More Awards & Celebrity “Stunt Casting”

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Uh oh. Right when you thought you could relax and sit back and wait til February when the Oscarswill effectively determine the best (or at least by some voters’ standards) of this year’s movies and stars, we have yet another little Hollywood awards shindig upon us: The 2011 Screen Actors Guild Awards will air live thiscoming Sunday on TBS and TNT.  This, for anyone who’s not familiar with the Hollywood actors’ union, is the gang that protects and promotes actors and makes sure that they get dental insurance while they’re waiting – and waiting tables — for their big break.  The SAG Awards name the actors and actresses (and ensemble casts) who have distinguished themselves this past year in both film and TV and you’ll no doubt recognize many of the nominees as they have lots of Oscar -nominee crossover.  (Expect the same King’s Speech/True Grit/Social Network/Black Swan crowd). Plus, among the presenters, you can look out for Jeff Bridges, Alec Baldwin, LL Cool J, Josh Duhamel, Amy Poehler, Cory Monteith. Rosario Dawson, Betty White, Eva Longoria, Angie Harmon, Hilary Swank and Ken Howard. It’s a pretty cool organization, and when actors win these awards they aren’t puffing anyone up when they say “being awarded by a jury of your peers is the ultimate honor.” So it should be a cool ceremony.

On a personal note: I joined the Screen Actors Guild in 1996. On that day that I went and handed over my cash at the “New Members Desk” at the SAG Office in Times Square in New York City;  the clerk then took it and disappeared for what seemed like quite a while. When he returned he explained sadly that, according to the Screen Actors Guild database there was already an Elizabeth Warner registered, which meant that I would be unable to use my real name as a SAG member and that I should come up with “something else”.  He then walked quietly away with my application in hand and I stood, flummoxed, trying to come up with a new last name for myself – pulled from whole cloth. When the clerk returned he looked confused and then told me quietly that “there had been a mistake” and that while there was another Elizabeth Warner registered with the Screen Actors Guild, the lady in question “was in fact inactive, had remarried, and was now going by another name”   — so I was cleared to join with my birth name. I was delighted – and not a little relieved because I hadn’t the faintest idea what else I would call myself. The transaction complete, I took my receipt and thanked the Screen Actors Guild clerk for processing my membership application. He smiled and as I turned to leave he beckoned me back and said “You know, it’s not really policy to tell people, but since the other Elizabeth Warner is now “inactive” I suppose I can reveal this. The lady in question is Elizabeth Taylor, and when she married Senator Warner she became Elizabeth Warner and thus she had that name — your name — only once she divorced the Senator she reverted back to Taylor”.  With this bit of information the clerk smiled, winked and returned to his counter. Stunned,  I walked out of my brand new union, thrilled that I’d been able to join and even more tickled that Elizabeth Taylor had almost stopped me from doing so, as me.

That’s my SAG Not Quite A Brush With Fame Story, and now let’s move on to today’s poll. Which dawned on me when I read all about Will Ferrell appearing on several episodes of The Office. This kind of “stunt casting” where they put famous celebs onto a TV series is nothing new, and it’s usually pretty fun to watch. With this in mind, voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell which  of these other stunt casting situations is your favorite.

Who’s your favorite celebrity guest star on a TV show?

1) Gwyneth Paltrow on Glee

2) Britney Spears on How I Met Your Mother

3) Jon Hamm on 30 Rock

4) Tom Selleck on Friends

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