…well, a year ago yesterday was the day Soap: The [Unauthorized[ Inside Story of the Sitcom that Broke all the Rules had its official debut at Book Soup in Los Angeles.
Such a wonderful few days Pamela and I spent there meeting people I already felt I knew, both from Soap itself and from the fan community.
A year on I’m still very grateful to Book Soup’s Amelia Cone, super fan Jeff K. and everyone who came out to the launch, as well as Soap‘s Sal Viscuso, Marsha Posner Williams, Jay Johnson, Robert Mandan, Jay Sandrich and Katherine Helmond for their help, hospitality, and kind words and deeds. (More on the original event here.)
Head on over to Jay Johnson’s blog for his warm birthday tribute to the actor behind Chester Tate, and the man who’s been in “a gillion” films. As for Jay’s sign-off:
“Happy Birthday, Mr. Mandan. We shall celebrate with a bottle of “HOOP DE HAH”
Soap fans will recall that Hoop De Hah was the brand of booze Hobo Chester was drinking while suffering from amnesia following his suicide attempt. (Don’t you miss those great Soap storylines?)
If memory serves, Jay actually designed a label for the hootch and gave Bob Mandan a bottle that he still had the last time we spoke. They really were (and are) a wonderful family.
Hi all. With last week’s passing of beloved actor Edward Herrmann, I put together the complete interview I conducted with him for The Gilmore Girls Companion back in 2009. (He graciously wrote the foreword to that book.)
It occurred to me that many Soap lovers might also be fans of his work considering the wide range of programs and films he appeared in over the years.
When I went back through my notes I discovered that the interview ran to 40 typed pages in all, so it seemed best to make it available as a PDF rather than online.
I apologize for the design quality of the document itself; Pamela is up to her eyeballs in deadlines right now so I had a go at putting it together myself. She’s the designer, I’m the writer, and unfortunately I’m afraid that shows.
That said, I wanted to get this text out there sooner rather than later.
A word here on the process: I sent him a few sample questions before we actually spoke by phone for the first time. I recorded the conversation, transcribed it, and sent the transcript to him to make any corrections or clarifications he deemed fit. That corrected text is what you’ll find in this PDF.
More than anything else, I really wanted people who never had the opportunity to meet him to see how he spoke and his thought process.
He was a rare individual, and greatly missed.
PS – As a fellow old-time radio fan, I wanted to include a few quick links to the shows and personalities Mr. Herrmann references in the interview. For those interested in hearing the programs first hand, there are many free podcasts available – just search for “old time radio” or “otr” in your favorite podcatcher or in iTunes.
Bob & Ray
Sal Viscuso (Soap’s Father Tim) is finally getting some long overdue recognition for his dramatic work in the gripping two-hander A Steady Rain. Currently being staged at Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theatre until Nov. 2, the production is technically touring, so could pop up in your town soon. If it does, don’t miss it. Here he is chatting with Minneapolis’ local CBS affiliate yesterday. A force of nature is our Sal.
Soap’s Father Tim, Sal Viscuso, is back on network TV Thursday, Sept. 25th, after his brilliant part in the two-man show A Steady Rain. Don’t miss it.
And to get the back story on Sal, I heartily recommend taking a moment to read Otto Bruno’s new piece on the man himself. There are some good folks in the acting world, and Sal is one of the best.
Hi gang. I know it’s been a while, but I wanted to thank a couple of folks for the kind words they’ve written about the Soap book. I really do appreciate all the love that’s been sent its way, and I’m chuffed to bits when I come across such reviews.
- Rod Lott over at the aptly-named site Bookgasm is very kind indeed – had to smile at his description of another of my books: “the criminally under-read The New Horror Handbook.”If only that was a criminal offense, Rod ;-)
- Pavan’s writeup on SitcomsOnline.com was a great surprise as well, timed as it was to coincide with Soap’s (pause as Aaron tries to do the math) anniversary.
Thank you so much, guys – all greatly appreciated.
In the age of social media there’s a new instinct that attends the passing of any great public figure, particularly those we’ve always looked upon fondly – a bracing for a tidal wave of the banal, empty-headed wittering of the masses. Many simply mourn the deceased with a few kind words and some nostalgic recollections; many others use the opportunity to badmouth the person and their works.
Which was why it was so lovely to read Jay Johnson’s story about his (near) encounter with Robin Williams; that it is also a tale about his audition for Soap is merely icing on the cake. If like many you’re looking for a little smile to temper the grief over the great man’s passing, spare a few minutes to read Jay’s story here.
UPDATE: There’s now an app that will take you to the various places you can view Jay Johnson: The Two and Only. Download here.
It appears that different cable systems are offering Jay’s amazing Broadway show recording on different days via On Demand. Let it be said right here and now that if you’re a fan of Soap, theater, comedy, ventriloquism, history, performance, tearjerkers, or great storytelling, you’re really going to want to hunt this one down – it’s that good. And for those holding out for a DVD, Amazon is now listing it for a December 16th release.
Honestly if the budget will allow, I would strongly suggest doing both video on demand and the DVD – Johnson’s show is eminently rewatchable. It’s the kind of thing you can put on when family’s in town –those times when you don’t know how else you’re going to entertain them.
One of the best parts of the show is that it plays to a broad spectrum of people. Wee ones will enjoy the antics of Johnson’s many stage friends, the more erudite will enjoy his insights into history and the human condition – there’s really something for everybody.
First off, I’m glad the Powers That Be have finally come out with a bit of video of A Steady Rain, the play that Sal Viscuso (Father Tim) was kicking ass in at the beginning of this year, and will be kicking ass in later this year and on into 2015 & 2016.
Yep, A Steady Rain is going on tour, beginning with some dates in Minneapolis this October, as well as Atlanta’s Alliance NEXT September! Check out the official A Steady Rain Tour site for background and some awesome pics.
Sal’s also appearing in the fall season premiere of ABC’s Scandal Thursday, Sept. 25th, which should be a hell of a thing. If you watch the above video through to the end, I think you’ll see why many of us are excited to see him in a full-on dramatic TV role.
Rain has been pushing him steadily into some very interesting waters in terms of his acting style – allowing him to tap into his own personality, which is best described as being a force of nature. And quite frankly, we’re anxiously awaiting that Scandal cloudburst!
Anyone in the West Hollywood area looking to take in a bit of theater should head on over to The Odyssey Aug. 2 – Sept. 21 for their production of Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound, directed by Seinfeld‘s Jason Alexander and co-starring Soap‘s Allan Miller (Dr. Alan Posner).
For those who’ve followed this blog for a while, this is the same theater that hosted Sal Viscuso (Father Tim) earlier this year in A Steady Rain. I can’t say enough about what an awesome venue this is – an intimate little stage where it’s you and the actors making magic together – really cool.