was over two years ago. I have recently moved on from that job as well, though. Lots of changes. But I kept it for so long because my boss supported my career and worked with my schedule. She bent over backwards for my comfort. But recently it’s finally come to that point of being in a place where I have to ask myself, “Am I really going to go for this? Or is it going to continue being a dream?” I’ve decided to make this dream come true. And this year has been life-changing to say the least. The opportunities I’ve been offered have given me the confidence to leap without looking.


PCN: Do patrons ever recognize you? How do they feel having an Indie Spirit Award nominee handling their underwear?

MU: Patrons did recognize me, but mostly from [KABC’s] George [Pennachio]’s news piece. Folks couldn’t care less that I was nominated against Penelope Cruz at the Indies, or that I went to the Oscars. They just wanted to know if George Pennachio was as nice in person! Towards the end I was getting a lot more looks and whispers and had a few people recognize me from screenings. It was getting a bit weird. And any fluff and fold worker will tell you that people don’t give a shit about bringing in their dirty undies. I’ve seen it all. Yuck!

PCN: You have two kinds of jobs–one sometimes includes scrubbing toilets and the other is making movies. Any similarities between the two?

MU: Yes. Both include lots of shit and tears! Just kidding. Both require you to humiliate yourself in a way. I think the best actors are the ones that have no shame. The ones that forget about their cellulite and just give a good nude scene. Picking my customer’s pubes off the toilet seat was very humilating, but not as humiliating as being yelled and snapped at by my co-stars in front of the entire crew. I’d wear those rubba gloves any day!

mistyPCN: I read an early draft of the Frozen River script and Lila was described as having long hair, which is the stereotypical image for Native American women. Whose idea was it for you to have short hair in the movie?

MU: I kind of shaved my head, then told [writer/director] Courtney [Hunt]. And it just worked. A bit of scare there, but she stuck by me. Glad to get rid of the stereotype long hair. Sick of it in actuality.

PCN: What Native stereotypes in movies annoy you so much you just want to pull your hair out?

MU: The broken English. I studied Oxford English books for fun when I was sixteen, so it annoys me beyond belief to see every script with ghetto talk. Yeah, some people talk like that but a lot of people don’t. I’m sick of saying things like “usedta-could.” Then there’s the “rez uniform.” Ripped, ’80s mom jeans, flannel shirt…need I say more?

And the number one most annoying is the non-Native Native factor. We saw it in Dances With Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, Last Of The Dogmen, etc. Non-Native person finds the Indians, gets adopted, becomes the best hunter/warrior, learns the language fluently (meanwhile the Indians are still struggling with “hello” and “buffalo”) and then there just so happens to be another non-Native person there, which makes it perfect that they hook up and live happily ever after. It’s still taboo to fall in love with an Indian.

PCN: What would be your dream part and which actor(s) would it be opposite?

MU: I would love to play lovesick loser or a sexy bitch. And I would give my right boob to work with Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Helen Mirren, Seth Rogen, Emily Watson, Woody Allen and James McAvoy. And just for kicks and giggles: Matisyahu. He’s Kosher-sexy!

PCN: You recently went to the Oscars. What was your favorite experience there? Favorite person you met?

MU: Probably laughing with Mickey Rooney about how he and his wife fell into the paparazzi hedge by the E! camera. Or chatting with Josh “W.” Brolin before getting champagne fuzzies. But as usual Anne Hathaway was a class act. So nice and so down to earth despite the fact that the entire room wants to ravage her. She always takes the time to say hi and she remembers my name. And my mom’s. She’s the best.

PCN: The question covers anything that happened at after-parties.

MU: Well, I can’t tell you any of that good stuff or I’d never be invited back again! But I can tell you that I was drunk and stumbling down the stairs when John Singleton chased me down to tell me how much he loved our movie and seeing that we were both nerds who didn’t carry cards or pen and paper, made me promise to Facebook him. That was awesome, what I can remember of it anyway…

PCN: Did your manager at the diner/laundromat really write you up for not working Oscars weekend?

MU: They threatened to, but only so the other workers would stop complaining about covering me.

PCN: When you were growing up on the reservation, if someone had said you’d grow up to be a Spirit Award-nominated, red-carpet-walking, Europe-traveling, Alps-skiing girl with Tarantino as a fan, how would you have responded?

MU: And at what age did I sell my soul to the devil?

PCN: What’s next for you?

MU: The L.A. audition trail. Talk about crazy and dangerous. I’m ready for the ego-beating, snuffy attitudes and toffee-nosed receptionists. Let’s be insecure together! 🙂


LONG LOST Myron and Win Are Back!

I hate Harlan Coben. Every time I pick up one of his books, I think, Oh, I’ll just read one chapter and then I’ll get on with my work/grocery shopping/showering, whatever. But it never works out that way. I’ll read one chapter, then the next, then the next, then it’s 12 hours later and I’m unwashed and starving but there’s no food in the house and I missed my dental appointment because I haven’t moved from my spot on the couch.

And so it wasn’t any different with Coben’s latest, Long Lost (out March 31), especially because sports agent Myron Bolitar, his sociopathic friend Win, his partner Esperanza and their receptionist Big Cyndi are all back in style for their ninth adventure. Myron gets a call from an old lover, Terese Collins (last seen in Darkest Fear), who entices him to meet her in Paris without telling him why. He runs into trouble as soon as he sets foot on French soil and the action doesn’t stop after he returns to this side of the Atlantic. I don’t like giving a lot away so I’ll just vaguely say the plot involves murder, a possible kidnapping and cover-up involving a long-ago car accident, questions about nature vs. nurture, stem cell science, and terrorism.

coben-back-coverOf all Coben’s books, I think this has the grandest scope. I’m not just talking about the locations, though the descriptions of Paris are delicious (there’s a sly reference to the French movie Tell No One, which is based on one of Coben’s stand-alones). What I mean is, the stories are usually personal—Myron (or whoever’s the protagonist in the stand-alones) gets sucked into a mystery because he’s trying to find resolution for a personal matter or help out a friend. But Long Lost involves political conspiracies and Myron’s actions have international consequences. The final reveal is disturbing and you won’t see it coming.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “What the…? I just want my wisecracking Myron and his goofy friends!” Don’t worry—Myron is still funny, still drinking his beloved Yoo-Hoos, but he’s more mature, as he should be since he’s now in his forties. His relationships have more weight and poignancy, especially when he describes what it’s like to watch his parents get older and more fragile. Myron’s quips just can’t cover up the heart that sits on his sleeve.

So, Myron fans, you can rejoice that he’s back, but when you sit down to read this book, make sure you send your kids to a relative, cancel your appointments and wear a carpel-tunnel-syndrome brace so you won’t hurt your hand flipping those pages.

Nerd Verdict: Nothing Lost in translation in this international thriller


AMERICAN IDOL Season 8 – And Then There Were 9

michael-sarver-american-idolUnlike last week when Alexis Grace was rudely cut, I think America got it right this week. Michael Sarver was sent home but he took it graciously. At one point, when he was standing there with Matt Giraud and Scott MacIntyre as the bottom three, Ryan asked Randy who didn’t deserve to be there. Michael immediately pointed to Matt and that was big of him.

Speaking of Matt, he was shockingly called out as the first contestant in the bottom three and the audience booed loudly, as did I at home. He was sexycool last night with his “Let’s Get It On” proposition so I’m glad he survived the ax. 

So it’s down to Adam, Allison, Anoop, Danny, Kris, Lil, Matt, Megan and Scott fighting for the crown. Who am I kidding? Only about half of those people have a chance of winning. Next week, Scott should go home. That guy is hilarious with his quips and pink pants but his actual singing makes me feel like I just took a whole pack of Benadryl.

Do you think Michael deserved to go home? Why isn’t Matt getting any love when he’s good-looking and sings better than at least two people who were safe last night?


MGM Throws Three Stooges Together

sean_pennIn one of the more interesting casting announcements in recent months, Variety reports that MGM is making a Three Stooges feature with Sean Penn set to play Larry while Jim Carrey and Benicio Del Toro are in negotiations for Curly and Moe, respectively. The Farrelly Brothers will direct from a script they wrote and the movie is expected to go into production this fall for a 2010 release.

jim-carrey_1While I can easily picture Carrey doing the physical shtick the Stooges are known for, I was surprised by Penn’s casting and Del Toro’s possible involvement. These guys aren’t exactly known for yukking it up. The last “comedy” Penn did, We’re No Angels, was twenty years ago and I put quotes around comedy because it wasn’t that funny. And Del Toro’s last comedic credit was, um, let me think…21 Grams? Nope. Things We Lost in the Fire? Helll, no. It was 25 years ago in Swimming with Sharks.

benicio_del_toroSo what do you think of this casting? Does it make you want to see the movie? Is it smart for Penn to go from Oscar-winning performance to poking his fellow actors in the eyes? Isn’t Mel Gibson available? He performed pretty convincing Stooge-shtick in the Lethal Weapon movies. Let me know your thoughts!


AMERICAN IDOL Season 8 — One "Smokey" Motown Evening

Tonight covered Motown hits and I never thought I’d write this but Adam Lambert turned in the best performance. Shocked? Me, too. When he appeared all cleaned up, with his hair slicked back off his face and wearing a shiny Dino suit, I almost didn’t recognize him. Then he unplugged himself by singing Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “Tracks of My Tears” with such ache and restraint, I had to rewind the DVR to hear it again. I’ve been trashing this guy for always screaming his songs but this soft, heartfelt performance knocked my socks off. Well done. Now please don’t go back to screaming, cheesy camera-seducing moves and tight leather pants.

Matt Giraud started the evening with a really good rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” which was the perfect choice. The guy was completely in the zone and he gave it that bluesy feel we’ve come to expect from him. Can you imagine what it must’ve felt like to sing for Smokey and have him say, “Marvin woulda dug that”? I would’ve peed my pants. And I was glad Matt didn’t stay behind the piano for the whole song, giving us instead just a little bit of sexy swagger. 

Kris Allen was second with “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You).” His vocals are getting stronger each week but as Simon says, “To be a star, you have to be conceited. Like me.” I don’t want nice little Kris to turn into a snob but he doesn’t exude that much star presence on stage.

Scott MacIntyre sang “You Can’t Hurry Love,” once again accompanying himself but changing things up a bit by having the backup singers gather by his piano. This song is more uptempo than his usual boring choices but it still wasn’t good enough for me. 

Then came Megan Joy. You know I love this girl and have been championing her since the beginning but nothing worked for her this week. First of all, she looked like a tacky Hawaiian tourist the Love Boat left behind in her flowered outfit. Then she chose “For Once in My Life,” which was too fast for her and also sometimes too low and other times too high. When Kara mentioned “My Guy,” I thought, Yeah, that would’ve been perfect for Megan. But, like Smokey said, she’s jazzy and cabaret and unique so I still hope she stays.

Anoop slowed things down with the Miracles’ “Ooh Baby Baby” and was smoof and soulful. He also visited Lambertland and unleashed a falsetto I didn’t know he had. I thought I liked my Anoop funky but two weeks in a row now he’s shown he’s quite powerful as a balladeer.

Michael Sarver covered “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” which I’m afraid he might have to do with the judges to save him tomorrow night. This guy didn’t have one ounce of soul in him and he still had the slightly country twang in his voice which was all wrong for the song. He kept saying how much fun he had on stage but don’t we have to enjoy watching him, too?

Lil Rounds sang “Heat Wave,” looking all cute and retro, but she shouted through the whole song. It’s as if Loud is her default setting. She was also shaky on a whole bunch of notes and dropped a couple notches on the frontrunner meter. 

And then Adam sat on a stool and crooned that lovely rendition of “Tracks of My Tears” with just a guitarist, a bass player and a dude softly thumping on a wooden crate for accompaniment. My jaw fell on the floor and my eyes were opened wide. Every year, a performer has a defining moment that slaps you across the face and gets your attention—David Archuleta with “Imagine” last year, Kelly Clarkson with “Natural Woman” in season one—and this was definitely Lambert’s moment. 

After that, Danny Gokey came on, dancing and singing “Get Ready.” His raspy voice is perfect for this type of music and he’s sure expending a lot of energy but after Lambert’s performance, I can only call it okay.

Allison Iraheta closes the show with “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and man, she owned that stage and everybody else was just paying her rent! That girl’s power blows me away. I hope y’all voted for her because if she ends up in the bottom three again, she might come to our houses and kick all our asses.

I missed Alexis Grace tonight—she would’ve killed with Motown hits. But since I couldn’t vote for her, I went with Anoop, Adam and Allison (hey, an alliteration!). 

What’d you think? Did you like Adam’s makeover or do you like him better with guyliner and sideswept bangs? Who should go home tomorrow? Discuss!




After years of anticipation, we finally get a taste of what Spike Jonze has been working on. Watch the trailer below or click here for the HD version.


I like it, how it’s more a music montage (with song by Arcade Fire) with text in a font where some of the letters are hairy and others have teeth. The Village Roadshow logo has a nice chunk bitten out of it. But mostly I like how it makes me feel like a kid without being too cutesy or precious. With Jonze at the helm, it will at least be interesting.

What did you think? Are you gonna line up October 16? (UPDATE: Read review here.)


Warner Bros. Wants to Customize Your DVDs

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. is introducing a novel way for you to get your hands on movies previously unavailable on DVDs. Just go to, look through their library, purchase a film for $19.95 and they’ll burn and ship the DVD to you in about 5 days.

I browsed through some of the titles and didn’t see anything I was dying to buy but this idea got me thinking. What if all the studios opened their vaults like this and gave consumers access to not only unreleased movies but TV shows, too? Is there anything I’d want?

lindsay-leeHell, yeah. First titles that came to mind were The Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man complete series. I know that’s nerdy but I grew up addicted to those shows and I idolized the supercool, kickass Lindsay Wagner. The holdup is some complicated copyright issue (Universal owns the series but the shows were based on a book called Cyborg, which Universal doesn’t own) but man, if the studio ever gives me access to this, I’d dash off an order so fast and even splurge for overnight shipping.

uncle_remus_disney_screenshotI’d probably also order Song of the South from Disney. I loved Uncle Remus zip-a-dee-do-dahing along with a blue bird on his shoulder and I hate that I haven’t been able to see it again in my adult years.

Does this idea of customized DVDs sound interesting to you? What rare or obscure title would you order if you suddenly had access to any movie/TV show you wanted? Let me know in the comments section!


The Spellmans' Satisfying REVENGE

The Spellmans are back in Lisa Lutz‘s Revenge of the Spellmans, the third in her series about the lovably dysfunctional family of private eyes. The story begins with Izzy, the 31-year-old underachieving middle child, attending court-ordered therapy due to her escapades in her last adventure and bartending at her favorite watering hole while trying to figure out if she wants to continue in the family business. She accepts a seemingly innocuous job of surveillance for a friend of a friend but of course the case turns out to be more complicated than she thought. Soon, Izzy’s caught up in the (un)usual shenanigans we’ve come to expect from this entertaining series.

Lutz keeps everyone from spinning into Caricatureland by infusing her quirky characters with real emotions. Izzy’s 84-year-old lawyer Morty wears grungy Coke-bottle glasses and is a menace behind the wheel but he sees clearly how Izzy really feels about her cop friend Henry Stone. Her brother David may ridicule her for her aimlessness in life but will extend a hand—and a cup of coffee—when Izzy needs it most. And Izzy herself is not a dimwit. She’s very competent at her job  and lies to people sometimes because she just can’t bring herself to spoil their happiness.

What I like most about these characters is that they evolve (unlike, cough, Stephanie Plum). Lutz puts several of them through some big life changes in this book, positioning them nicely for future installments. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead, knowing it will be a wild and unpredictable ride.

Nerd Verdict: Revenge is winning


DUPLICITY Duo Does Wrong Right


Julia Roberts and Clive Owen radiate enough chemistry to blow up a lab in Tony Gilroy’s follow-up to Michael Clayton. Whereas that George Clooney-starrer left me a little cold, Roberts’s presence warms up Duplicity and the relationship between her and Owen makes it more playful. They’re certainly having fun lying to—and lying down with—each other and the energy is infectious.

j-in-trenchThe story revolves around C.I.A. agent Claire Stenwick (Roberts) and MI-6 operative Ray Koval (Owen) who hatch their own scheme of corporate espionage so they can get rich, get out and spend the rest of their lives having hot sex on fat piles of money (well, they didn’t say that exactly but that’s the gist). Their plan is to steal a valuable trade secret from one company and sell it to a competitor. Neither spy trusts the other but that’s what keeps them on their toes and at the top of their game. There are double and triple crosses and things are rarely as they seem. Don’t worry if you get confused, though, because the plot doesn’t really matter. It’s just an excuse for the two stars to bicker and flirt and for us to have a good time watching them.

Roberts is luminous as the wily Claire (is her last name a subtle homage to the great femme Barbara Stanwyck?) and her return to leading lady status is welcome. Hollywood keeps looking for the next Julia Roberts but this one is still as fetching as ever and she ain’t going anywhere. She saunters through the streets of Rome and New York City with a confident swagger powered by almost 20 years of superstardom. Motherhood has also added gravitas and sophistication to the once colt-like girl, making her even more compelling to watch. 

cliveOwen matches her in skill and sex appeal every step of the way, finally starring in a movie that takes full advantage of his smoldering charisma (Exhibit One: A scene with him walking around in only a towel). I saw this man in person once and the star power he exuded was enough to knock you back a few feet. But for whatever reason, he’s never had a huge hit to launch him into the same stratosphere as the Brad Pitts and Hugh Jackmans. Hopefully, Duplicity will do the trick so we can see Owen’s full, um, potential.

Director/writer Gilroy has given us an entertaining movie that proves a big studio product can still be smart. The formulas he uses, here and in the Jason Bourne movies, should be stolen and copied by other studios. They could make more money, audiences would be happier, and everybody wins.

Nerd Verdict: Smart, stylish, and sexy spy caper


Actor Plays Subway Hero in Real Life

One of my pet peeves is how the word “hero” is overused. Tom Cruise is labeled a hero because he helps tow a woman’s car out of a snow bank or stops for an injured woman on the street and takes her to the hospital. That’s all very decent of him but it falls more under the label of Good Samaritan because he did not risk his life to do those things.

This past Monday, Chad Lindsey earned the hero title when he risked death to save a fellow man who had fallen onto the tracks of a New York subway. The other man had hit his head and was unconscious and bleeding. Lindsey jumped down, lifted him up and, with the help of other commuters, managed to get both the man and himself out “10 or 15 seconds” before the next train came. (Read more about it in the NY Times.)

As if this wasn’t incredible enough, Lindsey wanted no attention or accolades for his action. He simply caught another train and went on his way. In this age of reality TV where people want you to watch them fight about who takes out the trash (how about we take out all of them?), this man wanted to remain anonymous after doing something that’s truly dramatic (his identity was given to the media by a friend). And he’s an actor to boot! Who said actors are all attention whores?

The main reason I find this story captivating is because I’ve always believed that people should do the right thing simply because it’s right, not because of what they might get out of it. Too often, people expect something for their good deeds. I recently read a letter in an advice column from a woman who was upset because she had returned someone’s wallet and didn’t get much more than a “thank you.” Did she want a reward? A medal? A key to the city? If she’d known ahead of time that she wouldn’t be rewarded, would she have just left the wallet where she found it or, worse, kept it and the money inside? The advice columnist told her that she did the right thing and that knowledge should be enough.

And that’s exactly why I respect Lindsey for what he did. He could’ve totally pimped himself to the media since the attention might’ve gotten him a job but he chose not to. So I’ll do it for him (no, I don’t know him and nobody paid me to do this).

This is Lindsey’s headshot and demo reel. There are lots of superhero movies being made in Hollywood. Why not cast someone who’s got real-life experience?