Mike Fenton

Casting Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Mike Fenton talks about his early years breaking into talent agencies in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He speaks about his work as the head of casting for TNL Productions, working for Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard on series including The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. He discusses at length his work as an associate producer on the adventure series I Spy, also for TNL. Fenton then talks about his work casting motion pictures including the television movie Friendly Fire and such feature films as "Young Frankenstein" and "Back to the Future." Henry Colman conducted the interview on October 1, 2003 in Tarzana, CA.

"The casting director's fondest desire would be to come up with 100% of the persona the writer has created. But if we can get to 80 or 85% I am very, very happy....Just because the writer puts it on paper, it doesn't mean that that person actually exists."

Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on radio shows and movies he enjoyed as a child and on his hobbies; on the first time he saw television  
11:36
On working for MCA Talent Agency starting in 1958; on going to work for producer Al Ruddy; on working as a casting director at Paramount, and on deciding to make casting his career
10:37
On going to work as a casting director for Danny Thomas Productions and on working with Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard; on doing casting for The Andy Griffith Show
06:24

Chapter 2

On acting as casting director for The Andy Griffith Show and on working for Andy Griffith; on casting Gomer Pyle - U.S.M.C. and I Spy and on the duties of an associate producer; on the locations of I Spy
07:40
On working with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby on I Spy; on striking out on his own as an independent casting director 
04:08
On the craft and technique of casting for television and on the Hollywood Blacklist; on the responsibilities of a casting director; on the qualities of a good casting director
09:14
On the importance of casting in television and movies, and on the casting director working with the producer; on an independent casting director obtaining clients and finding actors
06:43

Chapter 3

On the difference between an independent casting director and one that works in-house for a show; on finding actors for projects, and facing pressure to cast certain people; on the qualities he looks for in an actor
08:04
On casting Dinotopia and other mini-series or made-for-television movies; on casting pilots; on casting Vega$ with Robert Urich 
11:07
On casting Friendly Fire with Carol Burnett; on casting Out on a Limb with Shirley MacLaine; on casting various made-for-television movies
08:16

Chapter 4

On casting various made-for-television movies; on the differences between casting for a cable channel and casting for a network; on casting Walter Matthau in "The Bad News Bears"
06:49
On conducting his casting sessions; on researching actors before casting them; on casting for live television, filmed television, and feature films
08:25
On stunt casting; on dealing with producers and networks in casting, and on discovering talent; on the then-current state of casting for television, and on new technologies' impact on casting
12:50

Chapter 5

On casting various classic feature films; on casting various series; on casting Michael J. Fox in "Back to the Future"
13:39
On casting Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, and Tom Hanks; on continuing working, what attracts him to a project, and his career longevity; on advice to aspiring casting directors
08:21
On how audiences have changed since he stated his career; on career highlights and regrets; on mentors in his career, and how he'd like to be remembered
04:34
Shows

Andy Griffith Show, The

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Mike Fenton on doing casting for The Andy Griffith Show
00:25
Mike Fenton on acting as casting director for The Andy Griffith Show and on working for Andy Griffith
02:35

Dinotopia

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Mike Fenton on casting Dinotopia and other mini-series or made-for-television movies
07:30

Friendly Fire

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Mike Fenton on casting Friendly Fire with Carol Burnett 
03:13

Gomer Pyle - USMC

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Mike Fenton on casting Gomer Pyle - U.S.M.C.  and on casting I Spy and on the duties of an associate producer
03:34

I Spy

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Mike Fenton on casting Gomer Pyle - U.S.M.C. and on casting I Spy  and on the duties of an associate producer
03:34
Mike Fenton on the locations of I Spy
01:29
Mike Fenton on working with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby on I Spy
01:47

Out on a Limb

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Mike Fenton on casting Out on a Limb with Shirley MacLaine
00:43

Vega$

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Mike Fenton on casting Vega$ with Robert Urich 
01:17
Topics

Advice

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Mike Fenton on advice to aspiring casting directors
01:47

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Mike Fenton on mentors in his career, and how he'd like to be remembered
01:15

Hollywood Blacklist

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Mike Fenton on the craft and technique of casting for television and on the Hollywood Blacklist
03:10

Industry Crossroads

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Mike Fenton on the craft and technique of casting for television and on the Hollywood Blacklist
03:09

Technological Innovation

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Mike Fenton on now new technologies have impacted casting
01:19

Television Industry

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Mike Fenton on the craft and technique of casting for television and on the Hollywood Blacklist
03:09
Mike Fenton on the then-current state of casting for television 
02:58
Mike Fenton on advice to aspiring casting directors
01:47
Professions

Casting Director

View Profession
Mike Fenton on the craft and technique of casting for television and on the Hollywood Blacklist
03:10
Mike Fenton on the responsibilities of a casting director
03:11
Mike Fenton on the qualities of a good casting director
02:51
Mike Fenton on the importance of casting in television and movies, and on the casting director working with the producer
03:50
Mike Fenton on an independent casting director obtaining clients and finding actors
04:01
Mike Fenton on the difference between an independent casting director and one that works in-house for a show
01:40
Mike Fenton on finding actors for projects, and facing pressure to cast certain people
03:01
Mike Fenton on the qualities he looks for in an actor
03:22
Mike Fenton on casting Dinotopia and other mini-series or made-for-television movies
07:29
Mike Fenton on casting pilots
02:20
Mike Fenton on conducting his casting sessions
03:47
Mike Fenton on researching actors before casting them
01:44
Mike Fenton on casting for live television, filmed television, and feature films
02:52
Mike Fenton on using headshots for casting
03:17
Mike Fenton on stunt casting
01:43
Mike Fenton on dealing with producers and networks in casting, and on discovering talent
03:27
Mike Fenton on advice to aspiring casting directors
01:47

Talent Professionals

View Profession
Mike Fenton on the craft and technique of casting for television and on the Hollywood Blacklist
03:10
Mike Fenton on the responsibilities of a casting director
03:11
Mike Fenton on the qualities of a good casting director
02:51
Mike Fenton on the importance of casting in television and movies, and on the casting director working with the producer
03:50
Mike Fenton on an independent casting director obtaining clients and finding actors
04:01
Mike Fenton on the difference between an independent casting director and one that works in-house for a show
01:40
Mike Fenton on finding actors for projects, and facing pressure to cast certain people
03:01
Mike Fenton on the qualities he looks for in an actor
03:22
Mike Fenton on casting Dinotopia and other mini-series or made-for-television movies
07:29
Mike Fenton on casting pilots
02:20
Mike Fenton on conducting his casting sessions
03:47
Mike Fenton on researching actors before casting them
01:44
Mike Fenton on casting for live television, filmed television, and feature films
02:52
Mike Fenton on using headshots for casting
03:17
Mike Fenton on stunt casting
01:43
Mike Fenton on dealing with producers and networks in casting, and on discovering talent
03:27
Mike Fenton on advice to aspiring casting directors
01:47
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

View Genre
Mike Fenton on casting Gomer Pyle - U.S.M.C. and I Spy
06:52

Comedy Series

View Genre
Mike Fenton on doing casting for The Andy Griffith Show
00:25
Mike Fenton on acting as casting director for The Andy Griffith Show and on working for Andy Griffith
02:36
Mike Fenton on casting Gomer Pyle - U.S.M.C. and I Spy
06:52

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Mike Fenton on casting Vega$ with Robert Urich 
01:17

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Mike Fenton on casting Somebody Has to Shoot the Picture
01:13
Mike Fenton on casting Louisiana  
00:49
Mike Fenton on casting Dinotopia and other mini-series or made-for-television movies
07:30
Mike Fenton on casting Friendly Fire with Carol Burnett 
03:13
Mike Fenton on casting Out on a Limb with Shirley MacLaine
00:43
People

Carol Burnett

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Mike Fenton on casting Friendly Fire with Carol Burnett 
03:13

Bill Cosby

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Mike Fenton on working with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby on I Spy
01:48

Tom Cruise

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Mike Fenton on casting Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, and Tom Hanks
03:40

Robert Culp

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Mike Fenton on working with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby on I Spy
01:48

Michael J. Fox

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Mike Fenton on casting Michael J. Fox in "Back to the Future"
01:56

Andy Griffith

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Mike Fenton on acting as casting director for The Andy Griffith Show and on working for Andy Griffith
02:35

Sheldon Leonard

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Mike Fenton on going to work as a casting director for Danny Thomas Productions and on working with Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard
04:56

Shirley MacLaine

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Mike Fenton on casting Out on a Limb with Shirley MacLaine
00:43

Walter Matthau

View Person Page
Mike Fenton on casting Walter Matthau in "The Bad News Bears"
03:35

Danny Thomas

View Person Page
Mike Fenton on going to work as a casting director for Danny Thomas Productions and on working with Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard
04:56

Robert Urich

View Person Page
Mike Fenton on casting Vega$ with Robert Urich 
01:18

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