There are many weird things about Hollywood. But to me, the weirdest is the very thin line between out of work actor and multi-multi-millionaire actor. Every year, about half of the town auditions for parts in the many TV pilots that are being produced. Some will get a show, most will not. Some of the shows will actually get on the air, most will not.
At this stage, no one knows what won't last and what will last for the next 10 years. That's right, based on the random decision of a casting director and executive producer and studio, the next 10 years of an actor's life might be a regular gig, or it might be nights of serving me grilled cheese at Johnny Rockets. It's all right there, so small but so life changing. You audition for some crappy show and suddenly you're Punky Brewster for life.
In many cases, these actors are interchangeable. I mean, it's not like there are that many actors on TV that are so unique and brilliant that they are irreplaceable. Sure, there's the "House" guy, Dennis Leary on "Rescue Me", maybe Kiefer on "24", Steve Carell on "The Office", everyone on "30 Rock", or Kyle Chandler on "Friday Night Lights".
However, would you really notice if Larenz Tate was on "House" instead of Omar Epps? Or if Vinessa Shaw was Izzy and not Katherine Heigl? Or Paige Turco instead of Maura Tierney on "ER"? Or Eddie Cahill instead of Milo Ventimiglia on "Heroes"? I would argue that if those other people were there from the beginning, those shows would be exactly the same. There's basically no difference.
So you'd think that actors would be pretty darn stoked when they get one of these life changing gigs. You'd think they'd understand how close they are to that Johnny Rockets scenario. But a lot of them don't. And that can lead to insanity, like Juliana Marguiles turning down $40 million for 2 seasons of "ER" so she could focus on important roles, like her quiet turn as a flight attendant in "Snakes on a Plane".
But suddenly we have someone who might be even crazier. Jorja Fox. She "stars" on "CSI", which I do not watch. In fact, the only reason I know who this person is is because of the time she got fired. A few years back, her and fellow castmate George Eads overplayed their hand, called in sick to the show because they wanted more money, and were fired by CBS. They quickly crawled on their hands and knees back to the show and were rehired.
Hi, I'm nuts. If this were a teaser for "The Bachelor", Chris Harrison would be saying, "Up next, a cast member for "CSI" loses. her. mind!"
And now Jorja is leaving again. Or did she get fired? It's not really clear. But she did an interview with Entertainment Weekly that is Britney level nuts. Before I get to some of the quotes, let me tell you that this woman makes 6 figures a week. A WEEK. But we shouldn't hate her for that. That's what actors in her position earn, it's perfectly fair.
However, you have to remember that these types of actors are in a unique position. Because while she's worth a tremendous amount money for "CSI", she's probably worth a third of that ON ANYTHING ELSE SHE DOES. She will never again in her life make the money she'd be able to make in the next two years on this show.
Anyway, here's what she had to say about the first time she was fired:
"I know it's really difficult for people to think an individual would be fired over a letter, but that's the truth of my situation. It had nothing to do with money."
Oh sure, people are fired over a letter all the time. Just look at the "Unabomber" (if he had a job, I'm sure he would've gotten fired for his letters...oh just go with me). But there's more:
"It was two days before the season was to start, and CBS sent out a letter that they wanted everybody to sign and get back (the letter was a promise to show up for the first day of production). I returned the letter, but I guess I didn't return it in the fashion that I was supposed to. By the time it arrived, they had fired me the day before work started."
I'm sure that CBS fires actors for poor mailing practices. Maybe that's what happened to "Smith" last season. Ray Liotta is a notoriously poor mailer. Can't lick stamps. She makes CBS sound like my last landlord, who used to advise me on the best mailboxes to use to send the rent.
Okay, now we're getting to the best part. Jorja is asked if CBS was trying to make an example of her, after what had just happened with the salary negotiations on "Raymond". Here is her response, I swear:
"I think CBS wanted to make a point at that time, and I think they made it really successfully. And I'd like to think of it as flattering. Maybe I was one of the people picked for that mission because they thought I had the fortitude to hang tough and weather it."
WHAT?! So CBS fired her because they knew she was tough enough to take it? Really? That's the logic going on in her head? Yeah, they picked her for "the mission" cause she's so strong. What is she, Luke Skywalker? "The force is strong with you, young Jorja, you're fired".
I'll leave you with this final statement of crazy - her answer to what she'll be doing next:
"I might buy a ticket for around the world ("for around the world?"). It's also summer in the Southern Hemisphere, so I might take a surf trip. I forgot to have kids! And there are several projects of my own that I'm excited about."
"Snakes on a Plane 2", perhaps?