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Thursday, August 1, 2013


CASTING BY: Marion Dougherty

Photo Credit: Courtesy of HBO

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CASTING BY: Marion Dougherty & George Roy Hill

Photo Credit: Courtesy HBO

Whom You Know dedicates this post to Marion Dougherty (1923-2011).  We never knew you and had not known of you before this documentary.  We hope everyone knows you now.

CASTING BY: John Voight Card 

Photo Credit: Courtesy HBO

Back in the good old days, everyone used 3x5 index cards including Marion Dougherty.   To earn her history degree, Peachy Deegan used mountains of them for term papers.  Networker of all networkers, visionary of all visionaries, and perhaps one of the greatest Movers and Shakers in television and film of them all was Marion Dougherty, and that's one of her index cards above.  Everyone knows John Voight, whose career was highly influenced by Marion Dougherty, and if you don't you obviously know his daughter Angelina Jolie or her other half Brad Pitt.  Now that we've seen Casting By, twice, we are troubled by the fact that we did not know who Marion Dougherty was and see the enormous value and quality added there when you've got the right person as Casting DIRECTOR, and not merely Casting By.   HBO Documentaries has hit another out of the park, and this phenomenal network is clearly dedicated to educating the world about what we should know and you'll even get to see Clint Eastwood's report card.  We love them.  Casting By is an absolute, positive must-see and here's why.

CASTING BY: Marion Dougherty

Photo Credit: Courtesy HBO

So who was Marion Dougherty?  You've seen three pictures of her so far.  She looks like she's fun.  She looks like she's smart.  She looks like the kind of person that even Woody Allen would agree is the kind of person you want to know, shake hands with, meet and above all work with if you want to create something legendary on the screen, any screen.  Once she wanted to be an actress, before she did casting.  She moved to New York right after college.  Marion did the window design for Bergdorf Goodman (yes, we have a column for that too.)  Her friend was the Kraft casting director, and she started off as the assistant.  Now we know she is the ultimate boss.

CASTING BY: Marion Dougherty (1940)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of HBO

By the end of her career, in 1991 Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Robert DeNiro, Glenn Close, Clint Eastwood (Clint we want to see your Jersey Boys) and more all wrote letters of recommendation to the Academy to award her an Oscar for Casting.  The directors guild said no.  If they are reading, we believe they should change their mind and award it posthumously (or we are throwing virtual popcorn your way over the internet.)  
Marion Dougherty has had an impact on your life that is greater than you know or imagine right now readers, unless you possibly are in the film or television industry and know about this star who shined brighter than any others behind the scenes.  Put on your sunglasses and come on this journey with us.

CASTING BY: Marion Dougherty

Photo Credit: Courtesy of HBO

Armed with her 3x5 cards and polaroid mountain of headshots, Marion Dougherty was clearly smarter and worked harder than all her competition.   She understood everything was all about relationships and putting the right people together, which we have an obvious appreciation for.  Her career accomplishments read like the lineup of Fireworks for the Macy's Fourth of July show.  The documentary begins with Martin Scorsese saying: "More than 90% of directing the picture is the right casting."

CASTING BY: Marion Dougherty

Photo Credit: Courtesy of HBO

Let the fireworks begin.  Marion cast Robert Redford, Paul Newman, James Dean, Glenn Close, Al Pacino, John Voight, Danny Glover, Christopher Plummer, Warren Beatty, Martin Sheen, Peter Fonda, Christopher Walken, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, Bette Midler, John Travolta, Mel Gibson (did you know if it was not for Marion he would be raising organic vegetables and beef cattle) and many more...she cast All in the Family (Archie Bunker!). 
Fun to see some of them so young!  We had no idea.

CASTING BY: Marion Dougherty

Photo Credit: Jane Slater/ Courtesy of HBO

Goddess of Casting and her dog
Marion Dougherty was clearly God's Gift to Directors.


Photo Credit: Courtesy of HBO

How did she do it you want to know?  She understood the puzzle and knew what pieces went together.  Marion did not give up and argued for people she knew would give depth and substance to parts.  She was not about fluff.  Marion was forgiving and thought about the now.  She had a gut of gold that pointed her in the right direction always.  Certainly Marion was a girl of organization!  We love it how her townhouse had a sign that said: "Do not enter without an appointment."  This townhouse was a Hollywood monument in Manhattan.  Marion earned respect for her profession and changed it forever making it an acclaimed creative role.  There is so much you don't know about the movies/television and Casting By will give you a great appreciation for intelligence behind the scenes.

CASTING BY: Ed Lauder Card 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of HBO

Not only was she great, but also Marion made others around her great which is the mark of someone truly legendary.   Pay attention to those trees at the end...

CASTING BY: John Travolta

Photo Credit: Courtesy of HBO

To be the right casting director, Marion said you have to love actors and be genuinely interested in them.  Lynn Stalmaster was this too, and terrific in his own right, but because we are in New York and Marion won us over immediately, to us, Casting By is really the Marion Dougherty show and why you should have known her, silly.

CASTING BY: Lynn Stalmaster

Photo Credit: Courtesy of HBO

Whom You Know Highly Recommends Casting By.
Another star is born by HBO Documentaries!


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® 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:; 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.

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