Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tributes abound for Christopher Mayer

This past week has been a rough one for anyone who knew and appreciated actor Christopher "Chip" Mayer, Vance Duke of the classic "The Dukes of Hazzard" and T.J. Daniels of the daytime soap "Santa Barbara." And while BRBTV is still beyond bummed about the death of Mayer, we're heartened by the words of the fans in the wake of the news.

We're also delighted at the news from Mayer's on-screen cuz and longtime personal friend through the years of "The Dukes" and beyond, Byron ("Coy Duke") Cherry. He has spoken to Mopar Magazine, and the publication plans to do a tribute issue for Chris. It's scheduled for a September release, and Byron is gathering information for it right now.

Fans have also set up a tribute page on Facebook.

Byron called BRBTV today to chat a bit about the whole thing, and he suggested we share some of those thoughts here. Fans are (naturally) wondering how Chris died. It's uncertain, though some sources have indicated natural causes. He was found in his bed, Byron says, adding that he and his wife Krista received a call after Chris had been found, to let them know the news. Chris' fiancee Catherine, who was rushing home from an out-of-town TV commercial shoot, also called Byron about the news.

Byron was fortunate enough to have seen Chris in those final days, as the two had been close for many years. Byron tells us, for instance, that when his son Byron Jr. was killed in a car crash and he was devastated with grief, it was Chris that he called. Chris was brimming with encouragement -- and verses from Scripture. Now, based on our own chat with him a few weeks back, we can just picture that!

Most of all, Byron wants fans to know that what was important about Chris was his life, not his death. For instance ...

These are just some of the wonderful thoughts we've seen expressed, many of them responses to Byron's Facebook posting this week:

so sorry to hear of his passing, my prayers are with his family. I remember seeing u and him in Florida years ago at the Grand Opening of TOYS R ' US in West Palm Beach when i was a young girl, I still have the autograph pictures of u and Chris.

I am so sorry, he was so wonderful!! We cried over the passing of our beloved pastor, he hugged me when I cried after my kitty died. Chris, hug Pastor Scott for me. You were a true gem!

Yes indeed, Vance Duke always put a smile on everyone's face...


So sad to hear this....RIP Chris Mayer aka Vance will truly be missed by all

i am so sorry to hear of chris's passing! my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to u. so sad. he will be missed!

I'm so sad to hear this, too, Byron. I remember the first time I met Chris... with you at the Atlanta Airport, and "B" was about 2 yrs old, holding his General Lee toy car! My heart is hurting with and for you now. Love to you and yours ~     

i'm sorry 2 here that bryon, chris was an awesome actor. love the dukes of hazzard and if it wasn't for the dukes the fans would never what a great guy he was. just remember he is in heaven with our savior now.walking and holding hands with jesus. and say dont u worry bryon we will b together soon. 

we all miss him & thanks to all the dukes fans for sharing his memories

So sorry - RIP Chris - a wonderful man - my thoughts and prayers to you and his family. I will light a candle at church for him - from all us Duke fans in the UK

I will miss him too. He and you were my favorite actors from the Dukes of Hazzard I have nothing but respect for ya,
RIP Christopher Mayer. We will miss you.

Byron, I just heard about Christopher today. It was a shock. My deepest sympathies to you, his family, friends, and all of his fans. Loved you both on the Dukes. Hate I never had the pleasure of meeting him. Seeing how highly you speak of him, he seemes like an awesome Guy and a great friend to you. Wonderful news about the magazine, can't wait to see it. It will be a great way to honor him.

I am in shock. I was just complaining the other day that CMT doesn't air the episodes with Coy and Vance anymore, they did the first time they started airing the Dukes again, but now for the second time they have skipped that whole season. Thanks for letting us know. So sad. :(

My heart is breaking. I am so glad I got to spend time with him this year. Even though it's not a shock, I am in shock. RIP Chris.  

I cannot believe this only met him a few times & each time he was so kind-RIP my friend

I'm in shock! I'm so sad. Chris was a great actor and will be missed.

just devistating... but at least he got to feel the fans love for the last few months, and got to know he was appreciated.

This is sadening news, To his Fiance Catherine and the rest of Chris's family my condolences, was lucky to meet him a coule times, he was a great guy, and will be truly missed by so many

prayers go out to his family and fiancee

Christopher Mayer, left, with his fiancee Catherine Irvine, and his "Dukes" costar Byron Cherry and his wife Krista, at the Johnny Cash Music Festival in Ventura, California, just last month.

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Dubuque of Angel Hawk Productions; please do not copy without permission

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Remembering Christopher Mayer

Many thanks to Cheryl Dubuque for these great photos of the last appearance of actor Christopher "Chip" Mayer of "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Santa Barbara," who died this past Saturday. These were taken at the Johnny Cash Music Festival in Ventura, California, in mid-June, just a month ago, when Mayer appeared with his "Dukes" cuz Byron ("Coy Duke") Cherry. Looks like they had a great time ...

In the second photo, you can see Chris' beautiful fiancee, Catherine Irvine (whom he referred to as his wife in our interview with him), along with Byron and his lovely wife Krista ... Our prayers go out to all of Chris' loved ones ...

(Now there's one of the few General Lee trunk lids that can ever hope to be "complete," featuring Mayer's fresh sig in silver just right of center.)

We just love all of the kind words we've seen posted about Mr. Mayer since the news broke of his death, on our own Facebook page, on other Facebook pages, and on numerous message boards and sites out there. He may have been a "replacement" Duke in the '80s, stepping in to a challenging situation and, in our minds at the time, representing the loss of our two beloved "Dukes" actors. We didn't like that very much, did we? But since then, we know that many "Dukes" fans have gained a whole new appreciation for Chris and Byron. They helped keep the show alive. They will always be a part of "Dukes" culture. And the fact that so many fans will miss out on meeting Chris is a true loss.

Photos courtesy of Cheryl Dubuque of Angel Hawk Productions; please do not copy without permission

Christopher Mayer passes away

BRBTV has just learned from the fiancee of Christopher "Chip" Mayer that the actor died unexpectedly on Saturday evening. Catherine Irvine, whom Mayer was planning to marry next month, had been out of town shooting a new project when she received the news.

"I will be posting something as soon as I can find words, just wanted you to know," she tells us.

Born George Charles Mayer III on February 21, 1954 in New York City, Mayer became well-known as Vance Duke on "The Dukes of Hazzard" and T.J. Daniels on "Santa Barbara" and had a slew of other roles through the '90s. He was just coming back into the spotlight this year, doing appearances with his "Dukes" cousin Byron ("Coy") Cherry at the recent Johnny Cash Music Festival and the Hollywood Show in Burbank. He was 57.

BRBTV was thankful for the opportunity to speak with Chris a few weeks back about his work on "The Dukes of Hazzard" as well as "Santa Barbara." He was full of exuberance and a desire to get back out there and talk with fans after a long time under the radar. He talked freely about his faith, and we're thankful to know so surely that he is saved by God's grace. We certainly grieve over the untapped potential of his wonderful, joy-filled attitude -- the future experiences missed for both him and the "Dukes" fans -- and we are praying for comfort for his loved ones.

Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill talk about "Arkham City" game

There's a new Batman video game coming out, and our favorite voice of Batman, Mr. Kevin Conroy, was doing the rounds at this past weekend's Comic-Con in San Diego, chatting about "Arkham City." Conroy, of course, is a BRBTV double-shot as not only Batman / Bruce Wayne in "Batman: The Animated Series" and its various offshoots, but also as Bart Fallmont on "Dynasty" way back in the day. IGN interviewed Conroy, as well as Mark Hamill, the voice of Joker ...

Monday, July 25, 2011

John Schneider adds two more shows in August

Thanks to Phyllis for the word on two additional events on the appearance schedule for our own Bo Duke of "The Dukes of Hazzard," Mr. John Schneider ...

Hazzard County Fair '11
August 13 (right before Schneider appears at the Hazzard Homecoming in Sperryville, Virgina)
Franklin Sussex Auto Mall in Sussex, New Jersey

Kustom Auto Southern Nationals
August 27
Arena at the Golden Moon Hotel and Casino in Choctaw, Mississippi

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Our fave stars of classic TV continue to find new life on web series

We've already reported how Gregori J. Martin's web soap "The Bay," launched last year, has provided something new and fun to do for a few of our "Santa Barbara" stars: Lane Davies, John O'Hurley and Nicolas Coster. And we've also told you about the new web soap of their fellow "SB" alum Signy Coleman, "River Ridge." (See our December 29, June 30 and May 27 posts to catch up.) Well, that whole web-based TV series idea has really blossomed, and for the stars of the classic shows we love, it's been a way to keep on-screen and moving ahead in a TV era that's seeing the death of the traditional network-aired soap.

- Take "Steamboat," for instance. Have you seen this one? If you haven't, it's worth your time. It's billed as "The Office" meets "All My Children," and that's a fair overview. Not only do "SB" vets Kim Zimmer (Jodie Walker) and Justin Deas (Keith Timmons) really dig into their roles as sly production execs at the fictional soap "Steamboat," but the dark humor is savvier than a lot of the more -- homemade, shall we say? -- web series out there. In the world of web TV, it seems to be hard to tread the comedy line without insulting your viewer, and this one squares off pretty well.

- In "Pretty," a beauty-pageant-obsessed family navigates its little girl (played by the adult Stacy McQueen) through the land of tiaras and sashes. The appearance of Joan Van Ark of "Dallas" as the 2065 version of the girl at the very end of the second series is what we watched for. She's all Tammy Faye'd up in her requisite pageant accoutrements, heavy on the eyes, for sure, and her scene is fun. This series is more farcical. And we'll just leave it at that.

It makes you appreciate what an astounding feat Martin has accomplished in "The Bay," assembling the megawatt cast that he has on a low budget, when you look at the other series that are out there (see a list of web-based series at the IMDb). We're thinking that, as with this new age of "journalism" we're in, with both those of us who actually have a degree, training and experience in the field as well as those who have none but figure setting up a blog makes it so, this new era of web television will feature both the professionally done work and the not-so-much-but-kinda-trying. Everyone has a voice on the Internet, after all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tom Wopat marks new album with NYC signing, October concert on West Coast

There's some news on the music front for Tom Wopat, our own Luke Duke of "The Dukes of Hazzard." We've got the word from the Wopat Web Crew ...

Tom Wopat's brand-new jazz album "Consider It Swung" will be released on August 9! The record is a swingin’ collection of standards featuring Wopat and some of the best jazz musicians New York City has to offer, all done in Tom's unmistakable style. You can preorder the album now and get a signed copy in the  Wopat Webstore. If you would prefer a digital copy, the album is already up on iTunes - just click here to download it now.

You can get a free preview of "Consider It Swung." Just click here to download the original song, "Thailand Sea."

Wopat says, "A few years ago I was filming a movie in Thailand, and the production put me up in a gorgeous hotel overlooking the sea. During my free time, I used to sit and look at at the ocean, and the view was just exquisite. The local folks there got around on what were called 'longboards' -- about 20-foot boats with a car engine strapped to them, and they maneuvered with a long prop that extended into the ocean. Sitting there and seeing this completely different way of life in such an outrageously beautiful setting became the basis for writing 'Thailand Sea.'"

To mark the release of the album, Wopat will be appearing at a NYC Barnes and Noble location. Mark your calendars and come out to see Tom perform three songs live, plus do some signing and talking with fans:

Tuesday, August 9
4:30 p.m. EST
Barnes & Noble
150 E. 86th Street (at Lex)
New York, NY

Also, Wopat will be performing with Linda Eder on October 29 and 30 in Southern California. Learn more at the Events page.

You can also follow the comings and goings of our buddy Luke Duke on these channels:
Official Site

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Meet James Best at Mayberry Days and more ...

Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane -- aka, James Best! -- has set a late summer full of fun appearances, including next month's big Hazzard Homecoming event ...

Hazzard Homecoming
Sperryville, Virginia
August 13-14, 2011
Get your tickets early; space limited:

Right Coast Association/Granite State Nationals
August 20-21, 2011
Sandwich Fairgrounds
Center Sandwich, New Hampshire

Mayberry Days
September 22-25, 2011
Mt Airy, North Carolina
James will perform his one-man show on Thursday, September 22, at 2:30 p.m.
Downtown Cinema
Get your tickets early; space limited:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tennessee Shakespeare Festival: Lane Davies, Part 2!

What's coming up in next year's Tennessee Shakespeare Festival? Director Lane Davies gives BRBTV a word-up, along with a hint as to whether or not he'll star in the production, in the second part of our interview, posted on the BRBTV YouTube channel, rounding out our full week of coverage of this year's festival ...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tennessee Shakespeare Festival: Jerry Winsett, Part 2!

It's evident as you watch actor Jerry Winsett on stage that he loves what he's doing. And his stage career extends far beyond the Tennessee Shakespeare Festival, where he just wrapped up a summer of shows as Aegeon in "The Comedy of Errors." Winsett also has his own dinner theatre company, Murder Mystery Productions, as well as Unique Entertainment Productions, producing interactive murder mystery shows and such audience delights as "Big Phat Redneck Wedding" at venues throughout the Carolinas.

Winsett began his performing career singing with his own band in Clarksville and Nashville, Tennessee. Before leaving Tennessee, Jerry performed professionally at Nashville Children's Theater, Theatre Nashville, and Opryland USA as well as many other Southern stages in such productions as "1776," "Wind in the Willows," "Man of La Mancha," "The Marriage of Figaro" and "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." He has been a guest artist at the Tennessee Arts/Tennessee Artists Festival, where he created the role of Danny (aka Cupid) in the musical "Constellations From the Heart" and as a guest artist at A.P.S.U. in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."

Winsett's career also went West, to L.A., where his stage credits included "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Taming of the Shrew" at the Richard Basehart Theatre and "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "The Alchemist" at The Globe. He then trod the boards as Sir Toby Belch in the Nevada Shakespeare Festival's production of "Twelfth Night," performed in the premiere production of "Pssst! Tell 'em Joe Sent Ya" at Back on Broadway Dinner Theatre. Just before leaving L.A., he was seen as Renfield in Dancing Dog Theatre Company's highly praised production of "Dracula" and starred with Lane Davies in the Santa Susana Repertory Company's acclaimed production of "Man of La Mancha." Jerry was also on the board of directors of Dancing Dog Theatre Company, L.A.'s first producing classical repertory Theatre Company as well as being the administrative director of the Santa Susana Repertory Company.

Based in North Carolina now, the actor talks a little more about his stage work, both front-and-center and backstage, in the second half of our BRBTV interview:

Photo by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV; copying with credit is OK -- a link would be grand!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tennessee Shakespeare Festival: Lane Davies chats with BRBTV

OK, can we be a little more excited? Not really! We watched him as Mason Capwell when our beloved soap "Santa Barbara" first hit the daytime airwaves in July 1984, and we continued watching him faithfully for five years, absolutely captivated by his almost-reluctant charisma and Machiavellian charm as the black sheep of the wealthy Capwell family. Quotes of Shakespeare weren't hard to come by in those colorful scenes with Mason, and it's no wonder the actor loves the work of the Bard in real life!

We won't go into all the stage and screen credits of Lane Davies as we continue our weeklong coverage of this year's Tennessee Shakespeare Festival, because frankly, we think we've done that already on this blog! But we will gladly laud the longtime actor, who directed this production of "The Comedy of Errors," and came on-stage to introduce it the night we were there. And we will say we were beside ourselves to sit down and chat with him for a special BRBTV interview, the first part of which we link below ...

In this clip, Davies touches on not only his time on "Santa Barbara" but also on the primetime '80s "Dallas," where he portrayed Craig Gurney, and the current web series "The Bay."

Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV; copying with credit is OK; a link would be grand!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tennessee Shakespeare Festival: Jerry Winsett chats with BRBTV

You've seen Jerry Winsett in a lot of places. You've seen him on some great classic TV shows such as "Mr. Belvedere," "Coach," "Life Goes On" and "It's Garry Shandling's Show." You've also seen him in a rather famous TV commercial, the keystone of the Dunkin Donuts' "Time to make the doughnuts" campaign. He was the guy making the doughnuts who's falling asleep then slapped back awake with a handful of flour.

BRBTV continues its weeklong coverage of this year's Tennessee Shakespeare Festival, which just wrapped up on Sunday, with a look at this seasoned actor and his career.

On the big screen, Winsett has been featured in such films as "Radio Days," "The Chosen," "One Crazy Summer," "The Sicks O'Clock News," "Ragtime," "Almost An Angel," "Tax Season," "Sunset Strip," "Paulie," "Preppies" and "Bastard Out of Carolina." He portrayed Merton the Farmer in the film "Torque," produced by the same production team that brought us "Fast and Furious" and "XXX." But besides that nice screen career, Winsett has done a whole lot on stage.

Winsett portrayed two characters in the festival's production of "The Comedy of Errors." He was the incarcerated Aegeon, and he was a special "surprise" character, shown in the photos here!

Winsett, who's been with the Tennessee Shakespeare Festival since its beginning in 2008, sat down to chat with BRBTV just before showtime on Sunday, July 3. Here's Part 1 of our interview, and we'll be highlighting the second half later this week.

Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV; copying with credit is OK -- a link would be grand!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tennessee Shakespeare Festival: Lane Davies directs another fine one

The Tennessee Shakespeare Festival just wrapped up this past weekend, and BRBTV really enjoyed the time there! We made the journey to beautiful Bell Buckle, Tennessee, once again, as we did two years ago. This time, we got a chance to do fresh interviews with director Lane Davies, the original Mason Capwell of our beloved "Santa Barbara," as well as longtime TV actor Jerry Winsett, who took to the stage as Aegeon and a special "surprise" character in this year's production, "The Comedy of Errors." It was the fourth summer for the popular festival, and BRBTV kicks off a full week of coverage of the event with today's overview ...

Davies put a twist on this Shakespearean classic, setting it in 1880s West Virginia, and you'll hear why in our BRBTV interview with him on the BRBTV YouTube channel, along with our fun chat with Winsett, both of which we'll be highlighting this week. The two have known each other a long, long time -- longer than you realize! And you'll hear that mentioned in the interviews, too. Their working association with the festival is a great one, as this year's production attested. Winsett was wonderful in his dual roles.

Davies took to the stage, himself, for this one, albeit briefly -- introducing the play. Davies often appears in these productions, and he told BRBTV he's considering a role in next year's production, the name of which he tips us off to in our interview. We'll post the YouTube video soon ...

The play's opening number was rousing, above, and below, Winsett shone in his own stage time. Look for more photos of Winsett and the rest of the actors later this week, as our coverage of the fest continues ...

Photo at top from the Tennessee Shakespeare Festival website; other photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV

Friday, July 08, 2011

TNT green-lights new "Dallas" series; see a sneak peek on Monday

It's hot baby, and we're just not so sure we can wait until next summer to see it. TNT has just announced today that its "Dallas" redux will, indeed, be a series. After some months of speculation and a touch of uncertainty, the network has ordered 10 episodes.

Read the official press release at TNT's site. The network is giving us a peek at the new series on Monday, during the season premieres of "The Closer," which starts at 9 p.m. Eastern, and "Rizzoli & Isles," which airs at 10 p.m. And you can also see what Steve ("Ray Krebbs") Kanaly says about the new series in an interview over at

TNT has also established an official site for the series at The fresh intro -- so reminiscent of the original -- is lush and lovely and goosebump-provoking, for sure. And we have to say ... BRBTV may be purists who frown on recasting, but seeing Josh Henderson as John Ross and Jesse Metcalfe as Christopher in the publicity shots really encourages us. They're not the originals, but just their facial expressions and their stances seem to evoke -- if not embody -- those two little Texan boys we're so anxious to catch up with!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Chatting with Jackson Bostwick

Some kids actually grow up to portray their childhood heroes on the screen! Did you know that? Well, it's true. It happened to Lynda Carter, who for so many fans will always be the Wonder Woman (no matter how many plans they make to recast her in our modern times!). And it also happened to Jackson Bostwick, who portrayed Captain Marvel in the '70s live-action, Saturday-morning "Shazam!" series.

For Bostwick, this role was a dream come true. "He was one of my childhood heroes along with the Lone Ranger, Tarzan, and the Phantom," Bostwick tells BRBTV, "and here it was that I had the chance to portray him."

BRBTV got the chance to chat with this seasoned actor, and in the style of this news blog, we're bringing on the highlights! Look for the full text of the interview in a future BRBTV product (ooops, did we say that out loud?). For now, though, let's talk a little more about this series, launched by Filmation in 1974 in a half-hour format and showing us the young Billy Batson, played by Michael Gray, encountering life's challenges and seeing the moral issues attached to them all, guided by Mentor and the "elders," and able to transform himself into the mighty Captain Marvel with that one powerful word ...

We had to ask Bostwick what part of himself found itself infused into his portrayal of Captain Marvel.

"The child in me that still loves to dream and fantasize," he says. "This especially helped when Captain Marvel flew back at the end of each episode and talked to the kids about what lessons they learned that day."

The show, of course, was based on the well-loved '40s comic book hero, who ranks just about right up there with Superman, Batman and the like, to this very day. The comic book roots of the show were appreciated by Bostwick, who did a lot of reading as a kid:

"Captain Marvel, of course, along with the Phantom, Straight Arrow, Plastic Man, Classics Illustrated (the only ones my mom didn’t throw out while I was at college)," he listed off for us, adding, "Mandrake The Magician, Aquaman and some Donald Ducks."

His favorite episode of this "Shazam!" series?

"I liked them all, but I would say 'The Athlete' and 'The Boy Who Said No,' because of the stunts that were involved," Bostwick tells us. "I had to hang from a helicopter in one and ride standing on the top of the motor home that Mentor was kidnapped in. And in the other one I had to snatch a stuntwoman off a galloping horse as I ran alongside it and it went thundering past me."

This kids' show was not all sweetness and light for Bostwick, however. At the beginning of the show's second season, an injury on the set sent him in for medical treatment. When he didn't show up on the set the next day, a story quickly circulated that the actor was holding out for more cash. He successfully sued.

With the legal matter settled, we were really curious as to whether he would've considered returning to the show. This was his hero, after all.

"As an actor, I never say never, but there were some very hard feelings between my lawyer and the executive producers at that time," he says, "and that’s where the whole 'holding out for more money' fabrication stemmed from. I wasn’t aware of this acute animosity between them until well after the fact. The show wasn’t as much fun as the first season because of the change in some of the crew and key personnel, but I wouldn’t have objected to completing the run."

Bostwick's career charged on, despite his departure from the white and gold cape. In the ensuing years, it was a career punctuated by many projects for Disney, notably.

These days, Bostwick lives in Tennessee and has an official website, He's still involved with on-screen work, including the movies "Suitable for Murder" and "Bloody Mary-Lite." He still makes con appearances, and even though he never appeared with her on "Shazam!" he's even made an appearance with the star of the "Shazam!" spinoff "The Secrets of Isis," Joanna Cameron.

Bostwick has been writing a book about his experiences on "Shazam!" It's called "Myth, Magic and a Mortal," and he tells BRBTV that though he's been in contact with a publisher, after consulting with fellow classic TV star Lou Ferrigno he's leaning more toward self-publishing.

Catch the trailer for "Suitable for Murder" on YouTube, and you can see "Bloody Mary-Lite" promoted on the actor's MySpace page and also trailered on YouTube.