"Games People Play"

Waiting to audition

In fact, I don't know anyone who would play this game. I was fortunate to be invited to the premier and after party at the Arclight Theater on Sunset Blvd. on March 17th 2004. Fortunate because I never pass on an opportunity to get free food and gifts. Fire Island Films' new reality film casts out-of-work, desperate actors willing to do anything for exposure and convinces them to get naked both emotionally and physically. The premise takes audiences through a 72 hour period starting from a ruthless cattle-call audition to the post production party.

The Premier Party:

The audition scene

The after party began intimate and quickly became a contact sport. Tall cocktail tables were decorated with an esthetic bouquet of colorful flowers, and plenty of "Games People Play" bumper stickers for the movers and shakers of Hollywood who felt an uncontrollable need to use their Mercedes as a billboard. Also decorating the tables were plenty of "Games People Play" playing cards and t-shirts for each of the revelers to take home with them, while the supplies lasted. Red and white wine were cleverly served in urinal cups. A concept in context with a significant motif from the film.

The Director:

A sneak peak of the audition

The film, "Games People Play" was produced by Fire Island Films and was directed by the award winning director, James Ronald Whitney. I mention the award winning part because that's what convinced Sarah Smith (the talented tall blond in the film) to trust her director and assume he knew what the hell he was doing. James Whitney's goal was to break the barrier on reality television by showing male frontal nudity. (Being a firm believer of equal rights, I can appreciate that James. If the media is going to continue exploiting women, shouldn't we exploit men as well?) Mr. Whitney explained his concept was to find unsuspecting young, good looking, talented actors

Josh wants that $10,000

and see if he could get them naked. When asked if he would ever use older actors, he responded no. He believed older actors aren't unsuspecting and attractive enough. The challenge he brought to his actors was to get them to draw on every aspect of their craft. Everything from improvisation to scripted material. The actors opened their emotional wounds while trying to remember where all the cameras were hidden. Mr. Whitney's background is in investment banking, and running from the big giant dust cloud during the 9/11 attack in New York. He considers the twin towers disaster his worst life experience. A devastating event which has taught him to appreciate life, and to be thankful the 84th floor didn't land in the living room of his apartment. After watching the film "Games People Play" I can't help thinking, 'the investment banking industry needs more naked people to help prevent films like this from ever happening again. If Mr. Whitney had the opportunity to see nudity as a cliché he wouldn't have wasted money on the creation of a game show that makes such a big deal out

Josh & Sarah make a scene

of naked actors. He could have spent his budget on an actual story, or given his equity to a struggling filmmaker who would kill or die for half the opportunity Mr. Whitney has received and tossed into shlock. This film caused me to feel embarrassed for the actors. I felt bad to see people so desperate for a job they would do anything no matter how stupid.

The Cast:

Sarah Smith described Mr. Whitney's directing prowess as cutting edge "Taking us to the cliff, and not letting us fall off." Sarah. I think you are a very talented actress, but trust me. You've been pushed off that cliff. David Maynard explained "the nudity wasn't required, it was organic and we always knew there were crew nearby to keep things from getting out of hand." David had a picture perfect life at one time; Nice car, nice home, low stress job as a sales engineer. Then one day moved from New Hampshire to Harlem. He gave up a good life to do

Sarah waits for her next victim

what he loves. So instead of acting as a sales person, he's selling himself as an actor and worries where next months rent check will come from. Joshua Coleman, the gorgeous blond hunk, started out as a decathlon athlete until he broke his back. (Brace yourself if you're an actor in the midst of many dues-paying years) "Games People Play" was Joshua's first audition and first part. Elisha Imani Wilson felt the true challenge of the role she played was in revealing her emotions and being judged. "This production was like the Olympics of acting." Elisha is a talented dancer and graduate of the Highschool for the Performing Arts. Scott Ryan, a typical struggling

Don't we look good together?

actor, when asked why he chose to participate in this project said "I don't pick the roles, the roles pick me." Translation? He goes to every audition and tries out for everything and takes what he can get. Dani Marc, a Flamingo dancer in real life, believes her participation in "Games People Play" will afford her the opportunity of more audition opportunities. Which she hopes will allow her to be more selective in the roles she chooses. Specifically, the chance to act with her clothes on.

The Film:

Dani poses after a scene

The bottom line is, this is a game show with a ton of sappy drama. And although actors love to play dramatic roles, audiences aren't in a big hurry to watch them. No body wants to be reminded how miserable their life is. I think audiences are getting tired of all the reality crap and are starving for actual stories. The only reason why the networks are trying to keep the reality genre thriving is because they are so easy and cheap to produce. Kelsey Grammar from television's "Frasier" gets roughly $1.4 million for each episode. This salary is in addition to the rest of the cast and crews salaries. However reality shows like "Survivor " throws a bunch of people out in the middle of nowhere. They pay union minimums to their crew and only pay one character a one-time fee of $1 million out of 13 episodes. They make huge, huge profits with very little investment. So the networks are holding on to the reality cash cow for as long as possible. "Games People Play" is trying to hitch a ride on the very back end of this reality gravy train. Personally, I think I would have enjoyed the film a lot more if they had edited out just the first 2 hours.... (The running time of the film is one and a half hours.)

Who will enjoy this film:

If you miss late-night European television, you will like this film. If you are looking for the game show version of HBO's "Real Sex" you will like this film. If you are a sexually frustrated male with parental issues because your dad never let you have that subscription to "playboy," and if you are a fan of "When Girls Go Wild " or a homosexual who's looking for the hunky guy version of "When Girls Go Wild ," you will love this film. I'm not the only one who didn't find "Games People Play" entertaining. The consensus of opinion of attendees at the after party (who were not related to anyone connected with this film) said it was "Interesting." They gave the same "Interesting" my mom uses when she critiques my art work just before she tells me everything that's wrong with it. The same "Interesting" she uses when describing her thoughts on a bad film I warned her not to rent. She uses "Interesting" as a defensive mechanism when she knows my aversion to the film was justified, but wants me to think she's more intellectually inclined to see depths of the film I didn't notice, and thereby justifying her renting of the crappy movie. Which is also the same "Interesting" people say after seeing an awful foreign film they didn't understand. So they say "It was interesting" so others don't think they're unworldly or stupid. Although the truth is usually, it was just a really bad film but they don't want to be the only ones saying so. Although most of the "It was interesting" comments came from people who were trying to be tactful. They didn't want to say anything negative around their hosts who were giving them free cards, t-shirts and wine in urinal cups.


 

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