Monday, January 12, 2009

Best Friend an actor could have....

My heart and soul are very sad this day
as my friend Megann Ratzow is gone
 and the world is already lonelier.

I created this blog so that the mass amount of people that Megann touched
and called friends could share stories.
Please include any anecdote or memory you would like to share about Megann , a casting session, Waldo the tortoise, whatever it might be.
Share and take in the memories of the gift that was and is Megann.
Thank you.
Eric Newsome

40 comments:

  1. Thanks for starting this, Eric.

    I also posted some thoughts on my blog, http://castingscoop.blogspot.com.

    I will let people know to post here.

    Lana

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  2. Megann was a sweetheart. She always had such a big welcoming smile for me whenever we ran into each other. She will be missed by so many! This was all so fast, it's difficult to process!

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  3. I'm so sad! Megann helped me get my start and was always so friendly and helpful. We were going to create a film project together last year but I lost contact with her while I was in L.A. The reason is now apparent and I wish, wish, wish I had known. All of us from her casting days now have a wonderful guardian angel watching over us.

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  4. Megan was, from my costumer's point of view, always my favorite casting person. She had a great feel for the "characters" - for how the background could create the ambiance for a scene and that she would do her damndest to make sure her actors would fit what I had or would bring enough choices so we could provide a great look together. She also was instrumental in starting Industry Nights so we could meet our fellow crew away from work and just have fun!!! Have fun, Megan...
    Love, XMass

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  5. I would like to post a comment to honor my friend in the kindest way possible, with a little humor.
    God forbid you should ever have needed to come into a casting as Beaver fan, Duck fan or a fan of any college other than MICHIGAN. As you not only would hear it from her, but from her ringtone as well, as Meg's bled Michigan blue to the core. Best of all it was all in good fun and she let you know that.
    So besides Michigan, Lord of the Rings, West Wing and all the other things Megann loved
    She loved, and was awed by the things actors can do which made her do what she did. Purely altruistic motives and to improve our (Portland's) standing in the film world and her genuine love for all "HER" actors is why she worked so hard for all of you.....
    Go Blue!!! Megann you are missed.
    -Eric, proud to say her reader for sessions for last 10 years.

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  6. This comes as a completely shock. Megann will be so missed. She was the first to welcome me to the Portland scene and was such a support. Immediately embraced me both as a friend and an artist. She knew her craft - and always made the process a positive one. Not always a given in this business.

    Sympathy and warm thoughts to her family, most especially.

    Too soon.

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  7. I took on-camera classes with Megan a few years ago and was delighted by her strong personality and gentleness at the same time. She loved her pet turtle, and at the end of the classes, I gave her a ceramic tile with a turtle on it. She was speechless. She said it was "utterly unexpected." That's how modest Megan was. She did not even realize she was being a friend when she was just being herself. I knew she had left Portland but I didn't know why. I am sick at heart for her lost life which ended way too soon and also because I had been looking forward to her return to Portland. I wanted to join her classes again!
    Sincerely,
    ShaSha (Sharon Sassone)

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  8. Megann will be missed. She always had a hug and smile for me whenever she saw me. She was so supportive of the actors in the city. I loved the stories of her LA days, meeting Bruce Willis...
    I hope someone is taking care of her animals, because they were the love of her life.

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  9. She will be so missed. I agree with Elle, always a big hug and warm smile. A truly genuine, warm loving human. The world could use more like her.

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  10. Such a sweet lady... I only read for her a handful of times - but from the first, she always treated me as if I'd been comin' around for years. She ran fun auditions, and gave actors lots of breathing room to do what they do. And being a big fan of hugs, I always enjoyed that part of the audition, too! Peace to you Megann...

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  11. Megann came into my office back in the late 80s and had just moved to Portland and was looking for a job in the talent industry. She had lots of experience with an agency in LA. The last thing I thought Portland needed was another agent so I suggested that she look into casting instead. We didn't have a casting person who was not connected to the talent agency business and boy, did we need one. She came back to see me with her friend Lorraine and they talked to my partner Nannette. Nannette called Fred Meyer and before they even had an office, they had their first account. She never looked back. From that moment on it was cigarettes and casting. I loved how she treated actors with respect. She'd never have thought about talking to actors the way some casting people do. She appreciated and valued what actors brought to the party and rewarded them by suggesting that LA casting people look at Portland actors before casting all of the larger roles. If she couldn't get the casting people to listen then she'd go right to the director or producer if she knew a Portland actor was right for a part. I remember how she sold Danny Kountz for one of the leads on Fifteen and Pregnant. She must have called that kid in five times and worked with him personally to help him get the role. She did the same thing with Ted Roisum, Marlyn Mason, David Gomes, Karen Trumbo and many, many other Portland actors. She also did her best to get each actor's rate for the next casting. She understood how the quote system worked from LA and did her best to honor that. Many producers were surprised to be paying Portland actors the same overscale they would have had to pay in LA. Megann's hey day was during the shoot of Terror in the Towers. Everyone wanted that film to do well because it was produced in such a hurry and for this reason relied more strongly on Portland manpower. The producers wanted to take advantage of the current news angle and were moving fast on a small budget. This gave Megann a chance to parade her Portland talent in many of the roles and that film's credits read like a who's who of Portland actors.
    Magann and E. Larry Day, among others, were responsible for getting people together at a time when the industry felt like it was falling apart. Megann pushed for an Industry Night and made it happen.
    I feel guilty now because, like so many people, I was a friend of Megann's but more a friend of her position. As work slacked off and I spent more time in LA I lost touch with her and I deeply regret that now. I will always remember her cheery phone calls, all excited as she told me about a film project that was coming to town. I loved how she wouldn't make me pull photos and resumes because she knew all of my people.
    She was a major player in the Portland film industry. I will always be sorry that I didn't pick up the phone and call her one last time. Who knew?

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  12. Although Megann was a staunch Michigan fan, she had a heart as big as Texas, and a hug like a bear. I loved auditioning for her because she was not just casting when you went in for her - she was also an acting teacher, and a director of taste and integrity who, even with a room full of actors waiting, took the time to always get the very best take possible for each actor. She did so much to raise the level of artistry in the Portland talent pool, and did a lot to make our city a viable destination for filmmakers. I learned a lot from her, I'm very sad she's not with us anymore, and I will miss her.

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  13. Eric, many thanks for starting this thread. Megann was absolutely our favorite casting professional, without question. Even long after we moved to Los Angeles, we never tired of catching up with Megann and hearing all the latest about Portland and Seattle. She had her finger on the pulse of all the important aspects of the industry, she knew (personally!) all the best talent, and she conducted her business affairs the way we all should - with passion, leading with a smile, with a dose of humility, and most importantly, with the unquestionable integrity of a trusted friend. Way back when you still could do things the old-fashioned way, we concluded sizeable transactions with Megann that never involved anything more than telephone calls or handshakes. As untimely as her passing is, her legacy will endure in all the careers she incubated, all the relationships she spawned, and all the friendships she nurtured. We miss her not just as an industry colleague, but more so b/c she was such a stellar human.

    Love to all in Portland, and love to Megann on her journey home.....

    Sam and Taylor

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  14. This news came as such a shock. I didn't even know Megann was ill, only that she had gone to Michigan for a while. I loved and felt love from Megann. She was the casting director for my first audition in Portland when I moved here 15 years ago and I got the part, so I called her my good luck charm. Her intelligence, her exuberance, her love of the business and "her" actors, and her cats..and the turtle of course..she was so warm and open how could you not adore her? In these hard times I think of different people and wonder how they're getting by; last night I wondered aloud to my husband how Megann was doing, that I hadn't seen her for a while. I always thought that secretly I was one of her "favorites", but as I read these memories of her I realize she made all of us feel that way! She had that effect on us, didn't she? I wish I could talk to her again, see her again, hear her hearty laugh again.
    I miss you sweetie. We all miss you.

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  15. After my first class with Megann she took the time to call me and tell me that she thought I was great. It was an enormous boost for me and continues to carry me as I continue to risk and stretch.

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  16. I have fond memories of Megann as a friend, acting coach, casting director, and also as my former talent agent from URSA TALENT MANAGEMENT. She was an inspiration to me when I was going to UO. I wanted to pursue a career in acting. I attended some of Megann acting classes and she was a wonder instructor. Her improv classes was exciting and different. I always look forward to her next lesson. She was always thoughtful in critque of my work in ways in I can improve my acting skills. She's a wonder person who coach me in this life long journey to become a thespian. I feel as I am a better person since I have met her. I am thankful to have worked on some of the independent film projects she has me involved with. Have a beautiful journey, Megann!! thank you for sharing your wonderful talents in providing us a dream to build on. Thank you for watching us and blessing us with your gracious gifts. Miss you lots!
    With Love, Patrick Quan

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  17. I met Megann right after Terror in the Towers. I was new to acting and took her on-camera class. I'll never forget her six beautiful cats who were always a part of our classes.

    Over the years as I moved behind the camera Megann supported me more than anyone else. We talked many times about working together on our own project but never got the chance. It didn't matter how long it had been since we had seen each other it always seemed like it was yesterday.

    A funny story from the Mean Creek wrap party. The production threw a bowling party at Hollywood Bowl. We were down at the far end but we were a very rowdy crowd. People running down the lanes, actors standing on the tables. Megann and I were really trying to bowl and were halfway through a game. Megann got up for her turn, she lined up with a very serious look, threw the ball and before it got to the pins the bar came down and the lights went off and her ball bounced off the bar and back down the lane. They had turned off our lanes and were kicking us out! Megann was very upset because she was sure it would've been a strike.

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  18. For all the times you made me feel I was the best actor in the hallway

    the times you would try to convince a director I was the best for the part

    the times you would show up for my singing or tuba playing gigs, no matter the genre

    will never compare to the time you called me at 2am to help you find your turtle; who managed to go 2 blocks before we found him...at 7am

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  19. I got to meet and work with Megann once in a casting seminar. She was an awesome lady and I'm glad I got the chance to meet her. It came as such a shock to me when I randomly checked Lana's blog and read about her passing. I still remember several of her stories, including the one she enjoyed telling about how she experienced "being in the moment" while reading off of someone for a cowboy movie.

    Megann, you will be remembered and missed by many.

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  20. I took her TV/Film audition class where she was an encouraging and attentive teacher. The class always went long because she'd have great stories from her past in LA or casting experiences with celebrities. She was a wonderful addition to the creative community in Portland, especially actors. Rest In Peace Megann.

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  21. Megann's spirit and hugs were always a good energy charger. An open ear and open heart.

    I'll miss her dearly.
    Eddie

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  22. Like so many others, Megann always made me feel like the most brilliant human on the planet. Her energy and enthusiasm were so rare in this business. She stayed positive even when everything was going south. I don't have one negative memory of any experience with her. How often can any of us say that in this life? I am so naming my next cat "Ratzow"! Shine bright, Megann- you are missed.
    ~Mercedes Rose

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  23. What is there to say? Megann was so many things to all of us, a teacher, a colleague, a cheerleader - but most importantly to me, she was my dear friend.

    Megann was there for me in my darkest moments as well as my most joyous - always with the same gentle and loving wisdom to help guide me through.

    I can't count all of the hours (usually late at night) that we spent on the phone, sharing the war stories and the humorous moments of our day. I will so miss being able to pick up the phone and hear her voice on the other end, calling me "Cookie" and regaling me with stories of Waldo and the kitties.

    I only hope she knew how much she was loved and how much she will be missed ~ Peace be with you my friend.....

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  24. She was the gold standard. We have all been touched by our dearest Megann. She has given us many gifts and taught us many lessons. Keep her warmth in your heart, remember her kindness and treasure her memory. Life is too short not to pay compliments and Megann bestowed them freely. I will miss my dear friend....

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  25. My heartfelt sympathy to Megann and her loved ones. Both being young in our careers in the early 90s we shared the excitement and enthusiasm for the "big projects" starting to come to Oregon. Thank you for Fade to Black & all the others, your unwavering encouragement, and always believing in the Oregon talent...We will miss you!
    Sibyl Busby Lazzara

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  26. I don't remember if she ever got any bookings for me, all I know is that even though I have not heard her name in at least a decade, I am sorry she is gone.
    When I got out of college, she was friends with my Mom, who was working at Cusick's Talent at the time. Megann was working solo on casting projects and was always looking for any free help. I was working nights, so I helped her out in the daytime for a while. My experience working with her was invaluable, as I was able see what did and didn't work for auditions.
    But what struck me most while I worked with her was her enormous respect for other people's opinions. I was just another actor with minimal credits, helping her out with answering phones and the like. But she listened to me as if I had been with her for years, and I will never forget that.
    Love ya Megan, thanks for all you've done.

    -Dan Vhay, Portland, Oregon

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  27. I'll never forget my first "real" movie audition. I was nervous as hell in the waiting area until Megann came out. She started telling us about one of her kittens discovering the thrill of tortoise tipping. Those of us waiting were in stitches. It really took the edge off, and I'm sure helped me get the part.

    What a sweet person and a sad loss for the whole film and video community.

    Tim Hill

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  28. I was new to Portland in 1994. I met Megann thru auditioning for her. We just hit it off. That x-mas I was alone. She called me up, told me to put on my winter coat. She took me to the x-mas row. Instead of driving we got out of the car and walked up and down the street looking @ all the lights and talking up a storm until we froze. We went to get cats together, laughed so hard I thought we would poop in our pants, we cried together when things got hard, drank on her porch @ nite and smoked cigs discussing the film crews that were in town. The industry loved her. From here to Los Angeles we loved watching her work. I loved when she would privately coach me before an audition and most of the time I would book because of her. She would come on sets to see if HER actors were being treated fairly. It was great to see Larry E Day with her too. She knew her craft, knew it well. It was always a good day when we were going to see Megann. And as a friend, a real friend, thank you and I will miss you more than you WILL EVER know. Bye for now, Sharonlee

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  29. She got me my first (and best) featured movie role. And the subsequent two as well. She even convinced the writer/director of the last one to merge three separate characters into one for me. She was so tuned in to the talent that she saw and so gracious and respectful of us. She greeted me as a friend at every audition. We will not see her like again. She was simply the best.
    Megann made the "Final Casting."
    "Break a Wing", baby.
    George

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  30. John Pearson-DenningJanuary 15, 2009 at 1:45 PM

    I worked on several shows with Megann and was always amazed at her excellent instincts in casting even the smallest of parts. She put Oregon actors on the National stage time and time again. We owe her thanks for helping to set a foundation that supported our creative community.
    We will miss her.

    JPD

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  31. This news is a complete shock and hard for me to bear. I am still in disbelief.
    Megann’s picture has always been a fixture in my office. I remember the day I took it. She was so happy to be working on the film Thumbsucker, greeted me with a huge smile and took me around to meet people on the set. She made me feel so welcomed.
    Megann just had a gift for making people feel good. As a casting director, Megann was the best, taking care of any need with kindness, understanding and a simple solution that would always work out perfectly for all. As a friend, we spent hours, always late night, talking shop, animals, world issues, and alternative jobs. All my actors loved her. Her heart was huge and she treated them with respect and understanding, giving the actors the chance to do their own thing in the room and make their own choices, before directing them further. It was Megann’s goal to make all talent comfortable to get their best performance. This is why so many actors loved Megann as a casting director and missed auditioning for her later. I was sad when she left the casting circle and now deeply hurt that I cannot see or talk to Megann again. Besides being known as a casting director, Megann was an incredibly smart woman and a creative writer, who supported human rights and animal rights with a passion. She will be missed by so many people.
    -Sandra Peabody

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  32. I loved Megann. She was someone I cared about and always wished the best for. Professionally, I can't even begin. Well, I guess I can. I got my first role in the first feature I read for. I had found out Megann was casting, and begged her to let me audition. I had no headshot or resume, and she was having some trouble with the director, so she didn't give me an audition. I found out about a cattle call and went. I ended up in a screener room after being chosen by the DP, and Megann was the screener. When I showed up she said, "Boy, you're persistent." I told her I was gong to be in that movie, and luckily it happened. We got along great after that, and I never felt more confident going into an audition than I did with her. I booked nearly everything I read for through her, and I credit her for helping me do that. She was a real champion of actors, and there aren't many who are.
    Personally, she was one of the sweetest people I ever met. She never wished anyone any harm and appreciated every living thing. She was such a mess once when one of her turtles got lost in the yard, it had burrowed down in the dirt and she didn't find it for two days. You'd think the world had ended. She couldn't tell anyone why she was such a mess, but I don't think she'd mind me sharing it now. I laugh kindly when I remember this now. What a special human being she was. Rest well, Megann, you'll be sorely missed here.

    Love,

    Robert

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  33. Megann helped my daughter cast a PSA that she was producing about domestic violence in '94. This was before my daughter went on to film school and was pretty much a "nobody" here in PTown. I will never forget her support and encouragement. It would never have been made if it weren't for Megann. She was a good soul.

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  34. What a sad shock to learn that such a valued and respected member of our community has left us.

    I was lucky enough to be cast by Megann and also to take class with her. She was unique in making every actor feel special and important and that their acting choices were always interesting. She gave confidence to every student by complimenting and teaching from the positive perspective, peppered with her wonderful stories from The Biz.

    I wish we had all known she was ill - she would have received an outpouring of love, affection, support, and help. I know that I will never forget her.

    God bless and keep such a special, friendly, and big-hearted lady. Rest with the angels, Megann, for you are truly one of them.

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  35. Truly sad. I had my first audition with her. She made me feel like she had known me for years...and gave me great direction, allowed me to take a few stabs at it.
    Such a wonderful soul!
    I will miss her.

    Garland

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  36. I got a phone call from Megann one day, after an on-camera class, she just wanted to let me know how talented she thought I was, she told me what a special person she thought I was and someone in the industry is going to notice that soon. Her words were so important to me, they gave me the confidence to push on. I respected her so much and believe in myself a little more because of her words and encouragement. Im a better actor because of her.
    Im so sad that she will not be returning. I kept searching for her, not knowing where she had gone. She just never showed up for class one day......
    I hope there's football, cats and turtles in heaven.
    xoxo Johanna Hart

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  37. Miss M:

    I wanted so badly to be there for your gathering m'dear departed!

    However, I just lost another wonderful woman friend and am hosting her Memorial on Monday and wouldn't do so great to travel so far and grieve so much back to back! I know you understand!

    I have such great memories of the day we stood up together @ the casting directors and agents gathering @ the Governor Hotel and walked out on the unscrupulous name-calling. I was so proud of us in that moment...

    And will forever remember our lunches @ McCormick & Schmicks, trying to stay away from the beautiful bread they made! Now, I'm glad we did, life is to short to not eat dessert first!

    I'll miss you in the world, my friend, but will always remember that our integrity made us friends and know you are now on a greater plane of life and I know I'll see you there, someday.

    Katherine Wilson

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  38. I first met Megann on "The Dust Factory" as I was just beginning to get what the production community was about. Later I had a chance to audition with her as I dipped my toe into the acting world on the other side of the camera lens. She was a pro and she leaves us all better at our crafts. Frank DiMarco

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  39. Eric, what a wonderful forum you've created for all of us to share our collective memories of Megann. Thank you so much for setting this up.

    Megann touched so so many lives, as evidenced by all the heartfelt comments on this memorial post. She was that rare quality in this industry....someone that treated others with respect, demanded respect herself, and did so with a smile and a healthy dose of humor.

    I'll never forget the time she rang one morning and inquired if I was busy for lunch....and would I be interested in meeting Cuba Gooding Jr., Hal Holbrook, Charlize Theron, and maybe if I was lucky....DeNiro.....on the set of a film she had cast. I practically fell over myself getting out the door to go pick her up, we drove out to the set on Hwy 30 towards Rainer....I think the working title of the film at that time was "Navy Diver".....but later changed to "Men of Honor" before wide release.....we had an amazing time, spent the entire day watching the filming of Eric's famous "I ate a pie!" scene, the director George Tillman was such a gentleman, asking for Megann's input, including us in all the goings-on, what an amazing experience.

    When I think about that story, I am reminded about what a selfless person Megann was, absolutely zero drama, never smug nor sanctimonious, always warm, inviting, sensitive, and above all, compassionate. Her loss will be felt by all of us, and by the industry as a whole.

    Farewell old friend, may your passage into the light be an effortless journey on angel's wings....

    Much love,

    ~ Angelo

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  40. I was drawn at first to her well-honed humor, flavored by that famous "I've been through THAT before" attitude. I soon realized, however, that she loved us - all of us - and her world-weariness was a cover for her deep need to connect, to give unsparingly, and to support us vulnerable actors with her heart as well as her work. Though I knew her only by reading for her several times over the years, I always felt welcomed when I saw her, always given a big hug, and then given a boost to do well just when I was about to step in front of the camera. She wanted me to do my best, and I wanted to give it to her, because she had asked, and because she cared so much to ask.

    I still can't believe she's gone. It was too sudden, and way too soon. Goodbye, my dear, and thank you for your gifts to us all.

    Love,

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