RANDOM PIC OF THE WEEK
While not entirely random, this is a photo I’ve been longing to see for a VERY long time!
Even though I had the entire Olivia Newton-John catalog running through my mind all week in anticipation of seeing her in concert at the Flamingo in Las Vegas on August 13th, my favorite song of the night turned out to be a tune I had never heard before. Shortly after she beat cancer, Olivia released an album of meditative songs that she wrote with a friend of hers named Amy Sky. Her performance of the song “Grace and Gratitude” ensured that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Listen to it here, and see what I mean.
Monday the 8th – FUNDAY MONDAY! – After stuffing my new replica Animal Muppet in a protective bag, I sped off to see my friend Kyle Killips at the Plastic Depot in Burbank. He’s made all sorts of custom racks and cases for different displays in Planet Wallywood, and I wanted him to make one for Animal. But I had very specific requirements in mind, so I figured he would need to see the actual piece, instead of simply viewing some scrawled plans and measurements on a piece of paper. I was right too. He LOVED Animal and got right down to measuring him and planning the display stand. While I was there I picked up the plastic display piece I had him make for my newly acquired “Goldfinger” Fort Knox gold brick prop. As always, he did an amazing job and it’ll make the perfect display piece. On the way back home I stopped at KFC to get lunch, got my mail at my mailbox and then headed home to do some work. I swept out the garage, swept the patio, checked mail, checked e-mail, and then caught a quick nap. Later my assistant Sara and I went out to DuPar’s to get some dinner. I was in the mood for breakfast-for-dinner! When I got home I did my auditions and typed out Wally’s Week. Then I got ready to retire for the day by making some soup and watching an episode of “Barnaby Jones” on DVD. I’m really loving this show! Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett from “The Beverly Hillbillies) played a private detective who came out of retirement after the murder of his son. I’ve always loved this show, and it co-stars my pal Lee Meriwether! I remember watching this show as a kid a lot, but I never picked up on all the “inside” jokes that are rife throughout the show! For example…in one episode Barnaby visits a cabaret comic he knows to get some information. He walks into a showroom as the comic is rehearsing; doing a little soft-shoe dance. After he’s done dancing he looks at Barnaby and says, “I betcha wish you could do that huh? Eat your heart out!” The inside joke is…Buddy Ebsen was an excellent dancer and singer, and was cast as the original Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz.” But he had to pull out of the film because he was allergic to the silver make-up he had to wear. Secondly, Barnaby rented a bloodhound to go out into the desert to try and find the body of a woman who was buried there. When the bloodhound was brought out to him, he bent down, pet the dog and said, “We’re gonna get along just fine!” (An obvious reference to the bloodhound he used to have on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”) Then once he gets to the desert, the bad guy flies over him in a helicopter and attempts to shoot him. But Barnaby brought a shotgun with him and is shooting back. So there’s Buddy Ebsen, with a shotgun and a bloodhound again, just like in the opening credits of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Obvious references to Buddy Ebsen’s illustrious entertainment past. I love catching those!
Tuesday the 9th – BACK TO THE FUTURE! – Shortly after getting up at noon, I sped off to Voice-Over L.A. to do a demo session as George Jetson and Astro. I had done the voices of George and Astro in the old “Harvey Birdman” episode, so it was fun to dust off those voices again, and go back to those futuristic characters. When I got back home I did a “directed audition” over the phone. That’s when a client calls you and has you audition a piece of copy, but they’re listening in on the phone and directing you. When you’re done you close up the files and send them off to the director. I did some work on-line, did some writing, and then my friend Bob Mitsch came over to pick up a few items I had for him. He and some friends got a really nice two page spread in a recent Time Magazine salute to “Star Trek.” So I grabbed him a few copies. We chatted for a while and then I grabbed a short nap. When I got up I took care of my nightly auditions. I recorded them in my home studio and e-mailed them to my agents. After I finished I opened my windows to let some cool night air into Planet Wallywood. As I sat on the computer working, I heard an owl outside my window hooting. It was great. When I took Roxy out for our late-night stroll through the neighborhood, we tried to find where the owl was. But as we got closer the owl stopped hooting. Too bad. It sure was pretty to hear in a cool, quiet night. There was a thick cloud cover forming in the sky, and I knew I was about to enjoy another wonderful “Blue Morning.” (See last week’s Wally’s Week!) I made some soup and watched more “Barnaby Jones.”
Wednesday the 10th – GET THESE *@$(%&# SNAKES OUT OF THIS RESTAURANT! – Even though I got up at noon to meet with my friend Sergio, he was running late. But I had to take off by 1:00 to make a lunch meeting at Paty’s with my old pal Ken Dennis. Ken co-produced my pilots “Uncle Davver’s Really Scary Movie Show” and “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and he used to be the Supervising Producer on “Family Guy.” I’ve known Ken for decades! While we were eating at Paty’s, we noticed that Samuel L. Jackson was eating two booths away from us. Though most people don’t bother celebrities in L.A., there were a few people who were coming up to him to say hi. He was being very nice and engaging. He seemed like a very nice guy! Cool! I saw Nick Fury in person! After lunch I sped off to a call-back audition at Warner Brothers for a new videogame. A call-back audition is a “second look.” I auditioned several characters for this game in my home studio and submitted them. They picked a few of the characters they liked and had me come in so they could direct me in person. It was great seeing all the gang at the WB. I called my friend James, who works at Warner, and he got a golf cart so we could drive around the lot and do some shopping. When I finished I dropped off some artwork at Fast Signs. It was for a new sign I’ll display in Planet Wallywood next to my “Goldfinger” Fort Knox gold brick prop. I went to the comic book store next door and bought a few comics. I stopped at Ralph’s to get a new bag of dog food for Roxy. It’s one of the few places that carry Burt Ward’s “Gentle Giants” dog food. Roxy seems to really like it! I got home and fed and walked Roxy and then relaxed. Later I took a “black light” nap; a nap in my room with only my black light illuminated. It really creates a nice napping environment, and as we all know…black lights matter. I got up later and did a ton of auditions. Then I called my friend Joemel at Denny’s to order some food to go. I picked it up, came back home, and walked Roxy on our late-night stroll through the neighborhood. It was a nice, cool, quiet night; the perfect night for a Monte Cristo cigar I bought Monday night. A nice, quiet walk with my faithful dog at 3am, enjoying the cool air with a nice cigar, and then diving into some yummy Denny’s food later with an episode of “Barnaby Jones.” Does life get any better?
Thursday the 11th – 2 ½ SHOOTING STARS! – Shortly after I woke up, I had two auditions to record in my home studio and e-mail to my agents. My friend Larry Torro came over to show me some of his sculpture work. He’s an amazing sculptor and has created some unbelievably lifelike silicone masks. He showed me the Daniel Craig, Mark Wahlberg, Norman Reedus, Brad Pitt, and Harrison Ford he created. Amazing stuff. He had recently done a Jack Lord from the old “Hawaii Five-O” series. I was interested in buying a copy in latex for a display mannequin. I own one of Jack’s costumes from the show, but the mannequin it’s on is currently headless. But not for long. Stay tuned. After Larry left I got busy doing some scanning of some checks for a few bank deposits. It was a nice day so I hopped on my bicycle and headed to the bank to make the deposits. Then I biked over to CVS to get a prescription, and then I biked all the way over to my vitamin store to get a bunch of vitamins and supplements. I got back home to relax, do some work, and shower. My friend Jasmine came over on her way to work to say hi. When she left I did a few auditions, and then met up with Sara at Jerry’s Famous Deli to get dinner. When I got back home I napped for a bit on the couch, and then got up to pack for my upcoming (albeit short) Las Vegas trip. A group of us got VIP tickets to the Olivia Newton-John show at the Flamingo, and it included having her sign an item after the show at the Meet ‘N’ Greet. I’ve had the “Grease” soundtrack LP since I was 16 and living in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Over the years I’ve had the cover signed by various cast members as I’ve had the occasion to meet them. I even got John Travolta to sign it when he was a guest on “The Tonight Show” back in 2013! And now I was to have Sandy herself add her signature! But carrying a flimsy album cover on an airplane would take some specific planning. I went to my garage, pulled out a sturdy little box, and created a perfectly sized carrying case. I walked Roxy on our late-night stroll through the neighborhood, and remembered that we were supposed to be having a meteor shower that night. Unfortunately we don’t usually get to enjoy them because L.A. is so light polluted. But out of the corner of my eye as we walked, I saw a bright spot in the sky. I just missed seeing a shooting star! So as we continued to stroll I kept my eyes focused on the sky. I saw two more shooting stars; one REALLY bright! They were gorgeous. I came back inside, packed my luggage, ate a little something, and hit the hay.
Friday the 12th – VIVA LAS VEGAS! – My flight for Las Vegas wasn’t leaving until 9:30 that night, so I had all day to do some last-minute things. But the first order of the day was to get over to Universal Studios to do some ADR (additional dialogue recording) for “The Gilmore Girls.” This job is one of those we call in the industry a “Gimme.” As in, they won’t make me audition, they’ll just “gimme” the job. My old pal Dave Rygalski (former writer on “The Tonight Show”) suggested to his wife (who is the ADR director on “The Gilmore Girls”) that she call me for the job. She needed a VO artist but didn’t have time to do auditions. My old pal Dan Palladino from “Family Guy” is also working on the show, so it was good to see him! It was a really fun session and we all laughed a lot! I got back home just in time to let my maids in to clean the house. While they worked I biked over to Subway to get a tuna on white. Then I rode over to Studiopolis to pick up a few checks. After they left I napped on the couch for a few hours. I knew it was going to be a very long night. Sara came over around 7 to begin her housesitting duties, and at 7:30 my friend Brittney Powell came over so we could head to the airport. Our flight was leaving at 9:30, but we got there around 8:15 to check in. It’s a very short 45 minute flight to Vegas wheels up to wheels down. So you barely get up to cruising altitude before you have to come back down again. When we landed we could definitely tell we were in Las Vegas. It was very hot, even at 10:30 at night. Las Vegas works like a well-oiled machine. We went to the curb to get a taxi, and it’s all organized very well. Even though the line for taxis was long, we didn’t actually have to wait that long. We checked into the Flamingo and met up with our friends Mark, James and Connie. My room was on the 21st floor with a GREAT view! Gorgeous! We dropped off the luggage and headed to the Hash House-A-Go-Go to eat a late dinner. I came back to the room, unpacked, and hit the hay!
Saturday the 13th – OMG IT’S ONJ! – We were picked up at 11am by the MGV shuttle outside the hotel. MGV stands for Machine Gun Vegas, and we were on our way to go shoot fully automatic machine guns! Mark, James, Brittney and I all decided on a 3-gun package, and we all picked the same guns. Our first one was a semi-automatic ACR. I loved the sights on it and I shot very well with it. The second one was an MP5, which was fully automatic. As “cool” as machine guns are, they’re fairly difficult to shoot. Once they start churning through the magazine, it’s easy to lose sight of your target. It drifts quite a bit, and rides up a lot. The third gun was an Uzi. Let me assure you…the Uzi ain’t Ezi! I’m not sure I hit anything! I didn’t like the sights on it at all. The rear sight is a piece of metal with a little tiny peephole through it. Then the front sight is confusing as well. But it was sure fun to shoot, though I wasn’t very accurate. But it was all about the experience with good friends. Strangely enough, Brittney the actress shot way better than the men in our group! Our range master was a gal named Shy, and she was terrific. Top notch reviews for the job she did! The MGV shuttle dropped us back at our hotel so we could meet up with Mark’s girlfriend Connie and James’ wife Cynthia. Then we took a short walk over to the Mirage hotel to eat lunch at the Carnegie Deli. After that everybody had their own plans; shopping, shaving, napping, etc. I walked back to the Flamingo to grab a nice afternoon nap before the Olivia Newton-John show. I got up around 6 for the show and got ready. James, Mark and I had special t-shirts printed up for the event. It featured the “Xanadu” logo (a movie Olivia Newton-John did back in 1978), but our specific twist was to add a few letters at the end. When we watched “Xanadu” on Blu Ray during a recent movie night, our pal Scott Sebring jokingly came up with the idea of an all-male “Xanadu” fan club called the “Xanadudes.” We loved it so much we decided to have t-shirts made up for the concert, especially since we’d be getting to meet ONJ after the show. We thought she’d get a laugh out of it. But earlier in the day Mark found out that t-shirts (along with tank tops and shorts) were not allowed at the theatre where she was performing under their dress code! Uh oh! So we got the box office on the phone and got special clearance to wear our custom shirts to the show. The last thing we wanted to do was to get kicked out a show we had come all this way to see! As we walked into the show the audience’s reaction to our Xanadudes t-shirts was great. We even posed for a few photos along the way! As we were waiting for the show to start we were talking to some very nice ladies at our table. One lady looked at me and said, “You seem very familiar to me.” She initially thought I was a wrestler. We toyed with her for a bit, until Mark brought up a shot from the Dell commercial, where I play an 80’s glam rocker. We had a good laugh about it, and technically based on the type of outfit I wore in the commercial, it did kind of resemble an outfit a wrestler would wear! So her mental image wasn’t that far off. When the curtain opened ONJ came out on stage and sang “Magic” from…you guessed it…”Xanadu!” We went nuts! She walked the stage, singing, waving to audience members and making eye contact with everyone. What a pro! In addition to the “Grease” soundtrack LP I brought along to have her autograph, I also brought along two 5 X 7 color postcards that I had received from her back in the early 70s after writing her a few fan letters. I thought she might enjoy seeing that a fan had kept them after all these years. The postcards are stamped with her signature; though I’m sure it was a pre-printed signature (seeing as how both signatures on the postcards were exactly the same). I decided to write down the names of all the songs she performed and create a set list for others to enjoy who weren’t at the show. You know, just so everybody could read about the songs she sang in the show. Though I did have two Sharpie markers with me, I didn’t have any paper. So I just decided to write the songs down on the back of the postcards. Then it hit me. When I received these in the mail as a 13 year old kid back in South Dakota, I never dreamed that someday I’d be sitting in the second row of her concert, writing down the set list on the backs of the cards. Too funny! It really DOES all come full circle! OK, here’s the set list if you’re interested…
ONJ set list 8/13/16 – Flamingo Hotel
Deeper Than the Night
Rock Medley: Make a Move on Me/A Little More Love/Twist of Fate
Have You Never Been Mellow
Country Medley: (Take Me Home) Country Roads/Please Mr. Please/Jolene/Let Me Be There
Don’t Cut Me Down
Not Gonna Give Into It
You’re The One That I Want
Hopelessly Devoted to You
We Go Together
Grace & Gratitude
I Honestly Love You
Her warm, wonderful personality carried the concert, and her back-up musicians were all top notch. Amazing show! Now you have to understand…when “Grease” came out in 1978 I literally saw it over a dozen times at the Capital Theatre on Main Street in Aberdeen. I took every friend I had to it, and a few of my friends I took twice. I think my friend Bob Japs and I must’ve seen it about 5 times at least! My favorite scene in the movie is when she sings “Hopelessly Devoted To You.” I think it’s beautifully photographed, stunningly performed and very moving. When she performed it in the concert, she did it absolutely flawlessly. So much so that I got rather emotional and watched her perform it through very “misty” eyes. But when she sang a song she wrote after beating cancer called “Grace and Gratitude”…then it was total waterworks! We all agreed that we were definitely coming back to see her again in a few months! When the show was over they came to get us for the Meet ‘N’ Greet backstage. We were all given a laminate to wear, a color photo to have her sign (even though I didn’t really need it since I had my “Grease” LP) and given a list of instructions. No video. No photos. No kissing Olivia. No hugging Olivia. No touching Olivia. Etc. etc. etc. We even had to sanitize our hands at a Purell station before going in. This was something I TOTALLY understood, being one who also uses their voice for their living! You don’t need to be shaking hands with somebody fighting a cold, and then get sick and cancel shows. I even sanitized the silver pen I wanted her to use to sign the “Grease” LP! When it was our time to meet her, I was the first up. I said, “Hi, I’m Wally and I’ve waited 40 years to meet you.” She opened her arms and gave me a hug. A HUG! WOW! As she hugged me I remembered the previous admonition…” no hugging Olivia!” But since it was her idea I guess it was OK. I told her my friends and I represented the Xanadudes, and showed off our t-shirts. But when she was handed my “Grease” LP she stood there for a second looking at all the signatures. She was amazed. I told her I even had John Travolta sign it from the time he was a guest on “The Tonight Show.” She said he’s a very hard one to get, and I told her since I worked on the show for four years I had the segment producer obtain it for me. When it came time to get a group show with all 3 Xanadudes, she was giggling. She thought it was very funny. And it was precisely the reaction we had hoped to get. In addition to getting a posed photo with ONJ, the photographer also took candid shots as we chatted. This was something I really liked! When it was all over we waited for the photos to be printed, and I bought each and every one of them! I even paid extra to download the high resolution images from the Meet ‘N’ Greet from their website! After dropping all our treasures off at the room, we all gathered to get pizza and do a post-mortem of the evening. James and Cynthia would be leaving Sunday afternoon, but Mark and Connie would be leaving Monday. The flight Brittney and I were on was set to leave at 8:15 sharp on Sunday morning. No use in hanging around longer than need be, I guess. I got back to the room, packed up, and got four hours of sleep. In fact, I left the hotel room windows open so I could fall asleep looking at all the amazing lights of the city. The rising sun coming in through the window at 6am woke me up. I showered, grabbed my luggage and headed downstairs to check out of the room.
Sunday the 14th – I.C. A. C.! – The cab picked us up at the Flamingo at 6:30 and we were at the airport checking in by 7. We got in and had a little time to kill before our flight left at 8:15, so since I was starving, we got breakfast at Wendy’s in the airport. We stepped up to the counter to order. A guy came forward from the back room and said to me, “Hey! You’re the guy from that commercial!” I said, “You mean the one where I go…YEAAAH!?” He said, “Yes! I LOVE that commercial! It’s very funny!” I thanked him and told him he made my day. I explained that I’m a Voice Over actor who normally never gets this kind of reaction. Excitedly, he ran back to the backroom and Brittney and I could hear him explaining to his co-workers who was standing at the counter. Then we heard him scream, “Yeaaaah!” like in the commercial. He was imitating me! That made me laugh, considering I’ve made a pretty decent career out of imitating others. It was a great flight back to Burbank. We were set to be back by 9:30, which meant that I could nap all day in my cool, air conditioned house, and get up in time for evening church. The weekend had all gone so well. But then I came home. When I walked into my house I noticed that Sara had the fan going. You don’t need to run a fan in my house because I always have it set to a cool 69 degrees. But Sara said the AC had stopped blowing cold air sometime Saturday afternoon. My house was almost 80 degrees! I’m not sure why she didn’t call me on Saturday to tell me this so we could arrange to get somebody out to fix it right away, but I was watching my comfy plans of having a cool nap go right down the drain. The first thing I needed to do was to get Brittney and Sara on their way to cut down on all the body heat in my house. Then I got out the yellow pages and started calling around to AC repair places. Some places couldn’t come out until Monday, or even Tuesday! But I needed it fixed immediately. When it comes to my AC, money’s no object! I called several places and got a place called Speedy to listen to my pleas. They said they could have a technician there by 1pm. It was now 10:20am; which meant that I had to continue to swelter for another 3 hours. Plus, right around noon, the sun would be at its hottest. And we were in the middle of another L.A. summer heatwave. YIKES! Then I remembered that I had a stand-alone AC unit down in the garage. I had bought it years ago when my old AC unit was on its last legs. But it’s super heavy. So, already drenched in sweat, I lugged the thing up from the garage to my second level (no easy task!). I set it up by my computer, put the duct attachment in my window, got a little drainage cup and put it under the drainage hose, and cranked her up! Blessed cool air started blowing almost immediately! I made sure that Roxy and Spooky were there with me sitting in front of the portable AC unit. While I waited for the AC repairman, I scanned some of the ONJ pics and put them up on my social media pages. I did a little writing on Wally’s Week, and caught up on e-mails. Pete from Speedy showed up a little earlier than expected, so I got him the key for the roof and he went up to take a look. I stayed in my house with my phone on so we could communicate. He said the good news was that my motor was fine. (AC motors are computerized and cost a few grand to replace!) But a capacitor on the motor had burned out. It happens. But the unit was completely frozen over, so it had to be defrosted. Well, the defrosting process involves shooting hot air through the unit to get rid of the ice. Of course all that hot air comes down through the ducts and into my house! Now all of the AC ducts were blowing hot air on us. Spook was getting agitated and started walking around meowing. I put him directly in front of the portable AC unit and told him to be cool. But he went down to the living room and found a nice spot in front of the fan. But within a half hour the amazing Pete had everything working again and we were back in business! The bill was substantial (including the large fee for the emergency call) but well worth it! I got a few hours’ worth of a cool nap, and then got up for evening church. It was still too hot out to take Roxy along, so I actually drove the short distance to church. After the service I took my “adopted grandma” Shirley out to Jersey Mike’s for a sandwich. She had never been there before and really enjoyed the turkey wrap on sun-dried tomato tortilla! Then I went home to catch up on some more “cool” sleep. I got up later to do a bunch of auditions, unpack my luggage, do some writing, download the ONJ Meet ‘N’ Greet photos from their website, and finish up some work on the computer. I fed and walked Roxy and then got ready for bed with the rest of my Jersey Mike’s sandwich and a “Barnaby Jones” episode. As I sat there decompressing and meditating in my “Tranquility Zone,” I reflected on what a great summer it’s been so far. Seeing Paul McCartney from the fourth row in Sioux Falls, celebrating my 55th birthday with my family in South Dakota, then again with my friends here in L.A. watching “Captain America: Civil War,” experiencing the whole “jury doody” thing, meeting Priscilla Presley and Eddie Money, going to Palm Springs with my sister and brother-in-law, getting a clean bill of health on my colonoscopy, working really great Voice Over jobs, and now meeting ONJ! What a super cool summer! I didn’t actually get to bed until around 10am Monday morning, but just before I turned in I checked my e-mail. A producer needed me for a quick 10 minute session, so in my pajamas I called him and we recorded it in my home studio with him directing me over the phone. You just gotta love this business!
And how was YOUR week??!!
PIX FROM THE WEEK
Here is some video.