But wait, there's more!
April 28, 2012 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Is there, anywhere, a website or database of actors and actresses who appear in commercials?

I don't mean Flo, or the T-Mobile girl.

Case in point?

Just saw the new Burger King ad, and thought "Holy Crap, that guy was Bobby Simone's doctor on NYPD Blue!"

Again and again, I see faces in TV commercials I remember from other things, be it soap operas, or previous commercials (the lady doing the BP ads who used to do decongestant ads, or the damned ubiquitous white female who started off playing like a teenager, and is now the MILF type.)

Somebody must be tracking this somewhere, but all my google-fu produces is Yahoo Answers stuff about "who was that person in the XXXX commercial"

Is there a central repository for this? C'mon. There must be.
posted by timsteil to Media & Arts (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"That Guy" might be a start; "character actors" might help your searching.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:20 AM on April 28, 2012

Best answer: My boyfriend's mainly a commercial actor, but he's also done films. (Perhaps you recall Taco-Loving Indigestion Guy Who Consults His Walgreen's Pharmacist? Or maybe Husband Who Wants His Wife to Try Sabra Hummus? Or possibly Neighbor Angling For Invitation to Your Cookout Featuring Delicious Hilshire Farms Bratwurst?) If there is a public central repository for all the thousands of actors that appear in all the commercials that air every year, a la IMDb, I'm afraid he's never heard of it. It's true that lots of commercial actors also cross over with film and TV, but also there are a lot of actors who do commercials exclusively. There are online casting directories for commercial actors (where they post head shots, agent info, etc.), but they're not public.

The problem with tracking all the actors for commercials is that, as I said, there are literally thousands of commercials produced every year -- more than the number of films and television shows produced annually -- and there's no real central place where this information is located, no central trade publication where all the productions are discussed, etc. Commercial production is really rapid. While a location is being scouted, there will typically (judging from my partner's experience) be auditions over the course of a day or two, with call-backs coming within a few days or a week. Then, once a commercial is cast and the actors are booked, there's usually one day where the actors meet with wardrobe ahead of time, then a day devoted to shooting. My boyfriend just shot a commercial for Sam's Club; the process of audition to call-back to wardrobe to shoot was less than two weeks. And this process is repeated dozens of times every day in Los Angeles alone, let alone all the commercials produced in New York and local markets.

Speaking of markets, some commercials only run locally or regionally, some run nationally (and some are shot here but run overseas; years ago, my boyfriend was in a VW ad that ran in Germany only); some run on network, some run on cable; some run a handful of times, some run endlessly for months or longer; some are union productions and thus are tracked (and not always very well, btw) by SAG and AFTRA for purposes of ensuring residual payments to actors, some are non-union and thus are essentially off the union's books. Also, commercials have principle and non-principle actors; the principles are the actors who speak or, if they don't speak, their faces are recognizable (e.g., they're not just blurs in the background, or aren't obscured by a mask, or aren't shot from behind);the non-principles are essentially the extras (e.g., in a crowd scene). All of those actors are tracked (and paid) differently, too.

I'm assuming that IMDb was never expanded to include commercial credits because credits are listed on IMDb via a submission and verification process -- that is, if you were credited on a film or TV production in any way, you (or your agent) submit your credits, then the IMDb editors verify them by checking your submission against the on-screen credits for that movie or show. With commercials, there's obviously no on-screen credit for IMDb to check against. (Some actors may submit their commercial credits to appear in the "other works" or "biography" section of their page, but that's totally optional.)

tl;dr: barring a change in IMDb policy/process, I imagine it would be virtually impossible for "someone" to track and verify all the data involved in creating a definitive central repository for all the casting information for all commercials that air.
posted by scody at 3:24 PM on April 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

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