They don't make 'em like this anymore

They don't make 'em like this anymore
Peter Mark Richman

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Peter Mark Richman - The Actor's Actor - Going Strong

A great Light has been circulating Hollywood for decades, shining bright upon countless audiences of the stage, big and small screens - and that Light is the actor named Peter Mark Richman.  A professional from the word go, Richman has been sharing his enormous and multifaceted talents with the world for over 50 years, with no sign of stopping.

Name any television program of any worth that ever aired, and Richman has appeared on it.  Measure any scene in any TV show, motion picture or play in which he has ever performed, and he's hit his mark with precision.  In fact, there are not enough numbers in the decimal system to properly calculate the number of times Richman has delivered the goods of his vocation.

On television alone his impact is astounding.  From his early TV days on anthology shows like The Amrstrong Circle Theatre, Alfred Hitchock PresentsThe Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, through the 1960s on his own classic series, Cain's Hundred, to action/adventure shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E., It Takes A Thief, through the 1970s on detective shows such as Longstreet, (on which he had a regular role), Baretta, Barnaby Jones, and Charlie's Angels, through the 1980s with Hart to Hart, Knight Rider, Dynasty, Star Trek: The Next Generation, on into the 1990s with Beverly Hills, 90210, and beyond.  Whether voicing God, or playing Suzanne Sommer's minister father on Three's Company ; whether voicing an animated Spider-Man, or confronting The Six Million Dollar Man live, Richman has done it all - with class, sophistication and elegance.

A few of his most cherished memories are from working on the anthology shows from the Golden Age of Television, such as Playhouse 90The United States Steel Hour, and The Philco Playhouse.  "They dealt with [fully-developed] stories, and characters," he says.  In those days, Richman lived in New York, and he would commute from the East to the West Coast whenever Hollywood beckoned.  "I would land in Hollywood, fly back to New York, and then once my plane landed, I'd receive a call to return to Hollywood, and it continued like that for years.  I was one of the migrating actors in the late 50s and 60s."

Eventually, Richman purchased a home in Woodland Hills, in which he and his lovely wife, actress Helen Richman, with whom he has raised five children, have remained "happily ensconced" ever since.

In fact, despite his over 500 TV appearances alone, what he remains most proud is his children, one of whom is the Grammy-award-winning music maestro Lucas Richman).  "I have terrific kids," he says.

And they clearly have a terrific father, who is a terrific actor, and a fine human being, untethered and unaffected by the glitter and glamour of Hollywood - which is one of the reasons why he's going strong.  It also clarifies one of the reasons why has Richman is so blessed...because of his solid sense of family...his strong sense of priority...his delightful sense of humor...and his caring heart...all of which continues to contribute to that shining, bright Light of his humanity - that frequently sparks on screen, and off.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Be Impressive with Your Talent!

Years ago when I taught acting in New York, I would always impress upon my students (of all ages) to impress me with their talent.

Certainly, I was not impressed with arrogant behavior, and self-centeredness in class, in general.  And I definitely was not impressed with profane language as a choice for dialogue or vulgar or violent imagery as a choice for any scene they would choose to perform.

Instead, I would say to them, "Impress me with your TALENT!"

"Anyone can use a curse word to express anger, hatred or a mistake," I would say.  "So, if your character is angry, display such anger with your TALENT!"

It was a simple rule; one of my simplest, actually.

And yet most of my students struggled with that rule.

But it's a significant creative choice; one, unfortunately, that is none too pervasive in today's TV and movie productions.

Violence, vulgarity, profanity and obscenities run wild on the big-screen and small.

It's disheartening; and yet so many creative artists believe it is the way to go.

It is one way to, that's for sure.

But not always the best way.

The best creative expression is never the easiest path.  And showcasing one's talent, as an actor or as writer, is most productively displayed by taking the road less traveled.

Common words have no frequent place in the creative field - or any field.

Certainly, a profane word here and there is acceptable within the boundaries of a particular character.  But the effect is lessened if such language appears in a script or on a screen with frequent regularity - which is the unfortunate case with most contemporary television and motion pictures.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In Tribute to Legendary Casting Director Marvin Paige

A memorial service for legendary casting director Marvin Paige was recently held at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

Marvin, who passed away on November 13, 2013, was one of the true believers in classic Hollywood, and cast everything from TV's groundbreaking Combat series in the 1960s to being responsible for having Elizabeth Taylor make her monumental appearance on General Hospital (on which he served as casting director from 1980 to 2006).

In fact, it was Marvin who cast me on General Hospital, which became my first professional acting job - a moment that clearly changed my life.

It was also Marvin who was there for me when my father passed away in 1995. 

I'll never forget it.  We dined at the old Hamburger Hamlet at the winding corner of Sunset in Beverly Hills.  In the midst of my grief, it was Marvin who encouraged me to continue my pursuits in the  industry because, as he said, "It's what your father would want you to do."

That's the type of guy Marvin was; no fair-weather friend was he.  Marvin was the real deal and it is no mystery why he leaves behind such a gaping hole in Hollywood, and why hundreds of colleagues and clients turned up at his memorial to pay their respects to someone who deserved it, ten-fold.

God bless you, Marvin - and thank you for every great Light you brought to Hollywood - and may YOUR star continue to shine in Heaven just as brightly as did - and still does - on Earth.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Would Anyone Hire Ricardo Montalban Today?

I recently caught an episode of the classic TV show, The Name of the Game, which originally aired on NBC from 1968 to 1971.  It was one of the more unique programs of its time.  The series was like an anthology show, but it wasn't.  There were three different main stars:  Robert Stack, Gene Barry and Tony Franciosa, each of whom had their own storyline, but yet all were connected by a Los Angeles publishing company.

The segment that I viewed featured Robert Stack as the editor of this one particular publication that was linked with the main organization.  The same episode also featured the multi-talented Ricardo Montalban in a guest-starring role.

As I'm watching the segment, I'm thinking, "Mmmm...there's the great Ricardo Montalban, years before he found fame on TV as the mysterious Mr. Roark on ABC's 70s/80s Saturday night hit Fantasy Island; and right around the time he was also guest-starring in his original incarnation as Kahn on the first Star Trek TV episode, 'Space Seed - decades before he reprised the role for the hit 1982 feature film, Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn."

While filming The Name of the Game and the original Star Trek, Montalban (who passed away in 2009) was approximately fortysomething. 

Years later, when he played Roark and returned to the role of Kahn he was in his late 50s and early 60s.

Each time, however, he was also Latino - and disabled, with one artificial leg.

Would such a man find work today on television or in a feature film?

Would any network or film studio hire a senior minority with a disability?

Most doubtfully - and most sadly, probably not.

In the early 2002, I had the great privilege of attending a special 20th Anniversary Paramount studio screening of The Wrath of Kahn, hosted by the film's genius director, Nicholas Meyer, and featuring a special guest appearance by Montalban who was, by then, in a wheel-chair.  But his increased disability did not detract from his amazing charisma and "A"-bility to connect with his multitude of admirers.

It was a wonderful moment in entertainment history; and a moment that will never be repeated again...on several levels.

So, here's to you, Ricardo - and the trailblazing performances that you set forth for decades with your diverse talents and charms - the likes of which Hollywood will mostly never see - or appreciate again.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Rudolph" Does It Again!

Anyone who reads this or any of my blogs or posts (at www.MediaBizbloggers.com or www.TVWriter.net) knows of my fondness for the classic TV Christmas special, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed-Reindeer."

I have written at length about its many wonderful moments and life-lessons, one of which, however, I have not yet addressed and will do so now:

Shortly after Rudolph arrives on the Island of Misfit Toys, with his friends, Yukon Cornelius (the arctic prospector) and Herbie/Hermie (the elf who wants to be a dentist), he believes he must venture out on his own to fulfill his destiny.  And he does so by breaking off a piece of land-ice, and using it as a drift-device to carry him on his way through the artic sea.

[I call his friend "Herbie/Hermie" because the name actually changes from the first half of the show to the second; it was a mishap in the production that has been documented by those associated with the special.  But for the sake of this post, I will from here on in refer to him as "Hermie."]

As Rudolph drifts across the frigid waters, he wistfully bids farewell to his dear friends, saying, "Goodbye, Cornelius.  I hope you find lots of tinsel.  Goodbye, Hermie.  Whatever a dentist is....I hope someday you will be...the greatest."

It is by far one of the most poignant moments in the entire special...and it says so much about Rudolph's touching and massive heart...leaving each of us, of course, with food for thought....especially what he says to Hermie:

Without understanding in the least anything about Hermie's intended profession, Rudolph only wants the best for his friend.  Not only does Rudolph want Hermie to succeed...to find his joy...to find his bliss...but he wants Hermie to be the BEST at what he aspires to be.

It's such an inspiring moment...and a telling lesson for us all:

To be happy for others...to wish only the best for our friends and family members...to send only good thoughts for increase and happiness of every kind.

What a true mark of integrity...what a true sign of well-wishing...what a true and joyous way to live.

Thank you, again, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," for your continued insight, all the magic you bring to television year after year - and for being the perfect representation of just how wonderful a medium television has the power to be.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Classic TV Preservation Society stands firm against bullying of any kind

A heart-breaking article about a bullied young-boy who killed himself was published in this morning's edition of The Los Angeles Times (which see link below).
 
Unfortunately, this is only one example of the horrific outcome of bullying.
 
As a child, and into my teens, I myself experienced bullying...usually by jealous, insecure, hurtful, mean-spirited and ignorant peers.
 
Thank Heaven, I had found the beyond-my-years inner-strength to the deal with a constant barrage of insults on what at times became a daily basis.
 
The young man in this article, and so many more young people like him - of all heritages, beliefs, cultures and creeds, was not as fortunate.
 
As the Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation, my nonprofit that seeks to close the gap between popular and education (and which is now in the process of formally receiving its 501(c)3 status), I pledge to work diligently to eliminate the conditions that have lead to the alarming increase of teen suicides that result from bullying.
 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Classic TV’s “Twilight Zone” Comes To Crazy-Good-Life On Stage in “Unscripted”

Upon viewing a few “live episodes” of “The Twilight Zone Unscripted,” the theatre-goer not only gets the eerie feeling they’ve actually stepped into (and are seated in front of) The Twilight Zone but that they’re also in on the joke – and it’s funny.  Make that “very funny!”

With its uniquely improvisational take on the genius classic TV series created by Rod Serling, “Unscripted,” presented by the renown Impro Theatre Acting Troup  (at Garry Marshall’s beautiful Falcon Theatre in Burbank), delivers in all areas.
The audience actually becomes unhinged on the edge of their seats not so much because no one (including the theatre-goers and the actors) knows not what’s to happen next – but because no one is sure the performers on stage will be able to pull it off.

But pull it off they do – beyond a shadow of a doubt – and with a lot of talent.
Day in day out, from September 6 to September 29th, the Impro’s eclectic troupe of thespians of every age (including co-directors Stephen Kearin and Jo McGinely) present one of the most unique combinative productions to the hit the live stage in years.  In keeping with the on-going interest in all things pop-culture, and classic television in particular -  and to paraphrase the opening thematic lines of another great TV classic (in the guise of Star Trek), “The Twilight Zone Unscripted” takes the audience where no audience has gone been before.  And they keep on doing it, in four different ways, every night.

Upon topic and plot suggestions made from the audience and welcomed by the cast, “The Twilight Zone Unscripted,” and its optimum performers work like a well-oiled machine on its first run.  Every night is opening night and the nervous energy that actors crave to deliver the goods finds its proper way into the very core of the performers.  Shining bright with clarity and obvious joy for their work the “Unscripted” members deliver the goods, one after the other.  Edi Patterson, Dan O’Connor, Ryan Smith, Michele Spears and Floyd VanBuskirk each sizzle in their own gifted way with the right amount of balanced creativity, energy, on-the-spot ingenuity and just plain charm that improvisational acting requires.   Add to that the combined cast’s personal affection for The Twilight Zone TV series and all that it’s become (since its original CBS run from 1959-1964), and the audience is guaranteed a once-in-a-life-time ride that, unlike the television show, will never be repeated again.  
Submitted with 100% approval: “The Twilight Zone Unscripted” is must-see TV - live - on stage!