By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Veteran Texas casting director Barbara Brinkley is standing outside the just-opened Ramada Plaza Hotel on Kirby, sucking down a Virginia Slims cigarette and looking agitated. It's a tough job Barbara's got on her hands. She's under orders from Universal Studios to find the hottest, sexiest girl she can to play the next big thing in American Pie 3: American Wedding, the third in the notorious film series of teen sex romps. The past few days have taken her to Austin and Dallas, and today she's in Houston for a five-hour open call.
"I have real high hopes for the Houston girls," says Brinkley in a deep, thick smoker's growl. "Houston is where this kind of girl is."
Brinkley, a grandmother and former schoolteacher who is based in Dallas, says Houston is known for "just incredibly hot-looking girls," and that the steamy humidity helps keep their skin young. But she worries that this might end up being a problem. She's looking for a 22-year-old cross between Cameron Diaz and Reese Witherspoon, and she's scared that some over-the-hill woman might try to make the cut.
"A 27-year-old can look 22," proclaims Brinkley, "until she's in a room full of 22-year-olds!"
The audition process works this way: A girl fills out a simple form listing pertinent information (including height, weight and eye color) and waits for Brinkley to look her over. If she makes that cut, she's ushered to a back room to rehearse lines from two American Pie 3 scenes, then called in to yet another private room to read her lines with as much sexiness as possible in front of a camera.
Brinkley will send the tapes to Universal, where they will be looked over along with tapes from calls in New York City and Los Angeles. Filming for the movie is to begin early next year. It's unusual for a movie as big as this to be casting in Texas; the thinking is that the studio is looking to discover a big unknown.
As buxom girls in impossibly short skirts saunter in to sign up, an elderly man wearing a Continental Airlines baseball hat and enormous dark sunglasses wanders over to ask what all the commotion is about. Natalie tells him they're casting for American Pie 3.
"American Pipe Dreams?" says the man, confused.
"No," says the redheaded Natalie, "American Pie 3."
"Is there singing and dancing?" the man asks in a hopeful voice.
"No," says Natalie. "Just drama. Comedy drama."
A tall, slim brunette wearing a simple black dress waits behind the table for Brinkley to return. Brandi Laine is an innocent-looking 18-year-old model from Page Parkes's agency. A high school senior, she drove all the way from San Antonio. It's her first acting audition, she says. Her other jobs have been mostly print ads for Foley's and Academy.
Brinkley walks up and looks Brandi over. She approves of her, so Brandi will read in front of the cameras. Brinkley explains to Brandi that the role is that of sex-starved Cadence, sister of the infamous "band camp" character played by Alyson Hannigan.
"This girl has an enormous amount of chutzpah," Brinkley bellows to Brandi. "Do you know what that is?"
"Yes, ma'am." Brandi nods her head seriously.
"She's gonna live forever, do you understand?" Brinkley says.
"Yes, ma'am," says Brandi.
"In the second scene you'll be reading this is the first time you're experiencing sex and love as being the same, so it's a little frightening to you, do you understand?"
"Yes, ma'am," says Brandi.
Brinkley nods her head in approval and sends Brandi to the taping room, yelling last-minute advice:
"Keep her young. And keep her spunky."
Assistants Natalie and Jeremy are talking industry gossip when a brunette in a leather jacket approaches. She's arrived with a dark-eyed teenage girl who has a very curvy figure. As the woman looks over the paperwork, the teenager slumps in a lobby chair and rubs her forehead.
As Brinkley checks out the young woman, leather-jacket lady hovers nearby.
"Stage mother," whispers Natalie.
Brinkley notices the watchful mom and yells at her loudly enough for everyone to hear, "Who are you? You're a go-away! You go away to the lobby." The mother retreats sheepishly.
The pretty daughter visibly cringes at her parent's behavior. Brinkley asks her age. When she says 14, Brinkley nearly gasps and hauls her back to her mother.
"She's way too young for the role!" Brinkley says. "You have an incredibly beautiful daughter, but it's an R-rated film!"
The mother whispers about an agent, and how they drove all the way from Austin, but Barbara firmly sends them on their way.
"She'll never work in this business," Brinkley tells her assistants later. "She's 14 and looks 18. I need a 40-year-old who looks 20."
Then 18-year-old Anne Stein returns. She'd driven in from Dallas that morning with her friend Ben, a gruff-looking guy with a pierced bottom lip. The short-haired, punk-looking Anne had been turned away because she didn't have a head shot. So she and Ben drove to a nearby Eckerd, bought a disposable camera and snapped some pictures.