When Castille Landon left Bradenton three years ago to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles, she never dreamed she’d be flying home for her first real shot at a starring role.
“It’s pretty cool that it’s happening here,” says Landon, 19, of the television show she co-created last year with former Bradenton Preparatory Academy classmate Harrison Sanborn. “The pilot is being shot here because we don’t have the resources to do it in L.A. Our people and equipment are here.”
Titled “Workers Comp,” the show was inspired by Landon’s family insurance business — specifically the outrageous workers’ compensation claims that served as dinner-table fodder when Landon was growing up.
“I’ve heard the stories millions and millions of times.” Landon says. “People were always like, ‘You need to write a TV show about this.’”
So she did.
She teamed up with Sanborn, the 19-year-old son of Ken Sanborn, the Longboat Key resident and Lakewood Ranch-based entrepreneur who made headlines last year when he launched a movie production studio in Lakewood Ranch.
The two teens lined out the series, casting Landon in a lead role and Sanborn as director.
“I love writing,” Landon says. “But I kind of write to act. Nowadays you can’t wait for auditions to come your way. It’s really hard. Every girl is so beautiful in L.A., and they’re all auditioning for the same parts. Wearing multiple hats is a pain, but it’s important, especially out there.”
It’s 9 a.m. on a Tuesday, and the “Workers Comp” cast and crew has assembled in an office complex for the show’s second day of rehearsals.
Actors Charley Koontz (“Community”) and Jennifer Lee Wiggins (“House”) are seated at cubicles waiting for their scenes to be called.
Meanwhile Landon and Robert Carradine (“Revenge of the Nerds”) are behind a closed door, yelling expletives in a scripted argument scene that will later get cut from the 30-minute pilot.
“It seems like you’re not reacting to the situation,” Sanborn interrupts. “I think you should really slam the phone down.”
Carradine agrees. On the next run-through, he slams the phone and the door.
Off set, in a glossy trailer befitting a rock-and-roll band, actress Morgan Fairchild walks by.
Cast as Joan, the eccentric matriarch of the family business — a character based on Landon’s real-life grandmother, Virginia Dorris — Fairchild, along with “Sopranos” star David Proval, is among the newest (and weightiest) addition to the “Workers Comp” cast.
Admittedly, Landon was unfamiliar with Fairchild’s work when the actress was first suggested for the role.
“I didn’t fully comprehended the grandiosity of what it meant to have her on board,” she says. “I wasn’t around in the ’80s.”
Landon says she would love to see the show get picked up by a cable network, à la her favorite TV series, “Weeds,” where it could enjoy freedom from censorship.
As a result, she and Sanborn are cutting two versions of the pilot: one with network-friendly language and one where anything goes.
“We’re going to take it everywhere we can take it,” Landon says of the pilot. “But, right now, I’d say it’s more geared toward cable.”
Back on set, she, Carradine and Sanborn are hashing out script changes — in particular whether to change the punch line of a joke from “Fruit Roll-Up” to “a six-pack of beer.”
Carradine is pulling for the beer reference, which is perhaps the most ironic plot twist of the day.
Landon and Sanborn, not yet old enough to drink, are calling the shots on what could be a successful new sitcom starring some recognizable Hollywood vets.
Landon, however, begs to differ.
“I definitely don’t think either one of us gets to completely call the shots,” she says. “Everyone around us is older and more experienced, so we’re never running on our own with this thing.”
Contact Heidi Kurpiela at firstname.lastname@example.org
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