Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hugh O'Brian, or What's Left of Him by Hugh O'Brian

Hugh O’Brian with Virginia O’Brian. Hugh O’Brian, or What’s Left of Him: A Memoir, Bothell, Washington: Book Publishers, Network, 2014.

O’Brian was born Hugh Charles Krampe in 1925. He learned some magic acts as a child and performed at children’s birthday parties.

O’Brian joined the Marines. While in the active Marines, his name was drawn at random for a box match referred by actor John Wayne. His opponent was much bigger than he was. O’Brian, in the rink, ran from his opponent until the opponent collapsed from exhaustion, O’Brian fell on top of him to win the fight. When O’Brian met Wayne against years later, Wayne remembered that fight.

O’Brian was a contestant on the TV show “Blind Date” while in the Marines He received special permission to leave base but was told not to come back if he didn’t win. The contestants were given answers they were expected to give. When actor Virginia Mayo, who was seeking which contestant to choose, asked O’Brian why he wanted a date, O’Brian, instead of using his provided answer, replied “Because, ma’am, if I don’t win, I can’t go back to the base.” Mayo chose him. They went on the date, She invited him to her set at Goldwyn Studios,

After leaving active duty with the Marines, O’Brian’s girlfriend asked him if he could fill in for an actor in a stage play, as the actor had an emergency appendectomy. O’Brian agreed, never having actoed before The theater bill misspelled his name Krape. Deciding he didn’t want to be known as Hugh Krape (or Huge Krap), he used the stage names Saffer Gray and Hugh O’Brian.

He told a reported he learned about acting while in the Marines They don’t teach acting “but they do show you how to move your ass.”

A play reviewer introduced O’Brian to some theater professionals. He was hired to work in unpaid theater jobs. He eanred a living for three years as what his business card called an “exterior decorator”, which meant he moved lawns.

O’Brian got a job selling merchandise from office to office. He wold a tie to Milo Frank, an agent, who spoke with him and asked to represent him.

O’Brian did a cold reading with a friend of Milo Frank’s wife, actor Ida Lupino. She was unaware O’Brian had previously read he script and knew the characters, She told him he performed the best cold read ever and gave him the role, Years later, O’Brian told Lupio what he did and asked if she would still have hired him, to which she replied “It wouldn’t have made any difference, It was preordained.”

After doing the film with Lupino, Universal gave him a seven year studio contract.

The drama coach at Universal taught him that “the secret to acting is to to act”.

O’Brian won a coveted role at Universal by offering to shave his head. SInce contract workers were only paid 40 weeks a year, he insisted he be allowed to wear a big on his next role, they agreed, He filmed six movies wearing wigs.

Movie companies used to arrange dates between stars to generate publicity. Debbie Reynolds, who grew up in a strict home and had never kissed anyone before, was nervous when she learned she would have to kiss Gene Kelly in filming “Dancin’ in the Rain”.The studio arranged for Debbie Reynolds and Hugh O’Brian to go on a date, She recalls she at first turned down a kiss from O’Brian, stating she doesn’t kiss. Reynolds recalls O’Brian mentioning she had to kiss Gene Kelly O’Brian recalls Reynolds brought up the kiss with Kelly, They kissed. After the kiss, Reynolds recalls she exclaimed “Aw, that’s nothing. I can do that.” Yet, when Kelly kissed her, he used some tongue. Reynolds gagged, cried, and ran off. On the subsequent kiss, Kelly’s mouth does not move.

Both Abbott and Costellow were sick when they were supposed to film a movie, “Fireman, Save My Child”. Studio executives then decided to fil heir thinnest actor and their fattest actor O’Brian filmed the movie with Buddy Hackett. The studio then offered to make them into a comedy team yet they both turned it down.

During filming “Fireman, Save My Child”, O’Brian and Hackett were in a horse driven fire wagon that rode through San Francisco streets with the two of them having onto the side of the wagon. Some streets angled up to 45 degrees. Hackett began yelling “What the hell is this? Just find someone else who looks like me.”

O’Brian impressed studio executives by the amount of fan mail her received, He sent a lot of it in to himself.

O’Brian had been roommates with Johnny Stempanato at Kemper Military School. Stampanato was a bodyguard to mobster Mickey Cohen. Stampanato dated married women and then extorted them by threatening to reveal their relationships to their husbands. He did this to Lana Turner while filming with O’Brain in Mexico, O’Brian told this to the son of the Mexican President, Stompanato was expelled from Mexico,. When Turner removed to America, Stompanato broke into Turner’s bedroom where he was stabbed to death. Turner’s daugher Cheryl Crane, a minor, was convicted and sentenced to a few years incarceration, People question where Turner or someone else killed Stompanato who could have received a long or even life sentence.

Back then, Universal did not want their contract actors on TV, They believed people would not pay to seem movie actors in movies if they could see them for free on TV.

O’Brian was in four episodes of Firestone Theater on TV in 1951. He then appeared in the TV show Playhouse 90.

While filming at RKO, O’Brian was not given a dressing room. Lucille Ball saw this and observed the studio did not want to spend the $100 a week rental on another dressing room. She offered to share her dressing room with O’Brian in hopes this would shame RKO into giving O’Brian a dressing room. This did not work and RKO did not give O’Brain his own dressing room.

After three years at Universal, making four to six movies a year, Universal declined to give O’Brian a raise or starring roles. O’Brian left Universal He did films at MGM and 20th Century Fox before signing with 20th Century Fox, He finally got his own dressing room, which had once been used by Spencer Tracy. He received better roles at 20th Century Fox

O’Brian and others were able to leave his contract as a result from a lawsuit won by Bette Davis, Studios began dropping their insistence on actors fully completing the years declared in their contracts, Davis had a life contract with Warner Brothers She sued regarding this and won. The studios sought for a 12 year maximum contract and agreed with the Screen Actors Guild to a seven year maximum contract, That is now the maximum in any profession under California law,.

In 1954, O’Brian was cast to star in the TV series “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp”. It was described as the “first adult western”, which O’Brain explained meant “the cowboy still kisses his horse, but he worries about it.”

O’Brian turned down another TV series offer that paid double what the Wyatt Earp series offered . O’Brain believed the Wyatt Earp series would last longer. It did, lasting seven years,

O’Brian insisted on authentic dress on the TV series.

In the pilot, O’Brian filmed a fight with Morgan Woodward’s character They did not use stunt doubles. They prepared their fight and it worked.

O’Brian practiced becoming a quick draw with a gun, His holster was a metal cup with a leather exterior to reduce friction. He could raw and fire in two seconds, He shot full loads which were noisy. The crew wore earplugs or cotton in their ears. O’Brian believes his hearing suffered from those shots.

The studio refused to reimburse O’Brian for his gun which he bought for practicing his draw. He learned the studio rented guns, saddles, and holsters at $1,000 to $1,200 a week. O’Brian then created the National Gun Rental company, bought guns, saddles, holsters, etc, and rented them to the studio for extra income.

The TV series filmed two episodes a week, The first was filmed on Mondays through Wednesdays, he second was filmed on Thursdays through Saturdays, He needed to memorize about 20 pages of script a day on five hours sleep.

The Screen Actors Guild, led by its President Ronald Reagan, won a five day work week. Yet O’Brain’s show only compressed the filming of two episodes into five days.

After the series was cancelled in 1961, O’Brain appeared in several Broadway shows.

In 1962, O’Brian gusted on the first episode of “The Virginian”. He filmed a fight with James Drury, who never filmed a fight before. They rehearsed and it turned out believable.

O’Brian appeared as a matador in “Love Has Many Faces” where he actually faced a charging bull.

O’Brian was charged by a rhinoceros while filming “Africa-Texas Style, As it charged, he roped its neck and ran to a tress where he got the rhinoceros wrapped into the tree,

While filming “Ambush Bay” with Mickey Rooney, he jumped into an irrigation ditch. He found a water buffalo here. He jumped onto the water buffalo’s back and rode it,

While filming “Saskatchewan”, his character was supposed to push Shelly Winter’s character aside. Winters had been difficult on the set paying more attention to her boyfriend Joe DiMaggio than the film, The director, Raoul Walsh, asked O’Brian to surprise and throw Winers as far as he could. O’Brian threw Winters about 20 feet. Walsh declared “Take! That’s a take.”

While filming “There’s No Business Like Show Business” with Marilyn Monroe, Monroe looked tired and complained that male fans kept knocking on her door. O’Brian stopped that by putting a sign on her door that read “Do not touch this door; otherwise , I will coe get you. - Wyatt Earp”.

O’Brian visited former President Lyndon Johnson at his reach, O’Brian and his lady friend a bed there during sex, They didn’t know that news made the newspapers They were having breakfast with Johnson when Johnson read about it in the newspaper, Johnson replied “You broke the bed in there! That’s one of the greatest stories I’ll be able to tell.”

O’Brian’s next series was “Search” in the early 1990s. It lasted one season.

O’Brian asked to be in “The Shootist”as it was well known that would be John Wayne’s  last movie. O’Brian was told the film couldn’t afford him. O’Brian stated he would be in the film for free. A role was written for him. O’Brian character s shot in the forehead by Wayne’s character. It was filmed with a blood pellet shot onto O’Brian forehead. O’Brian considered that his riskiest shot ever as he risked blindness.

O’Brian was cast in “Twins” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.

O’Brian portrayed Wyatt Earp again in “Day of Paradise” and then again in “Wyatt Earp - Return to Tombstone”, which was the highest rated program for the week,

O’Brian believes paparazzi need to realize that celebrities are human beings. He once grabbed an overly persistent photographer and threw him off a wharf.

O’Brian leads the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) program that has served over 700,000 youths.

I Am What I Am by John Barrowman

John Barrowmn with Carole E. Barrowman. I Am What I Am. London: Michael O’Mara Books, Ltd., 2010.

John Barrowman was in the TV series “Torchwood” which first aired in England in 2006. Prior he was worked on numerous shows. His first TV appearance was as a backing dancer and singer on “Opryland Special” with Barbara Mandrell. When he first filmed a speaking part, he was given lines to say by a man with a thick Scottish accent, which resulted in him repeating them in a thick Scottish accent.

The show was successful. It was moved to BBC1 in its third series. Yet the third series had 5 episodes rather than the usual 13

When Barrowman and fellow “Torchwood” actor Burn Gorman rehearsed weapons scenes, they did so between their trailers, This helped them know where to be for the “crew rehearsal” (a.k.a. “camera rehearsal”) so the crew knew where to be so they can perform their duties without getting in each others’ ways, Barrownman notes that on another show he was o there were up to 60 people on the set.

Once during taping, Barrowman forgot he was not supposed to make verbal sound effects of gunfire when he was shooting a weapon, Sound effects are used and both sounds would be on the tape, A re-take was required

Actors must have patience, Barrowman advises. Scenes are re-filmed at different angles. Something as a glare fro a light can cause a scene to be re-shot, Oe scene took three hours to film.

A scene involving a lie detector flashing different colored lights required a woman operating the machine sitting off-screen between Barrowman’s legs. Barrowman, who is gay boes states that was “a place where no woman has gone before.”
Barrowman admits to stealing a prop. He took a prop paperback that he began reading in-between takes.

Barrowman was a judge on a TV talent show. He drafted possible responses to contestant successes and failures so he would have some lines ready. He advises that staring blankly after a contestant’s performance on live TV doesn’t work.

A young boy once asked Barrowman why his character, Captain Jack, was oing in a Costco store. Barrowman replied he was undercover and asked the boy if the boy had seen a Cyberman, The boy replied he didn’t and they shook hands.

One boy once told Barrowman “I don’t care if Jack likes a man or likes a woman, he’s still my favorite hero.” He gave the boy a hug.

Barrowman observes that “gaffer tapes holds up (and keeps down) anything.”

Barrowman was a childhood fan of Lindsay Wagner. He once stopped his limo when he saw her so he could run up to her and meet her, His husband later told him “I dont think you’re ever cut through traffic that fast for a woman in all the years I’ve known you.”

In a scene where Barrowman’s character had to walk barefoot on top of rubble, sanitary towels were placed on the bottom of his feet.

Barrowman read and loved the script for a BBC Radio 4 “Torchwood Special” He agreed to do it It was the most listened to show in BBC Radio 4 history as well as the most downloaded program on iPlayer. He agreed to record three more shows.

Barrowman recommends that actors treat their dressers and make-up artists with the same respect as they do their co-stars.

Barrowman was in the TV show “Desperate Housewives”. Most interior shots shots were filmed in a stage. The exterior shots of Wisteria Lane are houses on the Universal lot that are not facades but have rooms inside for filming, The show had one of the largest and extensive make-up trailers.

When Barrowman first met co-star Drea de Matteo, she greeted him with a smart comment containing cuss words. This helped cut the ice and they got along.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Balancing It All by Candace Cameron Bure

Candace Cameron Bure with Dana Wilkerson: Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose. Nashville, Tn: B&H Publishing Group, 2014.

Candace Cameron Bure grew up in Hollywood. Her mother showed some photographs of her who showed them to an agent. The agent asked to see her and her siblings. He agreed to represent her brother Kirk and sister Melissa for a year. Candace was too young at age four and her sister Bridgette had braces, so he turned down representing them. He did ask Candace to return in a year. Candace began acting in commercials at age five. This led to some appearance on TV shows and then TV movies.

Her mother sought to keep the children focused and away from the chaos of the entertainment world. Her mother served as their managers.

Her brother Kirk was hired for a role in the TV series “Growing Pains”.

Candace got a role in the movie “Punchlline”. While filming, she also won a role on the pilot for the TV series “Full House”. Yet the filming schedules conflicted. The “Full House” producers agreed to film her around his movie commitment schedule.

Candace was tutored on the set, beginning at 8 am. It was required she be tutored an average of three hours daily. She was tutored for five hours on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The adults rehearsed during this time. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, she began rehearsing at 1 pm.

Candace would leave the studio between 5 pm ad 6 pm on Mondays through Wednesdays. The show would tape on Fridays before a live audience beginning at 5 pm. It usually took 4 to 5 hours to tape.

Candace found it helpful that her mother had gone through similar situations with her brother Kirk. She was more experience in managing Candace.

Candace learned to have a balanced life. She was involved with her religion and spirituality. Her parents did not let her attend parties where other child stars would get into trouble. She believes this all helped her have a more normal childhood.

Candace went to public junior high school yet found she was bullied and teased for being on television. This drove her to leave public school to studying with a tutor. She realized her mother recognized what she was going through and tried to have her meet as many school friends as she could despite her working schedule that took away many afternoons and evenings.

Candace “had a blast” filming a TV movie “Finding Normal” for the Up Network. People on the set had fun and laughed a lot. She advises people find enjoyment in what they do.

She enjoyed filming “Full House”. She mentions that co-stars Bob Saget and Dave Coulier were often joking, often with jokes that were not appropriate for children, “although not direct” as their mothers were there.

The family involvement increased when Candace’s sister Bridgett was hired as Candace’s stand-in.

Candace loved meeting fans. At one mall in Canada about 20,000 fans appeared for autographs. She regrets that there was not enough time or security to sign for so many people.

Candace’s mother became an agent. Candace then hired a new manager to replace her mother.

She and most others who were on “Full House” were stunned when they learn the show was cancelled.. The show had started the season with strong ratings.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Man Up! by Ross Mathews

Ross Mathews. Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2013.

Ross Mathews began his TV career as an unpaid internship, while in college, on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno/” He arrived dress in a used suit (crossing his legs to hide a hold in the crotch) to discover he was interviewed by a woman wearing sweat pants. When she explained the internship would not be glamorous work, he replied it was better then cleaning the inside of trash cans at McDonald’s. He was hired on the spot.

The internship consisted of making copies, getting lunches (even though food was provided by caterers throughout the day), and delivering mail and messages

While the internship was unpaid, Mathews learned how to “accidentally” on purpose take extra food from the NBC cafeteria and to hide it to eat later. When he was called in to see the head writer, he feared he had been caught and feared getting arrested. Instead, they asked if he wanted to be on the show during interviews at a movie premiere. He accepted.

The eccentric Ross Mathews was a hit. “Ross the Intern” was given additional on the air assignments.

He met Gwyneth Paltrow while interviewing her. He asked to be friends with her. He was surprised to learn she watched him on “The Tonight Show” and agreed to be friends. They really did become friends.

Chelsea Handler asked Ross Mathews to open for her during some of her comedy shows. She was impressed She now produces an interview show Ross Mathews has on the E! network.

Ross writes about his life long interest in entertaining. He also writes about his youthful realization that there are people who bully people who they think are gay. He also writes how he realized he is gay and how he embraces who he is. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Hollywood by Michael B. Druxman

Michael B. Druxman. Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Hollywood: More of My Wacky Adventures in Tinseltown. Albany, Ga.: Bear Manor Media, 2013.

Druxman advises that the most important quality required in the film industry is tenacity. It took him ten years before he sold his first screenplay. Once that happened, more offers were extended.

Druxman was an agent. Druxman collected movie press kits. He discovered a bookstore that was selling press kits that had been stolen from the Warner Brothers library. Warner Brothers got their press kits back. From then on, Warner Brothers was more apt to listen to Druxman when representing his clients.

Druxman began as a Drama major (he lated switched to Sociology) at the University of Washington. He learned, when wondering why a humorous line was not getting a laugh, was that an actor should never anticipate the laugh. Stating it naturally allowed the humor to come forth.

Druxman went into stage directing in Seattle theater. Druxman observed Seattle did not present edgier plays. He successfully challenged their perceptions and fought over censorship with the theater board. He then cast and directed the plays that he wanted to present.

Druxman found there was not much money to be made in community theater. He moved to Los Angeles. He opened a low cost publicity service for the film industry. It was called Michael B. Druxman and Associates, although there were’t really associates. The standard deal was Druxman received 5% of an actor’s income during the time he handled publicity.

Druxman had three clients who stayed with him when they receive larger incomes. He considers them “men of principles”. THey are Steve Kanaly, Michael Ansara and Henry Darrow.

One client whose career he tried to resurrect was Reed Hadley. Yet there was a demand for new talet at a time when Hadley was a familiar face yet lacked a memorable name as a box office draw.

Druxman was hired to add dialogue to the movie “She Freak”. His name does not appear in the credits. He earned not to let that happen again.

Druxman observed that, in a comedy duo, the straight person’s reaction to a comic’s joke is what causes laughter.

Druxman can confrim from steam club membership that on of the most endowed actors was Rock Hudson. As several frustrated actresses stated, “what a waste.”

Druxman handled publicity for several composers including John Williams and Johnny Mandel.

Gale Gordon was a Druxman client. A published once asked Druxman to write a biography of Gordon as none existed. Druxman explain there was no book, as he did his work, went home to his wife, and was never involved in any scandals.

Edward Dmyrtryk, a director, was a client. Drmtryk once told an actor, who questioned his motive for a scene walking through a door, that “your motivation for walking through the goddman door is that’s the only way you can get into the goddamn roo Now, shut up and let’s shoot the scene.”

Druxman similarly recalls when he was directing and a addressing an actor on his motivation, telling him “Your motivation is that that’s where I want you to be.”

A director Gerald Mayr once told Druxman that, when directing animals, there is “nothing to it. I just tell the trained that I want the chimpanzee to do this or that, and the trainer makes the chimp do this or that.”

Druxma did publicity for Stanley Myron Handleman. He became popular and did several TV appearances as a comic. Handleman fired Druxman. Handleman found peopel began to ire of him and his career dwindled to a few appearances.

Druxman represented Jack Carter. They had a falling out yet ears later had friendly reunions.

Druxman represented Nicholas Hammond, the actor who was the first life action Spiderman on the 1977 TV series “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Hammond though, ever wore the Spider-man costume as that was a stuntman.

Druxman notes it is not just talent that gets parts. Often an actor fits a conception that the director has for how the character should be. More talented people are often rejected in favor of an actor who fits the part.

Richard Castallano was one of the most difficult clients Druxman represented. He was demanding. He threatened creative people with threats suggesting he had mob connections.

Charles Nelson Reilly was a client. Druxman found him as “scatterbrained” in real life as his acting persona. Reilly was on “The Dean Martin Show” where Marin and guests read their lines from cue cards with little or no rehearsals. Reilly learned his lines until once his script blew out of his convertible car. He decided from then on to also read cue cards as the others did.

George Raft was actor Druxman knew although they didn’t work together. Druxman observe how Raft, a big star, turned down roles in what became big hit movies such as “The Maltese Falcon” and “High Sierra”. Raft [aod $10,000 to get out of his contract. Raft ended up hosting at a restaurant in return for meals and little pay.

Druxman had a client who wanted an expensive trade ad celebrating that the actor had one line on a TV show.

When an actor has a poor performance, the truth can hurt and lying may be bad. Keenan Wynn once advised, when seeing an actor after a bad performance, to smile, shake the actor’s hand, punch the actor on the shoulder, and say “son of a bitch.”

Barbara Hershey, a Druxman client, changed her name to Barbara Seagull. She then changed it back.

A writer once wanted to create a TV series based on a character he wrote for a “Get Smart” episode. The writer later realized the “Get Smart” owners had the rights to his character.

Druxman writers how powerful the film industry is. A major star, unnamed, once killed a woman in a drunken hit and run. The studio was able to keep the story from the press.

Druxman doubts author’s Charles Higham’s ethics in printing gossip without finding facts. Highman wrote Errol Flynn was a Nazi spy while those who knew Flynn find without any merit. The Flynn estate sued yet couldn’t since the law states a deceased person can’t be libeled.