I still miss Men in Trees but I am glad that Anne Heche is back on TV. This past Sunday the NY Times Magazine did a profile of Anne Heche who is appearing in the show Hung and the upcoming movie Spread. I thought Heche came off great in the piece. Way more normal and thoughtful that I expected.
It was interesting to note that she lost out on her potential to become a “leading lady” after she fell in love with Ellen DeGeneres. I love how Hollywood is so progressive but would quickly throw anyone under the bus who doesn’t conform to the “norm.” I bet it was even a bunch of gay guys who wouldn’t hire her.
The romance actually destroyed her prospects as a leading lady; the deal for “Six Days, Seven Nights” was the last one made as the affair became public, and no more were offered.
But the quote that has everyone freaking out is from the executive producer and co-creator of Hung Colette Burson where she stated:
“We auditioned a lot of people,” says Colette Burson, the co-creator of “Hung.” “It is incredibly difficult to find beautiful, talented, funny women over 35.”
Burson seems to have pissed a lot of people off with the remark. Having had recently interviewed her I couldn’t believe she said that and sure enough last night I I got an email from her looking to set the record straight.
Here’s what Burson had to say about the situation (by phone):
I do think it’s always hard to find pretty and funny. It’s a difficult combo and it’s something that’s talked about in Hollywood. Blonde and funny. And that is definitely true with Anne. She’s very funny and real and she’s blonde and she’s pretty. And this role happens to be for a beauty queen who needed to have serious emotional acting chops and at the same time was funny.
In terms of the quote: it is such a shame that I was either too tired to express myself correctly on the issue or part of my quote was left out because it is something that I think about a lot and I actually consider myself a warrior on front lines of this issue. It’s something I am actively involved in on a daily basis in a way that most people are not. Nevertheless I do think that the part that I would have added or the part I hope I did add was that it is difficult to find an actress over 35 or over 40 who is funny and talented and is still working and has not quit the business (emphasis mine).
And by difficult I mean harder than you think. There are not hundreds of people who show up for the auditions because you need someone who has been working, and you need someone whose agent sends them. In my personal experience I know five actresses off the top of my head if not 10 who are around the age of 40 who no longer go on auditions anymore because they are too fucking bummed out by how few roles there are.
Just to illustrate: Dmitry (Lipkin her husband and co-creator of Hung) and I went into CAA and we were talking about all the different roles and I said what we are really going to be looking for is an actress around age 40 who is talented and funny and yet can really act. They seemed to not want to address my question so I brought it up again and they said what about x? (a well known 45 year old film actress) I said no, we don’t want to cast celebrities. We want to cast real women and this is a rare opportunity. We don’t want you to send us your beautiful starlets. Send us real women with real bodies who can act and who can be comedic. And he looked sort of sheepish and said I’m really ashamed to tell you we don’t have anyone like that on our list.
I said you mean to tell me that you this huge agency can’t send us a woman who is 40 and they said no. And he said I know it’s horrible but it’s the state of the business that they really aren’t a lot of roles for them.
It’s such a bummer. When you cast a role, casting agents will send you who has been working. My friends who haven’t had a job in five years who quit because it was such a fucking bummer they are not sent out because they don’t have managers anymore. They are not in the game anymore and it’s not because they aren’t talented. Of course they’re talented.
So what I am saying is that it’s hard and the situation is more complex than you would think. Because we are one of the few shows that frequently has these types of roles open…like the role of Tanya. How often does that type of role occur? Jane Adams is this gem and people say why don’t we see her working more? And the answer is because there haven’t been that many roles for her. We actually wrote a role for a failed poet who is over 40 and she is not ms fabulous. She doesn’t wear clothes from Neiman Marcus or Fred Segal.
So I hope the message will get out there. Maybe I was tired, maybe I was a dumb ass but I feel so passionately about the issue. But that aside our actions on a daily basis is that we fight this issue. We conceive of characters that are women over 35 of all body types. We debate them and we fill them out in the writers room. So please forgive me for the asinine quote but look at what we are actually doing because we passionately care about this issue.
Do you think that clarifies the issue?
Here’s another interesting tidbit. The first couple of episodes were written before Heche was hired. So as of this week they started writing for Anne. Burson was effusive in her compliments about Heche.
As it (the season) continues we begin to write to her more frequently because she hits it out of the park with whatever she gets.
Anne Heche is Playing it Normal Now (NY Times)