Bernard Telsey’s eldest son has gotten used to coming home and not recognizing his parents’ house. The casting director and his fashion executive wife, Anne Marino, have a habit of shopping for new home pieces—be it a lamp or a table—and rearranging their living space on a whim. “There’s a new couch coming in like a week,” Telsey says. But his 26-year-old son Danny can’t be too upset about the constantly changing décor: The old pieces often go to his apartment.
Items can also travel to his office at Telsey + Co, a short walk away from his Midtown brownstone. Telsey founded the company in 1988 and casts Broadway and Off-Broadway shows (including those at MCC Theater, where Telsey is also an artistic director), as well as films (the most recent is Nancy Meyers’s The Intern starring Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro) and television series. Telsey is particularly excited about working on the Joan Allen-led series for ABC, The Family. “It’s great because we’re putting all these theater actors in it,” says Telsey, adding that his office gave Jessie Mueller her first TV gig on the show as well as a recurring role for Michael Esper.
While Telsey looks relaxed in the photos, his weekends are rarely a time off from work. He’s constantly reading scripts—at least five a week—and answering e-mails. “At least it’s comfortable!” he laughs of doing it at home.
Telsey moved into the garden level of the brownstone in 1990 as a bachelor. During those first years, when both Telsey + Co and MCC were in early stages, he was rarely there, leaving early in the morning and coming home late in the evening. He’s still out a lot, whether at the theater or at the office, and when he met his wife, she improved the appearance of more than just his home.
“She’s the one who gave me a sense of style, clothes-wise,” Telsey says of Marino, an executive at Tory Burch Sport. “I feel like I can do it on my own now, but she’s very much part of the morning ritual. I tried to pick out four outfits today that I know she signs off on.”
His wife is at their Long Island home in the North Fork this weekend, along with their upstairs neighbors. Telsey refers to their relationship as “any combination” of Lucy, Ethel, Richie, and Fred. When he and Marino wed, her son Danny and their daughter were around the same age. “When everybody was growing up, it was like, ‘Well I can’t go out, but I can go upstairs and have wine,’” he recalls. When Telsey bought the first floor and renovated the two levels, his family stayed with them, and when they bought the third floor and renovated the upper two levels, they stayed with the Telseys. They even bought houses in the North Fork a mile apart from each other.
Some of Telsey’s favorite places to shop are out on Long Island, where he’s originally from, and when he’s out on the North Fork, he and Marino go to their favorite second-hand furniture store Beall & Belle every Saturday morning. The painting hanging above the couch is even by a local artist in the area, Garance.
Telsey is very comfortable in a suit and wears a jacket to work almost every day. The Thom Brown blazer or the J. Lindeberg suit are two of his standbys. “I always feel like it just ups everyone’s game,” Telsey says of the look. “When clients are coming or it’s a callback day, to me, it’s like our opening night. I mean, we all wear nice outfits on opening night, and I feel like this is the callback day, we want it to go really well. I’ll definitely wear a suit every time there’s a call back. And on a regular day, I’ll wear jeans and a sports jacket. I wear a lot of ties. I really like ties.”
Marino made him some of his favorite ties, which she knitted complete with his initials in the bottom corner. His navy J. Lindeberg suit is from Fred Segal in L.A., where he finds himself more and more often as he was appointed to the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’. (The casting directors branch was created in 2013.)
When he’s in New York, four to five nights a week are spent at the theater, and in his downtime, he enjoys playing cards and chess with his youngest son Felix, who is downstairs playing video games with a friend at the moment. (A wooden chess board with Lucite pieces rests on a table in the living room.) He takes his eight-year-old Maltese-Poodle, Louie, on walks in the morning to the water, a nice perk of their location. He and Felix also big fans of bowling—Bowlmor or Lucky Bowl are regular hangouts—and go to the movies almost every weekend.
In fact, they’re planning to go to see Spectre this evening with some friends. Telsey is an admitted Bond fanatic—Skyfall is his favorite—and one of his prized possessions is his coffee table book, The James Bond Archives. (When asked about the other books on his built-in shelves, he concedes that Marino is the reader.)
And Felix wants to follow in his dad’s footsteps. “He loves going with me to the theater,” Telsey says. “When he gets out of the subway after school on his way home, he’ll stop by the office and remind everyone that he’s taking over the business. “
Not many young people are clamoring to get into casting, and Felix might be one of the few who actually know what a casting director does, thanks to his dad. “With my CSA [Casting Society of America] hat and my union hat,” Telsey adds. “I’m making sure everyone knows what a casting director does.”