I spoke to about 900 Jackson High School students on Friday — doing my schtick during six different assemblies throughout the day (special thanks again to librarian Barbara Stoltzenburg and her fantastic staff).
Each one of the assemblies/classes was different. Although I gave the same talk, half my time each period was devoted to fielding questions from the students. The questions really shaped how the talk went and, from my perspective, gave a personality to each session. During one period, there was a young girl, perhaps 16 or 17, who asked some really perceptive questions about the business, how television shows are developed, and the details of production schedules.
Afterwards, she came up to me and told me, very quietly, that she’s just signed to be one of the stars of a SciFi Channel pilot. She told me about it, who the producers were, when production was starting, etc. She asked me some more questions, shared with me some things her "Hollywood" agent and her "Seattle" agent were telling her to expect, and the whole time I was thinking…here I am, in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, and I might as well be in Los Angeles.
At my daughter’s school, you can talk to any 10-year-old, and they know all about pilots, the difference between above-the-line and below-the-line etc… because this is an industry town, and if their own parents don’t work in some aspect of "the business," their friends’ parents do.
The last thing I expected this weekend was to encounter a teenager in Mill Creek, Washington who was as well-versed and as immersed in Hollywood as a Calabasas, Studio City, or West L.A. kid. The remarkable thing was how low-key she was about her upcoming pilot gig. She didn’t mention it in her questions, and waited to tell me about it privately. When I mentioned my conversation with her to a couple of other English teachers they had no idea which student I was talking about (I forgot to get her name). So, clearly, she hasn’t been going around the campus bragging to everyone that she’s going to be in a pilot.
So I guess she hasn’t gone entirely Hollywood after all…