From time to time, Baby Jane Hudson appears here with her question and answer column, But You Are In That Chair: Baby Janeâ€™s Advice For the Confused, Depressed and Clueless. Today’s focus is providing guidance for all those with aspirations of breaking into Hollywood, whether as writer, director or actor. Baby Jane has done it and seen it all and the letters continue to pour in every week. Here is just a sampling of some of the letters waiting on her stack:
Dear Baby Jane,
I want to sign-up with a talent agency and the first thing they told me was, “You need a headshot.” But professional headshots cost a lot of money! Can’t I do them myself? The agency said absolutely not… but what do you think?
The Next Katie Holmes
Dear Next Katie Holmes,
Clearly this is an agency trying to take advantage of you! What they probably do is hook you up with a photographer who’s in on the scam with them and he gives them a cut of your fee. You can absolutely do your own headshot! I’ve taken my own shots my entire life. I like to use my garage door or my kitchen cupboards as a backdrop but you could also stand in front of some curtains or even squat in some bushes. I like the wacky shots that show personality. Really ham it up. Got weird teeth? Show them off! Can you touch your nose with the tip of your tongue? Showcase it! In one of my shots I was cross-eyed and I ended up getting the lead in Queen Germanica Returns to The Mother Ship. And that picture had a wonderful craft services table and I ended up not having to buy groceries for three weeks. So, win-win!
Dear Baby Jane,
I have an incredible idea for a TV show. I mean amazing! I’m not known in the industryÂ so I can’t get anyone to listen to my pitch but this is a show that could change lives! But I can’t tell you about here because you or one of your readers might steal my idea. Trust me though, it’s incredible. What do I do?
Paranoia Will Destroyia
Some people will think you’re over-reacting but I know the truth. So many of my ideas have been stolen out from under me! For example, I had this idea for a show about a space alien coming to live with a suburban family and causing a ruckus… well, we all know how that ended up. And then I had this idea for a game show with, like 25 suitcases, each with different amounts of money in them, all held by bikini models and then contestants had to eliminate the suitcases by calling out numbers and the host would be this adorable if slightly fucked-up guy (I suggested Paul Reubens) and the networks shot me down. They said I was drunk at my pitch meeting! Next thing I know Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is a huge hit. Of course, in my version whenever a contestant called out a number that turned out to be big dollar amount they got an electric shock or they had to eat a rat. Anyway… yeah, I feel your pain. What you should do is shoot the pilot yourself and air it on a cable access channel. Cable access gets a lot of viewers, it’s just not talked about very often. So many people and shows have been discovered on Cable access – Two And a Half Men, Larry King, Oprah, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader…
Dear Baby Jane,
What do you think is most important in writing a great screenplay? I’m just starting out but I don’t want to waste a bunch of time with failed drafts, stupid little contests, writing groups, etc. Basically, I wanna be Diablo Cody.
OK, here’s what makes a great screenplay – a character who is out-of-control insane. You have that, doesn’t really matter what your plot is, you’ve got a movie. It could be Crazy Person Gets a Job at DQ or Crazy Person Goes on Summer Vacation and everyone will flock to see it. Otherwise, what you need is nonstop action. Things blow up! Someone gets stabbed in the face! Someone chokes on an avocado – and that’s all in the first scene. Here’s what you don’t do – don’t do that “three act structure” bullshit. Don’t try to do that “turning point” thing. Blah! It’s all been done to death. Also, you need a character named Bindi. And the opening shot should be of an eye in close-up. I just really like that.
Dear Baby Jane,
I just finished directing my first independent feature film. Now I’m trying to figure out what to do next – should I go the festival route? What is your opinion of film festivals? Which ones are really good? I guess I’m hoping you can help me separate the wheat from the chaff here.
What’s a film festival? I have no idea what you’re talking about – wheat? Chaff? I might have been to a festival once… my neighbor screened Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? in her backyard and got it into her head that it would be a hoot and a holler if I came over. But she wanted me to jump out from behind the screen and scare the shit out of everyone and I said no. I would simply sit in the audience like any other paying guest. Whatever these festivals are, I can guarantee you they are bullshit. What you need to do is get Louis B. Mayer on the phone. Oh, wait, he’s dead. Call up Robert Evans, for Christ’s sake.
Dear Baby Jane,
What are the chances of a good, old-fashioned clown rising to the top in Hollywood today? I long for the days when clowns were respected for their craft and skill as entertainers rather than just being the butt of every joke or suspected serial killers. I’m a hard-working clown out here, working kids parties, doing the nursing home and hospital thing, serving up hot dogs for the Kiwanis and I get put down all the time. But I still have my Hollywood dreams! I see myself as a leading man in full makeup. What do you think?
Prat Fallin’ Not Ballin’
Little Rock, AR
Dear Prat Fall,
I’ve always said that I made my name by my face and I certainly don’t shy away from thick makeup. It’s a necessity! I don’t understand the clown thing at all. What’s creepy about a clown? Clowns bring you flowers. Clowns make you laugh. Next people will say that life-sized dolls are creepy. Or wax figures. I once made out with a clown under the bleachers at the circus and it was heaven – pure heaven. Clowns are very tender lovers! So I do think it’s not fair what society has done to clowns. Now, could a clown make it in Hollywood? Sadly, no. I think the market has moved on. There was a time in 1996 when America was ripe for a Clown Renaissance but that moment is long gone. Instead, Adam Sandler rose to prominence. You might call him a Plain Clothes Clown. So if you want to make it in Hollywood you’re going to need a new act. Luckily, I believe that minstrel shows are going to enjoy a comeback soon. I heard that there are at least three minstrel scripts circulating throughout Hollywood at this very moment. Also, if you look at all like Captain Kangaroo, there’s going to be a scandalous biopic coming out within two years!
Baby Jane Recommends
Everyone who knows me well knows how much I like to get in my comfy clothes and pad around the house after a tough day of… hanging around the house. And they know how much I adore clowns (see letter above). So I thought it was real thoughtful of my postman to give me this clown t-shirt for my birthday.
He explained that he got it for free but thought I could add a second “5” to it… What a sweetie! I don’t look a day over 55! I didn’t have the heart to tell him that what I’d actually need to do is add a “10” in front of the five. Whatevs. Stains come out of this real nice and the fabric doesn’t hold any odors at all. I even used it to sop up a broken whiskey bottle mess the other night and it came out right clean from the washtub. Show your clown pride!