Archive for February, 2012

February 27 – March 4 (2012)


Dances with Dogs. No, it’s not a new movie starring Kevin Costner, it’s me with my pal Roxy enjoying a lovely day in the park!

You know him as the guy who sang “Storybook Love” from “Princess Bride.” You may also remember him as the front man in the group Mink DeVille. But my favorite Willy DeVille song is“Assasin of Love,” a tune we used to play on 94.7 The Wave all those years ago. It popped up on my i-Pod the other day and I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Monday the 27th – MEETING A MUPPETEER! – In the morning I got a call on my bedroom hotline from “The Tonight Show” informing me that there was a script for a comedy bit in my e-mail. I bounced out of bed and recorded the bit and e-mailed it in. Then I went back to bed for a bit. Then I got another hotline call for another bit, and then another hotline call for another bit. They were keeping me hopping today for sure! It’s great being the utility voice guy for all the comedy bits. I enjoy that almost as much as being the announcer on the show! I mean, who gets to get right out of bed and immediately gets to be funny?! I got ready to go in to NBC and tape the show. The guest was Michel Hazanavicius, the director of “The Artist.” (His name is pronounced Ah-zuh-nah-vee-SEE-us) He had a very big evening the night before at the Oscars, as “The Artist” won a ton of awards! I swear somebody at “TTS” must have a crystal ball. This wasn’t the first time we’ve had a guest (who had been booked WEEKS before) come on the show in a timely manner immediately after being involved in some amazing event. Even better, as I drove away from the studio to go home after the taping, I spotted Michel standing outside his limo at the bottom of the driveway signing autographs for fans! How cool is that?! On the way home I got a call from Eric Jacobsen, a multi-talented Muppeteer whom I met at “TTS” a few months ago. He was in town doing a bit with his partner Miss Piggy on the Oscars. In addition to performing Miss Piggy he also performs Bert, Grover, Fozzie and Sam the Eagle. I asked him to meet me for dinner at Jerry’s Famous Deli, and we were joined by my friend Edi and her daughter Emily. As Eric and I started talking I realized that we hade a LOT in common, especially in the things we were inspired by while growing up. I figured he may like to meet the great Chuck McCann, as Chuck has done a LOT of work with puppets in the past, so I gave him a call and had him meet us as well. Eric loved meeting Chuck, and Chuck loved meeting Eric. It was fun talking puppets over deli food. Later that night Eric came over to Planet Wallywood to tour my house and view my collection, and he was totally amazed. He particularly loved the “Cease and Desist” letter I received from The Muppets when I was 19. I made a set of Muppets with my mom and would perform with them at area hospitals for sick children. I put a demo together of my work and sent it off to Jim Henson’s New York offices. My goal was to prove to them I could make their kind of Muppets, do their kinds of voices and perform like a Muppeteer, so I could join their company and fit in perfectly. But instead of a job offer, what I got was a letter from a Henson attorney telling me to never take my puppets out of my house again and to stop performing with them. At the tender age of 19, and as an aspiring Muppeteer, I was beyond crushed. My dreams were trampled before my very eyes, and it was all detailed on a piece of lawyer’s stationery. The death warrant on my Muppet career was signed in black ink by a guy named Steven M. Weinberg. (Now watch, Steven M. Weinberg will probably read this account and send me another Cease and Desist letter to remove it. HA! Come and get me Mr. WEINBERG!) Anyway, we had a good laugh over that story, as I realized quickly that my future with the Muppets was not meant to be. It just fries me that the video demo I sent them was a loving tribute to the Muppets that dealt with traffic safety tips for kids. That got me a C&D letter, but yet all kinds of weirdos are posting videos on You Tube of themselves performing Muppet characters saying and doing the most vile things. Oh well. Maybe they’ve gotten a nasty-gram from Mr. Weinberg too. Who knows. Anyway, Eric enjoyed seeing the old photos of my doing my “illegal” Muppet work when I was a pup. After Eric took off, I did my auditions and sent them to my agent via e-mail, and then my assistant Sara came over with food from Subway to watch another episode of “Hawaii Five-O” from the season 9 DVD set.

Tuesday the 29th – THE ROCK & ROLL DOC! – I got a hotline call to be into “TTS” earlier than usual to record a comedy bit. I got up and headed to my usual Tuesday afternoon US Airways session at Voice Trax West. It was a two hour session today, different than the normal half hour sessions we usually do. But there was a lot of ground to cover. When I was finished I headed to my mailbox to pick up some mail, then dropped by Paty’s in Toluca Lake for a quick salad for lunch. I got to NBC early to record the bit, and then settled in for the taping. When we wrapped I found my pal, and fellow VO artist, Peter Jessop and his family. They had a relative in town who is a Jay fan, and I arranged tickets for them to today’s taping. I gave them the quick tour and then gave them a ride back to their car. I got home and prepared to see my pal Dr. Stephen Patt perform with a band called Blue Bayou. Dr. Patt is my personal physician, but is also a terrific guitarist and musician. He performs around town all the time with various groups. I guess it keeps him sane and distracted from all the medical stuff he does from day to day. Though Dr. Patt is a rockin’ guitar virtuoso, tonight he would be playing steel pedal guitar with the band. Blue Bayou is a Linda Ronstadt tribute band fronted by a terrific singer named Robyn Roth. I took my pals Alex, Edi and Sara along to cheer on Dr. Patt. Edi’s son Josh joined us later. I’ve been working on a country song I wrote for awhile now, and I’m looking to record the demo fairly soon. Robyn’s performance was wonderful, so I spoke to her after about possibly singing the lead on my demo. I got home after the show and helped Edi’s son Josh with a voice-over audition. I grabbed a quick nap, then got up to scan some checks for a bank deposit I’d be making the next day. I grabbed a snack and then settled down for the night.

Wednesday the 29th – DEATH OF AN ICON! – I got another hotline call, so I got out of bed and headed to NBC to record a few bits. While I was there I learned of the death of former Monkee Davy Jones. I was flabbergasted! I had just seen him a few weeks ago at the Hollywood Collector Show in Burbank and he looked terrific. What a nice guy! It’s very sad he died so young at the age of 66, strangely enough the same year “The Monkees” hit the air. I recorded three comedy bits and then headed out of NBC to run some errands before the taping. In Johnny Carson park I spotted a big tri-color collie. I pulled my car over and got out and asked the owner if I could see it. Her name was Abby and she was a real lover! She jumped up and greeted me, and I gave her lots of good pets and scratches. I talked with her owner for awhile about collies and told him about my dog Sassie who passed away last June. I’ve really missed my collie kisses! I headed to the bank to make a deposit, then stopped by It’s a Wrap to see if they had any new clothes that interested me. I stopped by Gun World in Burbank and saw two used guns I wanted to buy. One was a semi-automatic stainless steel and aluminum 9 mm pistol called a Smith & Wesson model 3913. I liked that it looked kind of retro. The other one was a big, beautiful Smith & Wesson model 25 with a silvery 8.5″ barrel. This one shoots bullets called .45 LC (for long Colt), but it’s very similar to the Model 29 that Roger Moore shot in the movie “Live and Let Die.” The main difference being is that the model 29 is a .44 Magnum. But they’re both beautiful and they would be wonderful additions to my collection. I was running short on time before I needed to be back at NBC, so I didn’t purchase them. The amount of paperwork you have to generate for a handgun sale is considerably time consuming. I barely had time to grab some food at Taco Bell and then head on inside for the taping. Our guests were Senator and former Presidential candidate John McCain, who was very funny and relaxed on the show. And the beautiful Elizabeth Olson, who was promoting the new movie “Silent House,” which looks pretty amazing. The film is shot in real time and in one take! I’m almost as curious about how that technique works as I am about the storyline. (Did I mention that Elizabeth is beautiful??!!) A new singer named Romeo Santos was on the show and he had a large portion of female fans in the audience who cheered him on. In fact, the song was quite good and I purchased it on i-Tunes when I got home! But I had quite a bad sinus headache so I napped when I got home. When I got up and did my auditions in my home studio and then made my world (in)famous Buffalo Mac for dinner. (It’s Kraft macaroni and cheese with pieces of Buffalo chicken strips from Denny’s thrown in. And bits of celery for crunch. YUM!) Sara came over for another “Hawaii Five-O” episode and Buffalo Mac. The episode was really good and featured the talents of Sharon Farrell and Barnard Hughes. I had just met Sharon a few weeks earlier at the Hollywood Collector Show in Burbank.

Thurdsay the 1st – DEATH OF A PLASMA! – One of my agents rang my hotline and asked if I would do a phone audition for a producer. I said sure so I rousted myself from my late-morning slumber. I also had several bits for “TTS” to record as well. The phone audition were for the gang at Old Navy, and it’s always fun to talk to them. I got to NBC and the gorgeous Julianne Moore was on the show. Her work in “Boogie Nights” is my favorite of all her roles. You really liked Amber Waves, but you hated that she just couldn’t get her life together. I grabbed a sandwich from the NBC commissary and ate it during the taping. And Chickenfoot was the musical guest. Joe Satriani, Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony together? How could you lose? I had met Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen back in 1980 in Sioux Falls after a Van Halen concert. Michael hasn’t really changed all that much from those days! After the taping I hurried over to Studiopolis to audition for a new anime series that Jamie Simone would be directing. Then I went over to Gun World to buy those two used guns I had my eye on. I got home and did a few things around the house, and then my masseuse Emily came over to give me a long overdue massage. Somehow I had acquired a fair amount of tension in my neck and back, and it was a bit painful when I turned my head far to the right and left. When she finished I grabbed a short nap, then I had my assistant Sara run out to get some food at Denny’s so we could watch “Hawaii Five-O.” We finished the episode and I turned the TV off. I showered and then headed to bed. But I wanted to watch some cartoons before I went to sleep so I turned the TV back on. I went to brush my teeth but when I came back the TV was off. The little power light on the lower left of the TV was flashing red. Uh oh. Not good. I unplugged the TV and plugged it back in again. I turned it back on. It came on for a second, flickered and shut off again. Flashing red light again. My TV was toast. I smelled a slight burning smell coming from the back so I unplugged it again for good. It’s a plasma that I bought back in December of 2001. Back then they were RIDICULOUSLY expensive, but I had to have one. I’ve gotten a fair amount of use out of it during the past 10+ years. But now I think it’s dead, Jim. So I dropped an e-mail over to my A/V guy Mark Ackerman and told him to come by asap and replace it. I don’t know how I’ll live without my “TV Time” before bed over the next few nights. It’s become almost a nightly ritual! EEK!

Friday the 2nd – I COULDN’T SLEEP AT ALL LAST NIGHT! – I woke up to be in early at NBC for the final taping before another week-long hiatus. Normally, the Friday before a hiatus, we tape a half hour earlier than usual so those on the crew with travel plans can get an half hour lead time on their vacations. I spoke with Mark about the type of TV that would be replacing my dearly departed plasma in my bedroom. I think I’ve settled on an LG LCD 55″ monitor. I have an LG downstairs in the Planet Wallywood home theatre and it works very well. It was a beautiful day, albeit windy. My allergies hate when that happens! I got a salad from the NBC commissary and settled in for the final taping of “TTS” before our break. I was looking forward to having some time to get a few things done around the house, as well as taking off for a few days in Palm Springs. The weather there this time of year is ideal! The guest band on the show was Scars on 45. Somebody from the crew didn’t understand the reference of the band’s name, until I explained that there was a bunch of recordings made in the late 70’s and early 80’s by a “group” called Stars On 45. They would do medleys of popular hits set to a hand-clapping disco beat. The most popular one was a Beatles medley. Though the singles were called Stars on 45 (for the 45 rpm records), the “group’s” name was Stars On. Because when they released an album it was Stars On LP. I know. Very confusing. But here’s the Wikipedia entry on them…Stars on 45 was a Dutch novelty pop act that was briefly very popular in the United Kingdom, throughout Europe, the United States and Australia in the early 1980s. The group later shortened its name to Stars On in the U.S. The band, which consisted solely of studio session musicians under the direction of Jaap Eggermont, formerly of Golden Earring, popularized the medley, by recreating hit songs as faithfully as possible and stringing them together, with a common tempo and relentless underlying drum track. The point was to provide a danceable disco record which used familiar tunes—a technique that was also used in the Hooked on Classics series of recordings released by RCA Records and K-Tel Records. There you have it. Anyway, the guest band took their name from this phenom but changed Stars to Scars. I knew all this useless radio DJ trivia floating around in my head would come in handy someday. When we wrapped we said our goodbyes and well-wishes for a relaxing hiatus week, and I headed by my mailbox to get my mail. I met up with fellow VO actor Brian Beacock, who had some episodes of a cartoon we did together on VHS tape. I had been looking for some of them for awhile and he just happened to have a few on tape to lend me. I grabbed a nap and then got up and made a Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pizza. They’re a lot of work to make, but BOY (Ar-Dee) are they good! I did some work around the house and then settled into bed for a few hours worth of sleep before my early Saturday morning call-time for Old Navy. It seemed like everything hurt and it was difficult getting to sleep. My arm hurt. My right knee hurt. Am I getting OLD??!! My cat Spooky was lying on my bed right in the middle of everything, so it was difficult to get comfortable trying to lay around him. I was in and out of sleep all night and it sucked!

Saturday the 3rd – BIRTHDAYPALOOZA! – I was up bright and early and headed to Santa Monica and P.O.P. studios for a new Old Navy gig. It’s a fabulous new ad campaign that I can tell you more about once it’s released. But it’s always fun working with the O.N. folks. It was a bright, beautiful, sun-filled day. Later that night I knew I’d be going to my pal Mark Evanier’s birthday party in West L.A. – but didn’t have any idea of what to get him. First off, he admonished his guests against bringing him any gifts. Secondly, he said we couldn’t sing Happy Birthday to him. I wasn’t sure we could even SAY Happy Birthday to him, and I didn’t want to get ejected from the party. So I did the next best thing. My gift to him was to bring him three beautiful girls to act as a living birthday card. He didn’t say anything about not WRITING Happy Birthday! So I stopped by the T-Shirt Warehouse in Culver City and had three t-shirts made up for Alex, Sara and Edi that all said HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARK on the front, and their names on the back. Luckily, they were able to make them on the spot. I went to grab lunch at Burger King and then returned to pick up the shirts. They turned out great! I stopped by the Beverly Hills It’s a Wrap on my way home, and then grabbed a quick nap before Mark’s party. Edi, Alex and Sara arrived at my house and we all carpooled down to Fu’s Palace, a Chinese restaurant frequented by Mark. It was a blast. I saw my old pal Frank Welker there, as well as other “Garfield” castmates Laura Summer, Gregg Berger and Jason Marsden. The legendary Stan Freberg was there, the equally legendary June Foray was there too, and Chuck and Betty McCann sat at our table. Also at our table was Judy Strangis, whom you would most likely know as Dyna Girl from the Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday morning show “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.” She looks like she hasn’t aged a single day since her reign as Saturday morning super-heroine. I got into a conversation with her and her husband about my trip to Memphis, and I showed them shots on my i-Pad of Graceland and Sun Records. Judy’s older brother Sam used to direct several of the old “Batman” TV episodes. We had fun talking about that as well. If there’s one thing I can talk a lot about, it’s Elvis and Batman! I enjoyed talking with them immensely. I also enjoyed talking to Billy Vera. I mentioned that we had just watched “Buckaroo Banzai” a month ago and we loved it as much as ever. Billy played Pinky in the film, and had all sorts of great stories about the filming. The girls were most impressed with a guy sitting at the table next to us. Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson posed with the gals for a photo. The party was fantastic and filled with wonderful people, a testament to Mark’s great karma and accomplishments. When we left, we met up with Chuck and Betty at DuPar’s in Studio City for some late-night pie. When I got back I was exhausted, so I hit the hay. After all, I couldn’t watch TV in bed. The once vibrant shell of my beloved plasma TV still hung lifelessly on my wall.

Sunday the 4th – ROXY ROCKS! – I got up early and met up with my pal Edi to drive up north a ways to what I now call “Lassieland.” I had gone there a few weeks back to meet the new Lassie and all of the collie relatives. Junior, the current Lassie, has a female littermate named Roxy. A beautiful, honey-colored 3 year old collie that I’ve become fond of. Carol the trainer suggested I come out for a few consecutive weekends and goof around with Roxy, help train her, and hang out. When I saw her a few weeks ago she was lovely, but when we pulled up today she came bounding out of the house full throttle and looked absolutely majestic. Edi and I both agreed that it took our breath away a little bit. She had just come out of a bath and was uber fluffy! Carol showed me how she likes to train her dogs. I put Roxy on her leash and walked with her down the road while Carol coached us on the “heel” procedure. Roxy’s SUPER smart, as most all collies are, but she also has the advantage of that amazing Lassie bloodline. Smart dogs all! Carol said we could take her in Edi’s SUV to a park and walk her around for awhile. I had really missed my collie time since Sassie died last June! It was a great afternoon. First off, you couldn’t have asked for better weather! It was warm, but not hot. And breezy but not windy. Carol was going to show me how to get Roxy to jump into the back of the car, but I said it was alright. I would just pick her up like I had with Sassie all those times. But in the last 6 months of Sassie’s life she had lost a lot of weight and had gotten quite frail and boney. I bent down to pick up Roxy the same way I had with Sassie, and I was surprised! Roxy was considerably more dense than Sassie! I braced myself and loaded Roxy into the car. She enjoyed riding around with us. She would get up from time to time and look out the front window, poking her long nose between us to see where we were going. Then she would sit down for awhile and enjoy the ride. Then she laid down for a bit. But then she would get back up to look out the windows. We stopped at the KFC drive-thru and got some lunch. We found a local park, took Roxy out of the back, and did the “heel” procedure as we walked through the park. We found a picnic table and got our lunch out and started eating. She was VERY interested in what we were doing. I had gotten some chicken strips to feed her while we dined. I took off the outer breading and gave her some white meat in small pieces. Carol said that Roxy has a powerful “food drive,” which is good to have when you’re training a dog. You want them to desire the food rewards. She was a very good girl and is in the process of learning “sit.” Along with saying “sit,” we also give her a hand signal. After about four times, she was sitting without us having to say “sit.” She would respond simply to the hand signal. SMART little doggie! We walked her around some more and let her do some “doggie business,” then we headed back to Lassieland. We dropped her off and the most amazing thing happened. We got up to the gate with Roxy and two male collies greeted us through the fence with barks of curiosity. I was petting their noses through the fence when I felt these two big paws on my chest. Roxy had jumped up on me almost as if to say, “Hey. Remember me? Your date?” I sensed a little doggie jealously there. Edi laughed about it too. Sassie did that the first year I had her. When I would pet another dog or a cat, she would walk up and stand between me and the other dog. It’s very cute. The other collies poked their nose through the fence and Roxy poked her nose back at them and growled. Kind of like she was telling them that those humans were hers! Before we said goodbye we got to see Lassie 10, Junior for a little bit. He sure loves to meet people! We drove back to L.A. and got Edi’s car washed. Then we headed over to evening church. When the service was over Robyn Roth, the lead singer of Blue Bayou (the band we had seen Tuesday night) met me to listen in on a quick session I’d be doing for my country song. I wanted her to hear me sing the scratch vocal (temporary vocal track) so she could get an idea of what the song was about and our approach to it. We went over to my buddy Luis Oliart’s home studio to lay it down. I gave Robyn a lyric sheet to study and then she took off. Edi and I went over to the Coral Cafe to have dinner and discuss our amazing day at Lassieland. After a delicious pot roast dinner I came home and started my hiatus week officially with a peaceful nap on the couch. The evening was warm and wonderful, so I left the front door open with the screen door closed so the warm breeze could fill the house. When I got up I recorded a few auditions and then sat down to work on Wally’s Week. What a week!!

And how was YOUR week??!!


The Smith and Wesson 3913 I bought…

…along with the Smith and Wesson Model 25 I bought.

Mark Evanier addresses the crowd at his birthday party.

The great Stan Freberg reads a little poem he wrote for the occasion.

Mark with Frank Welker, Betty and Chuck McCann!

It’s the Happy Birthday Mark girls…aka…Mark’s Living Birthday Card!

Edi, Sara and Alex with Dan Castelleneta

The beautiful Roxy on a walk in the park

Is that the face of a happy dog or what?!

Are these the eyes of love? Or just a blatant plea for more KFC?