Open Letter on Behalf of Eric Balfour
Dear Casting Directors,
I don't know if you've noticed this, but Eric Balfour doesn't currently have a television show to air in the Fall of 2006. I bring this to your attention only because it's clear you haven't noticed, or else steps would have been immediately taken to rectify the situation. Starting a television season without Eric Balfour would be like starting a meal at the Outback Steakhouse without an Awesome Blossom, or starting a Toronto Blue Jays road game without listening to some American singer butcher "Oh, Canada." I'm not saying you have to keep his show on air for very long, or even that you have to let his character survive the first episode. In fact, I'd almost prefer you give him an episode or two and then give him the boot. That way he'll still have time to book a midseason pilot.
There are certain actors who television critics can count on regularly seeing in new shows each and every season, people like Paula Marshall and Christopher Gorham and Joey Pantoliano. It's not that they can't act (necessarily). And it's not that they don't have good agents, obviously. But they're the small screen equivalents of Reggie Sanders or Kenny Lofton in baseball, role players who for one reason or another can't seem to wear the same uniform consecutive seasons (actually, Sanders and Lofton may be well linked to a Joey Pants -- they're both former all-stars, after all -- but Gorham and Marshall are probably closer to Kent Merker or Pat Borders). They'll never go hungry and, if folks like Paget Brewster and Lauren Graham and Jon Cryer have proven anything, it's that it sometimes isn't the showkiller's fault that their shows keep dying and eventually the right vehicle will come along.
Eric Balfour? He just keeps on looking. And his pilots keep making it onto network schedules, not that you'd necessarily notice. In the spring of 2003, it was "Veritas: The Quest," getting 4 episodes on ABC. He went from there to the WB pilot "Fearless," which was on the fall 2003 schedule, was pulled for retooling and finally never aired. Joining NBC's line-up for the fall of 2004, "Hawaii" was relentlessly promoted, drew an OK first week audience and was gone after 7 episodes. Fortunately, that let Balfour book "Sex, Love and Secrets," which was on UPN for four of the lowest rated episodes in the netlet's history in the fall of 2005. It was cancelled so quickly, that that let Balfour move on to Dick Wolf's "Conviction" by this spring. I think it's possible that particular legal series actually ran for 13 episodes. But now it's gone.
That's five picked-up pilots in three years, an outstanding pace! And although "Fearless" wasn't panelled for the Television Critics Association Press Tour, the others all faced reporters and showed Balfour to be entirely unbowed, ego unchecked. Just as Balfour never seemed inept when he got to guest star on good shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Six Feet Under" or "The O.C.," he's never seemed particularly good on any of his failed shows, but he sure is a confident guy. Perhaps casting directors are convinced Balfour's a television star because he's convinced he's a television star.
And the best thing for casting agents and showrunners alike is that Balfour doesn't require an actual part. Just write a character described as "a hotshot young [INSERT OCCUPATION HERE] with unconventional methods and -- despite embarrassingly scruffy facial hair and the inability to make more than a single facial expression -- a very active love life." Balfour does the rest.
Eric Balfour isn't a genuine TV star any more than Orlando Bloom or Josh Lucas are genuine movie stars. Then again, just as those two actors can luck into their "Lords of the Rings" and their "Sweet Home Alabamas," Balfour is due to land a smash hit series one of these days, just through dumb luck. I predict that the minute he stars on a show that makes it to a second season, he'll stage a holdout for a better contract and then ditch the show to try to have a movie career. That's bound to be good for a whole new echelon of hilarity.
I'm starved for entertainment, casting agents. Don't let me down.
The Staff of Check the Fien Print