Archive for February, 2011

February 21 – March 6 (2011)

I had forgotten how pretty this song was, until it came up on my i-Pod recently. Heart with “Dog and Butterfly.”

This past week a member of our web staff had a family emergency and was unable to update Wally’s Week. So now, for your perusal, here are TWO Wally’s Weeks in a row! Enjoy!

Monday the 21st – DRY RUN! – It’s President’s Day and it was a little preview of the vacation that was waiting just around the corner. “The Tonight Show” will be on hiatus the week of March 7th through the 11th, and today we had the day off for the holiday. It gave me the chance to get a lot done I didn’t get done during the week. Like have Sassie’s groomers come by and give her a bath and trim. Like having the carpet guys come over and clean up some spots in my carpet. Like have my Audio Visual guy come by and install a new remote control for the Planet Wallywood home theatre. The remote I had been using was something I got when I first moved in back in 2000. It had been running for 10 years and was a darn good remote! But it was time to retire it, since so many new, high tech models have come out since. Plus the light up touch screen on the old remote was getting dim and hard to read. This new remote is in color and is wonderful! My A/V guy Mark Ackerman always stays up on the latest technologies and offered this one up as an option. So far so good! That evening my pal Sergio came by to create a wig for a new mannequin I’m installing! I’ve known Sergio since the old days at Universal Studios Hollywood, when I was Beetlejuice and he was a costumer/wig designer there. It’s fun to sit around while he works and talk about the old days.

Tuesday the 22nd – BACK TO BIZ! – Well the holiday was over, and it felt like it never was really there. I was so busy with stuff around the house it just felt like another day. But oh well. In the morning I went over to Voice Trax West to put in another 3 hours for this new IVR project I’m working on. (IVR stands for interactive voice response) I can’t tell you exactly what it’s for, but it’s for an interactive voice that greets you and helps you place orders and get information on a MAJOR phone system. The technology in this field grows by leaps and bounds, and it’s gotten to be a lot more intricate than previous phone systems of this kind. I’ve never done a job like this before so I thought it would be a challenge, and a learning experience. It sure has been! It’s SO interesting. And in order to get all off the different components to match up and sound right, I really have to hear the previous voice files that I’ve recorded as music. I hear the “note” of the last thing I’ve said, and then come back speaking the new file in the same pitch or “note.” For example, the sentence will end up sounding something like this…”Hello, and thanks for calling Willy’s Widgets. I see that your order from January 26th, 2011 is almost ready. And will ship from Phoenix, Arizona to Charleston, North Carolina on February 1st, 2011. Would you like to do something else?” Now many of these components will have been recorded on different days, so it’s imperative that we have a consistent microphone set-up from day to day to achieve a perfect match. The company name, the dates, the locations, the order status, are all separate files. But when played together by the IVR computer should sound pretty seamless. I also have to make sure my voice hasn’t changed from day to day so the matches are perfect. I can’t do sessions where I yell and scream, because when I go in to record the IVR stuff, my voice will be huskier and raspier. This is really unlike anything I’ve done before, and the daily rituals have become very important. For example, I must always EAT something before I go in to record. Frequently, stomach gurgling and growling has shown up in the sound file. So I try to remember to take in some blueberry muffins to munch on. It’s tough, because I’m not a big morning eater. I don’t normally eat until the middle of the day. But I have to force myself to eat so my stomach doesn’t protest. I also have to make sure to have my Alkolol gargle ready. If I’ve had a bad allergy day the previous day, I may sound a little more “phlegmy” than usual. So I have to keep the gargle handy. I also like to have hot water, honey, and room temperature water handy. Like I said, it’s unlike any voice-over job I’ve done before because the matching is so important. It’s been great fun and a huge learning experience. After that I went to AAA to pick up my custom plates for my first Gran Torino. It takes about 90 days for them to come in, and the postcard in the mail said the plates had arrived! Finally! But when I got there…NO PLATES! Apparently the person I placed the order with on a Saturday in December, also works at another AAA office during the week. I guess he works at the Burbank AAA office on Saturdays for extra dough. Well, out of habit, he input the code for his regular AAA office that was several miles away, instead of the Burbank office where I placed the order. So the plates were in fact at the OTHER AAA office. I just shook my head, because this is a dumb move worthy of the DMV itself. But not something you’d expect of AAA. Oh well. They said they’d call and have them sent over and let me know when they were in. I guess you just can’t get good help these days. I went over to ‘The Tonight Show” to do the taping, and then stopped by Fast Frame in Toluca Lake to pick up my framed Loni Anderson signed poster. It’ll look nice next to my framed Farrah Fawcett poster. I had exact posters like these as a kid, but now they’re signed! Pretty neat! I took my signed Bridget Marquardt poster down from the space where it was hanging and moved her further upstairs. That way I can see her first thing in the morning when I open by door to head out. I put Loni where Bridget was, so she’d be by Farrah. As I was finishing that, my friend Edi and her son Josh came over to grab a bunch of boxes from my garage. They were moving so they needed boxes. And I needed to get rid of a bunch of boxes. One of the things I plan on doing over hiatus is to clean my garage. And most of it is getting rid of all the boxes I’ve accumulated over time through all the purchases I’ve made on eBay! From the outside it looks like I’m one of those hoarders on TV, but it’s actually just a bunch of empty boxes waiting to be cut down and taken away, or repurposed. I look forward to having more room in my garage because getting out of my car is sometimes “challenging!” After we got the boxes, Edi, Josh and I went to The Counter for hamburgers. We were joined by my pal Sara and Emily. GOOD EATIN’!

Wednesday the 23rd – YOU JUST CAN’T GET GOOD HELP THESE DAYS! – I had turned down an audition for this morning so I could meet up with the carpet guys who were going to come by and finish up the work on some carpet spots. I waited all morning and into the afternoon, only to get a call that they were running behind and wouldn’t be able to get to me until 3:30. Well, since I have to be at the Tonight Show by then, I told them we’d make it another day. Too bad I gave up that audition time. I stopped by my accountant’s office, gave him some more paperwork I had received in the mail for my taxes, paid the gal who tallies up all my receipts for the year, and headed out to “TTS.” When I got done, I went over to my pal Bruce Kulick’s house to rehearse the song we’d be performing in church that weekend. It’s Blind Faith’s “In the Presence of the Lord.” Bruce would be doing the Eric Clapton guitar parts, and I’d be doing the Steve Winwood singing. It was sounding great, and Bruce had worked very hard on it. And it’s not an easy song to learn since it changes tempos and styles several times throughout the piece. My friends Scott and Vickie Sebring were in the area so they stopped over for a bit. Then my friend Bonnie came over so we could go to dinner. I had an early session the next day, so I turned in early.

Thursday the 24th – THRILLING THURSDAY! – I was up early and headed to Warner Brothers in Burbank to do another session for a videogame I’d been working on. I can’t tell you which one, but I’m sure if you follow videogames you can probably guess. When I finished I had just enough time to get over to Voice Trax West to do more work on the IVR job for two hours. My assistant Sara was at my house waiting for the carpet guys to arrive to clean the spots. Since I wasn’t able to be home she would tell them what needed to be done. When the IVR job was done, I went over to “TTS” to do the taping. They needed me in a little earlier than usual to cut a voice bit for a comedy piece that would be airing that night. Whew! What a long day! But fulfilling! That evening I enjoyed the company of my pal Brittney for dinner.

Friday the 25th – WILD WEATHER-PART 1! – Another storm was moving in to Los Angeles, but because the temps would be really low, they were talking about snow over the weekend! SNOW! I went to Voice Trax West around noon to do the IVR session, then headed over to the Burbank AAA office to get my plates. It was taking a long time though and I was getting nervous that I wouldn’t be able to get to “TTS” on time. Luckily, I got my plates and got out of there. I got to “TTS” just in time! By now it was raining pretty good. After the taping I swung by Warner Brothers, where my pal James works. James is taking care of Torino 1 for me, so I wanted to drop off the new plates to him. I drove home in the rain and then had a nice nap by the fire listening to it pour. I got up later that night and did some stuff around the house that needed to be done.

Saturday the 26th – WHAT THE HAIL?! – I had lots of errands to do, so I didn’t waste any time doing them. I stopped by my mailbox, stopped over to my tailor’s, met up with my assistant Sara for lunch, and got some groceries. I love my tailor because he can make anything happen. Back when I was at Graceland in Memphis last October, I bought a wool and leather jacket with the Elvis In Concert logo on the front, and the TCB logo on the sleeve. When I saw Elvis in concert in Sioux Falls back in June of 1977, I met one of his trumpet players who was wearing a similar jacket. But because it was June, he had the lighter version made from satin. The one I bought was the winter version. I’ve always wanted one of those jackets, so I didn’t hesitate to pick one up in Memphis. But it seemed incomplete. It had a really cool logo on the front, and the TCB logo was cool, but there was absolutely nothing on the back of it. it looked like it was missing something. I had a black velvet bag that came with the silver TCB necklace I purchased. On the bag was Elvis’ signature embroidered in yellow. It looked great, but what would I ever use the bag for? Then I got an idea. I would have that signature cut out from the bag, and sewn on to the back of the jacket. My tailor knew just what I wanted and customized the jacket for me. NOW it looks complete! It is a fantastic jacket and I’m sad that I’m running out of days to be able to wear it, since it’s starting to warm up. Sara and I went to Panera for lunch, but because it was cold and rainy, EVERYBODY was there to get a hot sandwich and soup. There was no place to sit and I didn’t want to wait around for a table. So we went across the street to Art’s Deli, against my better judgment. I know Art’s has a loyal following, but I can honestly say I’ve never had an enjoyable meal there. The staff is fairly unfriendly, and the food is unremarkable. And I’m being VERY kind. It’s bland, tasteless and downright boring. But we were hungry and I figured I’d try something other than usual. I got a hot turkey sandwich. Big mistake. The turkey was VERY dry, and the gravy didn’t help much. It tasted almost sweet and didn’t give the turkey the “punch” it really needed. I ate a little bit and left the rest. I vowed to never go to Art’s Deli again no matter HOW busy Panera was. Sara took her remaining food to go and left it in my car while we were grocery shopping. When we got back to the car with the groceries, I opened the door. WHEW! It smelled really bad in there, like…you know. Somebody with a gas problem had been sitting in my car. We laughed because that just topped our horrible experience at Art’s Deli perfectly. Now we no longer call it Art’s Deli, but we now (childishly enough) refer to it as “Fart’s Smelly.” I know. Juvenile right? It was funny at the time though. I dropped Sara off and then headed home. As I was getting close to home, I noticed that the rain started to look strange. It wasn’t rain. IT WAS PEA-SIZED HAIL! Wow! I ran inside to get my camera and shoot some pictures and video of this rare phenomenon. That night we watched the 2004 Ben Stiller spoof of “Starsky & Hutch” on Blu Ray, followed by the new documentary “Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, Rebel.” It was a fascinating look inside the life of a man who literally changed the world! It’s a very well done doc and highly recommended!

Sunday the 27th – NO REST TODAY! – Normally Sunday is my veg day, but today I had lots to do. My contractor bud Terry came by and continued work on remodeling parts of The Chaney Room. My effects guy Jim Ojala, and my pal Sergio came over to work on attaching Sergio’s wig to the new mannequin I’m building. Sergio wanted to be there to show Jim exactly where to glue the wig down. I had a lunch meeting so I popped out for a little while and let the guys work. I met Edi and her kids at Bob’s Big Boy for some food. I got back and headed over to the church for a rehearsal with Bruce for the song we’d be performing at the service that night. It turned out really well and I think the congregation enjoyed it. Pastor Bob came up to me afterwards and said, “Bruce can REALLY play that thing!” I just smiled and said, “Yup!”

Monday the 28th – STORM’S OVER! – It was an absolutely beautiful day in Los Angeles! I was up early to head to Carroll Casting for an audition. It’s always great to see Carroll and work with her! My car was full of rain spots, so after the audition I headed to the car wash and got the ol’ Mustang cleaned inside and out. It looked like a completely different car! It had been awhile since it had been washed, because of all the wet weather we had been having. I drove home and did some work at home for awhile. But when it came time to go to “TTS,” I let the Mustang rest. It was far too nice a day to drive. So I pumped up my tires and headed out on my bicycle. It was awesome because when I rode to work I was heading toward beautiful snowcapped mountains on a perfectly clear day! On the way home from work I was heading into one of the most beautiful Southern California sunsets you’ve ever seen! Life is good!

Tuesday the 1st – HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, BABY! – I woke up earlier than I should have because I noticed that my fan had stopped. I sleep with a fan on to keep the air circulated, to feel a nice breeze as I sleep, and to provide white noise to sleep to. I think it dates back to when I was a kid and my folks didn’t have air conditioning. So they used to put a fan on me to keep me cool. To this day I still find it difficult to sleep without a fan going. I found out that all my electricity was out. This was happening MUCH too often. The stupid DWP (Dept. of Water and Power) are always screaming for more money, even though an audit of their accounts shows millions and millions of dollars in reserve. My power has gone out three times in the past four weeks and I’m wondering what’s going on with those DWP boneheads. Luckily it was only out for about 10 minutes, but every time this happens I have to reset all of my electronics. I needed to be up anyway for the IVR session, so I got ready and went to Voice Trax West for the session. After the session I stopped by my mailbox to get my mail. Standing outside the sushi restaurant next to my mail place was the one, the only…HENRY WINKLER! He looked at my car like he recognized me, since we’ve met several times before. I rolled down my passenger window and said, “Henry! It’s Wally Wingert!” He walked to my car and extended his hand. “Hey Wally, great to see you!” (If this would have happened to me when I was 14 I would have dropped dead of a heart attack right then and there! It’s the Fonz!) He was looking dapper in a salmon colored sweater and slacks. I said, “Henry you look great! How do you do it?” He said thanks and it was great to see me again. I drove out of the parking lot loving L.A.! But the day got better! Betty White was on “TTS” that day and it’s always fun to have her on. I stood in the hallway to watch her walk by, since she’s such a class act. But when I went back in the audio booth to watch her entrance, I was SHOCKED! The writers recreated an entrance Betty made on one of her old TV shows, where a 4 man singing group sang a Betty White song. They showed the old clip, then went live to the studio (in black and white as well, of course) where they had four guys singing the exact same song and bringing Betty out! That was cool enough, but one of the guys in the group was my old pal Brian Beacock! He and I have known each other for over 15 years, when we used to work at the old Beetlejuice show. He was a Phantom, and always made me laugh with his improvisational brilliance. As soon as he was off stage I went back to surprise him. He said he had his mom and a friend in the audience. So after the show I caught up with them as well. Brian’s mom is great, and she and Brian travel all over the world. Good for her! Good for him for taking such good care of her. It struck me as I was driving home, that one year ago on this very day, I started as the 7th full-time announcer for The Tonight Show. It was a year ago, after the Olympics, that Jay started back in his rightful place as the host of “TTS,” so though it wasn’t an anniversary for anyone else who worked on the show, it certainly was an important one for me. So I celebrated internally and quietly, but with much gratitude for the most amazing job I’ve ever had. What a day! That night Edi and I ate dinner at Coral Cafe and was joined by Chuck McCann, whom I hadn’t seen in a long time because he had been on tour with Tim Conway doing their comedy sketch show.

Wednesday the 2nd – WILD WILD WEDNESDAY! – First, I had to be at Elaine Craig shortly after noon to audition for a TV commercial. Then I got a call from my agent informing me that there would be a script in my e-mail for “TTS” that I would need to cut at home. But first I stopped by my mailbox to get my mail. I got my new Michael Crawford Phantom bust in today, sculpted by Ryan Bean. I’m going to turn it into a Phantom mannequin for the Chaney Room , and he’ll be wearing my old Phantom costume I used to perform in. I couldn’t wait to see it, so I opened it up right in the mail place. Amazing! I can’t wait to see this all put together. Some people build models as a hobby, I build life-size mannequins. Ahhh boys and their toys. I went over to my vet’s and picked up some more food for Sassie, then went home to record the bit for “TTS.” Then I got in my car and went to the bank to put some deposits in. Today was the day my waiting period was over for my new gun purchase, so I stopped by Gun World to pick it up. I bought a used Smith & Wesson Model 459. Why? Because the gun Starsky used in the old TV show was a Smith & Wesson Model 59, and the 459 is virtually the same gun. It has a few extra safety measures on it, but it’s virtually identical. Police officers used to use this gun all the time, until they went to Berettas, and eventually Glocks. I made it to “TTS” just in time! When the show was over I went to pick up Edi for dinner and errands. When Sara’s not available Edi will do assistant work for me. I had to go to Michael’s crafts to pick up some items, but I was REALLY itchin’ to get to the gun range to try out my new 459. I got two targets and two packs of 50 rounds. The first target I shot was way off. I couldn’t understand why I was shooting low and to the left. The kick wasn’t too bad, and I adjusted my finger position on the trigger to see if that would help, but it was still doing the same thing. Then I remembered what the guy who sold me the gun said about adjustable sights. The rear sight was in fact adjustable. So I slid it a bit to the left and fired. Better. I slid it further to the left and fired. GREAT! I was finally able to hit what I was aiming at! I let Edi take a few turns at it and she was shooting VERY well! But I was starving, so we hit Denny’s for some good ol’ comfort food!

Thursday the 3rd – LITTLE BY LITTLE! – My pal and effects guy Jim Ojala came over in the morning to pick up the Phantom bust and mannequin so he could start working on it. He needed to do another one of his famous head transplants, which he had done so successfully on my Adam West, Andy Kaufman, Heartbeeps and Barnabas mannequins. So little by little the new, improved Chaney Room is coming right along! But I was running late to the IVR session so I got to Voice Trax West as fast as I could and started the session. But as soon as I got done there, I had to rush home to record a bit for “TTS.” Then after I e-mailed it, I got ready and headed to NBC for the taping. This was turning into one busy week!!

Friday the 4th – MARCH FO(u)RTH! – First off, a happy birthday to my pal Brittney Powell! This was a day I had been dreading for awhile. I knew that it was going to be another wall-to-wall day of non-stop action. I just kept my mind on the fact that come 4:30, I’d be home free for the weekend. First, I was up bright and early and headed to Warner to continue with more voice sessions for the most anticipated videogame of this year. I can’t say what it is, but I’m sure you can guess it. We finished everything just in time, so I got in my car and headed to Voice Trax West to do a few hours of IVR. Luckily, we had finished most of the script for the week, so it only took about an hour to complete what we had to do. Which was fine by me. Remember, I never sit when I do voice work. It’s just better to stand so you can be more physical. Not to mention the obvious physicality issues, like proper breathing, posture for the “instrument,” etc. So after the Warner gig, I had already been standing for about 3 hours. Now this IVR session had me standing for another hour. So all total I had been standing for four hours! Luckily I had a little time after the IVR to catch my breath at home, but we were taping early at “TTS” because we always do that on the day before a hiatus. That’s right…all next week we’d be taking some time off. The next day we’re back live is March 14th. Since I have the IVR gig, and a few “Garfield” sessions, I can’t go anyplace on vacation. But I will gladly take the days to come with less to do, and get a little more rest. The taping went well, and I was happy to get home. My pal and contractor Terry had been working on the Chaney Room all day, and had made some great progress. When I got home he showed me what he did, then he took off. I took the opportunity to grab a nice, loooong nap on the couch in front of the fire. It was WONDERFUL!

Saturday the 5th – BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND MEN! – OK, here was my plan for Saturday…
11am – the maids arrive and clean Planet Wallywood
1pm – the maids finish up and split. I grab a shower
2pm – my friend James brings Gran Torino 1 over to pick me up, we drive to Bodie’s shop so he can make some quick repairs, pick up Torino 2 at Bodie’s shop, drive both Torinos down Buena Vista Blvd, Riverside Avenue, Ventura Blvd and go have lunch while listening to K-Earth 101’s Super 70’s weekend and enjoying the 80 degree day.
4 pm – go to the gun range and show James my new Model 459 and shoot some holes in paper targets.
6pm – come home and get ready for movie night.Unfortunately, fate had other plans. I got a strange premonition and called James before he came over. Though James had told me of Torino 1’s reliability the past week, I cautioned him not to turn the car off once he got to my place. I told him to just park behind my garage and honk, leave the car running, and I’d come out. Sometimes Torino 1 doesn’t want to start up again right away after driving it. But James felt confident enough that it would start again. I got my things together and got in the driver’s seat. rr-RRR, rr-RRR, rr-RRR, rr-RRR. RATS! It wasn’t starting. Maybe we just let it sit for awhile. rrrr-R, rrr-R, rrr-R. Damn! So I called Bodie and told him we’d be over as soon as we could. I called the guy who sold me the car and he thought it sounded like the battery didn’t have enough pull to turn the car over. So we jumped it with my Mustang. rrr-r. rrr-r. rrr-r. Nada. I called my pal Terry. He had to come up from Long Beach so it would be awhile before he could get here. So James and I drove my Mustang over to DuPar’s for lunch. We got back to my house and Terry was there waiting. We tried everything. He started pulling off hoses checking the spark. Then magically, it started! I called Bodie and told him we were on our way. Terry followed me in his car in case anything happened on the way over. But we made it to Bodie’s ok. Bodie has worked on Torino 1 exhaustively, and just couldn’t understand what the problem with it was. We’re starting to suspect the ignition coil. In this model, the ignition coil sits on top of the engine. The engine can get up to 180 degrees when it’s rockin’ and rollin.’ This would explain why it starts right up cold, but won’t after it’s been run for awhile. We’re going to look into an after-market contraption that moves the ignition coil to the side of the car, and a spark plug wire runs from that to the starter. That way it won’t heat up when the engine is on. I think that may be the issue, but I can’t be sure. It sure would be great if that car worked flawlessly, because it’s SO beautiful and fun to drive. So Terry and I left Torino 1 in Bodie’s care, and I got in Torino 2. Bodie had connected the stereo so it was fun listening to the Super 70’s weekend on the way home. He also explained to me how the flashers, siren and PA system worked. I have an 8-track player that plays through the factory radio, but my CD and radio play through the stereo. It’s wild! We got back to my neighborhood and I needed a treat. It was dark and the afternoon was over. So much for my plans of parading down Ventura Blvd with both Torinos. Oh well. There will be time for that later. I bought Terry a frozen yogurt and we sat enjoying the evening on the patio of the yogurt place. But then I remembered that, while Torino 2 was being repaired, they had changed the code on the remotes of the parking garage. So I brought the remote in and tried to reprogram it to the numbers I had been given. Logically, Terry and I assumed that the numbers on the remote should be placed toward the marking that read OPEN. So we did. But once I got there it didn’t work. The numbers on the remote were so teeny tiny I had to take it home and look at it under the magnifying glass to make sure it was correct. Sure enough it was. Terry suggested trying it again, but pushing the switches the opposite direction, AWAY from the OPEN label. I did that, and it worked. Gee…does nobody think logically when they program these things any more? Oh well, I got my car in my parking spot and all was good. I got home just in time to finish up with Terry and start receiving guests for movie night. We watched “Back to the Future” on Blu Ray, as well as “The Towering Inferno” on Blu Ray. I hadn’t seen “Inferno” for decades, and it sure was pretty in Blu Ray. The effects were amazing, even by today’s standards. And best of all…there was NO CGI! What a fun, but EXHAUSTING day! I was very much looking forward to sleeping in on Sunday!

Sunday the 6th – HAIR TODAY! – I slept until about mid afternoon, when my pal Sergio came back to “hair” the rest of my Barnabas Collins mannequin. The wig was just a little shorter than we needed it, so he glued some on the temples to fill in the missing areas. It ended up looking great. Then we grabbed a bite at Jerry’s Famous Deli and then I headed to church. Afterwards I went to Coral Cafe with my friends Sara and Amanda. While we were there, an elderly gentleman and his wife walked in and sat down. I noticed on his cap that it said something about VETERAN. On the back of the cap band it read 1941-1945. I figured he may have been a member of the Army during World War 2. So I flagged his waitress down and told her that I was buying his dinner, and to bring me his check with it was ready to be paid. But I told her not to tell him who had done it. On my way out I told him, “Thank you for your service to our country.” He seemed very grateful and said, “Thanks, I appreciate it.” I told him the WE appreciated it! I would have loved to have seen the look on his face when the waitress came back and told him that he and his wife’s meal had already been taken care of! The rest of the night I finished up Wally’s Week, and did some auditions to send to my agents.And how were YOUR weeks???!!!