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The Truths About Acting

November 29, 1987

Thanks for Christon's article.

I'm 40 years old and I've pursued and practiced an acting career for nearly 20 years. I've appeared on the stages of the Ahmanson and the Taper and guest-starred on any number of network television shows.

Compared to many actors, I've been fairly successful. Compared to many actors, I've been fairly successful. Compared to many other actors, I've had little success. By my own questionable standards, my career has been a bust--a failure of integrity and finance.

I was born in L.A. and I've squandered most of my life here. Since childhood, I remember hearing rumors that L.A. was becoming a viable theater town. That never happened and never will. Theater here will always be a showcase for TV. And TV will always be the vast whorehouse it has become.

I've no idea if I'm a talented actor or not. Past praise and minor successes lose all impact in this sea of lies. I glance around at those who succeed and those who fail in this town and see a standard of mediocrity. And, these past few years, as my opportunities diminish, I'm filled with self-doubt.

Alleged old friends who once praised me to the heavens, now in positions of authority, won't even risk having me in to audition. That saps me of even my past promise. My once-held love of the craft of acting is corroded by the business and my own timidity.

Talent matters little when there's no integrity to back it up. This town is teeming with talent and talk of integrity. Unfortunately, that talk is cheap and integrity becomes a commodity like everything else.

Of course, this is not so different from many other businesses and cities. However, none have the ability to broadcast this moral dearth as widely as L.A. and its Industry. That makes us criminal. We lay waste to our own lives and the lives of people worldwide. Money and fear, as Christon wrote, determine all we do. We turn our souls into product.

I'm no different. I've sold out on myself for less than many. I deserve my rage and disenchantment. I wallow in my self-pity and frustration. This sordid career and my dedication to it has left me embittered and empty.

At the end of this month I'm leaving L.A. and my acting career. I have no idea what I'm going to do or how I'll survive. Stupidly, I never prepared myself for anything other than acting. I've been too busy whoring.

While there are many individuals here I love, a few I even respect, I have to dismiss most of this poisoned soup of actors, directors, writers, casting directors, producers, studio execs, etc., as a sad lot of empty shells thrashing the lives of their audience.

So, no fond farewells from this hometown boy. Just a salute. Raising one of those Hollywood religious icons, the Emmy or Oscar, and sticking it where the soul don't shine--L.A.

BARRY CUTLER

Westwood

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