When it comes to Show Business, I've always trusted my guts.
And for the most part, they've never let me down.
Yes, "The Hurt Locker" just won the Academy Award.
I still feel totally justified in thinking it was shit.
I've mentioned before that on the sitcoms I ran, I did the casting.
And that I went kicking and screaming into the night trying and failing to get the network and the studio to allow me to cast Loni Anderson in a pilot because I thought she would be a break-out star. Which she became the very next year on the same network in "WKRP In Cincinnati".
And that I got Annie Potts her SAG card because I thought she'd be a breakout star.
She was, but, as Ira Gershwin first wrote, not for me.
I don't think I mentioned that before Amy Irving became Steven Spielberg's wife, she was
Ralph Malph's girlfriend on "Happy Days".
Because I cast her, thinking she'd be a breakout star.
She was great in that episode. Far better than that show had a right for her to be.
The one I "let slip through my fingers" was Debra Winger, who also read for me for "Happy Days", for the same part that Amy Irving got. The casting person misspelled her name on the sheet.
And to this day, I still think her name is spelled Wingar.
I just didn't get it with her. I couldn't get past that voice of hers. And that lack of a sense of humor.
I think that time has proven me right.
And I think I'm probably the only person in America who doesn't get "Terms of Endearment".
And I still think I'm right.
I've always trusted my guts.
Some time in the 90's, there was a show that I saw in Los Angeles called "Forever Plaid".
I'm sure many of you are familiar with it.
For the uninitiated, it's a spoof of 50's male musical groups like The Four Aces, The Four Lads and The Ames Brothers.
It had great exaggerated choreography, great humor, and four great performers doing many of the above mentioned groups' hits and others.
There was also a gay sensibility to it that added to it's charm.
I also mentioned in my article about a week ago about Noel Coward's "Present Laughter" that I am a heterosexual with very homosexual taste.
I am probably among the five most knowledgeable heterosexuals about Musical Theater.
I suppose that is the equivalent to being among the five smartest bears in the zoo.
But I know my stuff, and I ended up seeing "Forever Plaid" four times in three different cities.
That first time I saw it, the cast was made up of the original New York cast.
One of the cast members wore dark, horn-rimmed glasses.
I made sure I looked his name up in the program.
His name was David Engel.
I remember turning to my wife and saying "The one with the glasses is going to be a major star.
He's going to be Broadway's next big Musical Theater Leading Man."
Now, this is not to slight the other cast members. They were also great.
It's just that I don't make "Major Star" pronouncements that often.
I'll go to tons of shows and those thoughts and words just don't enter my head and come out of my mouth.
It's always been a rarity.
But they did that night. About David Engel.
In the other productions of "Plaid", there were different casts. And it didn't happen in any of them.
And there was always one of them wearing the horn-rimmed glasses.
So it wasn't the glasses.
It was him. It was David Engel.
He took funny to a whole other level.
They all sang great, but he seemed to have a four-octave range.
He sang "Sixteen Tons" and hit low notes that Tennessee Ernie Ford never dreamed of hitting.
He was something.
So it has always been a particular sore point with me that David Engel had for quite some time fallen off of my radar.
Is there really that little justice in the world?
Was I, dare I say it, wrong?
About three weeks ago, David Engel resurfaced on my radar and heightened my trust of my guts and my sense of righteous indignation.
More about this tomorrow.
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- mark rothman
- Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."