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Featured in ‘One Woman or Two’

April 1, 2012
By KATHRYN SPIRA , For The Leader Herald

Herman and I were watching "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" on a recent Friday night when Fallon was interviewing Christian Slater about a new series he was in called "Breaking In."

I am particularly drawn to the Friday night shows because I find Fallon's "Thankyou Notes" segments especially hilarious.

As I was watching Christian Slater being interviewed, I was reminded of his mother, Mary Jo Slater, who is a casting director. I knew her from my days in New York City.

She would often come to the place I worked at the time called Columbus Restaurant which was at the corner of 76th Street and Columbus Avenue on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Columbus was a well-known spot for being a celebrity hangout where I also wound up waiting on showpeople such as Julia Roberts, Dennis Hopper and Gerard Depardieu.

It was one night when Mary Jo was sitting with Gerard and Sigourney Weaver going very intently over a script together that I walked up and asked, "Hey, guys, what's going on? Can I grab your drinks from the bar?"

It was at that moment I realized what they were looking at and I quipped, "Drinks are on me if I can get an audition for whatever you are going over."

Everyone laughed, probably both at my boldness and easy going manner with these well-known show people.

Mary Jo kindly gave me her card and said I could call her to arrange for a reading.

The movie script they were going over was the comedy "One Woman or Two," which came out in 1985. So I guess that helps date me and my time in New York City.

Well, I did read for a part before Mary Jo Slater and was actually a featured extra in the movie, although the film itself wasn't a particular success.

As a featured extra, you might get highlighted in a scene even though you don't have any lines and won't show up in the credits.

Still, the scene would be staged as such so that a featured extra would be close to the stars and therefore be noticeable rather than lost in a crowd scene as I was in "Ghostbusters."

Although I was just a passerby as an extra in that movie, I did strike up a professional relationship with Mary Jo and she tried to help me get other parts in movies and TV.

Right now I can't think of any special successes she had with me, but her efforts were much appreciated and I still have those fond memories.

I never knew who I might get to wait on back in those days, usually no one that would become well-known. But that particular night made an impression on me and I thought once again of Mary Jo's kindness as I saw her son Christian on Jimmy Fallon.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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