May - ?
Welcome to May's 'Photos' page! I asked Facebook followers what they wouldn't mind seeing for months since I don't know how long I'll be away. The majority voted for:
~30th Anniversary Memories~
Thirty years ago my life changed when NBC premiered Stephen Cannel’s show, Riptide.
I had come to LA from NY on the invitation of my friend Glenn Gordon Caron, who I met when he was running the first TV show I was in, Breaking Away. Glenn knew I needed a job so told me he’d write a part in Remington Steele for me if I’d fly to LA to audition for Bob Butler, the director. Of course I said yes, and wound up doing the episode (Signed, Steeled and Delivered). This got me to LA to stay. It didn’t hurt that I was dating the woman who would become my wife, Jane Staugas, and that she lived in LA!
I did a lot of episodic TV work over the next few years. I was tested for a few pilots that I didn’t get. But I was working steady, enough to be married and for Jane and me to buy a small house in the valley.
One day my agent called with an audition for a project called Pier 66. I remember reading it and knowing—without a doubt—that I was the guy to play Murray Bozinski! Sometimes you know these things as an actor.
I met at the Cannel Building on Hollywood Blvd with Jo Swerling, Jr., who was a producer there. I didn’t know it at the time, but Jo later told me I was the first guy they saw for the part. Of course, they couldn’t just cast me, because I was the first guy! So I kept coming back, and back, and back! I think they saw everybody in town for the part. I had a joke with my agents that maybe I should just wait in my car in front of my house with the engine running, so I could get to the callback auditions as quickly as possible.
I was into NBC several times, in casting director Deborah Curtin’s tiny office, bulging with NBC executives. It was quite a roller coaster ride, but I knew in my heart this was mine. I just knew this character.
It was a Friday and I was the last of the three of us to be cast. I met Joe and Perry in Stephen’s office late that Friday night, and we all talked. It was an amazing and exciting experience, and I liked Joe and Perry from the start.
I remember that Perry said to Joe and me, that we had the rest of our lives to hate each other, but we should decide right there that while we were working on the show we were going to like one another and stick together. I can safely say that thirty years later, we’ve never really had a cross word between us, and I love these guys like brothers.
We started shooting on location that Monday, and it was a 21 day shoot. I learned a lot in those 21 days. Perry especially was a patient teacher. Joe kept me laughing.
We did lots of press for the opening—it was amazing. Happy memories of us in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, and going to the Rose Parade together. The Today Show—you know, the Hoopla Express.
The 56 episodes I made of Riptide with Perry and Joe have made us a Band of Brothers. I’d do anything for those guys, and I know they’d do anything for me.
A few months ago (more than a few, I must admit!) Deb asked me to write to you all and tell you what it means to me that Riptide is having it’s 30th (!) anniversary. She also asked me to talk to Joe and Thom, and get them to write something about their feelings. Well, I’ve talked to the guys, and they promise to put down something in writing for APK, and now it’s my turn.
It’s crazy! It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was driving down to King Harbor to do a film test for the show. I remember driving into the area and seeing a big sign that said “KING HARBOR” and thinking: how can I miss? The place is already named after me. Boy, the arrogance of youth, huh? I really think, when I look back at it, that the thing that got me the job was that Joe was doing it with me, and I immediately felt great in his company-- he’s so skillful, and funny, and just plain fun to be with, that I got better right away. It’s very unusual to screen test with the people you end up working with-- offhand I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. It was just lucky-- for me. Joe, I think, was never in question-- he was so perfect for the part, and the tone of the show, that he was a shu-in. But I’ve never been very good at screen tests-- if you ever saw the one I did years ago for Star Wars, you undoubtably agree with me. So I think Joe got me the gig.
From there the pilot came pretty easily, although once we started shooting the actual shows there was a lot of criticism from the front office, and I particularly remember being thrown by it for a while. But again, Joe and Thom’s support helped me put that in perspective. I remember the writing in the pilot was superb, and it was so good and so funny, all we had to do was get out of the way and let the show sell itself. Every day was so much fun, and so exciting. Once the show sold and we started doing the episodes, I began to realize that I was in a really golden time in my life, and even though the hours were long, I was determined to appreciate it every minute. There was a man working the show who said to me: “This is your time, and it won’t last long, so enjoy it.” How right he was. A lot of actors and actresses never get even one real success, where you feel the show is better than you are, and is pulling you up with it. With Riptide the three of us had that wonderful material, and we knew it, and were really grateful right when it was happening. Usually you don’t know how lucky you are until you lose something.
Another thing we did right was to make a pact between the three of us that we would stick together and never let anything pit us against each other. If we had problems between us, we’d solve them between us. To the world, we would present a united front. Not only did that work great for us-- keeping the media and the outside world from hurting us, with rumors or bad stories-- but it also make us feel like a real family, with an unshakable commitment to each other. I’d say that feeling continues to this day. One funny thing that came out of that was when we’d get tired-- I mean, falling down, bone tired (15 hours days were common). Every once in a while we’d choose one of us to get sick, if it didn’t happen for real. The sick guy would go to the doctor, and have a crummy day-- but everyone else would get a day’s break. We only did that a couple of time, taking turns, but it kind of saved everyone’s bacon. The front office just could’t seem to hear us when we’d tell them they were killing us, cast and crew alike-- so we took action. Keep that a secret-- or the insurance companies might come after me!
You know, I could go on and on-- but the simple truth is that that was a great time, and changed my life in so many wonderful ways. Because Joe, Thom and I appreciated it as it happened, we pretty much got all the juice out of it, and I’d say none of us have any regrets, only great memories of a wonderful time. It sure doesn’t seem like a generation of time ago, though. I love my life now-- but I sure loved those days. If there was ever a time I’d like to go back to, the three years of Riptide would sure be it. Thank you, all of you who read this, for caring about that show, and my two buddies and me. Have a GREAT 2014, and lots of love,