Interviews: Classic TV, Movie Stars at the Hollywood Celebrities & Memorabilia Show

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CHICAGO – It’s Hollywood Celebrities & Memorabilia Show Weekend, and the stars of TV and movies will be available to meet all their fans at the Hilton Rosemont/Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel (click the link at the end of the article). Also available, lots of vendors with TV and movie items for any collection.

The Hollywood Celebrities & Memorabilia Show is a biannual event that brings celebrities to Chicago to meet, sign autographs and interact with their admirers. Every session has in attendance, and Joe Arce is also there to photograph all the celebs. The last show in September brought out classic TV and movie stars, who sat down for the following interviews.

StarMarcia Wallace of “The Bob Newhart Show” and “The Simpsons”

Marcia Wallace has created two memorable characters in TV history. As Carol Kester on “The Bob Newhart Show,” she traded quips with Dr. Bob Hartley (Newhart) for six seasons. On “The Simpsons,” she has been the voice of hard luck teacher Edna Krabappel since 1990 (one year after the show premiered). Besides The Simpsons, she continues to do character roles on TV, most memorably her one season as Maggie Hawley in “That’s My Bush!” (2001).

Marcia Wallace, Hollywood Celebrities & Memorabilia Show, September 26th, 2010
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for What motivated you to get out of Iowa as a young actress and move to New York City?

Marcia Wallace: I had more guts than brains. I wanted to be a journalist, but my journalism teacher back home said, ‘hon, you have no nose for news.’ Go into drama. So I did. I took off to New York, and 40 years later here I am back in the Midwest. [laughs] You’ve done a lot of stage roles in your career, both risky and mainstream. What do you feel on stage that you don’t get performing in TV or movies?

Wallace: It depends on where you started. I started on stage. People who start there want to go back because it’s exciting in a way that no other medium is. Audiences are different, every day, every zeitgeist is different. I’ve never unfortunately played Broadway, but I worked a lot Off-Broadway, and have been on stages all over the country. I’d still like to do Broadway, want to give me a job? [laughs] Sure! Merv Griffith was a mentor to you in your early TV career…

Wallace: He discovered me, I did 75 of his shows, when he was on every day. In fact, William S. Paley, who was the head of CBS-TV, saw me on the Merv Griffith Show and told some execs that they needed someone like me on that new Bob Newhart show. And so there I was. How did you make the connection with Merv?

Wallace: I was doing improv with a group called The Fourth Wall Downtown in Greenwich Village. It was a rainy night, and his casting guy just happened in. It was an incredible stroke of luck. He liked me that night, and called me in to meet Merv. And then 75 episodes later… I loved Merv and I loved everything about that show. Your most famous roles are Carol on Bob Newhart and Edna on The Simpsons. What do you think those two characters would talk about over a couple of cocktails?

Wallace: [Laughs] Men. Carol had better luck than poor Edna, she is looking for love in all the wrong places. I just did an episode last week where I have a romance with Ned Flanders. And there is going to be an online poll to ask America whether they should get together.

Of course, she almost she almost made it to the altar with Principal Skinner, but he couldn’t leave his mother. [laughs] She had a thing with the Comic Book Guy, but he’s too weird for anybody. And Mr. Krabappel ran away with a manicurist. And she once told Bart he was the most interesting male in her life. That is so depressing I want to cry. [Laughs] Finally, what can you tell us about Bill Daily [Howard on The Bob Newhart Show] that the rest of the world doesn’t know?

Wallace: Bill Daily knows about seven words. [laughs] And every other word he’s just a little bit off. Bob lived to crack him up, and it wasn’t that hard. Bill is on a Newhart bloopers gag reel where all he had to say was ‘Harper’s Bazaar.’ He said ‘Harpers Beza,’ ‘Helpers bezo,’ he just went on and on. But Bill Daily loved women more than any man I ever knew. In all the great ways, he just enjoyed them, and he has the biggest heart you’ll ever find.

StarFrank Vincent of “The Sopranos”

Frank Vincent has been a familiar film and TV character actor for over 30 years. From working with director Martin Scorsese, starting with “Raging Bull” (1980), to his best known role as Phil Leotardo on “The Sopranos,” Vincent has had a long and prosperous career. In 2009, he appeared in an underrated mobster drama called “Chicago Overcoat,” doing most of the principle shooting on location in the Windy City.

Frank Vincent, Hollywood Celebrities & Memorabilia Show, September 26th, 2010
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for You have a strong relationship with the great director Martin Scorsese. What is different about him now than when you first worked with him in 1980?

Frank Vincent: It was apparent that he was a different type of filmmaker and that he was brilliant. As his career has grown, he has matured as a director. His influence is well known, and he makes great movies. You’ve written a book on men’s style and how to be a man’s man. What do you think is missing in men today that are making them less ‘manly,’ for lack of a better term?

Vincent: They’re assh*les. In writing the book [”A Guy’s Guide to Being a Man”] with my co-author Steven Priggé, we found they don’t know how to dress or groom themselves. Finally, your performance in the recent ‘Chicago Overcoat’ is a gem. What did you understand about the character of Lou and how did you try to convey that characteristic in the film?

Vincent: The character of Lou Marazano is that of a has-been when the film starts. He just wanted to do something good for his daughter and grandson. He figured the only thing he wanted to do was what he did [hired hitman]. And that’s why he came back to do it again. It was a different kind of mob guy for me, he was downtrodden. The role was very well written, produced and directed.

StarTim Kazurinsky of “Saturday Night Live”

Tim Kazurinsky is a Chicago treasure, who first worked the famed Second City main stage in 1978. He joined the ensemble of “Saturday Night Live” in 1981, shortly after the original cast had left the show. He lasted three seasons, and worked with the company that included Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. Afterwards, he became well known as a screenwriter (”About Last Night”) and as “Sweetchuck” in the Police Academy series of films. Recently, he appeared in a notable short film called “Typing,” and continues to live and work in the Chicago area.

Tim Kazurinsky, Hollywood Celebrities & Memorabilia Show, September 26th, 2010
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for You are a notable Chicagoan, but you were born and raised in Australia, correct?

Tim Kazurinsky: I was actually born in the United States to an Australian war bride mother, and when I was two months old she whisked my five babies back to Australia, because she divorced my father. I was there until I was 16 years old, and ran away from home to come back to America. Was there a relative that took you in?

Kazurinsky: Yes, in Pennsylvania I had two crazy Polish aunts. I lived there for two years, and in 1968 came to Chicago. From that point on, Chicago has been my home. How did that background influence your comedy?

Kazurinsky: Believe it or not, when I grew up in Australia during the 1950s there was no television. There was only radio. When TV finally did come, we got both American and British shows. I had the dual sensibility…what makes the Commonwealth laugh and what makes Americans laugh. It worked out so well I’m currently shooting a pilot for the BBC.

When you grow up with radio it makes you more of a storyteller, which is why I continue to be a screenwriter today. What made your era distinctive on the Second City main stage in comparison to the previous companies?

Kazurinsky: I like to think of it still as the ‘pre-television’ era. Our stuff back then was much more theatrically based, and since there were only three channels on TV at the time, it didn’t consume our lives as much. We had more of a worldview. Now Second City references TV primarily, so we were back then the last of those theater based players. What changed most dramatically in your years on Saturday Night Live?

Kazurinsky: Cable television. I was on in 1981 to 1984, right before the cable explosion, and the censors were much more influential then. I once used the word ‘scumbag,’ and the censor came down and told me that in two states that referenced a used condom, and we had to beep it out or it would be a ten thousand dollar fine. A few years later on the show I saw Mike Meyers naked in a bathtub with Macaulay Culkin on SNL taking about their penises, and I thought ‘when did this happen?’ What happened was cable, and they had to compete. Also you participated in the infamous Dick Ebersol produced years of SNL. What unnerved the cast the most during that time and how did you keep yourself afloat?

Kazurinsky: Yes, I worked for Dick! Dick was the head of NBC Sports before he came into SNL, and he did manage to keep the show alive, so he must be given credit for that. He did hire Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. But Dick’s basis was in sports and maybe his worldview wasn’t towards comedy. He didn’t quite get it.

Also, when Lorne Michaels took over again he refused to rerun the shows I was on, so I lost out on all those residuals, darn it. [laughs] When you wrote the screenplay to the film “About Last Night,” an adaptation of David Mamet’s play “Sexual Peversity in Chicago,” what were the parameters? Did he collaborate with you at all or comment about it afterwards?

Kazurinsky: I had a very interesting association with David Mamet. The one acting class I ever took was with him. At the time, he was just a struggling playwright. So years later, when we were adapting the play, with my partner Denise DeClue, David had done a screenplay draft and it had been rejected. Clearly the studio didn’t want his version, because it was pretty naughty for its time [early 1980s]. We wrote 13 drafts over six years, and Mamet had nothing to do with it. It doesn’t really follow the play at all. Mercifully, David Mamet said nothing, and left us alone. Probably because he made the most money off of it. [laughs] What can you tell us about Steve Guttenberg that the rest of the world doesn’t know?

Kazurinsky: Steve Guttenberg is the nicest guy on the planet, and was the luckiest actor in the world. He was in dental school and went to this audition with a friend, and they hired him instead. So he gets “Diner,” “Three Men and a Baby,” “Cocoon” and the Police Academy franchise, bless him though, he’s a sweet boy and deserves it.

StarRoger E. Mosely of “Magnum, P.I.”

Roger E. Mosely was a mainstay of 1970s TV, appearing on “Sanford and Son,” “Kung Fu,” “Kojak” and “That’s My Mama.” Along the way he played the title role in the film “Leadbelly” (1976), portraying the famous blues singer. The role he is most known for came along in 1980, playing T.C. on the popular “Magnum, P.I.” After doing recent recurring stints on “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” and “Rude Awakening,” he continues to work steadily.

Roger E. Mosely, Hollywood Celebrities & Memorabilia Show, September 26th, 2010
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for What kind of atmosphere was it for an African-American actor in the 1970s. Who were you competing against for roles?

Roger E. Mosely: I’m an African American? Oh my gawd! [laughs] It was a beginning of an era, everybody was working. There were enough cop shows, mini-series, situation comedies, we were really ruling the roost. We could work the nightclubs on Sunset Boulevard, it was all open. There were opportunities on all three networks. It was a great time to be in entertainment. In fact, we felt sorry for the white people. [laughs] How did you connect with the great director Gordon Parks to play the title role in ‘Leadbelly’?

Mosely: It was a very interesting dynamic working with Gordon Parks on that film. I don’t like to use the phrase ‘black movies,’ but if there ever was one, that was it. I was one of the few actors to ever work on an all-black movie. What I mean by that is the director was black, the assistant director was black, the second assistant director was black, so on down the line. The head of wardrobe, make-up, simply anyone who had any reason to talk to me on the set was black. They weren’t there because they were black, they were award-winning industry people, they were all good.

I had worked in so-called black films before, but everyone in any position of authority, like the director, were all white. There would be a lot of second-guessing, because they would tell you things that were contrary to your life as an African American. I was always second guessing these guys.

So I was on the set of Leadbelly, and I started second guessing Gordon. All he said to me was ‘you can shut up right now, I know this period, I’m directing this, I knew Leadbelly and I know his whole family. I’m black, so what do you mean this isn’t what a black person would do?’

And I looked at him, and I immediately shut up. And for the first time in my career, I was just able to act. For the first time, I felt I had somebody taking care of me, I didn’t have to worry about myself. I think that’s why I did such a good job in the movie, finally I could just do my job like all the other white actors I observed over the years, just by putting myself in the hands of a director I trusted. I finally had somebody who knew what I was trying to do and could make sure I would do it. That was such a comfortable feeling. What role or circumstance brought you to the attention of the Magnum P.I. folks?

Mosely: It’s an interesting story. Gerald McRaney [”Major Dad”] was initially hired to play T.C. When they looked at the cast, McRaney, Larry Manetti, John Hillerman and Tom Selleck, what is wrong with the picture of a detective agency in Hawaii? Too many white people for the location. [laughs] So the producers thought they needed to get some color in there, but ‘Hawaii 5-0’ had all the native actors.

Tom Selleck and I had done a movie together, it will remain anonymous, but he remembered me from it. He recommended me, and when I came in and greeted him, the producer Don Bellisario was across the table, along with these executives from CBS and the show. Tom and I were just chatting, catching up very casually. And when it came time to read the script, we just did it in the same way we had just been talking. That was exactly what they were looking for. I didn’t know it, but before I walked out I already had the part. It was our chemistry that sealed it. I remember that everybody wanted that role, because everyone wanted to live in Hawaii. People hated me when they found out I got it. [laughs] What can you tell us about Magnum co-star Larry Manetti [seated next to Mosely], that the rest of the world doesn’t know?

Mosely: He can cook his ass off. Larry can cook.

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