Wednesday, December 19, 2012

ScoutHOOD #1

I’ve never been one who cared much for ceremonies. Weddings are OK, funerals are dark and heavy and graduations are simply booooring. I love celebratory roasts and award ceremonies whenever I have the good fortune of being invited to or being a part of  such an event. Weddings are generally OK because you at least can enjoy a bountiful reception. (OMG am I Andy Rooney reincarnated?)

Anyway, contin
uing ….

All my life I have been very uncomfortable with funerals. This discomfort began in my early youth. When I first became a boy scout in 1947, my troop #78 was among many local scout troops asked to attend the funeral services of a scout master from another troop. He had been killed in an automobile accident. So, very dutifully, I joined ranks with my fellow scouts on this particular lovely Saturday morning and we were all bused to the funeral home.

We were given very specific behavior instructions. We were to form a “condolences” line that would take us one-by-one very quietly to the grieving family members, which included the wife (now widow) and the scout master’s mother. We each had a bereavement message to convey. Mine was “so sorry for your loss, ma’am.” Others had different messages, but the mission of each was to impart some measure of comfort to the bereaved.

The line moved tediously, each scout dutifully conveying his prescribed message first to the wife, then to the mother. When finally my turn came, I too conveyed “so sorry for …”, but before I could get my words out, the wife convulsively exploded in tears, grabbed me and buried her face in my chest screaming “Oh God!, Oh God!” GEEZ, had I messed up my message? I didn’t even get it out. What could have happened? All Eyes turned in my direction. And just before I passed out in utter embarrassment, the wife’s mother saved me. She gently pulled her daughter-in-law from me, caressed and consoled her, then apologized to me. At that moment I was not able to convey my message because in the trauma of the moment I had FORGOTTEN IT.

Upon returning to the bus, a couple of my buddies said “Oooh, what’s that on your shirt?” I looked down to see my here-to-fore clean and pressed scout shirt covered in tearful drool. What I most remember besides the embarrassment was that the bereaved wife was very attractive. Even at 12 years of age I was able to appreciate her loveliness…..even though she was an “old” lady, probably around 30.

When I got home I told my mother about the experience and she, with great motherly sagacity, said “The lady was very sad.” So I gave that little piece of wisdom some serious thought, then managed to get my day back to normal.

I cited this story to explain why I am rather funeral-shy. I’ve since learned that “silence” speaks volumes….a gentle hug or handshake, no words.

Getting back to the general subject of “ceremonies” I can’t recall ever attending a graduation ceremony that wasn’t boring …. except one…. which I will save for another post.


Monday, December 3, 2012

The Terror Experiment

Click to enlarge

Yep, that's me, Dr. Andzari, a mad scientist in a SyFy epic entitled THE   TERROR EXPERIMENT 

I am imparting some bad news to my associates. In the lower picture I am "on the pot" injecting myself with an immune serum whose only side effect is to turn one into a ZOMBIE. 

The review segment in the top is quite accurate. Yes I am indeed a septuagenarian and yes there are a couple people you won't give a shit about.... including me.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Selected Film Clips and Resume

Below are some film clips I've selected to illustrate my film performance range.  This list (as long as I am alive) is not yet a complete list.  Other clips appear at the end of some of my film experience stories.   These are not in any particular order.  Some are Youtube clips and others are mpegs and should be no problem UNLESS you're an Apple or Mac user.  I'm hoping to remedy that little shortoming soon.

We start with my role as Judge Altzo in the 1991 production of DOUBLE CROSSED starring Dennis Hopper.

In 1984 in HOT PURSUIT I was Charlie, Eric Pierpoint's attorney.

In 1997 I was the Governor of Louisiana  in the series ORLEANS starring Larry Hagman (Judge Luther Charbonne).  My scene was with  Colleen Flynn, who played the judge's daughter.

In the 1984 Cinemax mini-series, LOUISIANA, I was Margot Kidder's banker. 

In 2011 I was a very distressed father in TNT's movie of the week, HIDE 

In 1992 I was a police captain in the pilot of a new CBS series entitled DANGEROUS CURVES 

... then CBS brought me back several DANGEROUS CURVES episodes later in a guest lead role .... that of a wealthy and vengeful father bent on protecting his daughter from an undesirable relationship.  Here are two scenes.  You'll notice that they put me in a custom tailored wig which I still have, but dare not wear. 

Another scene from  DANGEROUS CURVES 

In 2001 I was Stephanie Zimbalist's law firm boss in MALPRACTICE directed by Micky Dolenz of The Monkeys fame.  Dolenz was an absolute delight to work with.

In 1967 the HALLMARK HALL OF FAME produced William Faulkner's novelette, OLD MAN (pertaining to the Mississippi River).  This was centered around the 1927 great flood.  I was the Warden of Mississippi's Parchment Penitentiary.  Here are four scenes.  At the end of my HALLMARK HALL OF FAME blog post which appears under the May selections there are two more clips.

 In 2010 I was cast as a geniune blind creep, Frank Waverly, the local blind loner who knew more about "Mothman" than anyone else in town in a Syfy movie entitled MOTHMAN.  

In 1989 I had the pleasure of being cast as a journalist in MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE starring
Farrah Fawcett.  She was an absolute delight to work with.  Please forgive the quality of this clip.
In 1977 a biographical film about Huey Long was produced entitled THE LIFE AND ASSASSINATION OF THE KINGFISH starring Ed Asner as Huey Long.  I played Senator Jack Williamson, a staunch opponent to Long.   Asner was delightful.  Forgive the film quality here.
My resume:

..... and more to come .....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

WBRZ and the Mike Boom Era

When WBRZ (Channel 2) first took to the air in 1955, I had the good fortune of gaining favor with some of the producers. In addition to my short-lived weekly assignment on the FOR KIDS ONLY show (see my “Shirley Temple” post - May 2012), I became a production assistant with the late Brooks Read.

Remember the name John Ferguson? Ferguson was a newscaster and shared sports-casting assignments with J.C.
Politz.   Ferguson didn’t like me.   I know, I know -- how can anyone possibly dislike such a lovable and charming little cherub as me? Well, it did happen and I will tell you why … if you really care to know.

Back then (the 50s) everything was “live.” Video tape had not yet come into existence. Recordings were made via kinescope (on film). Routine daily shows such as news and weather were generally not recorded.

On one particular occasion, Brooks and I had just concluded rehearsing an historical piece with a full cast that was to be kinescoped and aired following John Ferguson’s news. In 1955 lavalieres (wireless body mikes) had not yet been invented. Audio was produced almost exclusively with boom mikes. The broadcaster (in this case John Ferguson) would sit at his desk and the boom mike would be positioned above his head, just off camera.

For whatever reason on this particular occasion I was fidgety. Well actually I knew why I was fidgety. I’ll explain that a little later. Suffice it to say that that day had not been a good day for me. Anyhow during Ferguson’s newscast I stood with my hand near the top of the boom’s upright support. At that point there is a spring thumb lock, which, when pressed, releases the telescoping elevation support. On this occasion, the boom itself was fully extended both upward and outward with the mike above Ferguson’s head. I’m sure you’re way ahead of me by now.

Suddenly, right in the middle of a news item, the boom dropped and the horizontal mike support whipped and popped Ferguson in the head. There was a quick cut to a commercial while Ferguson’s bleeding forehead was tended to. Brooks and a floor tech rushed over to me saying “Jerry, keep your hands off the boom.” I had squeezed the thumb lock releasing the elevation support thus causing the drop and whipping action.  
About 2 minutes later we were live again and Ferguson started with “Sorry about the unsightly band aids, but we had a little mishap.” He then continued with his newscast. When it was over and the studio was no longer live, he said to me “What the hell were you doing with that boom?” To which my only reply was “Just goofing off. Sorry.” This drew laughs from everyone except Ferguson. He never spoke to me after that.

 My fidgeting that day had begun some several hours earlier. I had a regular daily radio show on the LSU campus’ 500 watt FM station, WLSU. My show ran from 11 AM to 2 PM each weekday. My format alternated between classical music and prose and poetry readings. I loved it. Nestled within my time slot was an hour of Campus-wide broadcasting when I would flip a switch and during the noon hour each day the WLSU broadcast would be piped over the speakers of the Campanile (LSU’s historic landmark tower). Everyone on campus would then be treated to lovely classical and semi-classical music. Vocals were not permitted during the noon hour. At the end of the noon hour at 1 PM the Campanile speakers would be shut off with WLSU programming continuing according to schedule. In my case there would be readings of selected poems and some occasional prose.

On this particular day I had decided to have some fun with some home-made limericks. You know the kind …”There once was a mason named Brick, who clearly was ….”, etc. Anyhow most of the limericks were fairly tame, some were slightly racy, but fell within acceptable FCC guidelines. Why I decided that day to cut loose with limericks, I just don’t know. I do remember that my late and dear friend, Dave Lewis, also a DJ on WLSU, would himself pull little stunts. Perhaps he had inspired me. Anyhow I was enjoying my final hour that day alternating between legitimate classical poetry and goofy limericks when suddenly the control room door slammed open and my boss, Lucile Ruby, charged in, dashed over to the console and flipped the Campanile switch to OFF. Oh sh*t! I had failed to turn off the Campanile speakers. She scratched on a sheet of paper for me to come see her when I sign off…. all this while I am reciting a William Wordsworth poem (thank God it was not a limerick at that point).

After signing off I dutifully went into her office and, to my great disappointment, got my walking papers. That’s when the fidgeting began. A few hours later … well you know the rest of the story. Ever have a bad day?

At least I didn’t lose my Channel 2 internship. And a few months later, producer Bob Reed launched a hit parade type of weekly show called HIT OR MISS and cast me and some 10 other locals as regulars.

 May I “name drop?” Among those in HIT OR MISS, besides myself, were future actresses Dot Bourgeois ( Donna Douglas of Beverly Hillbillies fame) and Elizabeth Cole (Elizabeth Ashley of Broadway and Film fame), future movie critic Rex Reed and composer Dick Holler (Abraham, Martin and John).


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kim Novak

In 1955 two movies were released which grabbed me and would not let go. They were PICNIC and THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM. I was not so much impressed with the plot structures or the production values of these two films as I was with the female lead actress that appeared in both. Her name was Kim Novak. I fell immediately in love with Kim. This of course was 3 years before I met Gloria.

I was mesmerized and obsessed with Kim Novak. I thought she was the sexiest, most gorgeous woman I had ever laid eyes on. I was smitten.

I was in my third year with the Louisiana National Guard’s Anti-aircraft battalion. Each year we would embark by rail to Fort Bliss, Texas for 2 weeks of field training. The battalion comprised about 600 men.

In 1956 we were about 2 weeks out from our excursion once again to Fort Bliss for summer field training. I had shared my Kim Novak infatuation with some of my closest National Guard buddies. I was careful not to over-dramatize my obsession for fear of boring them to death.

Four days after our arrival at Ft. Bliss that year, my name was called out at mail-call. I got a letter. Because the envelop was pink and the embossed stationery lettering was gold, this drew the attention of many of my guard colleagues. “Hey, Leggio, that your girl friend?”, “Leggio got a love letter”, “Maybe it’s a dear John letter”, etc, etc. They crowded around me much like the sailors did when ENSIGN PULVER (Jack Lemon) opened a letter from MR. ROBERTS (Henry Fonda). I said “Hey, guys, this is personal.” 

The letter was from Kim. She told me of her upcoming film projects, wishing I could be there with her, etc., etc. One of the guys, unbeknownst to me, had been peeking over my shoulder. “Hey, guys, you won’t believe this. Leggio got a letter from Kim Novak!” Many said “No sh*t”, “I thought Leggio was bullsh****g us.” All hell broke loose. I have to admit that the attention and adulation I was getting was quite gratifying and ego-stroking. Within a matter of 30 minutes everyone in the battalion had heard about my letter from Kim Novak. I was overrun with masculine praise. I was “big man” on the post.

While I truly enjoyed the adulation, admiration and envy with which I was being showered, I began to have serious bouts of guilt.

My friend, Bill LaVallee, was now living in Hollywood and he was fast moving into the film and stage spot lights. I had shared with Bill my obsession with Kim and he too agreed that she was indeed a gorgeous woman; though he wasn’t smitten as was I. I suddenly had an idea. Since I had shared my Kim fantasy with members of the 769th Anti-aircraft Battalion, I fantasized with Bill about corresponding with Kim. Bill then offered a suggestion, which I jumped at. He said he could create Kim Novak personal stationery and write me a letter from Kim and send it to my Ft Bliss address. Man, that was tempting. After giving his suggestion some thought (about 2 seconds), I said OK. 

I never admitted to my National Guard buddies that they had been victims of a hoax. When 600 guys had formed this high opinion of me, phony as it was, how could I have shattered their collective vicarious Kim fantasies? This would have been cruel. Actually my real fear was having to run for my life.

To this day I occasionally have little pangs of guilt, but then I revive the memory and again relive the fantasy. It’s been just over 60 years now and sadly I have come to see more and more obituaries on many of these guys. But I appease myself with the reminder that I too was a victim of this hoax more so than the guys. Those still living can still enjoy reviving it. It was REAL to them. Maybe some may read this post. If so, I may have to deal with that. But my biggest regret is that I have no idea what I did with that letter.

My Kim obsession ended in late 1958 when I met my true love, Gloria. I was smitten again and have been ever since. The grainy picture of Gloria was taken some 3-4 months before we met.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Yosemite Sam and the 3D movie era

Remember the days of 3D movies? When arrows would come through the screen right at you? When bar fights resulted in fists coming at YOU rather than at its intended foe? BUT… the worst part was having to wear those stupid stereoscopic 3D glasses.

Well, let me take you back to 1972 when the film industry came very close to seeing an end to those annoying 3D glasses, a time when movie-goers came very close to being spared the use of these grotesque gizmos hanging on their faces.

Four Baton Rouge locals were the principals in this gripping and mesmerizing adventure … the late Ray Spruel, Larry Hubbard, Tony Thompson and myself. All great inspirations begin with a seed of an idea. Ray and I were en route to New Orleans one balmy day in the late 60s when the subject of 3D movies crept into the conversation. I mentioned that it was too bad that 3D movie-goers had to be subjected to the annoyance of having to wear those goofy, paper contraptions. Then Ray said “If a motion picture camera could shoot alternate frames, i.e. left eye, right eye, etc, then there would be no need for the glasses.” I said “You sure?” He said “The optic nerves in concert with the brain would automatically fuse the projected images and the viewer would see 3D.” I said “Ray, that sounds very feasible. Have you thought about developing such a lens?” He said “Hell, I’m not a camera technician.”

While the idea of alternating frames was quite intriguing, I had to admit that I too was no camera technician. So this concept laid dormant for about 3 or 4 years until the day came that another great inspiration blossomed.

When my father passed away in 1971 my mother gave me his 8 mm Bell and Howell camera. This camera, in addition to shooting movie footage, was capable also of shooting single frames. If occurred to me that with this capability I could at least test Ray’s theory.

I ran this idea by my two GSRI (Gulf South Research Institute) colleagues, Larry and Tony, and we all agreed that this just might work. GSRI had just opened its labs on GSRI Ave and we agreed that the new engineering lab would be the ideal “scientific” venue for this exciting undertaking. After all, this lab was not yet in use and we thought it certainly needed to be christened with a worthy project. The GSRI bosses signed off and we began planning our strategies. We pooled our considerable financial resources in order to purchase the items we would need. We set up a light table in the lab and purchased a roll of 8mm film (mail-off processing included), a 6 foot 2x4 board, 2 large nails and a 6 inch bolt.   

Since this was going to be a movie, we needed a “star.” We didn’t have to conduct auditions because Larry said he had a little 4 inch tall Yosemite Sam figurine. Great! Casting was complete. Our star would be Yosemite Sam. Our total investment in this venture up to this point came to just under 7 dollars.

Here was the plan. The two nails would be mounted onto a small platform, ….. Aw heck, let’s not to get too technical; suffice it to say we shot all 3600 frames showing Sam in motion against a small cardboard set. We had placed a few other stationary objects on the set in order to increase the effect of depth. We then sent the film off for processing.

Now all we had to do was await the processed film and we would be treated to 3D without the need for stereoscopic glasses …. presumably. I called Ray and told him what we had done and he said to let him know when the film came in. I told him that we were going to form a corporation, producing gizmo-free 3D motion pictures. He said to make him a “silent partner.” Agreed.

It seemed that the processed film was going to take forever to come in. “Forever” is a euphemism for “we were very anxious.” In the meantime Larry, Tony and I spent several lunch hours contemplating what our soon-to-be multi-BILLION dollar corporation should be called. We toyed with many possibilities. Tony said we should incorporate our own names. I said that we were not going to be a law firm. So we discarded the idea of calling it Leggio, Hubbard and Thompson. Then Larry said it wouldn’t sound like a law firm if we simply incorporated some of the letters of each of our names into ONE name. Because Ray chose to be a silent partner, we rationalized that he would also prefer not to be included in the name. We did, however, agree to make him a 25% partner. After all, the concept was Ray’s.

After minutes and minutes of brain-storming we came up with “Thule Tri Dyne Corporation”. THule (for “THompson”), tHUle (for “HUbbard”) and thuLE (for “LEggio”)….. pronounced “thoolee”. The “Tri” represented the number 3 as in 3D and Dyne was for Dimension. Why the “y” in Dyne?  Well, it just looked more elegant as “Dyne” rather than “Dim” for Dimension. Thule Tri Dim just didn’t sound right. Of course on further reflection neither did Thule Tri Dyne. But lets not quibble.

One thing we all agreed on was that the corporate title sounded truly goofy (Thule Tri Dyne) (thoo lee try dyne). But we knew that the end product would bring the corporation the distinction and respect it would rightfully deserve. Remember “Smuckers”? “With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good.” Back then there was not yet “Apple” because Steve Jobs would have been a mere child at that time. But of course we all have come to associate high tech computing and cell phone technology with “Apple” and its missing “byte”. The 3 of us found ourselves fantasizing about the advent of a 3D market dominated by Thule Tri Dyne Corporation. Ok, our new corporate name would probably work. We even agreed to cut GSRI in for some of the profits, which would surely be ample.

The day finally came when the much awaited processed film arrived. Larry was beginning to regret having asked GSRI’s highly educated urban planners, economists and physical scientists to constitute our premier audience. Larry kept muttering “it’s not going to work. We’re going to want to hide when this is shown.” Tony and I didn’t attempt to re-energize Larry’s optimism because we too began having some misgivings.

But too late! Everyone was comfortably seated in our make-shift theatre in the engineering lab. I loaded the film in the projector, Tony set up the screen and Larry curled up in a corner near the side exit. Lights out, projector on, Yosemite Sam was now performing. Had Yosemite been a life form, he’d have gotten sea-sick within 15 seconds. Yosemite fluttered viciously from side to side. Even the viewers were beginning to get sick amid sadistic laughter. Flutter! FLUTTER!! After about 30 seconds I shut down the projector, Tony flipped on the lights and Larry announced “I think we need to do a little more work. Next time we will …” But he was cut off by one of the senior staffers saying “Who says there will be a next time?”

It’s been over 40 years now and Thule Tri Dyne Corporation has remained dormant, quiet and, mercifully, inactive.

Ray was not able to attend our premier, but when I told him about the debacle, he simply said “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.” Thanks, Ray. Well, yes, I guess it did sound feasible. At least we saved Kodak, Sony and Panasonic the expense of developing an eye-width frame-alternating lens.

 Larry, Tony and I took a tally of our loses. We each had put in about $2.25 into this investment. At least we didn’t have to mortgage our homes.

Somewhere deep in a warehouse there resides the 8mm flutter-footage of Yosemite Sam. But having been in a NON-climate controlled environment now for over 40 years and having not cranked up my 8mm projector for over 30 years, I have serious doubts about the prospects of ever again viewing this epic footage. And Larry has no idea where his Yosemite Sam figurine is. Too bad; so sad. Perhaps in some far off century when archeologists discover a lost, former capital city in their exploratory diggings, some heads may be scratched … “What the hell was this all about???

When we form our next corporation, you will only hear about it if it becomes a public offering on Wall St.

But don’t hold your breath.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


The following review from the UK's Horror Cult Film website I am particularly proud of:

Click to enlarge

In 2010 I was cast as FRANK WAVERLY in a Sci Fi Channel made-for-TV movie entitled MOTHMAN.  My character was that of the town's old, blind, curmudgeon who knew more about the MOTHMAN legend than anyone else.  Here are a few favorite clips.   The last one is a Youtube.  

Click here for --->My BIG finish

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Monopoly and Batman

My friend Lloyd had finally gotten what Santa had promised to bring him – a Monopoly Game. Lloyd had long dreamed of having a Monopoly Game and finally on Christmas morning of 1944 he came bounding over to my house proudly announcing that Santa had brought him a Monopoly Game.

For many a weekend he and I and our other friend, Homer, would play Monopoly. What fun!

But Monopoly wasn’t our only d
iversion. One afternoon Lloyd said “Jerry, come over to the house and let’s iron these Batman decals on our T-shirts.” So he and I arranged his front room floor so we would have room to iron these decals onto our t-shirts. When done, we eagerly donned our new creations and went dashing down the street, showing off our new attire. Such fun! How proud we were!

When we reached North St, we heard the sound of sirens. We looked at each other and decided that the sound was growing nearer. And nearer. And nearer still until around the corner a block down and approaching us was this big beautiful red fire engine. Lo and behold it was now turning down our street. We had to see this. We charged down Canal st. and watched as the truck stopped in front of Lloyd’s house. What’s going on?  

When we got to Lloyd’s house, we were held back while 2 firemen entered Lloyd’s unlocked house from which smoke from smoldering linoleum was pouring out.  A neighbor had seen the smoke and called the fire department.

Lloyd turned pale and said “oops, I think I know what happened.” He had failed to unplug the iron which he had placed on the linoleum floor. Upon completing the extinguishing, the head fireman said to Lloyd: “You live here?” “Yes, sir” “Where are your parents?” “They both work.” Seeing the freshly decaled t-shirts on Lloyd and me, he said “You boys put these decals on?” “Yes, sir”. The fireman then said “Well, the iron burned through the floor. You didn’t turn it off.” Lloyd gulped. The fireman then got Lloyd’s name and some personal information. They then left. The iron had burned completely through the floor and fell to the ground below.

 Lloyd said “My dad’s going to be real mad”. Lloyd’s dad was a blue collar hardworking hulk of a man. Poor Lloyd trembled at the thought of what his dad might do to him. Soon his mom came home. He was relieved that she came home first. Then came dad. Lloyd was now in his house and I prayed that he wouldn’t be too severely punished. I didn’t see him the rest of that day.  

The next morning I went outside and waited to see Lloyd. It seemed like hours before he came outside. When he did, I asked “What happened?” He said “Well, we won’t be playing monopoly anymore.” I asked “Did he take it away from you?” Then Lloyd said “Come see.” I went with Lloyd into his house. He pointed to the floor. His dad had nailed the Monopoly board over the hole. Then with great relief Lloyd said “But at least I didn’t get a whupin’”.



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Kidnapper, My Love

Remember a centerfold blond beauty of the 50s named Jan Sterling?  Remember her husband, Sam Wanamaker? 

In the late 70s New Orleans’ premier casting director,  Wilma Francis, phoned me and said that Sam Wanamaker wanted to cast me in a James Stacy film entitled “The Dark Side of Love”.    Now deceased, Wilma asked if I and my wife would be available to join Sam and his wife, Jan Sterling, for dinner at the Royal Sonesta Hotel.   Well, of course I said yes and Gloria and I joined them there at the appointed date and time.   I had not auditioned for this film so I had no information about the plot or the character requirements.   Wilma had shown him an audition tape from a previous production I had tried out for.  

A director is only willing to “wine and dine” a prospective cast member if indeed the role is fairly substantial.   Wilma was also present at this dinner meeting.   Sam was extremely gracious, introducing us to his wife, Jan, and taking the time to make Gloria feel comfortable and welcomed.    We had wine and ordered the Royal Sonesta signature cuisine.   

He then began describing the script.   He said that this was a story that James Stacy had for years wanted to bring to the screen.   If you don’t remember James Stacy, he was a young, upcoming heart throb of the 60s.   Then tragically in 1973 his girl friend was killed and he lost his left arm and leg in a motorcycle accident.   Sam Wanamaker,  also an actor, was primarily known for his directing repertoire .... Columbo,  Love Story,  The Defenders,  The Wild, Wild West,  I was a Mail Order Bride, Private Benjamin,  Gunsmoke and many, many others.   Jan Sterling, his wife, was also to appear in this film.   An A-list actress famous for sultry  roles in films such as Johnny Belinda,  Union Station,  The Mating Season,  Pony Express,  etc,  she would be playing my wife in this film.   SAY WHAT!!!    I knew I was younger than she.   I would later discover that I was 11 years younger.   What was this all about?   Anyway Gloria and I continued to enjoy the socializing, though, in my case somewhat uncomfortably.    Why would he want a much younger actor for the role of the husband?   I dared not discuss the age difference for fear that Jan might be insulted or more likely I’d be the one insulted.   Jan couldn’t have been sweeter or more gracious.  At the time she would have been in her mid fifties and looked absolutely stunning.   But still … 11 years age difference?  

When dinner ended, both Sam and Jan said they were looking forward to working with me though I had not yet been formerly offered the role.   I thanked them for a lovely evening.   I thanked Wilma who said she’d let me know when shooting would start and when I’d be getting a script.   

On our drive back home I expressed to Gloria my concern for playing a husband much younger than his wife.   Gloria said “maybe they think you’re closer to her age.”  Thanks a lot, honey.   I preferred to think that Sam would be grooming Jan to be much younger.   After all she was still a beautiful woman.   Of course this was all pure speculation.   I still didn’t have a script, so all of my fretting was for naught.   I would simply have to await a script.   

But no script ever came.  The following day Wilma called and said that Stacy had vetoed Sam’s casting preference.    She said that Stacy had decided to cast “one of his crony friends”.    He had selected Richard Venture over me.   Of course I was disappointed.    I forgot what network the TV film aired on, but when I watched it (it had been renamed “My Kidnapper, My Love”), I quickly realized that Venture, in my opinion,  was more suited for the role.  He was a year older than Jan Sterling and 12 years older than me and delivered a convincing portrayal.   So I doubted that he was merely a “crony” of Stacy.   Didn’t really matter.  He delivered the character and delivered it well.  Venture is still living today (now 89) though not currently active.  His last film was in 2001.   It later occurred to me that Sam himself could have played the husband.   He looked a lot like Venture and was near his age.  Perhaps he had cast himself and perhaps Stacy vetoed that selection.  Who knows?  Pure speculation. 

My late friend, Brooks Read, had a small bit part in this film, playing a homeless vagrant…a strange piece of casting in my opinion, though Brooks did an admirable depiction.    

Who am I to advise the likes of Sam Wanamaker?   Though I truly appreciated his “appreciation” of my talent, in retrospect I probably would have suggested he consider a more likely match for the role.  Though I love stage much more than film (except for the money) nothing can be more stressful or tiring than portraying a character for which you are not suited.    In film I’ve come to accept and expect the stereotypical “jerk” character types I seem to be best suited for.   Though I don’t enjoy portraying “jerks”, the money says “It’s OK.”  And on second thought I probably would NOT have advised Wanamaker to consider a more likely match than me.   After all, as I stated earlier “Who am I to advise the likes of Sam Wanamaker?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An Attitude Adjustment

Monday, July 23, 2012


This excerpt from Youtube:

The world is about to be destroyed by an errant comet and I, as director of NASA’s fictional “look alike” agency USSA, must decide on how  to prevent this catastrophic collision. In this clip from SyFy’s QUANTUM APOCALYPSE I am agreeing, with great reluctance, to entertain some ideas from 2 hippie scientists. I have grave misgivings about the value of their judgments, but out of courtesy to my senior deputy I have agreed to interview them.

The female hippie “genius” in this clip is Gigi Edgley.   If you’re a SyFy channel fan, then you will remember her from the Farscape series. She’s a remarkable actress. The guy is Collin Galyean, a local who turned in a very polished performance as Tom, the other half of the hippie genius pair. Amol Shah, also an accomplished actor, was my deputy director.

QUANTUM APOCALYPSE holds the rare distinction of having an IMDB rating below 3 (out of a max of 10).   Well, maybe not so rare…. according to the IMDB there are over 14,000 titles that fared worse. Among these, surprisingly, are several SNLs and Desperate Housewives.   Oh well, at least QUANTUM APOCALYPSE was enjoyed in Brazil and Korea and, I think, has gone to DVD.   If anyone has seen it anywhere else on earth, please let me know. I’ll be able to expect another foreign airing residual payment.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

FROGs (originally MARSH ISLAND)

Remember a film entitled “FROGS” starring Ray Milland, Sam Elliott and Joan van Ark?  Released in 1972, this film was originally destined for full production in Louisiana. Didn’t make it. Here’s the story.

In the late 60s I had completed phase II of my Louisiana Film Development project. One afternoon I received a call from an American International Pictures producer by the name of Peter Thomas. He asked if I could meet with him and his set designer. I agreed and they picked me up from my office and we were on our way down La Hwy 1 south to visit some prospective filming locations.

I sat in the back seat with the set designer, whose name I think was Michael. Peter rode passenger in the front. During the first hour of our trip we small talked about film production in general, but nothing specific to FROGS. Finally I decided to satisfy my curiosity and ask what types of locations  were they looking for. Peter said they were going to build the façade of a large classical southern mansion on Marsh Island. I said “Where?” He repeated “Marsh Island”. He pulled out a Louisiana road map and pointed to Marsh Island which is about 50 miles just west of Houma in the Gulf of Mexico. I expressed surprise that they would choose that location. He asked “why?” I told him that Marsh Island was simply the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico that had broken the surface, that it was indeed a marsh and would not be able to support a film crew much less a construction team and equipment.

Peter immediately ordered the driver to “STOP THE CAR!!” He pulled off into a service station. Peter asked “Then why would it be on a map?” I repeated “because it is above the surface of the water and thus qualifies as an ‘island’.” Peter then said to Michael “You mean we’ve made this trip for nothing?” Michael shrugged. I offered to show them some other prospects, but Peter was needing to recover from the disappointment . The plan had been for this movie (which had originally been named “MARSH ISLAND”) to start with a slow zoom onto a Louisiana map, zeroing in on “Marsh Island”, then morphing into the actual mansion’s front. 

The IMDB describes the plot thus:   “Jason Crockett (Ray Milland) is an aging, grumpy, physically disabled millionaire who invites his family to his island estate for his birthday celebration. Pickett Smith (Sam Elliott) is a free-lance photographer who is doing a pollution layout for an ecology magazine. Jason Crockett hates nature, poisoning anything that crawls on his property. On the night of his birthday the frogs and other members of nature begin to pay Crockett back.”  It was easy to see why they were inspired by the Marsh Island location and name.

The return trip was not nearly as pleasant. When we got back to my office, Peter thanked me and I again offered to further assist their location needs. Peter said he was not sure at this point, but may be back in touch.  I suspected they would not be calling or staying in Louisiana for the shoot.  And no he didn’t get back in touch and no I never saw the film.  Has anyone seen it? Or remember it?

According to the IMDB they wound up at Eden Gardens State Park and Panama City Beach in Florida.

I just couldn’t let them sink in the Marsh Island muck. They probably would have been pretty pissed at me.  This is one we lost, but the state’s film production experience since then has been phenomenal.  The loss of FROGS obviously has not discouraged future projects ….. thank heavens.

HEY, film makers: MARSH ISLAND is still a MARSH.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Spaghetti Sunday

It was late in 1947 when my stature in near adulthood comes to life.  And yes this little tale does indeed involve film production.

How do I remember it was late 1947?  My paternal grandmother decided to have the Leggio clan over for a spaghetti dinner one Sunday late that year.   Because I had just turned 12 years of age, I was now allowed to eat at the big table with the adults.  The kids (including my younger brother, Wayne) all had to sit at the “kid table” where, until this momentous occasion, I had previously sat (before turning 12).  So on this “spaghetti Sunday” I really felt special.

My grandmother's 2-story home was on the corner of Royal and America streets in downtown Baton Rouge.  The back of her house abutted the back of the then Governor's Mansion on North Blvd.

I sat next to my older cousin, Buddy.  I was crazy about Buddy.  He was 5 years older than me and was a lot of fun.  And “fun” is an understatement in describing the events of this particular Sunday gathering.

About half of the Leggio clan was  in attendance. Besides my brother and our parents there were 3 aunts, 1 uncle, 4 in-law spouses and about 7 cousins.  At the big round table were the adults.   At the small square table were the kids.

Buddy was a perpetual practical joker.  And since I was now among the adults I got to enjoy being in close proximity to his antics. 

On this particular occasion he had acquired a spool of white thread.  He tied the thread’s end to a black cardboard cut-out of a cockroach.   Our Aunt Estelle was a lovable, high-energy and high-strung lady.  Knowing where she was going to be sitting, Buddy draped the cockroach-end of the spool about a foot over the table’s edge just opposite her chair.  The white table cloth would essentially render the white thread “invisible”.  Buddy was holding the spool end of the thread.  (Yes, yes, I know you’re way ahead of me).

Grandma Leggio was busy in the kitchen cooking spaghetti and meatballs.  My uncle George busied himself going back and forth into the kitchen to check on Grandma’s progress.  George was a big man and was trying to be patient and control his ravenous appetite.  

Pretty soon everyone except Grandma (who is still in the kitchen) is seated, ready to enjoy Grandma’s famous spaghetti dinner.   Uncle George, of course, is still up and down checking on the kitchen progress.  

Buddy now leans over to me and says “Watch this.”  He proceeds to slowly reel in the white thread.  Now appears the “cockroach” next to Aunt Estelle’s place setting.  And NOW we hear a deafening “AAAAHH, a roach, A ROACH” as she leaps up, spilling her water and causing 2 or 3 other family guests to do the same.

I always wondered why my Aunt Lou wore a men's leather belt around her waist.  I now knew. suddenly Buddy is now yelling “Momma, Momma!” as Aunt Lou, Buddy’s mom, takes a belt to him.  And during this “roach” commotion we suddenly hear Uncle George now yelling “Momma, MOMMA!” Grandma, who has been clobbering George with a spatula, comes into the dining room announcing “George has eaten all the meatballs.  So it looks like we’ll be having spaghetti WITHOUT meatballs.”  

While my Dad is still laughing at Buddy's little prank,  my mom shames me for it and Aunt Lou defends me with "Audrey, that was entirely Buddy's doings, not Jerry Jr's"  And yes I dearly loved my Aunt Lou.

Dinner now ends and Uncle Jules requests that everyone join him and Aunt Frances in the living room.  He and Frances had just returned from a 6 week European vacation.  We were all going to be treated to 8 millimeter movie footage of their trip.  He had shot about 10 rolls of film.  (I told you this story would be about film production).

While Uncle Jules is preparing the projector with the first of his film rolls, we all settle into our seats in the living room (the “kids” get to sit on the floor) in preparation of the big travel log.  Neither Jules nor Frances had seen these processed film rolls.   Jules wanted them to be as fresh to him and Frances as to his family.

OK, the projector is now projecting.  But, OMG, what we see is a big flesh colored section of frame with just a small corner showing something that Aunt Frances disgustedly describes as a “beautiful country-side in Italy if Jules’ THUMB wasn’t in the picture.”  Uncle Jules was a cigar smoker.  When he shot the footage, his thumb would somehow wind up over the lens.   But because the eyepiece was clear it didn’t occur to him that the lens might not be clear.  And so his thumb was the dominant subject of their trip.   Nonetheless we all had to sit and watch about 30 minutes of “thumb” while Aunt Frances described what we were supposed to be seeing.

Fading memory does not allow me to remember whether or not we had dessert that Sunday.  But no amount of dessert could have substituted for the unending series of “entertainments” we enjoyed that day.   And, though my milestone 12th birthday had already come and gone, I considered this “Spaghetti Sunday” the best present I could have received, my very own special Thanksgiving.