Hi from Hollywood!

ImageImage

Here’s to having High Hopes. Last night the episode of Raising Hope which I worked on aired and there I was numerous times throughout. The producers named the episode “Hot Dish.” I have to say, I am quite flattered they would do that even though I only had a minor background role. At any rate, I’ll take the compliment when I can get it here in Hardknocks Hollywood.

My scenes took place at the Nateville Radish Festival. Actually, the fair scene was filmed in the back alley of Twentieth Century Fox in between rain clouds, airplanes, and sirens on the nearby interstate. Cloris Leachman, who I mostly remember as “Phyllis” in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, now 87 years, filled the day of shooting with ever-so-bold eccentricities. The top shot is of Cloris making her way on-camera to penny arcade . . . with little ol’ me tagging behind her, doing just as the director instructed me. Believe it or not, we must have shot that little 30-second sequence no less than a dozen times. Finally, I played it down a bit so not to upstage Ms. Leachman. A bit later in the show, Cloris’ character made a breakaway exit out of the fair (played by a stunt double) and rollicked her way past me in the second photo. The director asked for my best silly but stunned reaction to her action. Well, all I can say is that it’s a downright shame this didn’t air before the Globes last weekend. I would have been a shoe in. Or, at least a fair-going shit-kicker in for sure.

Did a few scenes last week for Scandal. Played a philanthropist attending a fundraising gala for “Fitzgerald Grant’s” election to be president. Also in my scenes was Bellamy Young, who plays wife “Mellie Grant.” Could I have spun a whole new scandal during my day on set? Just watch and see.

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Her grand finale of the day was to wave good as we wrapped day 1, by modestly lifting her middle finger to all as she said a glorious goodnight. One of the producers remarked to me that the gesture was her trademark at the end of each day

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Hi from Hollywood!

Mr. Hollywood

Well, my Thanksgiving weekend ended with something more to be grateful for. The first of two episodes in which I appear on Showtime’s Masters of Sex aired last night. Not knowing the exact airdate in advance, when I saw my first of several scenes debut on my tv screen I was caught oh so off-guard and became a bit of a Nervous Nelly about what kind of other naughty scenes might appear on this often skin-filled series. Being part of anything boasting body parts just ain’t my cup of tea . . . or tequila, for that matter. I sat on my couch throughout the episode getting glimpses of moi in several scenes, all of them made much more scintillating, I must say, by my two or three seconds of stardom.
Masters of Sex - Beau Bridges and Me 
Regardless, I remained ridiculously ruffled about what rather risqué rendevous by other actors might appear in my episode. To quell my knocking knees, I threw back glass or two of Pinot Noir.
Masters of Sex - Hobbling
Thankfully, after a profusion of prayers, I was relieved to realize that the producers of the show apparently respected my request to keep the show shampooed. Not a naughty nuance all night. 
Masters of Sex - Arm
I’m mighty proud to have had that squeaky clean kind of impact on what otherwise immoral images could have been imparted. In the meantime, I will try to terminate my twitching eye until my second appearance, which airs on the series’ finale in about two terribly tiresome, wearisome weeks.

Other tidbits: A couple of weeks ago, I did a fun scene with Amy Poehler on Parks and Recreation, which doesn’t air until next February. It was a fancy-schmancy fundraiser scene shot on location at the Glendale Hilton. Amy and two of the shows other stars were having a confrontation of sorts while I rendezvoused in the immediate background with my much younger wife or whatever at the event. They used me for some fun reaction shots that I hope the producers realize would not, try as I might, steal the scene. Also did a quick scene as a professor in an upcoming episode of Parenthood – will try to get the airdate. Also did a 14-hour day shooting a couple of scenes on Mad Men which will air in the premiere episode of their final season, after the first of the year.

UPCOMING AIRDATES:
This Thursday, December 5 on CBS (9E/8C/9P), I should be in a the funeral scene on The Crazy Ones, starring Robin Williams.
On Sunday, December 15 on CBS (10E/9C/10P) I should be in The Mentalist as a yacht club member.
Sometime in the next few weeks on FOX I should be in Raising Hope as a fair attendee with Cloris Leachman.

Ba-bye for now to all my Besties!

Hi from Hollywood!

Mr. Hollywood

Again, pardon my lack of promptness for posting sooner, but my little ‘ol Hollywood roll continues to rebound after a scathingly dead September.

Speaking of dead, last Tuesday I played the fretful part of a funeral attendee on the new CBS hit sitcom starring Robin Williams entitled The Crazy Ones. Did I just use Robin Williams in the same sentence as the word “crazy?” How could that be! He remains brilliantly funny as he continues to morph Mork into so many comedic characters on screens both big and small. Leave it to Robin’s character to have us all rolling in the aisle of the funeral procession as the coffer was carried out of the church. It was a long 10-hour day of shooting a one-minute scene. By the end of the day, the corpse wasn’t the only thing that was dead.

the-crazy-ones-logo[1]

The next morning was an early 6:30 am call time to be on location at the San Pedro Marina, down near Long Beach, to play the part of a wannabe, wealthy yachtsman on The Mentalist, a drama series on CBS. I appeared in several scenes throughout the 14-hour day: arriving at the yacht club with my wife for lunch, walking past the murder scene in a condo which was actually a terribly tacky Travelodge, and finally after nightfall playing the part of a rubber-necking onlooker at the scene of another murder down by the harbor. OK, I’m beginning to see a pattern . . . does Hollywood think I’m a dead-ringer only for scenes with stiffs?

Well, perhaps not. Tomorrow I head over to LA’s tasty and trendy La Dolce Vita restaurant to play the part of an “upscale diner” on the premiere episode of the final season of Mad Men. Let’s just pray the producer doesn’t ask me to choke on my Chicken Cacciatori with Chive. Let you know how it all goes down soon.

Some of you have been asking for a roster of my upcoming stellar appearances . . . they should help if you can’t sleep some night. These are the best dates I can give you now – subject to change:
Raising Hope (Fair Attendee) – DATE TBD – on FOX at 9E/8C/9P
Criminal Minds (Coroner) – Nov. 27 on CBS at 9E/8C/9P
Parenthood (Professor) – DATE TBD on NBC at 10E/9C/10E
Masters of Sex (Hospital Admin. sitting next to Beau Bridges in civil defense speech) – Dec. 1 on Showtime at 10E/9C/10P
The Crazy Ones (Funeral Attendee) – Dec. 5 on CBS at 9E/8C/9P
The Mentalist (Yacht Club Member) – Dec. 15 on CBS at 10E/0C/10P
Masters of Sex (Hospital Admin. sitting at presentation of study findings) – DATE TBD on Showtime at 10E/9C/10E
Mad Men (Diner) – DATE TBD – on AMC at TIME TBD
Transcendence feature film (Audience member at speech given by Johnny Depp) – April 18, 2014 release date
DISCLAIMER: Masters of Sex has quite a bit of skin in it usually – not mine – but I’m blatantly blushing anyway.

Hi from Hollywood!

Mr. Hollywood

Hooray for Hollywood never rang truer. For some redeeming reason, my telly hasn’t seemed to stop ringing ridiculously for the last week or so. I don’t know, I suppose word is on the street that Mr. Hollywood is back in town again after hiatus.

About ten days ago, I did another scathing little scene on Criminal Minds. I’m not really one for blood or bodies, so I was hoping for a milder role, but no. Who do they pick to play the creepy coroner but moi! Fortunately, I didn’t have to perform any frightening forensics. Rather, I just appeared to be filling out a dreadful death certificate out in what appears to be a swampy area in the Hollywood Hinterlands. Actually, we were on location at Disney Ranch, a production facility just off I-5, where thousands of shoot ’em up westerns and the like have been shot over the years. Oh, if only Walt were still around to see my wonderful work.

Last Monday and Tuesday I worked on the silly sitcom Raising Hope on Stage A at Twentieth Century Fox. Not being acquainted with the show, I had no idea who one of the principal actors is and what kind of day I was in for. We began the first day by getting our background blocking for one of the scenes. The director mentioned that a crazy grandmother character would be running through us, so be aware and ready. Well, there’s no way of being ready for this particular acting legend. Let’s leave it to say she’s a dash of Psycho. A pinch of Wack Job. But certainly a hearty serving of Fun and Love. I’m referring to Cloris “Cuckoo” Leachman. In the 70’s, she played the self-centered Phyllis in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and of course numerous other roles on stage and screen. Today, at 87, she is every bit as effervescently eccentric as her many full-on crazed characters. I was fortunate to be in several scenes with her throughout the her day of shooting.
Cloris Leachman

The next day, two other TV legends were on-set. From The Partridge Family, Shirley Jones and TheSix Million Dollar Man himself, Lee Majors. Shirley, in her conventional “Come On Get Happy” way, kept Day Two of shooting much more customary.

Last Wednesday, I worked on a very brief scene in the NBC hit show Parenthood. The scene appeared to be on the Berkley campus, but actually we were practically around the corner from my home in Pasadena at Occidental College. As much as I hoped to recite Sophocles or Euripides, my bit was a tad less trying. However, I managed to muster up all of my mental capacity to perform a very smart strut down the sidewalk, behind three of the stars of the show.

Well, my luck still hadn’t run out. On Friday evening I received a call from Urock Productions, the creators of Mad Men. So I bopped over to Burbank today to the legendary Western Costume Company, which has been providing wardrobe for the majority of television and screen productions since 1912. One of the dressers dolled me up as a dashing diner for a scene we’re going go shoot next week for the premiere final-season episode.

Many of you have asked for the airdates of the shows I will be appearing in. I promise to work on a log that I’ll post soon in this blog. Believe it or not, it’s even hard for a background super-duper star to get that information sometimes. Don’t they know who they’re dealing with? I’ll stop. Thanks for your interest in my antics and I’ll be backatchya soon!

Hi from Hollywood!

Mr. Hollywood
Well . . . I’m actually not in Hollywood. Rather, I’ve been out at our house in Palm Springs most of the time lately. Work has been pretty slow . . . arghhhh. Seems like they have a yearnin’ for the youngin’s lately . . . lots of calls for “18LY,” meaning 18 years or over to Look Younger. Is it time for a little nip n’ tuck? Trouble is I’d need a full “carving” with one of those jack-o-lantern kits, not to mention that after the “lift” my hairline would hit the back of my neck. I’ve always been told I must have eyes in the back of my head, but let’s keep it strictly a figurative phrase. Guess I’ll leave my mid-century mug alone and lay by the pool collecting even more crevices in my crackling complexion.  But don’t despair, I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for more geezer gigs that will hit the airwaves.

Speaking of airwaves, I’ll very like be in a few scenes of The Mindy Project this coming Tuesday night, October 22 on FOX at 8:30 pm Central/9:30 pm Eastern/Pacific. (Trust me, not my network of choice, but I won’t go down that rantful road.) Mindy is a second-season hit sitcom starring Mindy Kaling, who previously was in The Office. It’s sort of a current-day cross between Friends and Sex in the City. As I mentioned in my last post, I was called to work on the show as a “snobby art patron” and did so for three days about six weeks ago over at Universal. Hopefully, you’ll see my nose up in the air during a few scenes next Tuesday night.

Oh, before I go, a fun FLASH:
I tottered over to the casino last night and settled into one of the buck-sucking blackjack tables. Just as I was ready to get out of Dodge, luck prevailed. I looked across my table to the person sitting in the hole position, and who was it but none other than Estelle Harris. Estelle is a well-known Hollywood character actress who is most well-known for playing Estelle Costanza, George’s snarky, snarling Mom on Seinfeld. I told her how much I enjoyed her performances and how she nailed every never-one-to-be-nice line she had. She is 85 years young now and makes an appearance in another movie that came out last week entitled CBGB. She and her husband Sy encouraged me in my Hollywood career, and being in the biz, we all exercised professional courtesy and did not ask for each other’s autograph. But rather, expressed good luck back in Tinseltown . . . and at the blackjack table.

Estelle Harris 2

Hi from Hollywood!

Mr. Hollywood

Summer soared by and now it’s back in the Hollywood fast-lane for fall. My canine pal, Desi, and I enjoyed our luscious little lake get-away, but decided it was time to get out of Dodge before the snow flies in Minnesota dontchaknow – sorry I picked up a few Minnasoda idoms over the summer season.

We arrived back in Los Angeles on September 5. Of course, we tried to keep our travel back very discreet and low-key, just like we always are. In order to not attract any awaiting press at the airport, I ordered a small sedan to pick us up and take us to our home in Pasadena. Well, Lordy be. Wouldn’t you know some nimble-minded limo gal must have recognized my name from all of my background acting and tried to impress the bajeebers out of me. Instead of sending out a sensible sedan, the driver arrived in what seemed like a seven hundred foot stretch limo. I’ll never know her true intentions, but I like to think she was looking out for my best interests. She must have seen me on the episode of Bones when I was crammed in my car for fourteen hours without any space to stretch my legs, not to mention my bulging bladder. So bless her horribly stupid little heart, but her intentions did nothing for my nerves when a mob started to amass at the sight of the limo arriving at the curb of Terminal 5. Quickly, Desi and I hopped into the car and calmed down, thanks to the heavily tinted glass and a triple shot of tequila.

Desi and Chuck in Limousine - 9-5-13

A couple of weeks ago, I received a call that one of the producers of The Mindy Project, a second-season sitcom airing on FOX on Thursday nights, wanted me to come play the part of a “snobby art patron.” Me, snobby? Assured that the perceptive producer simply realized my astute acting ability, I took the part and enjoyed three days of shooting the show on Stage 31 at Universal Studios. I must say, they used lil ol’ me in prominent locations next to the stars in almost every scene. And now for the real news. That little gig got me DISCOVERED. On the final day of shooting, one of the producers asked me if I was a member of the Screen Actors Guild. “No, I’m notorious, but non-union,” I replied. He went on to ask if SAG was something I would like to pursue, and I gave him my best youbetcha ever. He then awarded me my first of three SAG vouchers – you must receive three to be able to join. Out of about 50 actors, he chose moi! I immediately took myself to lunch and toasted the occasion – and then to Beautiful Downtown Burbank in search of the many disguises I’ll be needing.

PS:

Last night I appeared for FIVE FULL SECONDS as the maître’d on the premiere of the new Chuck Lorre sitcom Mom. My scene is about twenty minutes into the show, as lead actor Anna Ferris enters the restaurant where she works. Hopefully, she didn’t feel that my charismatic character didn’t upstage her. I’ll also should be appearing in a couple of upcoming episodes of Masters of Sex, the new Showtime project premiering very soon. My episodes won’t air until later in the fall. And no, it isn’t porno – skin flicks aren’t my forte – but, I must say, it’s a wee bit naughty. I’m blushing already.

 

Hi . . . on Hiatus!

Desi and Chuck on Plane -5-29-13

Sorry it has been so long I last got in touch. As you remember, my forever faithful four-legged son, Desi, and I headed to our secret summer spot last week to hunker down during summer hiatus. We had to travel incognito to keep irritating press interviews at bay – and our dream destination had to be under tight wraps while winging our way east. This was Desi’s second flight and he thought it was fabulous . . . what he remembers of it. I had given him a few oral doggie dreamland drops which kept him cool as any canine could be. As for me, it was only 8 am when we left LAX, but I figured it was Happy Hour in Hong Kong, so I enjoyed a couple of marvy mimosas. Soon, as told by our stewardess, we were both snoring in unison.

So, I’m finally getting close to the good part – the announcement of our awesome escape destination. But, first, in what seemed like moments, our flight had flung us to our magnificent hometown of Minneapolis. Desi and I whisked our way through the airport terminal and, believe it or not, were not sighted by a soul . . . well, except for a few darting-eyed Delta agents who, for some reason, have put me on their Difficult List. Anywhooooo . . . we made a speedy get-away to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in our uber cool Toyata Yarus LE rental car (which I’ve named the Silver Soup Can – but who wants wheels that would further attract fans, anyway). It was great to see my parents and Desi lavished them with licks and the liking, and after supper we were off to our get-away in God’s Country.

We made our way north, through sensational St. Cloud, ravishing Rice, resplendent Royalton, lavish Little Falls , beautiful downtown Brainerd, nothing-less-than pictorial Nisswa . . . and . . . (drumroll). . . finally my duly-truly dearly beloved . . . (children’s chorus background build-up) . . .  perennial place of perfection . . . (Diana Ross breaking into “Ain’t No Mountain”) . . .  Pequot Lakes, Minnesota! I need to send a special thanks to all of the volunteer police patrol and American Legioneers who must have been handling security detail as I made my way through town that night, as there wasn’t one fanatical fan anywhere on Main Street as I passed by. Great job, guys. Desi and I got situated in the cottage out on Lake Bertha where we still own and spend summers. Then suddenly it wasn’t long before I thought my worst fan fear had come to fruition. It sounded as though the hum of helicopters was overhead. Lordy be.  I peered out of the porch and luckily it was only a mass of Minnesota State Birds . . . mosquitos. What a relief, and both Desi and I now knew we had successfully made the hidden journey to our summer home.

Hi from Hollywood!

Mr. Hollywood

Work is waning with almost all of the television shows happily on hiatus. So . . . I have decided to  fast-track it and go on furlough as well. The fretful thing about that is figuring out where in the world to go to get away from all of the pesky paparazzi. A lot of the stars like Brad and Ang, “Coop” as in Bradley, Nicki and Keith escape to exotic places like mundane Morocco, shabby Shangri la, tacky Tahiti, or downright irritating Istanbul. No can do. After much retreat research, I’ve decided on the perfect place to plop, along with my delightful canine son, Desi. Can’t divulge our destination until we secretly ascend our summer spot. We’ll be winging our way there this week, dejectedly disguised and under assumed, normal-schnormal names. But once we make our reticent arrival, we’ll be right back at’cha with all of our va-cay capers!

Hi from Hollywood!

Mr. Hollywood,

It’s been mostly a medical kind of week for me. On Monday I scheduled the day off in order to marathon through all my annual  medical must-haves.  I started the day nervously at nine bells when I arrived for my  forever-feared physical. The seemingly endless exam consisted of a shot in my left arm, a blood-draw from my right, a stick stuck down my throat . . . and, well, I promise to not  pass along any particulars of the final probing. Butt l  will tell you I did need a mandatory massage after twisting a twitching neck tendon during that awakening attack from behind. As if all that hadn’t been enough, I next headed to the Doctor of Big Buzz Kills, the dentist. It was there that I was to be honored by not one, but two incredible coronations. It all sounded simply spectacular to me. However, my feelings of appreciation were quickly quelled after the dental doc came at me with what appeared as another nine-inch needle, my third in the last thirty-three minutes. The next two ominous hours of drilling were jaw-dropping. But I finally fled for home following my two morning rounds of medical review. . . and feeling especially grateful that, for another year, an exam of the rear was behind me.

Yesterday, my medical state of mind fortunately continued, as it was now my turn to spend the day on-set depicting a doctor. Again I worked on the show Masters of Sex, which premieres this fall on Showtime. It’s the same show I was very apprehensive about appearing on a month or so ago, due to it’s smutty storyline centered around the sexual research spearheaded by well-known sex scientists Masters and Johnson. Any feared indecency turned out innocent enough last time, so I returned without a heck of a lot of hesitation. At precisely 7 am I arrived at our set which was on-location in an early Twentieth Century women’s club, a wonderful castle-like place prominently located just off Wilshire.

women's club

I first headed to wardrobe, and again got into pants almost up to my armpits and a suit coat long enough to cover my knee caps. Then on to hair and makeup, where I was greeted by one of my sensational stylists, Sharilandra . . . but she let’s me call her Cher for short.

mos MAKEUP

She again gave my scant silver locks a a good slicking down and a side part, and viola . . . I was, for all intensive purposes, from  the Fifties.

MOS hair

Next, to the prop department. Once again, they grabbed away my glasses and gave me a mock martini to sip practically sightless, without my spectacles.  The scene was held in a small auditorium where doctors and hospital staff were first hearing the provocative particulars of the studies done by the M and J research renegades. All of us background actors filed into the small auditorium which seated about fifty of us. For some reason beyond my realm, I was once again selected to be seated by one of the principal actors – not Beau Bridges this time (although he sat two rows in front of me),

beau bridges - 5-21-13

but rather, Teddy Sears who plays “Thomas Gilpatrick” on the show I soon found out to be surely shameful. You may have seen Sears charismatically portray characters on Mad Men, Harry’s Law, One Life To Live, and a few other television series and movies.

M of S star Teddy Sears, honored to be seated next to background actor Chuck Swenson.

Great guy and fun to share those marvelous mock martini’s with for the next fourteen hours and forty-four minutes – but who was counting. Well, when the scene began and Dr. Masters – played by Michael Sheen, star of Amadeus – began his Definitely-More-Than-You-Care-To-Hear description of how every body part works during whoopie, I realized quickly that my sacredness was on a steep, slippery slope in the Hollywood Hills. I think my Minnesota mentality may have made me mouth-out an unrelenting “Uffffda” once or twice during the first take. And, I was ever so relieved not to snap the stem of my martini glass while clutching it to0 tightly during the clinical account. “Do I dare walk out,” I asked myself. To avoid that ensuing embarrassment, I decided to listen to the more decent, words-to-live-by lyrics of “I Love Lucy” over and over in my mortified mind. Finally,  the directory yelled “wrap” after the final tawdry take was complete. I must say, my method acting had been magnificent.. Little did the somewhat dim-witted director know that the accepting smile on my face came not from the salacious script, but from my favorite red-head . . . a talented comedian who became a classic for being wholesome, big-hearted, and historically hysterical.

Lucille Ball - April, 1989

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Hi from Hollywood!

Yesterday I had the day off, so decided to transact my ticket to Dancing With The Stars. Headed down to CBS Television City about 2 pm, drove by the front of the building on Beverly Boulevard and saw about ten dozen Dancing devotees already in line. Quickly, I finagled my car into the Farmer’s Market lot located behind CBS, put on my dancing shoes, and glided my way around the building to plant myself in the middle of the pandemonium. I must admit, you feel a little ridiculous running around Hollywood in nightwear when it’s not even Happy Hour. You wonder if people think you are still out from the night before, or if you just finished hosting a gameshow gig. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to find the lineup of other Dancing-destined fans and I took great comfort in seeing them all, as well, in their dandiest duds . . . even though it was definitely daytime. Yup, everything from tuxes to tiaras . . . Vera Wang to Versace lined up under the sizzling sunshine, waiting for dance cards to be distributed.

After about two hours of high-fives and hanging out with fellow fans, we samba’d into the studio. It’s, as usual, quite a bit smaller than it looks through the camera lenses . . . but regardless, my seat in the second balcony kept me a bit worried about a non-stop nose bleed. To my delight, not even a drip. It was a dazzling night at Dancing, with the show beginning at 6 pm PT for a live 9 pm broadcast on the East Coast. Sorry to see Ingo and Kym get canned . . . but now he can head back to Hawaii or his gig on General Hospital. After the show, we were asked to stay for a taping of next week’s musical guest star for the Grand Finale. Listen up. It’s Psy, guru of Gangnam Style! It’s a great performance you won’t want to pass on.

All of us could have danced all night, but it was now time to sashay out of the studio. Did I say night? Hardly. There we all were again. Dressed to the nines . . . for the ever-enduring daylight.