‘Soap’ Reunion on The Hallmark Channel

benson_reunion(Click photo for TV segment link)

While it’s great to see Jay Johnson’s photos from today’s honoring of Robert Guillaume on Hallmark’s Home and Family show, Jay’s thoughts on it all are exactly what we’ve come to expect from his Internet soap (Soap?) box: an honest reflection on whatever subject he’s decided to turn his mind to.

I’ve frequently said here (and in the Soap book) that Jay Johnson gives the impression of being the smartest guy in the room, and his post here only underscores that. There’s a certain tension that exists when you have someone who is both self-aware and aware of the ridiculousness of his surroundings, and that person has a career in Hollywood.

Honestly, the only other person I can think of who had these qualities was Douglas Adams. His Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy might’ve told us “Don’t Panic”; I think Jay would probably say “You probably should panic, but really, what’s the point?”

Happy Birthday, Robert Mandan

mandan_largeHead 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.

A Poignant Jay Johnson Story

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.

More on ‘Jay Johnson: The Two & Only’

twoUPDATE: 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.

Finally! ‘The Two and Only’!

indemandApologies for the lack of posts recently – the dayjob has completely overwhelmed me, I’m afraid. I did, however, want to let you all know that Jay Johnson’s Tony-winning Broadway show, The Two and Only, can finally be seen in the comfort of your own home! It’s being made available beginning Aug. 1st through iNDemand. (Not entirely clear on what this is or how it works, but my technical knowledge sort of peters out somewhere around the iPod days.)

Jay tells a few great stories about the making of Soap, but the real value of this performance is so much more than that. I’m really trying to avoid the ol’ “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry,” but hang it, you absolutely will. And perhaps rarer still, you’ll actually learn something about history, psychology, and when you get right down to it, what it is to be human.

This isn’t just for Soap fans. This is really a performance the likes of which you simply don’t see anymore, and one that cries out to be seen by the whole family, in the best possible sense of that idea.

For more info on getting an opportunity to see this performance for yourself, check out Jay’s recent blog post on the subject. I can’t wait to hear what you all think of it!

 

Many Thanks, Fox 10 (Phoenix)

fox10_1A big thank you to Hans Pedersen over at our local Fox affiliate, Fox 10, for putting together this great little piece about Soap and the book. And special thanks to Jay Johnson and Bob, who navigated the choppy waters of Skype to share their thoughts on the series. Pamela and I are very touched by the efforts of all three of them, as well as those of Wayne Williams for allowing Fox 10 to use his photos from the Book Soup signing.

fox_bob

A ‘Soap’ Reunion

I promised myself that I wouldn’t post about a Soap reunion that took place last night, simply because I didn’t think I had any right to intrude on a personal, private event.

But then Jay Johnson did what he always does – he crafted an eloquent blog post about it that is at times funny, poignant and deeply touching. (Sample a few of his posts at random – you’ll see that he has a knack for this.) I’m also very honored by what Jay wrote about the book.

So enough of my ramblings, let’s get to the good stuff right here.

Book Soup Event Recap

bsoup_talk

L to r: Robert Mandan (Chester), director Jay Sandrich, some goon, 
Jay Johnson (Chuck & Bob) 
©WayneWilliamsStudio.com 2014

As you can imagine, I’m still processing everything that went on during our all-too-brief trip to Los Angeles. And as you can tell from the photo above, some very special people turned up for the event.

We showed up at Book Soup just a few minutes before the 4 PM event time (bad form I know, but the LA traffic caught us completely off guard) in a pretty flustered state, so much so that we forgot to, well, turn the car off after we had unloaded the books inside the store. Not to worry, it was only running for about 5 minutes, but still.

Yet once inside we calmed down immediately thanks to Book Soup’s Amelia Cone and Molly (whose last name I did not catch, sorry Molly!), who put us at our ease.

To be honest, much of what happened next was kind of a blur. There was a pretty good turnout for the talk, which put to rest one fear I had – a big thank you to everyone who showed up, including Soap associate producer Marsha Posner Williams and her husband, Wayne (whom we have to thank for these photos, by the way. Thanks, Wayne) 🙂

I began with an exploration of the controversy that surrounded the show, and read a short bit from the book about the cast and crew settling in at Bob Seagren’s house to watch the Soap premiere (pp. 61-63).

We then opened the floor to questions and personal recollections of Soap, which quickly turned into a great little discussion about this wonderful show. One of the highlights was from a fellow who grew up in Wisconsin and bonded with his father over Soap, much to his mother’s chagrin at the time.

During the talk, Marsha glanced out the window and broke into a great big smile, the reason for which I saw a moment later when in walked Jay Johnson, Jay Sandrich and Robert Mandan! We all proceeded to listen fascinated as the three new arrivals and Marsha reminisced over the making of the show – just a splendid back and forth between them all. During this, they also took questions from the audience.

After they left, the event moved to the back of the store where I signed a few books…and Pamela bought a few others (have to watch that Amelia, she’ll find just the right book for you). Meanwhile, Molly and I bonded over our love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (What, I can’t like other shows, too?)

Many thanks to Gary and Gregory, Derek and Ray, and so many others, including Soap font of wisdom Jeff Krueger. We really couldn’t have asked for a better evening.

bsoup_talk2

L to r: Robert Mandan, Jay Sandrich, some goon, Marsha Posner Williams
Jay Johnson ©WayneWilliamsStudio.com 2014

‘Soap’ Book Update

Before I go into the usual rigamarole about where we are with the book and why the bloody blue blazes it’s taking so long (please turn to page 239 in your Soap book excuse hymnal), I wanted to refer you for a moment to history being made.

If you’ve been following Jay Johnson’s blog at all (and really, if you’re at all interested in Soap or excellent showmanship, why would you not?), you know that Jay this very week is performing his Tony award winning one-man show The Two and Only in North Carolina, where it will be filmed for DVD release. However, if you really want to get the most out of this experience, you need to follow the production’s Facebook page.

I know, I know, Facebook is to the human soul what soda is to tooth enamel, but really, he’s been posting some brilliant stuff there. Break a leg, Jay! (Just not your own, OK?)

And now on to the book.

We are about halfway through the part of the process where I send to each person interviewed the segments of the book that either quotes or discusses them. This is quite an involved process where in some cases we go line by line to make sure that we’ve gotten as close as possible to what actually happened. Often this takes the form of a type of “triangulation” where person A remembers something happening one way, person B another way, and person C yet another. It’s at times like this that you just have to go with who you think was in the best position to remember it (some people’s memories are better than others) and what was the most likely thing to have occurred. I still can’t believe so much is remembered of events that happened 35 years ago!

Anyway, thank you for your continued patience and support for this project. I’ve learned a lot more than I ever thought I would,  and hopefully that means the same will go for you all when you finally have the opportunity to read it.

Confused? You won’t be 🙂