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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 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:

74 Responses to “Me? On CBS News Sunday Morning?”

  1. Lee Rosenberg says:

    We saw the clip! Love the walk and talk.. and the first shot where they are flipping through your headshots. Congrats on a great segment!

  2. John Starr says:

    Thank you all for watching this morning! I was thrilled with piece! CBS News kindly emailed me this morning and due to all the movie clips they’re not able to legally post the segment on their website. Waah! Hopefully someone will post it to YouTube and I can still send out the link!

  3. Post the link already!!

  4. O. Just saw your last comment 🙁

  5. Cable Amy says:

    By the way! You looked so handsome!

  6. Raisa says:

    Wowza! You must be VERY proud. I watched the segment and they did a nice job of showing your face and name on the computer and the walk and talk was great. Of course, I wished it was you for the whole hour and a half, but
    then again, I’m biased! GREAT JOB and CONGRATULATIONS. You looked and sounded AWESOME.

  7. mila says:

    Fabulosity!!! I taped your show and was so thrilled to see you being articulate, sensitive…and handsome! You did a great job…you’re the Oscar winner of Extras!!

  8. Raina says:

    This is so great!!!! I liked the list of stars that started out as extras.

  9. Ann Lillian says:

    You looked so great and you did a great job! You were very elegant and sophisticated. I know you probably wished it were longer, but I think you came off really well and that is more important than a whole lot of time. They promoted it a lot too, it was a big segment of the program.

  10. Robin says:

    You were wonderful !!!

  11. Lindanne Martin says:

    You were great. Thouroughly enjoyed. Watched it many times and is still on my tape. Mark enjoyed it too – I saved it so he could watch it when he came home Sun.

    Keep up the good work… You looked great, and so very professional. And… you wonder why they love you,

  12. Clark says:

    Hey John! I was actually up early Sunday morning, and watched your interview! You looked good, and I like that they used your quote about humility. It was a nice spotlight on background. Showed that we are and do more than just stand around and eat.

  13. Gerry says:

    Wanted to say how fun it was to see you yesterday on CBS!!! How cool is that?!!! Congrats!

  14. Louisa Dienst says:

    Yay John Starr! Haven’t got to work on a set with my good friend Mr. Starr in a while… *hint hint* 😉

  15. John Trautman says:

    Great interview!

  16. Tracey Evans says:

    I always knew you were a Starr, John!!

  17. John Starr says:

    And thanks to Louisa for her sweet comments on Central Castings Facebool page!

    Btw…the CBS Clip is now available on YouTube!

    Please just google:

    Central Casting on CBS News Sunday Morning

  18. David Eagle says:

    I meant to e-mail you on Sunday to say – We at the Eagle family, believe YOU are the undisputed Greatest Extra in the World – not that other guy! I saw the piece and loved it. Also recorded it on our DVR. The only ting that would have made it even better would be if they spent more time on YOU!

    Maybe we should do a reality series abut you and some of your “extra” friends?

  19. Louisa Dienst says:

    You are certainly welcome! The CBS segment turned out so great! Exciting! 😀

  20. Susan L says:

    Just watched my DVR last night – u were great!!!! U looked amazing! Always the snappy dresser!

  21. Alex says:

    Congrats on the CBS Sunday Morning piece. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Great to see you the other night.

  22. Ben Estrella says:

    Neato, Jboy! Go get ‘em!

  23. […] Read more about John’s experience here: […]

  24. Timmy says:

    So much fun watching it again. You were wonderful!

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