Backstage at “CBS News Sunday Morning”
Yes I was just interviewed for a segment on “CBS News Sunday Morning” about ‘Central Casting’ and my being a Background Performer. How’d it happen?
Two weeks ago pouring rainy Monday. I am 1/2 hour late to location for the first time ever (major violation no no) and fortunately 10 other Background guys show up after me. Of course I call Casting and say this has never happened to me (true) and I throw myself on the sweet mercy of a wonderful assistant with my attempt at being delightful. She laughs & I am not in trouble. Whew! This thunderstorm continues while we try to shoot on a studio back-lot fake Small Town Square. Production re-writes the scene to include the rain and all the Extras cheer when told we can use umbrellas (sometimes they say “no” & we pretend we’re not drenched. Feel free to try it). I’m a ‘Pedestrian’ (1 of 75). A whole lot of splashy damp “Action”, “Cut”, & “Back to One”. Repeat. While we’re rolling, I commit another violation & answer a cell call from Casting (using my umbrella to hide from camera & yes it was on ‘vibrate’ & I was 500 feet from the actors, so back off). They ask “Hi John, Would you like to be interviewed on ‘CBS News Sunday Morning’?” I whisper back “Yes, please. I’m on-set & we’re shooting I’ll call you back.” I am gleefully stunned silly & during the next break, text 25 people & suggest they spread the news. Quickly. Me jump the gun? Never.
1976 “Welcome Back Kotter” with John Travolta & me
Two weeks & a long phone pre-interview later we’re taping at the historic CBS Television City on “The Bob Barker “Price is Right” Stage” (the plaque says “over a 1000 episodes”). I give our News Producer (who along with Host & Crew are mensches all day) an envelope of pictures of me on various shows from the 1970s and today. The host sees my “Welcome Back Kotter” shot and asks if that’s my real hair. I answer “It was.” He says “So you were a Sweathog?” I admit “Yes. I was a Sweathog” (it’s a candid interview & let’s face it I’m a bit player). My 1979 “Dating Game” photo goes over well & every one’s impressed that I’m a two-time winner (I forget to mention I was also ‘gonged’ on “The Gong Show” but one has so little time to reminisce, doesn’t one?). We shoot backstage and do a “walk & talk” down the giant roofed alley next to hundreds of old variety show sets. We pass Stages where once taped Judy Garland, Carol Burnett (I saw her here), Red Skelton, Sonny & Cher (saw them here, too), “All in the Family” (hey it’s my interview so yes I had one line on this show & it also was taped here), American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, Bill Maher & tons more. Last year I shot my ‘Under 5 Lines’ speaking role on “Young & the Restless” (to view click) here (in my blog archives http://iget2work.com/2011/01/john-starr-on-young-and-the-restless/). For some reason I seem comfortable on-camera talking about myself. Go figure?
Yep, I won “The Dating Game” … Twice!
My marvelous Dad Writer/Producer Ben Starr was working in this building on the TV Pilot for “Perry Mason” the day I was born (my birth certificate says “Father’s Occupation: Writer, CBS”). I share that Dad worked on “The Brady Bunch” & wrote “Pork chops & Applesauce”. The cameraman says “wow” & does a great impression of Pop’s classic bit. Quite a remarkable day. They might even pull a couple of clips of me sitting next to Travolta on “Kotter” or me as a Party Guest on “Wilfred” or a Coroner on “Entourage” (I was dying to get that, badda bing). And since I’ve been on the show as a Circus Clown let me just say… I rest my Coldcase.
There are 5 other people from Background Land being interviewed today & I know all of them. Out of over 70,000 currently registered Extras somebody picked us (I don’t know who, but thank you!). There is a gal who just played my wife in a movie (we’re a broke aging hippy couple trying to score medicinal marijuana). One guy has been doing this 60 years. He was a kid in a mule cart that passes Moses in “The Ten Commandments”. Another is a George Clooney look-a-like who I’ve worked with when he’s a fake cop. I ask him why he thinks we are here. He says “Charisma”. I’m still working on delightful.
The Interview flies by and we finish by me listing the gazillion careers I have booked, including … Clown, Doctor, Pirate, Astronaut, Lawyer, News Stand Vendor, Paparazzi, Comic Book Nerd, Taxi Driver, Mime, Magician, Nurse, Janitor, Spy, Pageant Judge, City Hall Employee, Tour Guide, Reporter, Laugher, Cook, Dog Handler, College Professor, Disco Dancer. Stop me. No really. Stop me.
So how long will I be on this 8 1/2 minute segment? I’m guessing either :15 seconds of fame or it might be ‘The John Starr Show’. Or cliché be danged I might get left on the cutting room floor. Which means disregard this entire blog and just send money. What do you mean that’s a Bozo No No?
See the full video segment click here: http://iget2work.com/2012/02/central-casting-segment-on-cbs/