Wayne Thomas Yorke! Appearing On Screen, On Radio, On Stage
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Our Gang, a Capital One spot, a zombie dad, chickens and more…

May 27th, 2013

I’ve had the great pleasure of working on some very interesting projects in the last few months. It might not be the busiest of times, but interesting…..always interesting.

WINGIN’ IT – the series I shot up in Canada for three seasons – continues to air. What a great group of people. Truly some of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Created by my talented and hard working ol’ buddy Frank van Keeken, WINGIN’ IT is about an awkward high-school kid, an angel-in-training who comes down to earth (in the form of another teenage kid) to help him figure stuff out – and the hijinks they get up to. I play an angel who comes down to earth (in the form of a high-school guidance counselor) to help guide the angel-in-training. It’s a really fun, light comedy tweener’s show along the lines of SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH and iCARLY. A lot of fun and really popular. I think the final episode aired a short while ago, so the campaign to bring back my character – Dr. Cassabi in a spin-off – has to begin. Start that letter writing NOW!!!

The delightful Kendra Timmins and me on the set of WINGIN' IT.

The delightful Kendra Timmins and me on the set of WINGIN’ IT.

I was asked by a director/writer, Howard McCain, to be in his short film called ZMDs: ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION. OK, that was a first. Rarely am I asked to be in anything “scary” – I guess I just don’t “read” scary – but Howard asked me to be a zombie. It was not the most comfortable make-up I’ve ever had to sit through (I think STAR TREK: VOYAGER was less comfortable – and took longer), but the final effect was pretty cool.  I was really OK with the make-up until the contacts went in.

They restricted my peripheral vision – and that really bothered my claustrophobic self.  I had to take a moment to compose the zombie in me.  My daughters hated me looking like a zombie.

Make-up pro Jim Ojala turning me into a zombie

Make-up pro Jim Ojala turning me into a zombie

 

More blood!!!

More blood!!!

 

They don’t even like to look at these pictures. But it was something different, and Howard and Jim and the crew were a treat to work with. Unfortunately, I couldn’t control myself and I ate all of them once we wrapped.  Damn that method training!!

At my kid’s school, I had the pleasure of writing the script for the annual “Read-a-thon” movie. Myself, and the director of the movie, Tait Rupert, decided that a little spoof of the old OUR GANG movies was the way to go this year. And, of course, a Talent Show was the only way to save the reading program in our little script. Although students made up the bulk of the short film, some parents also took part in the fun. And that is the joy of living in Los Angeles with soooo many talented people (read: parents) around. And I have found, they are terribly generous with their talents and time.

Case in point: part of the “Talent Show” was uber-talented guitarist Mark Goldenberg (a member of Hugh Laurie’s Copper Bottom Band among many other things).  ”We’re in the Money” has never sounded so good.

Guitarist Mark Goldenberg and tap dancing friend

Guitarist Mark Goldenberg and tap dancing friend

 

And the judges for the “Talent Show” were none other than Dave Foley, Kip Kaprelian and Willie Garson.  Wow!

Dave Foley, Kip Kaprelian and Willie Garson

Dave Foley, Kip Kaprelian and Willie Garson

And last, but certainly not least, I recently shot a CAPITAL ONE spot in which I end up holding a rooster.

Holding my, uh, rooster

Holding my, uh, rooster

In the spot, I had the good fortune of working with my ol’ buddy Chris Darga. He is such a good actor, funny, warm…and also makes a great visgoth! The Capital One spot started airing as a cable spot – but currently is running as a national network spot. Yahoo! Thanks Capital One!!

Christopher Darga and me

Christopher Darga and me

That’s about it for now. Well, ok…one more thing. At my kid’s school – I run a little movie comedy club in which, once a week, I introduce a small group of very enthusiastic, very young film-history enthusiasts to a different comedian from the early days of movies.  The first week was Charlie Chaplin week, the next was Buster Keaton week, then the next was Laurel and Hardy week and so on…. Of all the work I do, can you guess which one I find the most rewarding?  You guessed it.  Showing movies to the kids. Heaven. Where else can you hear “Next week, can we watch the 3 Stooges?”

Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee – an actor’s life for me….

November 13th, 2011

I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated – but boy, oh boy – time flies!  I’m just going to dive right in with what’s been happening for the last few months….

Thankfully, auditions have been picking up lately.  I had the pleasure of auditioning for Casting Director Suzanne Goddard-Smythe for the very popular kid’s show called SHAKE IT UP.  It was for the role of the principal.  I have a feeling I didn’t book the job – but what a pleasure reading with Casting Director Suzanne Goddard-Smythe.  She gives so much in the reading.  And in the waiting room prior to the audition, she is like a cheerleader.  Fantastic.  I also had the pleasure of reading for the casting office of Juel Bestrop.  Again – Josh and Brittany couldn’t have been nicer.  It was for a nice role on COMMUNITY – so I should find out this week.

Later this week, I’m working on a new 1/2 hour comedy pilot called REALITY, INC.  The show should be a lot of fun – and the Casting Director: Tracy Lilienfield was delightful.  In the past, Tracy has cast such wonderful shows as WILL & GRACE and THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE – so, it’s a great office to know.

Last week I shot a student film with a very good up and coming student film director at USC – Sean Jarrett.  I thought he was very good – organized – knew how to work with his crew – knew how to direct actors.  So, Sean – when you plan on making your Academy Award winning film – give me a call, OK?

October 15 – I was involved in “The 17th Annual Music Box Steps Day” sponsored by The Silver Lake Improvement Association.  It’s an event that celebrates the location and surrounding area used to shoot the 1932 Academy Award winning short film starring Laurel and Hardy called THE MUSIC BOX.  My old friend from high school – Brian Mulligan – and I were hired to play the lovable duo – Laurel and Hardy.  We would chat with people – and also pose for pictures in front of the stairs.  A great group of people – and a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

In late August and early September, I was back in Toronto working on Season 3 of the hit Canadian kid’s show WINGIN’ IT created by Frank van Keeken.  What a blast!  I have worked with many of those people for Season 1 and 2 of the show – and going back for Season 3 was like getting together with a group of wonderful friends and having fun.  Sure it’s work – but the cast and crew on this show are so wonderful – it just seems effortless.  Here’s a pic of some of the fellow “teachers” and I.  What a truly funny and talented collection of people!  It is a true honor to be part of this group.  From left to right:  Steve Morel, Jenny Parsons, me, Pat McKenna and Matt Baram.

As an added bonus – Season 1 of WINGIN’ IT was released on DVD in late August – and I was on the cover! Pick up a copy for Christmas!

The show is really fun – and great for the entire family.

 

On a sad note, a dear member of the crew – Dan Van Wyck – a stand-in for all the male actors – passed away suddenly earlier this year.  He was such a great guy, super professional, an actor in his own right, a loving dad, and just simply a lovely guy to spend time with.  There were many an hour when we would just sit and chat while a shot was being set up.  I know I speak for many people when I say that he is certainly missed.

SINGLE WHITE SPENNY starring Spencer Rice, Deb McGrath, Nikki Payne, Amy Matysio – and yours truly – was cancelled a few months ago.  The reviews were not so great – so I suppose that it wasn’t a big surprise that it was cancelled – but I was bummed none-the-less.  It was really fun to be part of that show.  Very loose, very creative, very funny…hard to say good-bye to.  But hey, that’s show biz.

A short film in which I had a wonderful part – THE MAN WHO KNEW HOW TO FLY – screened at Comic-Con this year in San Diego.  So, I went down to San Diego with my two daughters in tow – to be part of the event. The lead in the film, Kim Stodel, and the writer-director, Robi Michael, were also there. Always a treat to spend time with those two fine and talented fellows.

Last, but not least, earlier this year I worked on a fun, sexy, thriller webisode called NOIR.  It starred Zika Karinova as the “prostitute/killer” with a very bad temper.  Let’s just say – it was NOT a happy ending for me as the ‘john’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SINGLE WHITE SPENNY debuts on June 2 – and as if that’s not enough….

May 17th, 2011

SINGLE WHITE SPENNY – the show I shot last winter in Toronto – finally debuts on Showcase in Canada on June 2nd. The show was a blast to work on – lot’s of room for improv – and apparently the finished product looks really good. The Spenny in the title refers to Spencer Rice (of KENNY vs SPENNY fame). His character is a newly divorced 30-something guy who is entering the dating world all over again. I play his neighbor, Phil, who just wants hang out with Spenny and be a part of his life – as much as humanly possible. Also in the cast are the super-talented Deb McGrath, Nikki Payne and Amy Matysio.

Nikki Payne, Wayne Thomas Yorke, Spencer Rice, Deb McGrath and Amy Matysio

We shot eight episodes back in November/December 2010 in a very chilly Toronto.  And despite missing my family – I had a terrific time working on the show.  My fellow cast members are truly hilarious – every one of them.  And the guest stars for various episodes were a treat to work with as well.  One of them was award-winning actress Fiona Reid.  First of all – what a wonderful actress.  And secondly, what a pleasure to work with her.  Sweet, funny…and hey, her character has a crush on me.  It’s a win/win.

Me and the lovely Fiona Reid

Another guest star on one of the episodes was Colin Mochrie (WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY) – an old pal from theatre school days (that’s Studio 58 for those keeping track).  He was as funny as ever.  The guy could read the phone book and make you laugh.  And to top it off – he is terribly nice.  Not long after he worked on SINGLE WHITE SPENNY, he was off to do a movie somewhere for a few days – and then he was back to Toronto to perform in a live comedy/improv show (THE CARNEGIE HALL SHOW – again – for those keeping track).  Who doesn’t want to work with this guy?!

Colin Mochrie and me

There is much more news to tell….like working on a school movie written by the hugely popular FUTURAMA’s Executive Producer Mike Rowe, the passing of a wonderful man and actor from the WINGIN’ IT family, a visit to the CBC Museum in Toronto, and getting shot in the head by a wickedly delightful “call girl” in a webisode called NOIR.  That news and more to follow shortly.

Season 2 of WINGIN’ IT, some sad news, and more…

December 5th, 2010

Some fabulous things to report – as well as some sad news…

First of all, farewell to an outstanding human being, a terrific actor/singer/entertainer, and a wonderful friend – Denis Simpson.  Denis passed away suddenly on October 22, 2010. I worked with Denis a few times – but the stand outs are when we toured with a number of other performers (including my dear pal Leslie Jones) to Yokohama, Japan to perform in a variety show under the direction of Canadian impresario Hugh Pickett – and in a popular revue at the Arts Club Theatre called ONLY IN B.C.  Denis was alway a big favorite with audiences and fellow actors.  I feel very fortunate to have known him.

This summer I returned to Toronto to shoot Season 2 of the very popular ‘tweener’ show WINGIN’ IT.  It airs on The Family Channel in Canada – on the BBC in Great Britain and also throughout Europe.  There’s word that it might possibly soon begin airing in the U.S.  I will announce it on my website when/if that happens.  It is a blast to work on the show – and now we already have Season 1 under our belts – it was like getting together with old friends to work on Season 2.

In Season 2 we said goodbye to one cast member – Dennis the raccoon. Dennis was a puppet operated by the very talented Matt Ficner and Mike Peterson. Those guys had me cracking up all the time.  They were so funny, so creative and both worked so hard. Anytime you would see me (as Dr. Cassabi) at my desk talking with Dennis – there were those two guys crowded either underneath the desk or just beside it – operating Dennis and bringing him to life.  Here is a picture from one of our last days of shooting with Dennis the raccoon.

A very welcome addition to the cast was with a new character named Denise.  Denise was played by a very talented newcomer Kendra Leigh.  I think this is her first series – and she nailed it like she’d been doing it for years.  Very funny, very professional and a real treat to work with.  Besides WINGIN’ IT – I’m sure you’ll be seeing her in other projects very soon.

Most of my scenes are with the students (Dylan Everett, Demetrius Joyette, Brittany Adams, Hannah Lockner, Sebastian Hearn, Brian Alexander White…..) but every once in a while, I’d get to work with the some of the other adults. Here’s a pic of me with Matt Baram, director Mitch Ness, Steve Morel and Jenny Parsons.  The hardest thing about working with actor/comedians like Steve, Jenny and Matt – is keeping a straight face.  They are so terribly funny.

And speaking of funny – below is a pic of me with Naomi Snieckus and Scott Thompson (a guest star in one episode).  Naomi continues to perform in a show (with her partner Matt) called The Carnegie Hall Show in Toronto. If you are ever in Toronto – you’ve got to check them out. And then, there’s Scott Thompson.  You never know – when you work with someone who is established and well known – how it’s going to be.  Sometimes it can be very tough and unpleasant.  Sometimes the person can be very stand-offish.  Scott Thompson, on the other hand, could not have been lovelier to work with.  Besides being very talented and hilarious – Scott is always ready to work – very sweet – and as funny off camera as on.

We did one scene in the heaven ‘court room’ set – so were dressed in our slightly off-white suits as was the norm for ‘heaven’.  Scott, Naomi and I were on a short break so we headed off to the craft service area.  When you’re in costume, you always have to be careful eating or drinking.  The last thing you want to have happen is to spill something on your wardrobe because then filming has to stop while the wardrobe people have to try to clean whatever has spilled – dry it – and get it back on the actor.  So, there we were, in the craft service area and Scott’s back is to me.  I hear him let out a loud “Ahhhhh!”.  I could tell he had spilled something – and to reassure him I said “Don’t worry.  As long as it’s not mustard, they can probably…”  At that moment, Scott turns to me with the largest mustard spill I’ve ever seen – right down the middle of his off-white tie.  It looked like had just picked up a mustard bottle – and just squirted it on his tie.  We both laughed so hard at the timing of it.  I can tell you who wasn’t laughing though…..the wardrobe person.  Thankfully, they worked their magic and a replacement tie was found.

The audience at home watching WINGIN’ IT only sees the magic on screen….but man, oh man, let me tell you – the real magic on that show happens behind the camera.  It is the extremely hard working producers/directors/writers/crew who pull off episode after episode that is truly magical.  The schedule for the show can be grueling – and the number of costumes and props and hairstyles and various make-ups for every episode overwhelming.  And everyone is giving 110%.  So, if you are out there watching the show thinking “Wow…look at what those actors are pulling off” – imagine the dozens of people behind the camera – working their butts off to make the actors, and the show, look so good.

In the fall, I returned home to the true happiness in my life – my wife and two kids.  It was nighttime when my wife picked me up at LAX and my kids were in the backseat of our vehicle.  When I opened the door to greet them – they were wearing jammies that had written all over them “I Love Dad”.  Their faces were beaming – as was mine.  Heaven on earth.  This, to me, is what it’s all about…..my family.Not long after I got back to Los Angeles, I booked a national commercial for the software company – Intuit.  Here’s a link to that commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RX_8H5US7Lk

I really don’t remember the last time I had such a good time working on a commercial.  My fellow cast members (Robert Scheid, Gail Rastorfer, my ol’ pal Shawshawnee Hall and Elena Campbell-Martinez) were just great – and we bonded like we’d worked together before.  Truly a wonderful time. The spot turned out really well I think.
So, now I’m busy working again on a new project – but I’m going to save talking about that for my next update – which I promise will not be as long a wait as the last one was!

Spring – and some really fun work is coming my way

April 9th, 2010

It’s spring here in Los Angeles – and it’s just lovely.  Sunny skies, warm temperatures – but not too hot, every once and a while a little rain…perfect.  The time of year I get lulled into thinking that it’s going to be like this all year.  But summer is just around the corner – and along with the heat, it sounds like some big work is coming my way.  But first a little catch up.

Recently, I worked on a TV commercial for US Bank.  Nice spot – and I had the pleasure of working with a really sweet actress.  There was a lot of timing issues in that spot – making sure we were in the right spot for the bus to pull up – and the advertising on the side of the bus had to be in the shot at the right place, etc…  But in the end we got it – and had a good time.  The bonus for me was shooting in downtown Los Angeles – my favorite.  So full of history – especially movie history.  Ya gotta love it.

I suggested a long embrace with lots of kissing - they went with the fist bump.  Why don't they listen to my suggestions??

I suggested a long embrace with lots of kissing - they went with the fist bump. Why don't they listen to my suggestions??

I'm thinking husband/wife - she's thinking grandpa/granddaughter *sigh*

I'm thinking husband/wife - she's thinking grandpa/granddaughter *sigh*

Working downtown always reminds me of my first job when I arrived in Los Angeles back in 1991.  I sold subscriptions – by telephone – to the Los Angeles Theatre Center.  Ugh.  Yes, I was a telephone solicitor.  The plus side was that I worked with some really great people – some of whom I’m still friends with almost 20 years later.  And I learned never to take the first (or second….or third) “no” for anything.  Selling anything by phone is not fun – but it is kinda like the acting business.  You’re going to hear a lot of “no’s” before you hear a “yes” – so doing that job was a very good learning experience.  The negative side was trying to sell theatre tickets by telephone to a theatre situated in a not so great part of downtown Los Angeles.  The product was fabulous….but that location was a tough sell.  ”But it smells like urine down there…” was a response I got used to.  My sales pitch went something like this; “Hi, my name is Wayne and I’m calling from the Los Angeles Theatre Center.  This year we have an exciting season – beginning with a new play called VEINS AND THUMBTACKS.  You might have not heard of the show, but it stars Fisher Stevens.  You know, Fisher Stevens from the movie SHORT CIRCUIT 2?  Oh, you’re not familiar with him?  He is Michelle Pfeiffer’s boyfriend.  Yes, that’s the guy.  No, Michelle Pfeiffer is not in the play…”  And so on and so on.  And as the phone lists I worked off of usually contained their fair share of senior citizens….near the end of the conversation, the elderly person on the other end of the phone would ask “Is this Brian?”.  ”No, my name is Wayne.”  ”Do you know my son, Brian?”  ”No, I’m afraid I don’t.”  *sigh*  Needless to say, I wasn’t sorry to say goodbye to that job.  But I digress….

I shot another TV commercial last week – this time for QWEST COMMUNICATIONS.  Really fun spot directed by the very talented Fred Goss.  What a treat to work with Fred.  So easy- going…creative….fun.

Director/Actor Fred Goss - and yours truly

Director/Actor Fred Goss - and yours truly

Me and Zayne Emory - what a pro!

Me and fellow actor Zayne Emory - what a pro!

My ukulele lessons are going great.  I’ve been at it since the fall – and am enjoying it more all the time.  I’ve graduated from playing  ”Clementine” to “On The Beach at Waikiki” with many other songs in between.  All great songs.

Ukulele class 2010 - teacher Steve Rose is in the back row on the right

Ukulele class 2010 - teacher Steve Rose is in the back row on the right

The class is taught by uke master Steve Rose down at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica.  If you are ever interested in taking classes – they offer a bunch.  Check them out.

This summer looks very promising for one (and maybe even two!) returning series that want me to be part of the cast.  It’s a little premature for me to talk about it now – but things are looking great.  Oh, I did find one link the other day to a funny YouTube video I’m in with Evan Arnold and directed by David Nelson.  We did it years ago at Dodger Stadium.  Take a look and see what you think. It makes my daughters laugh every time.  Wayne and Evan in Dodger Stadium

See you next time!

A new series, a pilot, some new commercials, and a school movie. What’s next?

September 12th, 2009

This year is turning out to be a banner year.  And I’ve had the opportunity to work with some fantastic people.  Here’s the latest….

I just completed filming a new kid’s series tentatively titled ANGEL ON CAMPUS.  We shot 13 episodes over the summer and had a blast.  It’s going to be on The Family Channel in Canada – I’m guessing beginning early next year.

From l. to r. - me, Demetrius Joyette, Jamie Bloch (in front), Sebastian Hearn, Dylan Everette, Brittany Adams, Brian White, and Hannah Lochner

From l. to r. - me, Demetrius Joyette, Jamie Bloch (in front), Sebastian Hearn, Dylan Everette, Brittany Adams, Brian White, and Hannah Lochner

It’ll also air in England and Europe – and, of course, the U.S. – I just don’t know which network yet.  We shot in Toronto – so had access to a wonderful pool of hugely talented actors, some of whom were from The Second City comedy troupe.  The regular cast of the show, other than myself, is:  Dylan Everett, Demetrius Joyette, Brittany Adams, Brian White, Jennifer Robertson, Jamie Bloch, Hannah Lochner, Sebastian Hearn, Steven Morel, and Jenny Parsons.

Dennis, my raccoon minion - and me, as Dr. Cassabi

Dennis - and me, as Dr. Cassabi

Dennis, my raccoon minion, is a puppet operated by two very funny and talented actors/puppeteers named Matt Ficner (who created Dennis, the raccoon) and Mike Petersen (one of the talented team working on the Gemini-nominated PBS Sprout T.V. show THE MIGHTY JUNGLE).  Check out Matt’s work on YouTube by entering ‘Creepy Puppet Project’.  Very creative stuff – and very ‘creepy’….

Here’s an early press release on the show:  ANGEL ON CAMPUS is a live-action comedy series about a devil-may-care, 16 year-old ‘Angel-In-Training’ (Demetrius Joyette from THE LATEST BUZZ and ROXY HUNTER), who has been sent to earth to get his wings.  His assignment:  making down-on-his-luck Carl Montclaire (Gemini-nominated Dylan Everett from HOW TO BE INDIE) the most popular kid at school.  ANGEL ON CAMPUS is created by Frank van Keeken (BILLABLE HOURS).

So I play the head ‘Angel’ who oversees Demetrius Joyette’s character Porter Jackson.  My character’s name is Dr. Cassabi – and I pose as the high school guidance counselor so I can keep a close, watchful eye on my ‘angel-in-training’.  As I mentioned earlier, I have a ‘raccoon minion’, Dennis, who is able to go into ‘stealth mode’ – or ‘invisible mode’ and report back to me on his findings.  I enjoyed filming this series very much – but I would have to say my favorite scenes were with Dennis.  The guys who operate Dennis – Matt Ficner and Mike Petersen – consistently cracked me, and the entire crew, up.

A big treat for me was on one of the last episodes we shot.  There was a very funny role of a security guard played by none other than Colin Mochrie.

Colin Mochrie and me

Colin Mochrie and me

Colin, who has had such wonderful success with WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?, and many other shows, attended the same theatre school as I did back in the late ’70′s’ and early ’80′s’ – Studio 58 (no, not the dance club in New York).  We did an improv show together with the Vancouver Theatre Sports back in 1984 called SUSPECT – A GAME OF MURDER which was a huge hit.  And over the years, Colin and I have run into each other here and there.  But having Colin on ANGEL ON CAMPUS gave us a chance to really catch up – and what a treat it was.  He is so funny and such a great guy.  In March 2010, he will be starring in The Canadian Stage Company’s production of “ART” directed by Morris Panych – so if you’re in that area, be sure to catch it.  It will, no doubt, be a wonderful production.  I saw the original production of “ART” in New York (and later again in Los Angeles) with Alfred Molina, Victor Garber and Alan Alda.  Great show.

In June, in Los Angeles, I auditioned for a pilot called SINGLE WHITE SPENNY.  In the audition room was the very funny writer/performer Stevie Ray Fromstein and the legendary David Steinberg.

David Steinberg

David Steinberg

What a thrill!  I mentioned to David that I auditioned for him once before, years ago, and he asked me if he had hired me then.  I told him ‘no’, but that I was about to give him a second chance.  The audition went well – so I got a callback.  At the callback, I got to read/improvise with the star of the upcoming pilot – Spencer Rice.  Spencer (or Spenny) is a very funny performer who had a huge hit in Canada with a show called KENNY VS. SPENNY.  You can check out scenes from that show on YouTube.  I loved improvising with Spencer and I suppose he felt the same way – cause I booked the job!  Yahoo!!  Within a few days I was in Toronto filming the pilot.  We had certain ‘beats’ we had to hit within a scene, but for the most part we were improvising.  Once something worked, we would try to hold onto it, but there was a lot of freedom on the set to play.

Just before heading off to Toronto, I shot a short film for my daughter’s elementary school.  One of the many joys of living and working in Los Angeles is the caliber of talent available for even the smallest of projects.  The cast in this short film, created by the multi-talented Pete Schwaba, were Paul Ganus, Rick Hall, Michelle O’Neil and yours truly along with many other talented parents and students.

Me, as

'Mr. Wayne' in the school movie

The film was set in the 70′s – so I thought a big mustache was in order.  I like to call it my ‘macho mustache’ – and everyone was kind enough not to disagree.  It was a very different look for me – and I loved it.

Back in March I recorded two terrific T.V./radio ads for the San Diego Zoo’s new exhibit called ELEPHANT ODYSSEY.  Besides airing on television and radio, they are playing the spots on the San Diego Zoo website at www.SanDiegoZoo.org or directly on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd9R4dsYtGkhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze3gvoXPVdw . I loved working on those spots.  First of all I got to work with Joel McCrary – a very funny actor who does a lot of improv in Los Angeles – and is a member of the improv troupe Houseful of Honkeys.

Me, and Joel McCrary, filming the 'Kitty' spot for the San Diego Zoo

Me, and Joel McCrary, filming the 'Kitty' spot for the San Diego Zoo

And second of all – I got to do the voice of an animated character.  I find that kind of work fascinating.  And even though the final product is animated, they filmed Joel and me doing the moves – so the animators could watch our facial expressions and body movements.  They then used those as a reference for the animation.

One of the earliest jobs I did this year was a T.V. spot for BARONA CASINOS here in Southern California.  We shot that spot at the Casino itself – and talk about a beautiful complex!  Top of the line all the way.  The exterior grounds, and surrounding areas, were gorgeous and the hotel was HUGE.  My call was for 11:00 p.m. the night of the shoot – and we shot until 7:00 a.m. the next morning.  I rarely shoot at night like that – and it took days to recover!  It was like having ‘jet lag’.  Ahhhhh, the joys of becoming an older actor!  I guess the Barona people were happy with the spot – because a month or so later, they called me back to shoot some stills for newspaper ads, magazine ads, their website – and billboards!  How big can my head get??  I mean on a billboard – not in real life!  I have yet to see the billboard – but when I do, I’ll be sure to post it here on my blog.

And last, but by no means least, is the T.V. spot I did for GAIN detergent.  They did such a good job with the spot – and to me it’s one of those ones I don’t get tired of seeing.  The music, the images, the very funny ending make it endlessly watchable.  Take a look and you’ll see what I mean - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfKik95Jc_c&feature=related My ‘wife’ in the spot was played by Lauri Hendler who used to be a series regular on 80′s GIMME A BREAK!  A very funny lady.  I hope I get to be her ‘husband’ again soon!

Flunn, fin, Mike Myers, and BackStage West article…

June 13th, 2008

OK…there are some jobs to report, but for the most part – it’s the quietest – for the longest period of time – for as long as I can remember.  First it was the writer’s strike…and now it’s the possible actor’s strike. Ugh.  Still, I am blessed with good health and a wonderful family, so that’s all the complaining I’m going to do.

The Great Adventures of Walter Flunn is still alive and well.  As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, a major cable channel bought a pilot – so we are going into production sometime in July for a delivery in August. Very exciting indeed.  

Here’s a pic from a recent mini-shoot we had.  And yes, that is a camera mounted on my head – to film my reactions.  Talk about a pain in the neck!

A month or so ago, I shot a series of spots for OnGuard.gov.  OnGuard.gov is a company that provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.  I played the guy ‘phishing’ for people’s information.  The time I spent on the prep for the shoot took longer than actual shoot itself.  There was suit shopping, an initial fitting for the ‘phish fin’ that was to stick out of the back of my suit, the final fitting for the fin, and then there was altering the suit to accommodate a huge fin sticking out of the back.  Here are a couple of pics of me at the special effects shop – Flix FX.  They do great work there and are a fun group of people.  

A visit to Flix FX

The pic above is me, at the special effects shop, with a couple of large nuts and some well hung bananas.  Insert your own gay porn title here.

Below is the initial fitting for the fish fin.

First \'fin\' fitting

You can check out the final spots at OnGuard.gov. I think they turned out pretty good.  I’m told they’re going to appear on TV in the next couple of months.

In early May, thanks to a fabulous comedy writer/actor Steve Hibbert, I had the opportunity to work with Mike Myers on the MTV Movie Award promos.  What a blast!  We shot on the back-lot of Warner Bros. in Burbank.  I love working on a back-lot.  It feels like old Hollywood to me.  Mike Myers played an angel (like the angels in the movie WINGS OF DESIRE) who along with doing some good, was also a little mischievous.  Well, a lot mischievous.  He was dressed from ankle to neck in a body suit that made him look ‘cut’.  Over the body suit, he had on a small swimsuit (or were they underpants?) – and sandals with white ankle socks.  To finish the look off, he wore enormous angel wings. 

Lindsay Lohan and Seth Green were also on the shoot.  I didn’t really have a lot to do with Lindsay Lohan, but she came on with her mini entourage – and did her bit.  She seemed nice enough.  To be honest, I didn’t even recognize her.  When I realized who it was, I remember thinking “Is that the same girl from FREAKY FRIDAY?  From HERBIE FULLY LOADED??”  Oh, well.   Seth Green was very funny and very nice.  He played a guy who is innocently walking down the street talking on his cell phone.  Mike Myers, ‘invisible’ as the angel, walks up to him and kicks him in the groin.  Seth Green drops to his knees in pain – and has no idea what has just happened.  Both Mike and Seth were very funny doing this bit, and so professional – slick.  Thankfully they were not recording sound because there was a lot of laughter from people watching this filming.  Hilarious.

I was just ‘on avail’ for a series of Pepto-Bismol spots.  ’On avail’ means that you’ve passed the initial audition – you’ve done the callback (where you meet the director/producer/client) – and they like to enough to have you ‘hold’ the shoot dates and to confirm your availability.  Apparently it was down to three guys.  Hours ago I found out that I was released from ‘avail’.  That means they chose someone else for the role.  Rats!  Oh, well – as my brother-in-law says – that is the nature of our business.  And that it it…

For those of you who read BACKSTAGE WEST – they printed my ‘letter to the editor’ on page 6 of the recent June 12-18, 2008 issue.  If you get a chance, check it out.  I’m sure you can find it online, too.

Till next time…

Work is picking up! Finally!!

April 21st, 2008

Three auditions a couple of days ago.  Two today.  On ‘avail’ for a VISA spot.  For everyone I know out there, the last few months have been incredibly slow.  But if the last few days are any indication, things are starting to happen again. Great news on the reality show – THE GREAT ADVENTURES OF WALTER FLUNN front.  A very popular cable channel bought a pilot!!  They are very interested in the show – and if they like what they see with the pilot (which we’re going to shoot this summer), we’ll start shooting some more episodes.  We’re told they will air in the first quarter of 2009!  There’s a lot of ‘ifs’ involved, but at this point – it all seems very, very positive.  Here’s a sampling of some of the art work created after the sell.

Is the Walter Flunn...or Cary Grant??

 

Because there is not a lot of new news to report (other than what I’ve discussed above), I thought I’d go back in the ‘vaults’ and tell a few stories of my experiences working on some of shows I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with over the years.  I also want to share some of the behind the scenes photos taken on the set during the shoot for each particular project. The first show that comes to mind is STAR TREK: VOYAGER.  I loved working on that show.  I’m not a science fiction fan myself – and had never seen the show when I auditioned for it.  But I knew it was a popular show – and I also knew that the show was coming to an end.  So, when my agent called me to go in and audition, I was thrilled.  I was up for the role of Zet, a rather nasty character who, along with his side-kick Nar, kidnaps Captain Janeway.  I don’t get to play ‘bad guys’ very often – so this was a wonderful opportunity for me.  Thankfully, I booked the job and reported for work the next week. We shot on the Paramount lot.  Because the show had been running for a few years at this point, the set had a real family feel.  And since the show had two episodes left before it was over completely, everyone seemed that much close– perhaps not wanting the show to come to an end.  For my side-kick I was blessed to be partnered with the hilarious Andy Milder.  I love working with that guy.  As an actor, he offers so much – and is really there with you.  If you are an actor reading this, you’ll know what I mean.   Andy has gone on to do a great job working on WEEDS, but when we worked together on STAR TREK: VOYAGER, WEEDS was no where in sight (and neither was ‘weed’, but I digress).  

The make-up was rather intense.  Our call was 4:30 a.m., since it took so long to get us into make-up.  I think it was about an hour and a half to two hour make-up job.  As you can see, the final result made us look like big potatoes in clothes.  But being so covered up was very freeing as an actor.  I could play the ‘bad guy’ and really get into it because I knew I looked so darn ugly.  I remember Kate Mulgrew couldn’t have been sweeter.  She was so warm and welcoming.  In fact, since we were shooting around the time of St. Patrick’s Day, Kate had organized a big St. Patrick’s Day party on one of the other sound stages.  So as we broke for lunch on St. Patrick’s Day, the entire cast and crew made our way over to the other sound stage which had been all decorated for the big event.  One by one, we were greeted by Kate who handed everyone a bottle of Bushmills Irish Whiskey. And if that wasn’t Irish enough, everyone was then treated to a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage.  I think that was my favorite St. Patrick’s Day ever.  I was employed on a hit show, and having a great time.  And I had just been given a lovely bottle of Whiskey.  Who could ask for anything more? Another memory of being on that show was that it was very hot being in that make-up and costume.  Every break we had, Andy and I would head out of the sound stage and get some fresh (and cooler) air.  I remember the secret joy of having Paramount backlot tour vans drive by and seeing the excited tourists all snapping pictures as Andy and I stood there pretending not to be as thrilled to be seen as the tourists were to see us. Kate Mulgrew and me

Look Ma, no hands – and is that a ‘fin’ on your back, or…?

February 27th, 2008
  • Well, first things first, THE GREAT ADVENTURES OF WALTER FLUNN is being pitched to networks right now (that is, unless you are reading this in the middle of the night.)  It’s a very exciting time.  We have no idea if the show is going to be picked up – but the talk is very good so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.  We went up to iFly at the Universal City Walk a few weeks ago to shoot some additional footage for the teaser.  What a blast!  The iFly folks call it ‘indoor skydiving’.  It is as close as I have ever been to free-falling (but it’s all in a vertical wind tunnel).  Here are a couple of shots of our experience there.  Yikes!  That second shot is more than a little scary.  There really should be a wind joke in here somewhere, but I’m going to leave that up to the reader.  Check out iFly at www.iFlyHollywood.com for yourself.  It really is a lot of fun.   If you ever get a chance to go up to Universal City Walk – you should check it out.  I highly recommend it!
  • walter-ifly3.jpg walter-ifly7.jpg  
  • I’ve also worked on a few industrials lately.  One in which I was a guy recently back from his high-school reunion – with a bad sunburn.  The second one was for a company that protects you against people ‘phishing’ for your information on the internet.  The production company was Aperture Films and talk about a great group of people.  Very professional and just super to work with.  They had a fish ‘fin’ constructed at a wonderful special effects company in North Hollywood.  It fit on me with a kind of harness.  With that fin, we went shopping for a new suit and shirt that in the end had to be tailored to compensate for the enormous fin sticking out of my back.  The final look was very funny in that you couldn’t tell I had a fish fin sticking out of my back when they were filming from the front – but turn into profile and  - WOW – instant clown fish.  The production company and client own all images of me with my ‘fish look’, so I agreed not to show any here – but the whole thing worked like a charm.  When the spots get released on the internet, I’ll put a link on this website.
  • I talked with my aunt tonight on the phone.  She is so funny to talk with.  I love her.  She told me that since I always tend to do comedic roles, maybe it’s time to try doing some more dramatic fare.  She went on to say that since she enjoys LAW AND ORDER and the C.S.I. shows…I should really try to get on those.  I told her I’d put in a call to my agent in the a.m. and get right on that.  She also said she’d love to go to the Academy Awards – so while I’m chatting with my agent I’ll be sure to mention that, too.  Funny. 

Interview on TCM.com about playing Oliver Hardy and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle

January 9th, 2008

First of all, happy new year to everyone reading this. May your year be filled with joy, good health, happiness, much love and wonderful adventures. Secondly, as I wrote in a previous blog, I was contacted by a terrific writer named Michael Toole who has written many articles for TCM.com. He wanted to interview me about my experiences playing Oliver Hardy and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Well, we did the interview and now you can read it on www.TCM.com. Just click on the following link and it should take you right to the interview www.tcm.com/movienews/index/?cid=189165

Michael is a multi-talented writer, who besides his skills as an interviewer, has a short film he wrote playing the festivals right now. Although it was a couple of years ago now, I had a great experience playing Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle in Theatre 40′s world premier of Kathrine Bates’s ROAR OF THE CROWD. I studied his movies, had costumes made identical to his, and even had my hair dyed blonde. I loved every minute of it. Here are a couple of photos from my collection of me as Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle compared to the real deal08-fattymugshot.jpg09-fattyfingermouth.jpg

Well, the strike has certainly slowed work down as far as film and television goes, but thankfully, the commercial world just keeps on ticking. That’s it for now. I’m off to another audition.