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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. John Starr says:

    P.S. My interview about ‘Central Casting’ Background Performers airs Oscar Sunday February 26th on “CBS News Sunday Morning”. Please check Local Listings (in NYC it’s 7am-8:30am in Los Angeles it’s 6am-7:30am). Set those DVRs!

    I’ll post a link on my blog after it airs in case you want to watch it repeatedly …

  2. Phil says:

    Great news. It’s like you’re an expert witness. Carry on’ Johnny me boy.

  3. Mila says:

    Can’t wait to see it!!
    You are a Starr!

  4. Nancy Hammerman says:


  5. Daisy says:

    That is so completely cool John! You continue to be a rock star lemonade maker 😉

  6. Robin says:

    You have been Tivo’d!!

  7. Marina says:

    how fab!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Ben Estrella says:

    Excellent! Great blog!

  9. Can’t wait to see you at Sunday Morning. Woo-hoo!

  10. Nabil Bouitieh says:

    Dear John,
    I’m very proud of you, and wishing you all the best and good luck.

  11. Susan S says:


  12. Mal says:

    Hi John,
    Can’t wait to see you on CBS!! Oscar Sunday no less!!

  13. Trautman says:

    Very cool. Got it recording in the DVR.

  14. Ceci Newton-Perez says:

    I think I’ve said this before, or maybe haven’t said it enough but oh my gosh, I’m so proud of you and we watch EVERYTHING you’ve been on!!! Can’t wait to see this! You’re awesome.

    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  15. Rori Peters says:

    So many things I never knew about you! Looking forward to Sunday!

  16. John Starr says:

    Carol,Robin,Marina,Ben,Ceci,Mal & everyone!

    You are all such great supportive pals!
    Thank you for your wonderful messages!
    Best to you always!

    Johnny Extra

  17. Jay says:

    You still got it.

  18. Edith and Chris says:

    Yaay!! I’ll check my local listings. Congrats. We miss you guys. xoxo

  19. Andy Estrella says:

    I had no idea you’d done so much. You should tell people.

    P.S. my D’VAR says it’s on 6-7:30am

  20. John Starr says:

    Thank you Andy!I’ll update the post!

  21. Beverly says:

    We will be watching on the east coast!!

  22. Shelby says:

    That’s so great! I’ve set my DVR and let’s see what happens … 🙂

  23. Laurie says:

    I saw that and am recording the new time.

  24. Andray says:

    That’s great John! I will watch you. Thanks for keeping me informed.

  25. Karlyn says:

    Grrreat job John!! Congrats on your prime time segment!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  26. Jim says:

    That’s great John! I will try to catch that.

  27. Mark S says:

    I have already set my recorder to catch the show! I’m glad you are following your passion again and I’m sure in no time – you will move to the foreground!

  28. Nancy E says:

    Congrats John, we tivo and watch Sunday AM every Sunday, so we will see your interview.

  29. Louisa Dienst says:

    This is so exciting John!!! DVR is set!

  30. Preneka says:

    Wilfred! Hey you got lots of background time.

  31. Annaliz says:

    My GOD, I am thrilled to pieces, and am telling Hubby to record it. Meantime, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

  32. Nina says:

    Terrific! Can’t wait to see it. I’m so happy for you! The best to you always!

  33. marie says:

    John: We love you! Your zest is contagious, and we are very happy for your “refound” success and happiness!

  34. John Starr says:

    How lovely and kind you all are, as always! Thank you for your sweet supportiveness!


  35. Deborah S says:

    I always watch – it’s on the DVR. Can’t wait.

  36. Dudley says:

    That’s awesome I’m setting my dvr right after this. Hope to see you soon.

  37. Fredsti says:

    That’s so cool! I’ll put it on my DVR for sure!

  38. Patricia says:

    can’t wait 🙂

  39. John Starr says:

    You and me both! Thanks Patricia!

  40. Lita says:

    can’t wait for the John Starr show on sunday

  41. Leslie says:

    This is so amazing and wonderful.
    I can NOT wait to see you tomorrow.

  42. Marion (London) says:

    Good luck honey! Enjoy!

  43. Deborah Schuster says:

    Yes, you made it in!!!

    And your clown pic, too! See you soon. Enjoy your day.

  44. Pam Woodson says:


  45. Christopher Chen says:

    “Embrace the humility!”
    You sir are freakin’ AWESOME!!! …Straight out of Central Casting! You bring nobility & honor to the unsung heroes of Hollywood. Best job I’ve ever had! (From someone who didn’t believe Central Casting was a real place!)

  46. Peter says:

    It’s a great piece and you get some good face time.

  47. Cable Amy says:

    Just watched Sunday morning and saw the fun piece about extras! Congrats!

    Just got an email from a couple friends, they saw it too!

  48. Mal says:

    “Starr a Star”

    That’s what the headlines will be tomorrow in the trades!
    So proud of you!

  49. Andy Estrella says:

    Extra Fabulous!

  50. Lita says:

    we just watched! you were wonderful and articulate and looked great!!!! hurray for johnny-wood! xxx

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