Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest Blog: "MediaBility" by Vince Staskel

Every so often we like to post entries from various guest bloggers. This week, we have a post from Vince Staskel, one of our Board of Directors on the CTVPS. Vince, who is physically-challenged, is a media advocate for the disabled, and serves on the Board of Directors for The Classic TV Preservation Society.

His quest with this blog will is to highlight the positive change in the Entertainment Industry when it comes to recognizing and hiring performers-with-disabilities. That said, he commences with an essay on the efforts of actor Paul Reiser (Mad About You) in casting wheelchair-using actor Brad Waidmann in the role of his son on his new NBC sitcom The Paul Reiser Show.

Below is the first of what will be periodic blog posts from Vince Staskel.

Thank you,

Herbie J Pilato
Founder & Executive Director
The Classic TV Preservation Society


BRAVO BROCK WAIDMANN AND PAUL REISER

I understand that Paul Reiser and producers of The Paul Reiser Show sent out an Open Online Casting Call for actors in wheelchairs from 10-13 years of age, who are sweet and funny.

Well they found all that in 12 year-old actor Brock Waidmann for the role of Zeke. Brock was born with both Spina Bifida and Agenesis Corpus Callosum (ACC) affecting both sides of his brain. However, these disabilities have never limited Brock in any way. Born in Camarillo, Calif. Brock acted in elementary school productions, swims and plays bocce ball with the Special Olympics, and earns awards as a Cub Scout.

Brock's two younger brothers are both actors. Their Agent Cinda Snow also knew of Brock's interest in acting. When Cinda discovered that Reiser was looking for young disabled actors she arranged an audition with Warner Bros., and the rest is history.

It was Reiser's insight into disability because his own son has Cerebral Palsy and he wanted his TV son to be disabled as well. A major actor in the guise of Paul Reiser is displaying a positive personal awareness of disability in seeking to cast Waidmann as Zeke. I also commend talent agent Cinda Snow, who recognized a good actor who happened to be disabled for the role. Both Reiser and Snow have become key players in breaking a significant barrier to acceptance. They sincerely desired to cast a "disabled actor" and hired a very talented one.

This is a very positive change taking place in show business today. Brock Waidmann is certainly not the first performer-with-disability to succeed in Hollywood (I will be discussing those in future entries). However I am seeing a definite trend to including disability and actors with disabilities with a lot more ease today then in the past. What a wonderful direction the entertainment industry is taking.

BRAVO, folks!

And - man - if I was only 48 years younger!

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(For more information, or to contact Vince Staskel, please email: vin3a@verizon.net.)

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