The moment Lockhart first passed by my radar, I knew there was just something unique about this trio of newcommers from Canada. Formed in recent times by frontman/mastermind Devon Kerr (formerly of Axxion and Midnight Malice), he quickly enlisted Cauldron’s Jason Decay to handle bass duties, who in turn brought on board Annihilator drummer Fabio Alessandrini, effectively making the project a “supergroup” in it’s own right. So it was far from a difficult decision to reach out to the band with some questions on my mind, and I was thrilled to swiftly hear back from Kerr himself, who provided me with answers to many of said questions.
Regarding the band’s origins, he explained; “The name Lockhart was an idea that came to me in 2014. I was fooling around with love songs, and wrote “No Chance in Heaven” way back then. I thought it was a half funny name for a love rock band. Eventually when it came time to name the band we stuck with it. But, hey maybe it’s after Lockhart, Texas… bands like Boston, Chicago, Toronto, London, and Europe name themselves after places (Laughs)!”
As far as putting together the missing pieces, he informed me; “Jason and I have been really close friends for over ten years; we’ve lived, worked, and played music together during that same amount of time. We both share a love for AOR, or essentially heavy music with huge hooks. Fabio was Jay’s friend and number one draft pick for drummer, and I wrote the music before asking anyone to play on the recordings. I play the synth, all guitars, and handle all vocals. The full length will feature Jason on backup vocals, and some guest guitarists, I hope. If we ever do live stuff we’ll have to get a guitar player, since my core role is synth and vocals.”
Kerr continued; “I wrote the songs, and it was a no-brainer to ask Jason to put his bass spin on things. I also knew he would have the perfect drummer for the project through his extended friend group…he suggested Fabio, and I’m glad he did! He’s perfect for the group, and gels with us flawlessly. Again, although I wrote the songs, I wanted both Jason and Fabio to make their parts their own, so they do deserve some real credit here!”
He elaborated further; “The songs turned out great because of (the two of) them. I’m trying to work a little bit closer with the other guys for the album when it comes to writing. Now that we’re solidified with the two other members, we can begin to incorporate the other guys’ songwriting creativity all while keeping the Lockhart sound you know so far.”
I wanted to know a little more about what lead Kerr to play the music he does, and he explained; “Guitar came first at maybe 11, or 12. I started playing piano at around 14, and got into actual sound design and the ins and outs of synthesizers in my mid-twenties. Self taught for the most part – I took music all through high school so that helped.”
He continued even further; “First started playing guitar to bands like Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, and whatever classic rock bands were on shirts in the local “rock t-shirt store” when I was first starting out. It developed more into metal, and then dove pretty deep into the ’80s underground (Icon, Tyran’ Pace, Gotham City). When I was about 23, I discovered that to me, AOR music got me pumped up the most. Foreigner, Survivor, Europe, Night Ranger, Van Zant, Alien, Old Michael Bolton, Chicago, Cher, Heart, Anything Desmond Child wrote and SO much more…if it had great synth, I was sold! You can’t go finding ’80s rock synth guys on every street corner, so I took on that role. I am a better guitarist, but I prefer keyboards.”
And whether we see Lockhart on the road any time in the near future, Kerr informed me; “There are unfortunately no touring plans at the moment simply because of the responsibilities of being a grown up…hopefully one day we can make it happen again. And while there’s no touring plans yet, it certainly is something I hope we can one day pull off.”
Stuart Fratkin might not be the most recognized face from the ’80s and ’90s, but he certainly played a huge role to the entertainment world – not to mention my own world – during those eras. Appearing in such staple slapstick comedies as Teen Wolf Too and Ski School, not to mention a host of popular TV shows at the time, he no doubt graced both the big and small screens far too many times for one to even keep count.
I was recently able to pick Fratkin’s brain about his entire career, and found his answers both insightful and fascinating (as I so often do with many of my interviewees). But before I got into his war stories from years in the trenches of the acting field, I asked him to give readers an idea of what he’s been up to more recently. He informed me; “After some smaller parts in the early 2000’s I began to transition to the business world. I became partners in a shaved ice business that I got featured on several shows I guest starred on and eventually sold it. I realized I could not make a living for my family on $1.75 residuals from Divorce Court, so I took a job in the technology industry and have been successful for the past 10 years or so. I reengaged with my commercial agent a few years ago and have been actively auditioning. My goal was to get back into entertainment after my kids were grown and off the payroll! (Laughs).”
I wondered if he would give me some backstory on just how he got into acting, and he enlightened me; “Classic story of, ‘I had the burning desire to entertain and make people laugh’ ever since I was a kid. I have vivid memories of making 8mm movies, arranging skits at elementary school and being an extra on Camp Grizzly, a pilot with the late, great Carl Ballentine in the late 70’s. My parents were moderately supportive and not until I showed my mom a check from Girls Just Want to Have Fun for $650 did she believe it was possible.”
Regarding his experience in said first film role in 1985’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun, he elaborated; “I got my SAG card on that movie. I was in a cold reading class with a casting director named Gino Havens who brought me in for the lead role. He was impressed enough that I was brought to meet the producers immediately. The role was eventually offered to newcomer Jonathan Silverman, otherwise…who knows?! I accepted the role of Sam and most of the experience was great except for Lee Montgomery. He sucked. After shooting my scene, my manager at the time came to find me and desperately asked if I already shot my part. I said I did, and she said, ‘they didn’t clear you with SAG before and now they have to Taft-Hartley you.’ That’s how I got into the union.”
Another early role that sticks out on his resume was an appearance on The Golden Girls in 1986. I asked Fratkin if he knew at the time what a special show he was a part of, and if he had much time to get to know the show’s stars while on set. He informed me; “Incredible. Had I have known then what I know now, I would have appreciated it more. I watched all of the rehearsals from the bleachers and reveled in their professionalism, candor, work ethic and warmth. I was fan of Maude growing up and working with Bea on our scene was a highlight from my early career. Guest star Polly Holiday yelled at me backstage on tape night because I tried to speak to her while she was getting into character as the blind sister of Betty White. I responded with, “Calm down. It’s only a sit-com, Flo.” Just kidding (Laughs).”
Aside from The Golden Girls, Fratkin made a number of guest spots on several other notable shows from that time frame, including The Facts of Life, Silver Spoons, and Sledgehammer!. I asked if he was a fan of any of these shows before appearing on them, and he said; “No. I was not a fan of any of them. Facts… was actually my first network show. I had the pleasure of meeting a dude on my first day of work that I bonded with because it was his first day of work, too. We were both a little uncomfortable, but we became pals and he was a good dude. His name was George Clooney. See what I did there?? I set you up and you were like, ‘who was it??’ and it turned out it was Clooney!! (Laughs). Anyway, I ran into him several times over the next few years, and he really is a good guy. The experiences were meh. Nothing earth shattering on either sets. I will say that after being in theater throughout high school and college, I felt very comfortable in front a live audience. Sledgehammer! was a lot of fun and kitschy. I did a lot of guest starring roles around that time, 1984-1987.”
Of course I had to ask what his experience in Teen Wolf Too was like, and if he had researched Jerry Levine’s portrayal of the Stiles character in the 1985 original or not prior to playing him in the 1987 sequel. He explained; “No. I had not seen the first film prior to auditioning for TWT. I received a script in early 1987 of the sequel and it was very funny, original and quirky. That’s not the movie that was made, which is too bad because it could have been a very good movie on its own rather than a retread of the original. I did not think it was in my best interest to see Jerry’s performance from the first film while auditioning and working on the movie. I thought about it but felt I needed to put my own spin on Stiles. I’ve mentioned this before in other podcasts but while working on TWT, I discovered that the Stiles character has different first names in TW and TWT. He’s called “Rupert” in the first one and “Ridley” in the second one. In my mind, they were related, but not the same. Hence, my interpretation was my own. I ended up seeing the original after the shoot was over. It’s a very different movie than the second one and Jerry was outstanding.”
And as far as what it was like to work with such legendary actors on the set like John Astin, Jason Bateman, Mark Holton, and the late James Hampon, Fratkin says; “I couldn’t believe my life! All of 1987 was a dream. After I booked the job, the fun began. We shot the movie at Montclair College in and around Montclair, Upland and Claremont, California. One of the lasting memories I have is upon meeting Jason, Mark and the rest of the cast, we bonded in Jason’s suite getting high and drunk. It was a great time for a bunch of 20 somethings. Being a fan of films from the 70’s, I was star struck meeting Jim Hampton. He was impressed that when I met him, the first thing I said was, ‘hello Caretaker!’ He was a sweet guy and I hope he rests in peace. I’ve spoken about my overall experience on TWT as not being fantastic due to a vicious prick executive from the studio, Atlantic. Whenever he was on set, no one wanted to go near him for fear of being chastised or criticized. Observing behavior on set, if director Chris Leitch had a tail, it was tucked firmly between his legs a la Buffalo Bill.”
Fratkin has also appeared in a number of non-comedic roles as well, guesting on the likes of Matlock, Freddy’s Nightmares, and the sorely underrated Vietnam series Tour of Duty. I asked him to tell me a little about these experiences as well, and he explained; Matlock is the gift that keeps on giving. I’m referring to the residuals, not the performance (Laughs). Long hair, New York dialect and a stereotype punk is a recipe for a poor and laughable role. Andy (Griffith) was cranky and unapproachable. It seemed he was at the end of his Matlock-ed contract. If you’ve seen that episode; picture Andy’s lines being written out on the pool table, furniture and by the camera. Opie would be ashamed (Laughs).”
He continued; “Absolutely loved Tour of Duty. This episode was directed by the great producer Ron Schwary (Tootsie, Ordinary People, Batteries Not Included). I had a very high opinion of myself at the end of 1988 and went into read for this show, booked it and off to Hawaii to shoot it. It was a fantastic experience and one of the highpoints in my dramatic career. The cast was great led by Terry Knox and Stephen Caffrey. It was a very rewarding experience highlighted by Ron, who was an absolute sweetheart. If you’re a cinephile, watch Tootsie again. Ron plays the agent in the scene with Director Sydney Pollack and Dustin Hoffman in the Russian Tea Room. Freddy’s Nightmares was a lot of fun, too. This was around the time when I was trying to grow up and play different age groups and be more of a character actor.
Fans may also recall Fratkin had co-starring roles on a handful of short-lived TV series, namely The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, and They Came From Outer Space. I asked if he considered these to be some of his career highlights, and if he had wished they would have perhaps caught on more and lasted longer. He replied; “To address the former and latter questions; hell yes. Beans came first. It was the inaugural Fox season and they were greenlighting everything. Conceived and directed by Savage Steve Holland (Better Off Dead, OneCrazy Summer), it was way ahead of its time. Quirky, fun, entertaining and a little odd. I was still young in industry years and felt spoiled that I booked this role as it was fairly easy. For most of my career, I’ve been able to improvise on most of my auditions and it served me very well on these two different jobs. Beans was an unfinished script, meaning it was still evolving when we shot a 10-minute pilot presentation in 1987 at Cal Arts in Valencia, California. The rest of the shows were shot in Vancouver, BC (Hollywood, North) when other series were filming at the same time including Wiseguy, 21 Jumpstreet and the movie Stakeout. It was a great time and often a big party. I made a lot of friends on that shoot and was heartbroken when I got the fateful call in my apartment in North Hollywood that Fox had cancelled the show.”
He continued; “Three years later, I worked on a movie called Ski School where I met Dean Cameron. I took that role knowing that I would get a chance to work with Dean and there would be a good chance that mayhem would ensue. That job led to Dean and I working together and a comedic shorthand was created between the two of us. We had a chance to audition for TCFOS together and aside from having an amazing time, the process was nothing less than magical. It’s not often in an actor’s life that they meet someone and they are just symbiotic. That was Dean and me. I sorely wish that magic would have continued because I firmly believe, given the right vehicle, we would have gone down as being inseparable.”
I asked him to elaborate more on his working relationship with Cameron, as well as how he feels today about the previously-mentioned cult classic Ski School the two did together in 1990. He stated; “The answer above addresses part of the question, but I had been aware of Dean for several years prior to eventually meeting him at the airport to get on a plane to Canada to shoot Ski School. Dean had a reputation in the biz as the one to beat. If you were auditioning for the offbeat, best pal, comedy relief dork, Dean got all those roles because he was/is incredibly talented and gifted. After a few years of losing roles to him, I wanted to join him, not beat him. And…love Ski School. Another fun time with the cast, crew and Whistler. No other opportunity I had in my career could I say that the producers came to actors and said, “we’re going to be short on time in the movie, can you guys write some scenes?” All of them are in the final cut. A fun, sexy, stupid cult film that’s fun to get drunk and watch. I fully endorse that!”
And as far as why he didn’t appear in Ski School 2 a few years later? He explained; “Dean told me it was because they didn’t have the money. I secretly think it was because I did not go to the photo shoot for Ski School 1 and I was being an asshole about it. I regret that decision because I think it cost me that job and maybe a Ski School 3: Fitz Marries Paulette (Laughs).”
As the ’90s went on, Fratkin appeared on more staple shows from that era such as DoogieHowser, M.D., Baywatch, and Friends; as far as what those were like, he told me; “Friends was great. I read for the pilot episode when it was called Friends Like Us for Chandler, so the producers remembered me. They were awesome. It was a great little role, and I came back for a second episode later in the season, and that scene was eventually cut (another residual windfall).The other shows kept my wife and I fed for a while, but those kinds of guest starring roles will not buy you a house. I was making the rounds and trying to maintain a foothold while I was growing up and trying to transition to adult roles like Melrose Place, Murder One, JudgingAmy (twice), NYPD Blue (twice) and Courthouse.”
Another book mark in Fratkin’s career was his appearance in the 1998 summer blockbuster Godzilla. I was curious how he felt looking back on the film, which performed far better finaically than it did critically. He stated; “I remember quite vividly how incredibly excited I was to be part of it. Being a huge fan of the Godzilla movies from my childhood (hence the “Godzirra” reference I wrote into Ski School). My wife and I went to the premiere at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, and were thrilled to see my scenes were completely intact and received quite well. Overall, I was disappointed with the final cut. I wasn’t a fan but yikes, they play it a lot!”
Fast forward to some of Fratkin’s most recent acting credits were on such memorable shows as Spin City and Malcolm in the Middle in the 2000’s. Regarding these roles he noted; “Not a lot to say about these gigs. I was still trying to figure out where my career was going. Spin City was fun and as fan, loved working with the cast. This was Charlie Sheen’s first season and he was still kind of feeling his way around a sitcom. Since I was familiar with Heather from Melrose Place, it was fun to work with her again. My part was small, and I remember really needing a job, any job. After working as an actor for almost 15 years, I was reaching a point where I needed to make some decisions. With a mortgage, two young kids and a decent stream of residuals, it was almost time for a break. Malcolm was the last job that I remember thinking, if I wanted to make a good living, three lines on a sitcom was not going to cut it.”
Before our conversation was finished, I asked if we’ll be seeing him in anything in the near future. He assured me; “I hope so! I feel the need to express myself and hope to get some opportunities. That was the plan all along!”
Swiss rockers Krokus have always been one of those bands that, while they may not have achieved some of the same heights as many of their contemporaries here in America, they’ve still always held a special place for me (and even if I sometimes do overlook them for awhile, something will always draw me back to them eventually). So it was a sheer thrill to be able to correspond recently with founder and bassist Chris Von Rohr, who I was able to have some meaningful words with, despite the distance between us.
One of the first things I asked was what the status was for the band’s “farewell” tour, which was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic. Chris explained; “Well at the moment we are looking at the world and what is happening, and wondering when – hopefully soon – it will be back to a “normal” situation. But of course we are in contact with each other, everybody is playing either with side projects, or spending time with their instruments. Musicians want to play music, you know? Day by day we hope that the clouds disappear soon, and rock and roll comes back into our lives, so we can continue our tour that was interrupted.”
I also asked if the band might have one more studio album in them before they retire, to which he stated; “At the moment we are not planning a new album. We have so many songs that we cannot even play live because there are so many albums, and we personally think there are enough Krokus songs out there. But you never know, sometimes maybe a new song might come out, but the necessity for a new album is not there. We’d much rather play gigs, that’s what we miss most.”
I was also curious if their might be any chance of a re-release for the band’s obscure 1976 self-titled debut album. Chris told me; “Yeah it definitely is obscure, and has nothing to do with the original lineup of Krokus. It was an album which I am the only survivor of it, and it went more in the direction of prog rock. It was really a…search. We don’t play songs from that period, and I don’t really see a necessity to revisit that on a wider scale. The Krokus fans we have now, I don’t think they would particularity love it.”
He continued; “And for us, the original is the band that played on Metal Rendez-vous, Hardware, One Vice at a Time, and the famous Headhunter albums. And then after the break coming back with Hoodoo, the Dirty Dynamite album, the greatest live album we had called Long Stick Goes Boom; that is the “real” lineup, the one that made it “big” and has the real sound which we want to transport with Krokus.”
Before eventually settling on the bass, Von Rohr had actually started as a drummer. I asked if these changes were due to preference or necessity, and he informed me; “Yeah, my way was a long way. As you know, I started as a drummer, and as we went on, for us to put on the “best” formation, I had to change instruments. I went from drummer, to singer, to bass player. It was about finding the right combination of the right people who blended perfectly together. For me it was interesting because as a producer a little later on, it’s good to know all instruments a little bit, you know? And I still play a little of each today.”
Shortly after the Headhunter album in 1983, Chris and the band parted ways for a bit, with him occasionally re-joining before he would come back permanently in 2008. I asked how he felt regarding some of the material the band released during his time away, and he stated; “Well the unfortunate split we had in the mid-80s was not very good for either of us. We lost direction during my absence. I didn’t consider it “bad” music, but I didn’t really consider it real Krokus, or what the fans really expect from Krokus, which is basically what was on the Headhunter or the Metal Rendez-vouz albums. That is the essence of Krokus, what made us successful. But fortunately we found each other again, and we are wiser today and we know what went wrong, and why it did.”
He continued; “It was definitely a big exhaustion, with bad management and some sad stories we don’t even want to talk or think about much. Since our reunion in 2008, we’ve played big festivals and have had number one albums, but unfortunately we couldn’t get things in America on that scale, because I think a lot of what was released after Headhunter did a lot of damage, and that’s why we concentrated on Europe. Over here they know us better, and after the reunion they instantly got it, that that’s real Krokus. Let’s see, I really hope that one day we will make it back to America for our fans.”
He continued further; “I do think this incarnation of Krokus is absolutely the strongest, because it unites all of the band members which were important, and it has three guitar players! If you listen to the last live album I mentioned, you feel that is a band on its peak; it’s an energy that has never been that strong before, as well as an experience which comes out of the playing. When you get a little bit older, you know how to play those songs best. I wish American fans can see this band live, because it is not an old band, it’s like young dogs on the loose. It’s absolutely exciting to play with Krokus.
Having gone through a rough breakup the same year I originally gotten the Headhunter album, I always associated the power ballad (and the band’s most well-known hit) “Screaming in the Night” with my own personal experience. So I always wondered if the band anything or anyone specifically in mind while writing the track. Chris explained; “What a ballad, definitely. A special mood, and a special, semi-dark ballad with a lot of feelings in it, a drama ballad in a way. It was not about any one special thing, but it is probably the most popular Krokus song. If you look at Spotifiy, it has millions and millions of views, and we always love to play it still, because it’s not like a commercialized ballad, it has this rough edge still, and we love that song.”
And as far as the song’s music video goes, which can no doubt be described as “out there,” Chris said; “A bit inspired by Conan the Barbarian, maybe, we were basically not too happy with it. We thought it was a bit too much with effects, and it looks almost like a L.S.D. trip (Laughs). But at the time it was played a lot on MTV, I don’t know why. Hopefully because of the song of course. But some people love it, and it’s a great song, and that’s what counts. But if you ask any band, videos are always a bit of a pain in the ass! We are not models, and we don’t like photo shoots. We like playing on stage and kicking ass, that’s what we like!”
I also asked if perhaps there were any songs in the bands catalog he really enjoyed that might not be as well known. He told me; “I could listen to hundreds of songs from our earliest stages which I still like, but what really makes it is what you play live. But if I could name three songs that maybe are not so well known in America, it’d definitely first be a song called “Winning Man.” That was the favorite song of Lemmy’s who, when we played with Motorhead, would almost every night come to the side of the stage to listen to that song. Then “Fire” from Metal Rendez-Vous, a great power ballad and dramatic song. And from newer times, it would definitely be “Hoodoo Woman,” which at the time is one of the most well known songs of the band here in Europe.”
Although I rarely touch base on politics or world events during interviews, it seemed impossible not to ask his thoughts on the current events unfolding in the Ukraine knowing how close in proximity Chris is. He stated; “Well, to talk about the world and what is going on would definitely take us all night probably, wouldn’t it? But as a book writer, I definitely reflect a lot, and I’m always astonished how it is still possible that human beings – which have developed so much, in so many ways over the past one-hundred years – can still be back in the medieval ages it seems? This is hard for me to understand that with all of these inventions and progress that the human being has made, that he is still just an animal. That is the unfortunate reality.”
Chris continued; “We as a band try not to go too much into politics, because, as a guy who studies history as well, it’s always a little bit strange to hear rock musicians talk about politics, because most of the time they don’t know what they say, or know history enough to really understand it. One very strong diplomat, I don’t know if it was maybe Henry Kissinger who said, ‘The more you look into a war, the more complicated it gets,’ and you don’t know any more really, who is the guilty, and who is the not guilty. And the whole black and white sides we see in the media, is not helping, you know? It divides the population in two parts, and this I don’t like. It might be a little naive, but with our music, we try to unite the people. Because there is not only god and bad, there is not only black and white, and we really should come together as The Beatles said, and stop all of this aggression, because this is not what we like. I grew up a Woodstock kid in the ’60s, and I don’t believe in all these wars and aggressiveness.”
Local rockers Nova Rex are far from strangers to Rewind It Magazine; not only have we photographed a concert or two of theirs over the years, I’ve interviewed bassist and founder Kenny Wilkerson (who has become as much of a personal acquaintance as he has been a supporter/feature of our little publication) more than any other musician I can recall at this point.
Now, Kenny and the guys are back, kicking off 2022 with the recent announcement that John Bisaha, longtime frontman for British rock act The Babys, who also briefly sang with Nova Rex back in 2012, has replaced (now former) lead singer Adrian Adonis. Once again, Kenny and I – along with said newcomer Bisaha – recently caught up to discuss all things Nova Rex.
One of the first things I wanted to know was what exactly was the catalyst that finally brought Bisha and Nova Rex together again. John explained; “Kenny finally nailed what I want in my rider for shows – Good & Plenty candy! It’s my favorite, and he said he will keep me stocked! (Laughs). Seriously though – we are all looking to get out there and jam. This pandemic has kicked the crap out of everyone. Life is short. Gigs are fun. Let’s jam!”
I was also curious what the first order of business will be for Nova Rex now with John at the forefront, and Kenny stated; “Buying more eyeliner/tighter pants and recording new music.” Of course I also wanted to know how splitting with (said former frontman) Adonis went, and if he and the band were on good terms or not now. Kenny informed me; “It went as good as it could go, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Another thing I wondered was how well acquainted John was with the other two current members of Nova Rex, guitarist Greg Polcari (formerly of Britny Fox) and Shawn Lowery, prior to joining the band. He stated; “Greg and I had some communication last year with a couple of tunes – get the feel for some tracks. Now Shawn – is a different story – we go WAAAAAAY back. To last week…” (Laughs).
I also wanted to know from John how being a member of Nova Rex compares so far to fronting The Babys. He noted; “You’ll have to ask me after the first gig! It’s been a while since performing Nova Rex tunes; I did two shows many moons ago – and the only constant member is that bass player guy. Fronting Nova Rex is a way different gig than The Babys – a little more out of control, a LOT more cheese!”
And lastly, I asked if the upcoming Bike Week shows the band have set beginning Mar. 5th at The Legendary Boot Hill Saloon in Daytona Beach, will be the first to officially feature John on stage with them again. Kenny stated; “Yes, it’s a perfect place to showcase him at a hometown show and we are adding new songs, new dates, new look, and more mayhem as we speak!”
Late last year I spoke with legendary actor Monte Markham to specifically discuss his role as Clay Hollingsworth on The Golden Girls for an anniversary piece I was working on at the time for Rewind It Magazine. But with so much more material leftover from our over thirty minute long phone conversation, it felt like a waste not to print the rest (better late than never as they say).
After all, aside from his recurring role on The Golden Girls in the late ’80s/early ’90s, Markham’s acting career spans as far back as the ’60s, appearing on such shows as Mission:Impossible, Hawaii Five-0, The A-Team, Murder, She Wrote, and Baywatch, as well as such classic films as Midway and Airport ’77, just to name a few.
One of the questions I had asked him regarding his appearances on The Golden Girls was how he felt it compared to other TV shows he’s done. He replied; “As an actor I’ve done just about every type of performance you can do. But four-camera sitcoms in many ways are the most difficult to do because, one; it’s comedy, and two; it’s rewritten everyday at rehearsals. And the camera is in your face, but it’s about 20 or 30 yards away, so it’s like you feel like you’re on stage, but there’s an intimacy of the lens, so you have to adjust performance.I did several of them (sitcoms); The Mary Tyler Moore Show was really a good playing ground on them.”
I also asked why he felt this shows have endeared so many years later, and he stated; “Even with a movie you’ve seen numerous times before, why do you find yourself still staying with it? Because it’s a good film. It’s like with The Mary Tyler Moore show; I did the second episode after the pilot, and I can tell you, the cast were all very nervous about it because the guy who had directed the pilot wasn’t available. I remember Lou Grant coming up to me and asking, ‘Is this funny?’ (Laughs), and I reassured him, ‘No, no, it’s terrific!’ But it was that damn good, and that’s why they’re still in reruns around the world constantly. The interesting thing is, rather than just being old, a good show plays to a whole new audience.”
He also explained what he has done since many of his most memorable roles; “In ’92 I was still doing Baywatch in syndication and playing the Captain, which was great. I had an opportunity to form a company with my wife and son, and we did documentary production for A&E, which lead to doing the first shows for The History Channel. And I didn’t know from there we’d be producing, writing, and directing these documentaries for the next twenty years. It was a great ride, and I was able to travel all over the world, but I couldn’t act at that time because it was impossible to schedule anything, since we were always on the road.”
He continued; “Then in about 2010, we figured we had done about everything we could with that, and it was time to bring it in. So I went back into acting, which was very interesting…a whole different time with streaming, and the whole world being able to watch anything at any time. It’s a different business, a different world now. We just recently had a 30th anniversary party for Baywatch after they updated and remixed it, and the color and everything is spectacular. It’s a whole new looking show, but they couldn’t use the same music because it was tied up in all various kinds of licensing, so they had to re-record it.”
The last thing I wanted to know was what his thoughts were on the (embarrassing) 2017 Baywatch remake. He told me; “Well, in general the remake of Baywatch is pretty abysmal. Baywatch (the show) was what it was; sure, it was a lot of T&A and beautiful girls running in slow motion, but also had some really family-oriented, life lessons in there as well…just a lot of lightweight stuff, but it caught on. I remember back when we were doing the pilot, and looking at the real LA lifeguards around on set who were like, ‘Give me a break!’ (Laughs), even though the first two girls they cast could actually swim really well, but then they kind of got away from that. But when they do a remake these days, they throw all of what made it successful in the first place out the door, making it absurd, so it’s like just basically making fun of itself.”
No matter how many interviews I might do in my lifetime, I never tire of having the chance to get inside of the minds of celebrities I’ve admired for most of my life. Actress Adrienne Barbeau is no exception; from watching her at an early age in reruns of Maude, to late night viewings of horror/action classics such as The Fog, Escape From New York, Swamp Thing, or Creepshow, she has always been a standout figure in my world. So it was with great honor I was able to ask her a few brief questions recently for Rewind It Magazine.
I wanted to start at the beginning, and asked if she’d enlighten me just how she began acting, and landed her first role on the previously mentioned ’70s show Maude alongside Bea Arthur (and if she was ever approached to eventually guest star on her later series The Golden Girls). She informed me; “I started acting on stage in a community theater in my hometown and eventually moved to NYC to (hopefully) work on Broadway. My first Broadway show was Fiddler on the Roof; then I went on to play Rizzo in the original Broadway production of Grease. That led to my being cast in Maude. I was incredibly fortunate to do such an important, ground-breaking sitcom; I loved every minute of it. Especially loved playing Bea’s daughter. She was the absolute best in every way. But, no, I was never approached about appearing on The Golden Girls. Not sure how they would have worked that out.”
As far as how she eventually came to be known as a ‘scream queen,’ starting with the inclusion in then-husband John Carpenter’s 1980 film The Fog, Adrienne explained; “I never set out to act in horror films specifically. I wasn’t even aware of the genre, really. But I was offered the role of Stevie Wayne in The Fog and in those days, if you were known for your work on television, you couldn’t get hired to do movies. So when The Fog came along, I jumped at the chance. None of us knew, back in 1979, that the film would still be as much loved today as it was then.” And as far as the 2005 remake goes? “I haven’t seen the remake. Probably never will.”
Having worked with the legendary late Donald Pleasance on the 1981 classic John Carpenter film Escape From New York, I had to know what it was like to be on that set. She told me; “One of the best parts about filming Escape…was getting to know Donald Pleasance. He was so witty, so funny, there were times I couldn’t start a scene because he had me laughing so hard. All the men on that set were great to work with, every single one of them.”
One role Barbeau will perhaps always be remembered for is the obnoxious booze-pounding Billie in 1982’s Creepshow. I was curious not only what it was like working with the late Hal Holbrook, but also having special effects maestro Tom Savini “off” her on screen (and what it was like revisiting the series on a semi-recent episode). She stated; “I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you with my answers about Creepshow. I loved working with Hal, and with Fritz, but I honestly don’t remember anything about Snuffy (Tom Savani) and the special effects. I was pleased to be asked to appear in the recent series and so enjoyed working with Greg Nicotero. Obviously my role in (the episode) “Grey Matter” wasn’t as memorable as Billie, but it was fun to work with Tobin Bell again (our third time working together – we played incestuous siblings in an episode of Criminal Minds!) and getting to know Giancarlo Esposito. Aside from our episode, I haven’t watched the series – I’m not a big horror fan – but glad to know it was picked up and is so successful.”
Barbeau has also done her share of voice acting work, starting with 1982’s The Thing, and continuing into bit parts in such films and animated shows as Demolition Man, Judge Dredd, and Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. When asked what drew her to this field, she noted; “I was drawn to voice acting when my son Cody (Carpenter) was born. It was something I could do and still be a full-time mom; I wasn’t about to leave him for 14 hours a day to do a TV series. John asked me to voice the computer in The Thing, and, if I remember correctly, the other three films you mention were simply offers that came through my voice-over agent. I did have to audition for Catwoman, though, in Batman: The Animated Series. I remember because it was just a thirty-second recording I did in my agent’s office, and they called me about a month later to say I’d been cast.”
Also an accomplished author, Barbeau explained where some of the inspiration has come for her writing; “Ali McGraw has an autobiography titled Moving Pictures. I was taken with the style in which she wrote; not a soup to nuts detailing of every minute of her life. That’s the only book that influenced me when time came to put my stories down on paper. I cared more about how I said what I had to say than the content of what I was saying. Since the memoir, I’ve written three vampyre novels about a scream queen who is the head of a vampyre clan of A-list Hollywood actors. Sort of a comedy – romance – thriller. And I’ve just finished co-authoring a collection of stories and memories from over a hundred actors who appeared on Broadway and in the national touring companies of the original production of Grease. Grease…Tell Me More, Tell Me More! will be published by the Chicago Review Press next year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show. It’s funny and moving and fascinating.”
And as for what’s coming up for Barbeau?…”Well, I have several horror films in post-production, and Unearth, a film whose release got waylaid by the pandemic, is now streaming on the major platforms. The next thing you’ll be able to see me in is Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop, scheduled to air in November.”
Chances are if you grew up in the late ’80s/early ’90s such as myself, you remember actor Keith Coogan. Not only did he appear in numerous commercials (his first acting job was a spot for McDonnald’s), and popular shows on TV at the time such as Knight Rider and Silver Spoons, he was also lucky enough to work alongside two of the most memorable bombshells of their time, Elizabeth Shue in 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting, and Christina Applegate in 1991’s Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. Recently, I was able to sit down and speak with Coogan during a candid phone conversation about these experiences, and so much more.
I instantly wanted to start at the beginning and discuss what it was like making his first movie, a voice role in the 1981 Disney film The Fox and the Hound. He told me; “Yeah, no real huge memories of that! I came from a real big showbiz family with my great-grandfather in Vaudeville, then my grandfather in silent films and television, and my mother was a comedy writer, so they knew it’s a hard way to make an easy living. And I had worked my way up through TV, doing lots of commercials and guest appearances on great shows like CHiPS, Fantasy Island, TheLove Boat, Eight is Enough, Mork & Mindy, and Laverne & Shirley. My mom, or “momager” was the one that took me around, and almost everything with a kid in it I auditioned for. And we got a voiceover job for Disney when I was eight; it was thrilling, but really only like three or four days of work spread over months and months. And they recorded the voices singularly…it wasn’t until Robin Williams was doing Aladdin years later that they decided to bring in whoever he was doing a scene with due to his improv nature.”
He continued; “We started in ’78, and of course the hound was played by Corey Feldman, who I’ve been friends with for decades now. And then Don Bluth left the production and took a lot of animators with him, and they had to shut down before hiring new people to finish the film. And by the time it came out in ’81, I was eleven and had been doing more TV and stuff, so it was kind of an after thought like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s out’ (Laughs). I know how grateful I am to be in a Disney movie, and some say it’s their last classically-animated film before they used computers full-blown on their next production. I think it’s a terrific, sweet film, and I think it made $64 million dollars at the box office, which was a record for them at the time, too.” He added one final thought; “And despite what it says on IMDB, Kurt Russell did NOT record his dialogue wearing Snake Plissken’s jacket (Laughs).”
I also wanted to get into some of those old TV roles he took part of, starting with working with the late Robin Williams on Mork& Mindy; “Oh gosh, working with him, and Jonathan Winters, and of course the anchor holding the show down, Pam Dawber, was so great! And this was actually the last episode to ever air, and they knew they weren’t necessarily going to get picked up for another season, so the set kind of had a dire mood to it. But there was still that spark of creativity there from Williams and Winters, although Jonathan was much more on his own planet (Laughs).”
Of course I had to ask him about Silver Spoons as well; “Rick managed a rock band called Splat, which I was the keyboard player for. And they were going to go on a StarSearch kind of thing before their singer got sick, and so Rick had to sing, hence the title of the episode, “Rick Sings.” It was kind of a precursor to future roles I would play, but it was more surfer rather than stoner. I also got to work with Alfonso Ribeiro and Billy Jayne, and it was a welcoming, fun set with the video games and the train, and I think I got about ten feet into the house before three guys came up to me with their satin ’80s jackets (Laughs). And all of the video games on the set had unlimited credits, so you could just walk up and play any one of them! But they didn’t typically have the train out and lying around, so there was probably a ‘no riding the train’ rule!” He went on; “But the audiences on sitcoms used to throw me off. I probably did six or seven more of them, too, including Growing Pains and Just the Ten of Us. And they always were nerve racking in front of a live audience! I remember my entrance I did for the Laverne& Shirley episode I did; I opened the door and just cracked up, so we had to re-shoot it at the end of the night (Laughs).”
And aside from sitcoms, he was also on another favorite ’80s show, the previously-mentioned Knight Rider; “That was amazing! David Hasselhoff was particularity awesome and fun to work with, and I worked with my uncle Don Stroud, who played one of the biker gang members. We shot around southern California, and one of the coolest shots we did was at Mockingbird Square, which was Clock Tower Square at Universal Studios. And the bait shop we filmed in was the diner from Back to the Future. So that was fun to not only get to shoot there, but also ride around in K.I.T.T.!”
As far as his movies go, I asked if he felt Adventures in Babysitting is the one he will always be best remembered for; “It’s entirely subjective to people, but I think for me, it’s a split between that and Don’t Tell Mom...And regarding its 2016 remake, he said; “It was the one-hundredth Disney Channel original movie, and I went to the premiere when it came out, and it was great, lots of fun! The original was stretching the PG-13 and was limited to a certain audience, whereas the G-rated version was more for a younger generation. But it rings a lot of nostalgia bells with some of the little Easter eggs in there. But still, totally different story and tone, but I loved it! And Coogan even explained a little what co-star Elizabeth Shue has been up to recently (despite not having kept in contact with her); “She was involved with a recent article on all the things you ever wanted to know about Adventures in Babysitting answered, and it’s fantastic! They cover everything from the dance scene in the beginning, to the Playboy, to “Babysitter’s Blues.”‘
I also wondered if he had kept in touch with his former Don’t Tell Mom…co-star Christina Applegate, who recently announced a MS diagnosis; “We actually spent some time running in the same circles before shooting the movie, so it was a great pleasure to get to work with her, having already known how talented she was. She’s a total professional, and it’s interesting that both of these films kind of rest these huge budgets on the shoulders of teenagers! But I know that she’s gone through a lot, but she’s a trooper, and just fantastic, and I wish her all the best…sending out good vibes to her. And as far as how close Coogan was in reality to his character Kenny in the film? He tells me; “I was a nerd, a geek, and a “Dexter” as we used to call it in middle and high school (Laughs). So I wasn’t much like my character at all, I didn’t listen to the rock music like Kenny, or the punk music like Mitch in Cousins. But director Stephen Herek was very supportive in helping me find my character. But I loved it, and there was no way I was passing up the role of Kenny.”
One thing often somewhat forgotten about Coogan are his brushes with the action genre, such as the 1991 film Toy Soldiers; “I think they wanted to forget it when it came out (laughs), meaning it did good business, but you know, nothing to write home about. But Louis Gossett, Jr., what a legend, and Denholm Elliot, another legend! I had a great cast to work with, from Sean Astin to Wil Wheaton, and Shawn Phelan who has now passed. There was also Andrew Divoff who is pretty “method,” I don’t think I saw him smile once until we were done shooting (laughs). And the late R. Lee Ermey; at this point I had already done Adventures in Babysitting with Vincent D’Onofrio from Full Metal Jacket, but now I’m working with the Gunnery Sergeant himself, so I was just over the top! But it was an interesting mix-and-match movie…basically Die Hard meets Dead Poets Society (Laughs).”
In more recent times, Coogan even appeared as himself in the 2019 Kevin Smith film Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, and I asked him to briefly tell me about the experience; “Kevin had said something interesting along the lines of, ‘before I started making movies, I watched a lot of movies.’ So he really has a soft spot for nostalgia and for anyone that came before him. And having Chris Hemsworth at the end credits say – as Thor – “The dishes are done man,” I crapped my pants a little when I first saw that! (Laughs).”
While I could continue even further with more from our hour-long conversation, I’ll end things on this note due to time (perhaps I’ll get to the rest in future pieces), but those in the New Jersey area can actually catch Coogan at the Chiller Theatre Expo in Parsippany from the 29th-31st of this month. Regarding this event he stated; “It’s their anniversary for the convention, and it’s going to be a riot and a huge blowout! A lot of great guests, cosplay, and screenings, so it should be amazing!”
When legendary film producer/writer Paul Maslansky originally agreed to speak with Rewind ItMagazine, I doubt he knew the extensive knowledge I had on such films of his like Police Academy and Ski Patrol. And no doubt he was unaware how endlessly I watched these films when I was hospitalized for many months after a freak car accident when I was just eleven years old (something I rarely mention), or how I wanted to be a police officer for the longest time “when I grew up” thanks to the Police Academy films (I would come close, working many years side-by-side with law enforcement in the security field, in addition to journalism).
So when Maslansky begun recounting to me recently over the phone the story of how he initially came up with the idea for Police Academy on the set of 1983’s The Right Stuff after seeing a group of misfit police cadets, I was already prepared with a question, and asked if he thought he still would have came up with the idea or not that would ultimately spark an entire franchise had he not been there that day to see those inspiring recruits. He seemed genuinely surprised and impressed; “You know, that’s a damn good question…I’ve never been asked that before! But I I always wanted to make “gang” comedies ever since AnimalHouse, which I thought was extraordinarily good, and that was an inspiration in many ways. So I don’t know whether or not I would have ever come around to it. It was really the moment, when I saw what was happening right in front of me that inspired me to write the story. Damn good question, though.”
I also wanted to know just how it was possible to churn out so many films in one series six consecutive years (from 1984-1989) in a row. He informed me; “It was almost like a sitcom; You had Hugh Wilson who came from WKRP in Cincinnati, and then Jerry Paris who was of course Gary Marshall’s guy. And that’s really why we were prepared for it; we had a cast that was steady, and every year everything was just serendipitously there, and the studio kept asking to make another one because the results were just so damn good, and the costs for these pictures was not that much. It was just really smooth operation, and I had the right directors, production managers, and just overall people in general all of the time.”
And does he have a film in the series other than the original that’s his personal favorite?; “I do have a favorite other than the first, and it’s because it was under great difficulties making it, and that was the last one in Russia. I made a number of films in the Soviet Union, and then I decided to bring Police Academy there for Mission to Moscow, and Warner Bros. said they wouldn’t finance it. But eventually they agreed, and then we went over, and it was then they had the counter revolution in the middle of the picture (Laughs). But we managed to complete it, and it’s really a silly movie that a lot of people seem to enjoy.”
I also asked a little about his background and how he got into filmmaking. He informed me; “I went to one year of law school at NYU, and I have to admit it wasn’t my calling, so we decided it would be best to part company (Laughs). But I met some terrific people at that time, and up until even quite recently they remained friends of mine, but sadly most have passed on. But I did go to an extraordinary undergraduate school, Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, before I went to Kansas City University after I got out of the military. But I was a C student at best, because I had so many other interests, especially music, and played jazz trumpet.”
He continued; “Once I left school, I decided to play music in Paris, and I was successful at that. I eventually met a young Danish film student, Benny Corsone, who was studying in film school at the time. He had to make a documentary film for his class, and he asked me to produce it. The film won a modest prize at Cannes, and in any event, a producer by the name of Charlie Schneer, was working on a film called Jason and the Argonauts, and had seen my film, and called and asked me to interview…and from there I became his assistant and we shot it in Italy. And that was really my baptism by fire and start in serious filmmaking. And eventually I decided to produce myself, and made a picture in Rome with Christopher Lee called Castle ofthe Living Dead with a guy named Warren Kiefer.”
But the whole reason for my conversation with Maslansky in the first place was thanks to recent interviewee and Ski Patrol star Roger Rose, who told me of their plans to remake the film. Maslansky filled me in a bit more; “Roger came to me a couple of months ago and said there were some people really interested in getting Ski Patrol going again, and I said, ‘Why not?’ So now we’re in the process of trying to get MGM, which we discovered wound up with the underline rights to the film. It’s gone through a couple of different hands over the years, and MGM is in the process of being taken over by a different group, so it’s been difficult to get to the right people there at the moment. But I have a feeling that ultimately, we’ll be able to pursue it properly. And we’ve also got the interest in of group called the Workaholics; it was one of their favorite films, and they would very much like to do that.”
He then gave me some background on how the original film came to be; “One of my neighbors at the time, Wink Roberts, was a stuntman and a damn good skier, and said, ‘Let’s make a movie called Ski Patrol,’ and the next thing you know, we’re making the movie (Laughs). It helped at that time that the Police Academy films were a great success, so it was easy to produce another gang comedy. And that’s really the genesis of it all. And then Roger came to me about doing it again with the Workaholics guys, and they were so enthusiastic about doing it that I said, ‘Let’s proceed!’ But I think nearly any ski resort in the country would be happy to have us film there right now, because I think unfortunately there’s been a bit of a decline in the sport recently, certainly because of Covid.”
And when asked if Rose will show up in the new film or not, he assured me; “Oh yeah, I very much want Roger to appear in it, and maybe get some of the older guys from the original film to make appearances, too. A lot of them are still around, but it’s different with Police Academy, every year we seem to lose more. We just lost a wonderful guy, Art Metrano (Captain Mauser from the second and third installments, who passed away earlier this month on September 8 at age 84), who lived down there in Florida. We’ve lost so many more of them, including Bubba Smith, George Gaynes, Marion Ramsey, David Graf, and said directors Hugh Wilson and Jerry Paris.”
I asked Maslansky to tell me a little about Metrano, with which I’ll end on; “Art was a tough Brooklyn guy, and had one of the quickest wits, but also had a wonderful comedy act. He was a religious man, and a damn good father. We were buddies and used to hang out, and he was as brave a man that you could find after his horrific accident that paralyzed him in the late ’80s. But through it all, his sense of humor was infectious, and he used it to make people laugh during the many months he spent in that hospital ward. It was remarkable the amount of good cheer there was as a result of Art’s presence. And working together with Lance Kinsey in the two Police Academy films he did, they were just a terrific pair. I sure will miss him.”
Roger Rose is one of those celebrities you’ve just got to love; although he may not be as big of a “name” as such leading stars as say, Steven Segal or even the late John Ritter, he’s got his fair share of stories with the likes of both of them (and many more) from more than four decades of crossing paths and working in the “biz” with them. During a recent phone conversation with Roger, I was able to hear firsthand accounts from many of his encounters over the years, often resulting in uncontrollable, side-splitting laughter (did I mention he’s also extremely quick-witted?), making for one of the most hilarious – yet still enlightening – professional interviews I’ve ever conducted.
Right off the bat, Rose helped give some insight on both how he got started, and what he’s up to now; “I got real lucky! My parents were both broadcasters; my mom was on NPR, and my dad was a radio talk show host in L.A. and San Francisco. So I grew up around voice over, and I’m the voice of a bunch of TV stations around the country (Rose himself has lent his voice to everything from Scooby-Doo to Tiny Toon Adventures). I’m lucky enough to do some work for CBS network and things of that sort. And then I’m also producing a couple of things right now. There’s a couple of movies I’m actually working on too with the guy who made Police Academy and Ski Patrol, Paul Maslansky. He’s 87, and has so many stories about all these movies he’s done over the years. He’s just the best!”
Rose’s first on-screen role came in a 1981 episode of the Sci-Fi show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Regarding the experience he told me; “That was my very first SAG job, and I auditioned for the role and got booked, then had to run and give them my membership money because I lied that I was a even member! (Laughs). But the best part about that whole experience was, we shot during Christmas week. I had to cry in my ‘big scene,’ and there were special effects and all that, and they saved everything for the last day of shooting, which was December 24. And on a set, there’s a crew of maybe 150 to 200 people, and they all want to go home because it’s Christmas Eve, and it all comes down to me. My first professional television experience, and everybody is hating me. I could’ve basically not even said my lines and they probably would’ve said, ‘Great, print it, let’s go!’ (Laughs).”
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Rose appeared on a number of other notable TV shows, including Knight Rider,Mr.Belvedere, Married…with Children, and Seinfeld. I asked if he would briefly shed some light on what it was like to be a part of all these shows as well, and he explained; “You know, it’s funny. CNN recently did that show, History of the Sitcom, and now I know I’m old because I’ve been on half of those shows (laughs). The one that you don’t know that I’m on that’s probably more historical though is Three’s Company. They were shooting the intro for it, and someone came up to me and said, ‘Hey kid, want to make a grand?!’ And then I’m suddenly in the opening credits. I was the guy dressed as a woman when Richard Kline jumps on the bumper car, not realizing I was actually a guy! I was lucky enough to be on a couple of huge shows, but I have to say that John Ritter, far and away, was the nicest, most professional and wonderful guy I’ve ever worked with in the business, period.”
He continued; “When I guested on Mr. Belvedere, he (the late Christopher Hewett) actually gave me a Saint Christopher’s medal, which was really nice and I was very honored, and still have it to this day. And Bob Uecker was of course great. I also did an episode of Too Close for Comfort with Ted Knight, and the thing about Uecker and Knight was, by that time I was already doing stand up, and someone told them I did impressions of them. And they both basically said the same thing along the lines of, ‘I hear you do impressions of me,’ and then they would each try to do their own impressions. I remember Knight doing Clint Eastwood, and you just had to laugh! Both very nice guys though!” Going back to Married…with Children, he stated; “I was really lucky on that. I did two episodes, and then the last two seasons I did most of the voice work on that show, too. But those people on that show knew they had it good, and they could not be nicer and more excited about being there. Ted McGinley (who played Jefferson) and I were hanging out on the set maybe the year before its final season, and said to me, ‘I’m the luckiest guy in show business!,’ and then they cancelled the show (Laughs).”
He digressed again; “And Seinfeld? Everything you’ve heard or read is true. I was lucky enough to have already met Jerry through my VH1 show, and then a couple of other times after that. I played the George character initially, and they cut a lot of my stuff out because I ad-libbed like crazy at the audition. Anyway, when they hired me they basically said, ‘Just do what you did at the audition.’ And then I realized, what makes these people so great is they actually hire you for you. And it was so great to do, just so much fun. Oh, and Knight Rider I don’t really have a great story about doing it, but I have come across Hoff (David Hasseloff) a couple of times since over the years, and he is exactly what you think he is; just a very nice guy! I actually tested for Baywatch after it went from NBC to syndication, which no shows did at the time! I tested for the role of like, Joey the stand up comedian lifeguard, and Hoff was there at my final audition. One of the things I had to do was a scene from the TV movie Norma Jean, which was about Marilyn Monroe. During my last line – and this was to show I could do drama, mind you – Hoff stands up and just starts signing (the lyrics to the Elton John song), “Goodbye Norma Jean!” And the producers are looking around like, ‘Just let him go with it!’ (Laughs). So then they offered me the job, and my manager at the time convinced me to turn it down, which I did. And the rest is history (Laughs).”
He then offered some unexpected insight on another show; “But I’ll tell you one that was terrible, which was Gimme a Break! with Nell Carter. They hired me, and told me they were probably going to fire me by the end of the week, because they fired everyone on that show! But I was trying to talk to other people on the show, and they wouldn’t talk to me because they were all terrified. She (Carter) was nice to me, but we were in the middle of camera blocking rehearsal, and the assistant director suddenly screams, ‘hit the deck!,’ and everybody, cast and crew, just hit the floor, and she starts throwing props and screaming! And then she walks off, and some guy goes, ‘Okay, lunch!’ (Laughs). And I didn’t make it to they end of the week, just like they told me. That one was actually devastating, and really upset me.”
Another role Rose will forever be remembered for was Steven in 1986’s Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. As previously discussed in our recent retrospective piece on the film, Roger recalled some of his experiences on the set; “The movie had already been shot, and the phone rings and it’s Paramount calling (Director) Tom McLoughlin, saying there weren’t enough deaths in the film and they needed more, so they were going to go back and kill two more people. Tommy hangs up the phone and says, ‘I always wanted to do this…kid, I want you in my movie!’ And that weekend we shot my scenes. I said to Tommy, “Man I’d love to die brutally on film, that’s something I’ve always wanted to do (Laughs)!”
He then filled me in on how his time as a VH1 VJ came about; “I had a screen test to be a VJ at either MTV or VH1, and I told a much more elaborate story of my audition for Friday the 13th, and that’s what got me the job. About a year after I got the gig, the guy running MTV and VH1 at the time came up to me and said, ‘You know, you were going to be on MTV, but I’m the one who said ‘No.’ And when I asked him why, he said, ‘You wore a sports coat, and no one’s gonna want to eff a guy in a sports coat.’ (Laughs). It was one of the best experiences of my career though.”
Working on VH1 for over two years in the ’80s no doubt awarded Roger with many stories of celebrity encounters, including a three-parter with action superstar Steven Segal. He told me; “He came on my show with his then-wife Kelly LeBrock, and I told her how she was my “free pass” from my wife, and she loved that! So then we took all of these suggestive Polaroids, which Segal loved too – they were both characters! But needless to say, my wife was not pleased (Laughs).”
He continued his story; “So then I’m on some back lot of Warner Bros., having just gotten Ski Patrol – and I hadn’t seen Segal in a couple of years since he was on my show – and I hear him calling my name. He brings me over to some table and he’s with all these women and says to them, ‘You know what I like about this guy?’ And then he looks at me and goes, ‘You popped a chick and had a stain on your pants right before you interviewed me, and I respect that about you.’ My response was of course, ‘Listen dude, I know me, and that was probably just cream cheese from a bagel I was eating at the time!’ (Laughs). And another year or two after that, I did another thing with all these cameos with major movie stars in it, and one of them was Segal. He’s standing there next to the food table, and I say to him, ‘Look man, I don’t know if you remember me,’ and he interrupts me and says, ‘You know, it’s funny, people think I have a really bad memory…but I remember you all the way down to the stain on your pants.’ (Laughs).”
While the previous story might have been enough to end things on, I had to dig a little deeper about his most well-known leading role in the previously mentioned Ski Patrol. He said, “It was three months filming in Alta Park City, and I got to work with the likes of George Lopez (in his first film role) and Leslie Jordan, so how bad could it be? (Laughs). But what’s the weirdest thing that’s happened – and I never thought it really had any hold on anybody (except maybe my mom), because it had been around for awhile – but I was doing the NHL awards a couple of years back, and Anders Holm from Workaholics (another show Rose has guested on) was there, and when he saw me he said, ‘Ski Patrol! You altered my life.'” With praise as high as that, it’s hard to argue with a legacy as vast and influential as Rose’s.
And as far as those ‘projects’ he alluded to co-producing with Paul Maslansky earlier on? He did let me in on one of them; “I can tell you that one of those films will be a remake of Ski Patrol, which I’m very excited about, because I’ll be producing it with Paul!”
There’s no doubt been a resurgence of interest in The Karate Kid franchise ever since the characters were brought back to the screen in 2018 for the hit sequel series, Cobra Kai. Actor Sean Kanan is no stranger to the Karate Kid universe, portraying Cobra Kai member Mike Barnes, who to date remains the final member of the revered dojo to officially take on Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) in a match in 1989’s The Karate Kid Part III. Today, Kanan is not only still acting, he’s also an accomplished writer, having recently published his latest book, Way of the COBRA, last month. In a recent phone conversation, I was able to speak to him regarding highlights from earlier in his career, up to his latest published work.
But before he ever donned the famous Cobra Kai Gi outfit, Kanan had already trained in martial arts, and was one of only a handful of actors to have actually studied karate before being cast in one of the films. So one of the first things I wanted to ask him was what it was like to get into karate around the young age of thirteen. He explained; “You know, it really had a profound effect on me. I was kind of this undisciplined kid, and I definitely needed some discipline. Martial arts gave me confidence, and taught me humility and respect, and how to deal with people empathetically. It really had a significant impact on my life.”
He continued; “My martial arts school was eventually transformed into a larger organization, and at the head of that was a man named Master Fumio Demura, and he was actually Pat Morita’s stunt double. And when I came back later to finish my degree at UCLA and pursue acting, he told me they were going to be hiring the new ‘bad guy’ for the latest Karate Kid movie, and that I should try to audition. Long story short, I went to an open call with about two thousand people, and John Avildsen – who had directed the first two films as well – plucked me out of the line. I eventually went in and did a screen test with Ralph Macchio, and got the role. And that significantly changed the trajectory of my life.”
I also had to ask whether or not he had been a fan of the first two films prior to landing the role of Barnes in The Karate Kid Part III. He informed me; “Oh, yeah! I was the guy who paid for his ticket and sat in the theater like everybody else. And to suddenly be on the lot at Columbia Pictures staring in the third one was surreal, and just an incredible experience!”
Few may recall, but Kanan’s first film role had actually been in a low budget horror film the year prior to appearing in The Karate Kid Part III. I asked how he felt looking back on that experience, and he told me; “I did a horrendous horror movie called Hide and Go Shriek! Every actor’s got a couple of those in the wood pile, I suppose. But you know, I got to cut my teeth a little bit.”
Going back to his time filming TheKarate Kid Part III, I wanted to know what it was like working with the previously mentioned, legendary late actor Pat Morita. He informed me; “Before I ever learned about The Karate Kid films, he was Arnold who ran the diner in Happy Days to me. He was great…very kind, very funny. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a chance to see the documentary about him, but he also had a lot of adversity in his life. For example, he had a crippling disability when he was young, and he also struggled with alcoholism, too. So he was kind of a complex guy.”
Kanan is also not oblivious to the fact that the third Karate Kid film will no doubt remain the least favorite entry of the original series to some. He stated; “Well, first of all, I think a lot of people feel the third one should have been the second one, and vice versa. You know, there’s a lot of issues with the third one. For one, Martin Kove I believe was supposed to be the only main bad guy in it, but he ended up doing a TV series, which minimized the days I guess he was able to shoot. And if I’m not mistaken, that’s when they decided they needed to bring in another bad guy, and created the role of Terry Silver (played by Thomas Ian Griffith). And then for some reason, the female lead played by Robyn Lively, didn’t have a romantic relationship between her character Jessica and Daniel. And then Jessica just kind of leaves like halfway through the film, which was kind of weird. So there were some issues for sure.”
After The Karate Kid Part III, Kanan kicked off the following year with some notable TV work, including a brief stint on the short-lived series The Outsiders, as well as an appearance on the hit show Who’s the Boss? I was curious what each experience was like for him, and he informed me; “As far as The Outsiders, there was a lot of bad behavior that went on on that set (and I’m proud to say I wasn’t involved in any of it), and the network just pulled the plug on it. In retrospect, the show seemed to really be cursed; two of the actors committed suicide, then another one died tragically early. But I grew up on the book by S.E. Hinton, so to be able to portray a character from something like that was incredible for me. And then you know, Ralph Macchio ironically had starred in the earlier film, so him and I have really had some weird intersections in our careers (laughs). And as far as Who’s the Boss? goes, it was a huge show when I did it. It was great working with Tony Danza, he’s a great guy. I’ve had the fortune of seeing him over the years, and I’m such a huge fan of his. It was a great experience.”
Kanan then went on to star in numerous soap operas over the years, including such popular hits as General Hospital, TheYoung and the Restless, and The Bold and the Beautiful. I asked him which one was his personal favorite to appear on, and he explained; “I would say The Bold and the Beautiful, because I was able to originate a character that no one else had played. Then I was able to crossover and play the same character on The Young and the Restless. At one point I think the show was syndicated in almost one hundred countries, so it gave me sort of an international presence, which opened up a lot of opportunities for me.”
Regarding his new book, Way of the COBRA, he said; “Way of the COBRA is set up with the structure that you are a student of my dojo – the dojo of cobra life – and I’m the sensei. And ‘cobra’ is an acronym formed from the words character, optimization, balance, respect, and abundance. And a ‘cobra’ is really somebody who is living their best, most authentic life. Somebody that has unleashed their inner bad ass, which everybody has inside; it might have gotten lost, or yet to be discovered, but everybody has one. And in the book I say, I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news, and let’s do the bad news first; I don’t have this magic silver bullet that’s going to turn you into this incredibly successful individual. But here’s the good news – it was already there. Everything you need to achieve that is already within you, you just have to learn to get in touch with it and let it out.”
He continued; “The genesis of the book was about three years ago. I found myself at a place where I had some pretty significant success, and some epic failures. And I was looking in the mirror and thinking to myself, ‘Okay, what’s next?’ I was thirty-five pounds overweight, I didn’t have any prospects for acting work, and I realized I needed to do some things very differently, very fast. And I decided rather than wait for my ship to come in, I was going to build the damn ship, but I just had to figure out how I was going to do that. And I started doing things very differently, and in that year, I co-authored my second book, Success Factor X, which became an Amazon books bestseller. And I created a show called Studio City, which is on Amazon Prime and was nominated for eight Emmy’s, and one won (and was recently just nominated for two more). And I say this not as a way of impressing people, but impressing upon them, what can be done when you follow some of the strategies that I discuss in Wayofthe COBRA.”
As far as his thoughts go on the Cobra Kai series, he states; “Oh, I think it’s terrific. I think these guys really did a bang-up job, and I think it’s great they’re introducing it to a completely new generation of kids, a lot of whom have gone back and watched the original films after seeing the show. I’m completely humbled that all these years later this role I played so long ago seems to still have some relevance for so many people, and it’s great.” And when it comes to whether or not we’ll see Kanan reprise his role of Mike Barnes on the next season of Cobra Kai? He simply replied; “Ah-ha, I can neither confirm nor deny, my friend!”
However, Kanan definitely could confirm that he had just completed shooting two different films with Bruce Willis, produced by Emmet Furla and directed by James Cullen Bressacks, that you will be able to catch him in in the very near future!