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Finding an Agent on ‘Mulberry Street’

Herman and I were talking about what led me from New York City out to California. Thing is, I was living in Brooklyn with my then boyfriend, Bradford Tatum.

I refer to him these days as “bankruptcy Brad” rather ruefully. See, we moved out to California for his big break at a series opposite Connie Sellecca called “Mulberry Street” that never made it past shooting of a pilot. We also bought a house near the ocean in Venice Beach that we couldn’t afford and wound up having to give it back to the bank. Ah, youth.

As I’ve told you guys before, many pilots are shot in hopes of being “picked up” by a network studio, but fail to do so for a variety of reasons. They may lack backers or sponsors or just not be the “flavor of the season” that year.

According to Suite101, “Pilot season is when shows in development are given the go-ahead and casting begins. Traditionally, January is considered the beginning of pilot season, though some begin casting as early as November. In May, the networks present their new shows to advertisers in New York, typically flying in their celebrities to help excite the advertisers about buying airtime.”

What pilot season meant to me and the thousands of unemployed actors in California was the hope that we would audition for and be “discovered” as fresh talent. However, what I found was that in order to get an audition for a new show, you had to have credits and a resume ready-made, which was a Catch-22 for a new actor just starting out. This is where it became crucial that you have a pushy agent that really believed in you.

I met my agent at the filming of the pilot for “Mulberry Street,” as I was there in support of Brad. There were many talent agents in the studio audience perusing the cast for fresh talent and I happened to be sitting a few seats away from Tom Jennings and he was looking for new talent. In fact I think he was there hoping to sign Joely Fisher, who was in the cast with Brad. Fisher is the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Connie Stevens. Her half sister is actress Carrie Fisher, who is most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy.

I have to say both Connie Sellecca and Fisher were very nice to Brad and me, as was the rest of the cast and crew. And by the time of the wrap party for the pilot, I was having drinks with Tom, had his business card and an appointment for the following week.

He became my agent for years after that while I lived in California and I had high hopes. I know he had some long-time soap opera stars on his roster that were his bread and butter.

Unfortunately, he liked socializing and drinking more than agenting, at least in my case.

About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site