"CASTING BY," SHINING THE SPOTLIGHT ON THE CASTING DIRECTOR, FILMMAKING'S UNSUNG HERO, DEBUTS AUG. 5, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO
Afforded unprecedented freedom and power by television, casting pioneers like Marion Dougherty and Lynn Stalmaster were iconoclasts whose exquisite taste and gut instincts ultimately helped change the old studio system and usher in New Hollywood through landmark movies like "Midnight Cowboy," "The Graduate," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "Bonnie and Clyde." They broke away from traditional typecasting and brought new kinds of leading men and women to the screen, among them Dustin Hoffman, Bette Midler, Robert Duvall and Gene Hackman.
A fast-paced journey through the last half-century of Hollywood history from a new perspective, CASTING BY spotlights filmmaking's unsung hero - the casting director - when it debuts MONDAY, AUG. 5 (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
Other HBO playdates: Aug. 5 (4:30 a.m.), 8 (10:00 a.m.), 11 (3:30 p.m.), 14 (2:45 p.m.), 17 (12:45 p.m.), 20 (5:45 p.m.) and 24 (5:35 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Aug. 7 (8:00 p.m.), 26 (noon, 11:30 p.m.) and 31 (12:55 p.m.)
HBO Documentary Films presents another weekly summer series, debuting provocative specials Mondays through Aug. 12. Other upcoming films include: "The Cheshire Murders" (July 22); "First Comes Love" (July 29); and "Americans in Bed" (Aug. 12).
The casting director is the only opening single card film credit that does not receive its own Academy Award(R) nomination. However, as Martin Scorsese emphatically states at the start of the documentary, "More than 90 percent of directing a picture is the right casting." Director Tom Donahue combines extensive archival material and exclusive interviews with A-list actors and directors, including Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Jon Voight, John Lithgow, Bette Midler and John Travolta, as well as Martin Scorsese, to tell the story of Hollywood's most invisible and unheralded profession
Perhaps the foremost casting director, Marion Dougherty plucked several now-iconic actors out of obscurity, among them James Dean, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Christopher Walken and Glenn Close, giving them their first break in front of the camera. With strong, original opinions about authenticity and a knack for discovering unique talent, she turned the old Hollywood system on its head by using actors with a nuanced sense of character and individuality, rather than depending on typecasting, and broke racial barriers by pairing Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the "Lethal Weapon" series.
CASTING BY examines Dougherty's early career, which began in TV before she segued into feature-film casting. She set up her first casting office - Marion Dougherty Associates - in her native New York City in the mid-1960, occupying a brownstone unofficially known as "The Brothel," because all her employees were women servicing men in the film industry. Marion Dougherty Associates soon became the place to be for directors and actors, who came to her unconventional office for auditions or often just to mingle with friends.
Armed with a Rolodex boasting the names of up-and-coming actors she spotted in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, Dougherty headed west to Hollywood in the 1970s after becoming head of casting at Paramount Pictures. Drawing on her experiences in New York, she had a strong hand in reshaping the way Hollywood cast films as it distanced itself from the old studio system. Dougherty was later hired by Warner Brothers, where she spent more than two decades in a professional career of more than 50 years.
Says director Tom Donahue, "It's easy to forget that every character begins life as just words on a page. It takes the collaboration of a great casting director to make that character magnificent and the film unforgettable."
CASTING BY was presented at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, the 2012 New York Film Festival and the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, and won the Audience Award at the 2013 Sebastapol Film Festival.
For more information on the documentary, visit: Facebook: facebook.com/hbodocs; and Twitter: @HBODocs #CastingBy.
CASTING BY was produced by Our8s Productions, CreativeChaos vmg and Genmaicha in association with Tashtego Films; produced by Kate Lacey, Tom Donahue, Joanna Colbert and Ilan Arboleda; directed by Tom Donahue; executive producers, Edward Durkin, Steve Edwards and John Balis; co-executive producer, Margaret Whitton; editor, Jill Schweitzer; director of photography, Pete Bolte; original music by Leigh Roberts.