Child actor's star on the rise
Feb 03, 2013 (The Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
If it weren't for a goat -- and a dog -- Tyler Mazzei would be part of today's Super Bowl show.
"I got beat by a goat," Tyler said animatedly. "I was angry and disappointed. The only reason I'm happy is I like a goat. Everybody asks me, 'How did you get beat out by a goat ' "
The animal that got his goat is featured in a Doritos commercial scheduled to be shown during today's broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.
That disappointment isn't a setback for the hyper-precocious and very articulate 8-year-old.
The Stockton second-grader is in Los Angeles today, auditioning for a role as the childhood Jerry Seinfeld in a new TV sitcom project.
"I just want to have fun, have fun, have fun," said Tyler, whose enthusiasm, effervescence and expressive repartee help explain why he's been acting in movies and TV ads since he was "discovered" in a Stockton Target store in 2011. "I really, really want to do acting.
"Since preschool, I've been doing my little young jam -- sleeping, eating, wanting, getting, learning, being happy, being loved. Lots of ingredients."
He acted in "Crash the Super Bowl," an annual YouTube playoff sponsored by Doritos. Amateur filmmakers submitted 30-second videos ads and people voted for their favorites on Facebook.
Tyler, who attends Presentation Elementary School, was the "main character" in "The Temptation," which was nudged out of the top five by "Goat4Sale" and "Fetch" (the dog one).
"I've seen it, like, loads of times," Tyler said of his somewhat silly spot. "I'm in detention. The desk starts shaking. I turn my head slowly and it's glowing. I open the drawer, look inside with, like, an amazement smile. I get Doritos dust in my face. I turn around and I'm peevish and worried that I'm gonna get in trouble. Then I'm laughing and it's raining Doritos."
Jam all those words together, add implied inflections, exuberance, attitude and a breathless pace. Then hang on. That's Tyler.
He also has non-speaking parts -- that's difficult to imagine -- in three upcoming movies: "Monster and Me," "Southern Comfort" and "Lucid 8."
Tyler's been on TV with Ellen DeGeneres and has taped two segments of "Survivor" host Jeff Probst's show, one of which will be broadcast on March 1.
"He's really 'hot' right now," said Pam Mazzei, who calls herself a "momager." That's not just a proud mom bragging.
"My company is named Top Talent," said Belinda Irons, Tyler's San Francisco-based agent who has 21 years of show-biz experience. "Tyler happens to be one of the -- if not the -- top talents we have. He's a star already in his own mind.
"He's very mature for his age. Very personable. Very smart and bright. He's an old soul. He has a story. If you have the time, he'll tell you the story."
It began in September 2011 while Tyler, his mother and then-10-year-old cousin (Lauren Blanchard) were shopping at the Target store on Trinity Parkway.
A woman -- Mazzei referred to her as a "headhunter" from Barbizon Modeling and Acting Agency -- approached Lauren.
"It was shocking," said Mazzei, a human resources director for the AG Spanos company. "Very shocking."
"She was saying, 'Oh, you're so cute,' " Tyler recalled. "She wanted (Lauren) to be a model. She was looking at me, loving me, adoring me. I thought, 'Ooh, that's interesting. Ooh, that's cool.' "
It wasn't a scam. While his cousin decided not to continue, Tyler spent three months preparing for a Los Angeles showcase.
During three days of commercial monologues and modeling at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, nine agents were impressed by his potential. Tyler, an only child, has been acting steadily upward ever since.
Pam and Tony Mazzei, a "geo-technical" engineer at Condor Earth Technologies Inc. in French Camp, are determined to prevent Child Actor Syndrome.
Tyler reads at a fifth-grade level and wants to reach eighth-grade comprehension by fifth grade: "Wow, that's my goal. I want harder stuff. I don't even know division. I'm not a division person. I kind of like subtraction. Estimating is my favorite."
His parents' equation in indivisible.
"If his grades drop, we'll pull him out," Pam Mazzei said. "His groundedness reminds us all the time. He's very polite. He says, 'thank you' and 'please.' "
Irons agreed, adding, "You continue as long as it's fun. When it stops being fun, you have to rethink it."
Tyler has no problem with that.
"You try your best and never give up," he said. "That mostly comes from my mom and dad. I don't wanna be one of those Lindsay Lohans and have a rude, disgusting attitude."
Tyler's approach is totally positive.
He's "trying to type this book I wanna write." It's being influenced by his favorites: J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series, Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach" and the "Geronimo Stilton" and "Magic Treehouse" books. He also enjoys watching "Matilda," "SpongeBob SquarePants," "The Neighbors" and "iCarly" on TV.
Tyler and his mom -- "he thinks I'm 38. Just say I'm in my 40s" -- compete on "Super Mario" video games. Even then, he's got other things on his mind.
"I'm always thinking of words," he said. "I'm thinking of a word in my head right now. It's 'rendezvous.' One word on a (school) test was 'us.' Come on. We need something more challenging than that."
Tyler will be ready.
"It's absolutely fun," he said of his acting apprenticeship. "I get nervous. Bur after doing it, I wanna do it forever. 'Wow, this is fun.' If you think positively, positive things will happen."
His classmates consider his acting role a plus, too.
"Everyone's special in their own thing," Tyler said. "They think I'm smart. They think this is amazing."
Regarding the Super Bowl, Tyler is a Chicago Bears fan. Mom favors the San Diego Chargers and dad roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Besides, he'll be busy.
The corn-chip goat gets no support, though.
Contact reporter Tony Sauro at (209) 546-8267 or email@example.com.
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