Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Come say hi to BRB at the Geek Media Expo

It's never too soon to start your travel plans, and the third edition of the Geek Media Expo promises to be a con you definitely want to put on your "to do" list. The event will be delivering the best in programming, panels, events, contests, VIP celebrities, artists, and much, much more.

From the Jedi Obstacle Course to the GMX Geek Comedy Showcase to the Warp Speed Drawing Showdown and exhibits of all kinds of geeky-cool stuff, it all happens October 21-23 at the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.

AND ... Billie Rae Bates of BRBTV is on the guest list. BRB will be there signing all three of the BRBTV reference books in print, "Destination: Dallas," "Dynasty High" and "Them Dukes! Them Dukes!", and e-copies of the BRBTV reference books and reports will be available, as well. And who knows, there might be a photo or two from My Mother's Clothing. Take this opportunity to get the firsthand scoop on what's coming up next in the BRBTV product line -- as well as what classic TV stars we'll be talking to next! (We've got our own big "to do" list, and we're going to cram as much of it into 2012 as possible!)

Mark it on your calendar, and we'll see you in Nashville!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Con appearance update for John Schneider

Our own Bo Duke of "The Dukes of Hazzard," Mr. John Schneider, continues to keep a brisk appearance schedule for 2011. Here's an update, and thanks to Phyllis for keeping us in the know:

June 17-19
Philadelphia Comic Con in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

July 8-10
Carlisle Chrysler Nationals, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

July 16-17
The Hollywood Show, Burbank, California
(Schneider was just added to this bevy of classic TV stars, which we reported on in our May 24 post.)

July 30-31
Marilla Car, Truck and Cycle Show, Marilla, New York

Frank and Son Collectible Show, Rowland Heights, California

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Coy and Vance Duke carve out their own corner of cyberspace

It's bright, it's rather beautiful, and you better believe it's orange. It's the new and thoroughly official website of Coy and Vance Duke -- also known as Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer! It's a one-pager now, with plans for expansion. So cyber-drive yourself on over and bookmark it to keep updated on these great guys and their personal appearances:


Monday, June 13, 2011

Chatting with Christopher Mayer, part 2

Last week, we gave you some highlights of our long-awaited and soooo-much-appreciated interview with Christopher ("Chip") Mayer, who was Vance Duke on our beloved "The Dukes of Hazzard." This week, we continue that, with an emphasis on Mayer's work on the '80s soap "Santa Barbara," where he was the free-wheeling, morally compromised but overwhelmingly hunky T.J. Daniels, in pursuit of not only the lovely Kelly Capwell but also her mom, Sophia!
So what was his most vivid memory of working on that daytime show?

“I think it was just the amount of dialogue," says this actor whose career stretched from 1980 to 2000, "because normally you do a film or a TV show, and it’s an hourlong show, and we would take a week to do that. We would do interiors, with a blue screen behind us with the General Lee and all that … But on a soap, it’s a 3-10 deal. … You go in there, and everybody’s working like they’re hung over. And you do a dry run through different scenes. There was a lot of dialogue, and a lot of choreography. You might have to move to another area and sit down. And if you miss that, you feel like a big screw-up. I wouldn’t look at my lines until the day of the shot. There were days I had like 30 pages of dialogue. The amount of dialogue you had to learn day to day is one of the most challenging things about doing a soap.”

Though he shared his "SB" scenes with multiple Kelly Capwells, including Playboy Playmate Kimberly McArthur and we suspect Carrington Garland (though Mayer thinks he left before she took over the role), he seems most impressed by far with Robin Wright, who originated the character.

“Robin was a hoot. She ended up telling me at one point, I had gotten to be a bit of a maniac then because my first marriage had broken up … She looked at me and she said, ‘You’re too crazy. I’ll tell you what I am going to do.’ This was right at that time the movie ‘Casualties of War’ was being shot with Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox in Thailand. She said, ‘I’m going to go over to Thailand, and I’m going to meet Sean Penn and I’m going to marry him.’ She prophesied that. She’s cool, really cool. It just cracked me up. Only such a beautiful woman could go like, ‘I’m going to go over and meet the president of France and I’m going to …’"

Now, we know why T.J. was interested in Sophia -- for her money! -- but does Mayer think perhaps he was actually in love with Kelly, or was he just interested in her Capwell cash, too?

“I usually go with my own instincts," he says. "Everybody looked at it like, you were supposed to be the Chippendale dancer, the gigolo. But it’s all about the girl. You can find money anywhere.”


T.J. was a pretty evil guy, but it must have felt like a juicy role. Were there things he would've changed about the character, if he could have?

“Like that movie ‘The Butterfly,’ if you change one thing, it will have a ripple effect. To be a gigolo was a character they needed to even out or overall texturize the character list. It was fun to do it, because to be an opportunist, you have to have that personality to live in L.A. So it was like I was subliminally culturally acclimating myself." He laughs.

"And there’s more texture to that than just playing romance. So no, I wouldn’t have changed anything.”

Mayer's time as T.J. Daniels was in the late '80s, a few years after he portrayed Vance Duke on "The Dukes." And his career certainly wasn't hurting after that, with a proliferation of roles on shows like "Silk Stalkings," "Baywatch" and "Xena: Warrior Princess." But his priorities began to change, he says, and he turned to construction work for about a decade and a half.

“It was a wonderful, wonderful 20 years. But as I got older and had the responsibilities of being a father, I was looking for something a little more steady.”

Does he have any desire to return to acting? Why, yes, actually. Mayer tells BRBTV he has something in the works right now, and it hearkens to his construction-work days. He has a friend who does what's called "faux finish" work, a painting technique that replicates materials such as marble or wood. The technique is evidently popular in L.A., and Mayer just shot a pilot for a reality show focusing on the work. He gave us the title "Faux-Get About It." The show is being shopped around right now, he says, even though today's reality TV trend doesn't necessarily rank high on his entertainment list.

“If you have a camera on the dash of your Range Rover, you’re not being real!” he quips.

Mayer is also looking into some motivational speaking work nowadays, with his wife Catherine, a Christian like him, upon whom he lavishes kind, loving words (just check his Facebook page!).

And speaking of Facebook, he makes no bones about the fact that it's new to him -- and not entirely comfortable.

“I’m not a computer guy or a Facebook guy or all that Twitter or Skype stuff. When I first set up the Facebook page, I felt like I was walking around with my zipper down. Because I’m super private. That’s not me. I’ve really been off for so long. But now I’m going to try to be more on."

With elements like "The Dukes of Hazzard" on his life experience list, it presents a nice opportunity for the actor.

"It’s a great way to make people smile. It’s fun to be a part of something that still has an intense devotion.”

BRBTV wishes Mr. Mayer only the very best.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

And here's BRB's "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights" interview with Alan Burnett ...

BRB has really loved working for ComicsContinuum.com and its accompanying "Comics Continuum" TV show, which, as we mentioned in our post a couple days ago, has been branching out from Metro Detroit to other areas of the Midwest. Today, in the final part of our series of BRB chats on the "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights" animated feature, it's Alan Burnett of our beloved "Batman: The Animated Series" and so much more ...

Photo by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bruce Timm talks to BRB, too!

Yesterday, we brought you BRB's recent interview with Andrea Romano about the new "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights" feature movie, released this week from Warner Bros. Animation. Today, we'll hear from Bruce Timm, creator of the Timmverse and such a well-known icon in the Bat-animated world, in this clip from ComicsContinuum.com and its accompanying "Comics Continuum" TV show ...

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Andrea Romano talks to BRB about "Green Lantern" animated movie

We've highlighted on this blog before the work of Billie Rae Bates for ComicsContinuum.com and its accompanying "Comics Continuum" TV show, which originated in Metro Detroit, then extended its reach to northwest Ohio, and is further branching out into Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Peoria, Illinois. Now, in honor of this week's release of the "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights" animated feature to DVD, we bring you three days in a row of BRB fresh TV interviews with three well-known and well-loved veterans of our beloved "Batman: The Animated Series," "The New Batman Adventures" and "Batman Beyond." That would be voice director extraordinaire Andrea Romano, and producers Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett! First up today is Andrea Romano ...

Photo by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV

Monday, June 06, 2011

Chatting with Christopher Mayer, part 1

He says on his Facebook page that he has "decided to discard Howard Hughes and re-assume Vance Duke," and every fan of "The Dukes of Hazzard" definitely knows the context of that. He's been our Holy Grail for many years of "Dukes" events. He's been the missing signature on the trunk lid of just about every General Lee out there. He's been the only surviving "Dukes" cast member most of us haven't had the pleasure to meet.

But earlier this year he re-emerged on the radar. Christopher ("Chip") Mayer resumed personal appearances with his Duke cousin, Byron ("Coy") Cherry, beginning with the Hollywood Show a few months ago and continuing on with this month's Johnny Cash Music Festival. For BRBTV, Mayer is a double-shot, as not only Vance Duke but also as T.J. Daniels on our beloved soap "Santa Barbara." And he certainly has been our Holy Grail, the interview we've been wanting for years. We're not going to blather on about exclusive-interview-blah-blah-blah, because most folks who use that term "exclusive interview" nowadays have no idea what it actually means in the *real* journalism world. But BRBTV is mighty happy to have connected with the gracious and friendly Mr. Mayer.

As we chatted with him via phone this this past Saturday (morning for him, noon for us! before his coffee, he said, noting that it probably was a good thing!), we touched on both "The Dukes" and "SB." In this two-parter for the BRBTV News Blog, we'll bring you some of that action. (For the whole text of the interview, see future editions of the BRBTV reference guides "Them Dukes! Them Dukes!" and "Send Me to Santa Barbara.") So let's talk this week about "The Dukes" ...

“The thing about the show that’s interesting," he says, "I don’t know if people realized it or not at the time, but it was becoming a sort of cultural phenomenon like ‘Bonanza.’ I had a great time on the show. I did personal appearances every weekend. I was on the set until 9 o’clock every night during the week. Obviously it was of wonderful financial benefit.”

Mayer talked about the audition process for "The Dukes," which found him with a daughter on the way by his first wife, Teri Copley, and in need of some financial security. His manager at the time, Ron Samuels (onetime hubby of Lynda Carter), asked him to try out for the show, the auditions for which Mayer remembers as a worldwide PR blitz in the wake of the departure of John ("Bo Duke") Schneider and Tom ("Luke Duke") Wopat.

“It was insane," he says. "There were producer meetings in the studio, and you’d go back there, and there’d be like four blond guys, and four dark-haired guys. I'd just do the audition and I split. You'd get a call the next week, and you go back, and there’d be like eight other blond guys and eight other dark-haired guys. They finally got down to the final four guys they wanted for each role. … They would take you to the airport, and you get out there, and Cathy Bach was waiting for us there. …You do exteriors out in Valencia, out at Magic Mountain, where they had Hazzard set up. .. Cathy Bach is in a pair of Daisy Duke shorts, and we got to the audition scene. It was kinda bizarre, because the other guys who are going for your role are standing there watching you. … You just snap the ball through it. But it was acting, you know. Nothing remotely realistic. … I guess about four or five days later, I was sitting in my apartment, and my first wife was pregnant with my first daughter Ashley, and my agent says, ‘Are you sitting down? Well, you got it!’”

So onto an amazing journey that would prove more meaningful to Mayer than he realized at the time. And into a world where he will be forever remembered -- replacement or not -- in our eyes!

“When we first did the show, a lot of people thought I should be doing serious acting, not bright colors and notes like it was then," he says. "Now in hindsight, it’s become something that’s very sweet and a cultural icon. Even though we were in a replacement role. It gave me an opportunity to bring my first daughter into the world in something other than a cold apartment.”

And now, so many years later, as we watch our beloved "Dallas" being given a "next-generation" approach, with not only original cast members but an emphasis on the kids of the show that could surely sustain it with a new fan base, and even as we remember Ben ("Cooter") Jones telling us that he once pitched that same next-generation idea to Warner Bros. for "The Dukes," BRBTV had to ask Mayer ... what would Vance Duke's life look like these days?

“I’d have a lot of kids," said the father of three girls. "And I’d be married to a really pretty girl that looked like Cathy Bach."

(Truth be told, Mayer has hooked up with a beautiful actress named Catherine!)

"I’d be in fairly good shape, but maybe have a little more on my waistline," he continues. "I would be somebody who would be involved in the community, maybe something with kids. I would be involved in Hazzard County and helping the community.”

Hmmm ... very nice, admirable traits. So in what other ways might the persona of Vance Duke intersect with the person of Chris Mayer, at least the Vance we knew back in the '80s?

“He was about family, he was about kids, he was about being respectful to women and not treating them like objects. And if you want a fight – hell ya, right now!”

Ahhhh. We love it. Especially the note he adds: “Kids and women are it, man. They’re the hinge on which the gate swings.”

Mayer, a lover of the Lord, is clearly happy with the blessings he's had in his life, and he certainly sees his experience on "The Dukes" as one of them. Chief in all of that, it's clear as you talk with him, is the opportunity to be back on the radar and to make some kind of difference to the people he encounters.

“Television is the opiate of the masses, but at the same time, the way it touches people, it’s such a great thing," he says. "The average person aspires to that. You can go and meet people and shake hands, and I love going out and making people smile, look them in the eye, shake their hands.”

He adds, perhaps not entirely tongue-in-cheek:

“I’m 57 years old now. I want to be a part of it. I’m not MIA. I’ve been in the Dukes of Hazzard Witness Protection Program.”

Tune in next Monday for part 2 of our interview snippets, where Mayer reminisces about "Santa Barbara" and tells us what he's got coming up next (and yes, it's on TV!) ...

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Hazzard County supports the troops this July

The birthplace of "The Dukes of Hazzard," the lovely Covington, Georgia, that BRBTV misses on a regular basis (!), has a Hazzard County-themed event in the works that you won't want to miss. Special thanks to Rose Marie for passing this info along ...

In a benefit for Operation Sandbox, fans of "The Dukes" are gathering items to place in care packages to send to U.S. troops. The event happens on July 30, 2011 from 4-9 p.m. right there on the Square in Covington. You'll see a car show including, of course, plenty of our beloved blazin' orange General Lees as well as other fine classic cars.

Here are the items you can bring for the care packages for our brave military men and women:

Beef jerky
Slim Jims
Flavored drink mixes (single packs)
Granola bars
Assorted nuts;
Microwave food (popcorn, Eazy Mac)
Hard candy
Cracker packs
Tuna or spam in foil packs only
Trail mix
Beanie Weenies

Plus the following items in travel size:
Lip balm
Shampoo / conditioner
Writing supplies
Disposable razors
Batteries: AA, AAA and C
New or used DVD movies
Baby wipes
Hand sanitizer

Basically, Rose Marie says, anything is welcome except chocolate and glass.

To learn more about Operation Sandbox and the good work they do for the troops, visit their site at OperationSandboxGA.com.