My sister and her husband are actors.

A couple of decades ago, while living in Los Angeles, they went to New York for an extended stay in order to star together on Broadway in Neil Simon’s then-new play: Rumors.

Upon their arrival in Gotham a huge party was held in their honor, welcoming them to the city. Everybody who was anybody in the NYC arts/entertainment/culture scene was there.

Also present was my late mother Esther, whom I miss every day.

At the party mom ended up crammed into the penthouse’s alcove, sharing a love seat with Juliet Taylor, the legendary casting director best known for casting Woody Allen’s movies.

Mom was an engaging story teller, capable all at once of evoking pathos and hilarity, always delighted to provide Talmudic insights into the nature of man, woman, and that thing we call the Human Condition.

After perhaps a half hour, Juliet said, “It just so happens, Esther, that Mr. Allen is casting a picture right now and he’s looking for someone to play the role of a Jewish mother. He’s reviewed all the candidates in the local SAG jurisdiction and has not found anyone who fits the bill. He’s now looking at non-pros.”

Dear reader, you may not have realized it, but if you don’t belong to (now) SAG-AFTRA, in the eyes of the union you are a non-pro. Union rules permit production companies to cast non-pros only after they’ve exhausted auditioning players in the local jurisdictions.

The movie must have been New York Stories, an anthology containing three short tales, one directed by Woody, another by Marty (Scorsese), and another by Francis (Ford Coppola). Woody’s, Oedipus Wrecks, features at one point the image of a Jewish motheroccupying the entire sky, hectoring her beleaguered son regarding one disappointment or another.

“Would you be willing to come downtown next week and meet?” Juliet inquired of mom. “Some people will want to chat with you, and they’ll also want to shoot a handful of Polaroids.”

Remember Polaroids?

Mom said she’d be delighted.

My sister and I sat mom down for a brief heart-to-heart. “Ma,” we said, “when you meet with them, don’t try to wow them with all your showbiz savvy. Don’t drop names. Don’t cite weekend film grosses, tiered releases, and stuff like that.”

“Oh, no,” she told us. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m just meeting some new friends and chatting, maybe having a cup of tea, and finding out a little bit about each other.”

“That’s exactly right,” we purred.

“I’ve actually given this some thought. If I get the part,” our Esther said, narrowing her gaze, nodding with determination, “I’m willing to lose weight.”

My sister and I were speechless.

Now mom added, “But I will not have a face lift.”

Jess and I responded in unison, “Tell them that! Tell them that!”

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