Friday, May 28, 2010

Gary Coleman ... Much more than "Whachoo talkin' about, Willis"W

What a tragic life.

Personally, I liked Gary Coleman. I first knew him back in the days of his hit TV series Diff’rent Strokes. There were issues even then, all well documented publicly … health scares, health challenges, followed later by battles with his parents over control over money he had earned from that very success and very long running series that defined not only his career, but the rest of his life.

I am deeply sadden by the news today of Gary’s death at the age of 42. Only 42.

The legitimate new services will provide coverage of those details today and in the days ahead that is better left in their hands.

I prefer to remember Gary as he was in 1993, when I interviewed him for our Beverly Hills coffee shop chat show. He was unusually at ease talking about his life, both where he had come from, how he got there, his perspective on it all, and the challenges ahead – many never conquered.

My interview with Gary is a part of the collection. It hasn’t yet been added to the viewing-on-demand library on the site, but we have been editing the various segments in preparation for the interview’s uploading in our next batch of segments to be added.

With the events of the day, I feel it important to rush the process a bit so that I can share with you some of the special moments from that interview.

Here is a brief clip below. There are eight minutes of clips that have just been uploaded to YouTube that are now available for viewing.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Farewell to a baby boomer hero and TV pioneer ...

Sad to hear the news of the death of TV pioneer Art Linkletter yesterday, in Los Angeles, at age 97.

Anyone younger than 45 doesn't seem to have a clue who Linkletter was. Too bad. For us baby boomers, he helped define our childhoods.

In the bigger picture of his legacy, Art will be remembered as one of the few broadcasters who helped shaped and define the "new" medium of television. Among his many firsts, was his job as the first person to conduct "man-on-the-street" interviews on live television.

He was the first reality TV host!

If you are not familiar with Art and his legacy, learn something about him. It's impossible to appreciate what we have achieved and how far we have come in the business of television without knowing and appreciating the history behind what it took to get here -- and the people who helped make that happen.

I interviewed Art back in 1992 for our little Beverly Hills coffee shop-based chat show. Three segments from that interview are now available for viewing, on demand, at

I, like many of my generation, held this guy in great esteem.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Career launch sequence started!

Is it that time again?

It feels like it was just weeks ago that I was giving graduation kudos to my Business of Acting Class 2009. How on earth did it become the Class of 2010 so quickly? Hmm.

The good news is that the Class of 2010 is transitioning from “students” to “soon-to-be-working-professionals” in a much saner, healthier and stable business of acting environment than last year’s class.

The equally good news is that the opportunities this new crop will find opening up to them will also provide opportunities for their 2009 colleagues who have endured the frustration of trying to launch their careers in the midst last year economic challenges.

That’s not to say that these economic challenges are not still there. Challenges do still exist, but it appears that we have turned the corner and that is a very good thing.

While the landscape feels less daunting these days, there are still some harsh realities that need to be acknowledges: While there is more work for actors, odds are that you will still have to manage the financial reality that exists, which is that more work does not necessarily mean more pay.

In fact, “working” actors are finding it tougher and tougher to make a living these days from just their acting jobs alone (when they can get them). Gone seems to be the “middle class actor,” the artist who would work regularly enough to earn enough from that work so that other, supplemental income from non-acting jobs wasn’t necessary.

We are in a business climate where many of the acting jobs that come to you may not pay you anything at all, but they are still worth doing.

All too frequently in this landscape, it is a requirement to have another area of interest, another income stream, to help support your acting career, not just for young actors, but for those journeyman actors who have survived in this business for years and for decades.

Perhaps more importantly, now more than ever, is the need for both the new-to-the-professional-business-of-acting actor and the already working professional to have an action plan in place to guide their journeys. More about that in the weeks ahead.

For now, let’s think positively about the future. The focus in your transition out of school and into the real world should be on building your resume, building both your acting and non-acting skills, and learning how to be both proactive and forward-thinking in your approach to this next phase of your (professional) life.

All of this just to say “congratulations” and “bravo” to the Class of 2010, not just to those who have passed through my own classes, but to all of you who have spent four years getting ready for everything that will now follow.

This is a good time to be a young actor; it is a good time for new beginnings; it is a great time to explore your world as you develop into the person and the professional you are on your way to becoming.

Enjoy the ride.