August 26, 2019
Meet Peggy Lane ORourke of Catholic Guilt Productions in Burbank
Today we’d like to introduce you to Peggy Lane ORourke.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Peggy. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started out professionally at the age of five doing modeling and acting in Chicago. After I had booked three commercials, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) tracked me down and spoke to my mother telling her I could join the union now. I was a kid and I wanted a bike not a union card! My mother however, was correct and had the wisdom and foresight to know it was the right thing to do.
I kept acting and modeling all thru high school when I got interested in Music. I played in bands professionally from the age of 13 for about 20 years. My family moved out to Los Angeles so I could pursue a record deal.
Once in LA, to afford being in a band, I began doing background work. I liked that it wasn’t a full-time commitment and I could call in the day before for work if I knew I had that day open. After a few years of that, I got hired as a Stand In on a show. That was a full-time job with long hours, like a 60-70 hour work week so music took a back seat for a while.
A side note about music – when I began playing in clubs the going rate was about 50-100 dollars a night for a musician. YEARS later, almost 20 years later, it still paid the same IF you could even find clubs with live entertainment. DJ’s and Karaoke had replaced live entertainment.
I saw the benefit of SAG union work very clearly. I could earn health care and a pension credit for each year I qualified. No such thing playing clubs. As a musician, I had to buy and maintain my own equipment, guitars, keyboards, and a PA system.
I landed on some very long running famous shows like Seinfeld (where I played a recurring waitress in the coffee shop), King of Queens, The Middle, Will & Grace and The Millers.
During these years, I began writing scripts instead of songs. I felt I was learning from the very best and chose to use my time on set as a paid acting and writing class. I paid attention to the daily changes in the scripts, the differences and input from the Table Draft to the Producers Draft to the Network Draft. The alt lines on shoot night and what actors were trusted with last minute changes. An education like no other!
I had a script optioned at HBO just before the Writers Strike. It was about my years in a band. The option expired during the strike.
I continued Writing and Acting and soon added Producing and Directing to the mix.
I produced “Reign” which qualified for an Academy Award. I produced Sticks and Stones which went to Cannes. I produced a PSA which won a Telly Award.
I Created a Short Form Series called Donna On The Go. It is about my friend Donna Russo who uses a walker and/or a wheelchair. She still dances. It inspired me and I felt that in these dark times we could all use a little inspiration. I submitted it for Emmy® consideration in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
I also Coach Actors.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
What is? There have been so many setbacks, there were times I almost gave up.
1. My band got signed to record deal in Chicago. That label went bankrupt and we thought we could find another label since we had our master. WRONG. We had to wait for bankruptcy to be declared, no other label would touch us. We lost almost three years and the band broke up.
2. After over 15 years of auditioning. I eventually got to test for a Series Regular role as an Actress. And I got it!! I was hired !! I had a flight booked for Sun morning. HOWEVER late Sat night I got a call canceling me and my flight. I later found out that CAA had threatened to pull the lead actress (number 1 on the call sheet) if they didn’t hire an actress from CAA for my role. Guess who got that role? Right, not me.
A few months later I was parked at a stoplight and a bus pulled up. The bus had a poster of the show I had been let go from. There she was, the actress who got my part smiling with the CAA hired cast, I burst into tears as I headed for a Stand In job with a very difficult temperamental director who was awful to me.
Now, mind you, I know and saw the business from many angles, I knew how to be realistic. A callback is not a job. A booking is for that day only really, you can be replaced at anytime. I saw that often on the shows I worked on. Survive the table read, survive the network run thru, survive the edit……but what I didn’t see coming was being replaced after signing a series regular contract with a plane ticket in my hand at the last minute.
3. The one that breaks my heart the most. After meeting an amazing literary agent who got me many high level pitch meetings, I had a script optioned. By HBO no less.
Then came the Writers Strike. It lasted so long that my option expired during it.
It’s a business FULL of disappointments – and triumphs. Getting a laugh for me is the best feeling in the world. Having people you don’t know at all coming up to you saying something you did moved them…. priceless.
Please tell us about Catholic Guilt Productions.
I created a Production Company called Catholic Guilt Productions.
For years, I dreamt about having a production company and while my friends were thinking of their married names or roles they wanted to play, I was always trying to come up with a name for a Production Company.
Finally, I settled on Catholic Guilt Productions.
Yes, I’m Catholic. And yes, in many ways it informs everything I do. Being of service to others, not screwing people over. And of course, the guilt. Ah yes, the guilt!
I wanted to create shows or films that could be a voice for the voiceless.
I saw the same shows over and over being green lit and the same actors in them. Where was I ? Where were women over 40? Where were African American people? Where were Hispanic people? Where were actors with Disabilities?
I am the MOST proud of the episodes of Donna On The Go that I Wrote and Directed called MEETING and MOMMA.
I created roles for 12 actors with Disabilities, and couldn’t cast them in time! So I rewrote it and the final episode has roles for 5 Performers With Disabilities: Eileen Grubba, Nicolas Noblitt, Shannon Dierieux, Billy Ford and star Donna Russo.
I was able to do something I don’t see often if at all.
The series Donna On The Go is the only show I know of that has a Disabled Woman as the Lead of the show. The entire show revolves around her.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
This is always a tough question because if you had done even one thing differently, you would not be the person that you are now, so it’s tough to say really.
I guess I wish I was easier on myself in terms of disappointments. It’s so hard to not take it personally even when you know intellectually that it isn’t personal. It’s an emotional response and most actors are emotional.