Friday, May 30, 2014

Motor City Comic Con: Terry Kiser

Terry Kiser liked BRB's hair. We're talking the hair she wore on Friday of this year's Motor City Comic Con, a look that friend James once politely referred to as "Swiss Miss" (she's got the red plastic Swiss Miss mug, too, so look out!!!) Yea, the braids over the top of the head. Kiser was a bit bummed she wasn't wearing it in this interview on Sunday, after he saw it on Friday. We're pretty sure it will catch on, but in the meantime, it definitely has one fan in this actor, star of just about every classic TV show you could ever name if you spent all week trying ... except one. Can you guess the one? Hint: It's one of the very shows BRBTV has had the pleasure of covering for the past decade and a half.

Mr. Terry Kiser was kind enough to talk to not only Billie Rae Bates of BRBTV at said comic con, but also buds Andrea Melchiori and Don Covell Jr.. And when we say he was charming, we mean it. He was just adorable. Once BRB got to chatting with him, and had a look at the photo offerings at his table, she gained a whole new appreciation of his body of work. Kiser has a distinctive look about him. The eyes, the mannerisms. You've seen him in lots of things. Notably, he was in "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Bionic Woman," and at least one of their reunion movies. How did he like that Bionic thing, we had to ask at the outset????

"I liked it at a lot," Kiser said. "I ended up being best man at his wedding." Really? "Yes, Mr. Lee Majors and Faith Majors. When I first came out to Hollywood from the New York stage I guest-starred on 'The Six Million Dollar Man.' And he was very gracious to me, because I was dying on his show, and I was dying like I was in New York, watching the balcony of 1,500 people. I died big," he said with a flourish. "And he said, 'Get down, it's television.' So I appreciate that wonderful gesture by Mr. Lee Majors, and he has been a friend ever since."

One of Kiser's episodes of "Six Mill" also starred Cathy Rigby, popular gymnast of that era. "She was very nice. She was a lovely lady," Kiser said. "This was kind of her first acting debut, so she was very nervous. But we were very gentle with her. And she was polite. Very nice lady."

Kiser's memories of "The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries" series were not quite as pleasant, when thinking of the producer, but, he said, he turned out to be that producer's "good luck charm." "So every time he did something, he put me in it," he joked. "So that turned out to be good."

Kiser did a fun episode of "Three's Company," portraying, as he said, "a head of the mafia trying to eat spaghetti like his mother used to make. And so they made it very hot, and it turned out to be the longest take in television history without saying anything." What? Really???

We had to ask Kiser, given his resume spanning the decades, how he feels television has changed over the years. "I'm not proud of this, but I haven't watched television in 30 years," he said. "I'm a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which I vote for the Academy Awards, so they send me movies. So I get like 75 movies a year. So between movies, and I love sports, and a little bit of news, that takes up my time. So I admire the makers of television series, but there are too many commercials for me now." Yea, surely the hour of television is shrinking in actual story minutes all the time. "And a lot of our cable and Netflix and things like this are changing this."

We had to ask about the "Weekend at Bernie's" movies, where Kiser got to "play dead." "It was a very live experience," he joked. "I was very happy that none of the checks bounced. That was very thoughtful of them. No -- it was a wonderful experience. Here you play a dead guy and you're recognized all over the world, which is kinda kooky. But I was very proud of that movie, because it wasn't schtick; it was real, honest-to-goodness comedy, out of situations. And so you could watch that movie 100 times and you'll still laugh. Like slipping on a banana. The ninth time is funnier, watching some guy slipping on it, than the first time. So yea, 'Bernie' 1 and 2, thank-you."

And that single classic TV show he wasn't in? It was "The Dukes of Hazzard," we jokingly note. OK, maybe that wasn't the only one, but it sure seemed like it! Kiser had no idea why he never got to do that show -- he said he would've loved to have driven the car!

"I love acting," he said to sum up his longtime career. "And so every time I'm on a set, I feel happy and it's a good experience."

And with that, BRBTV has just about have wrapped up our coverage of this year's Motor City Comic Con! There's just one more installment, in two days, and it's a special one ...

Screenshots by BRBTV;
copying with credit is OK; a link would be grand

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Motor City Comic Con: Robert Hays

We learned one thing about Robert Hays at this year's Motor City Comic Con. Well, perhaps we learned a lot of things (we got to hear his great Helen Hayes story, for instance). But the first thing we learned about Robert Hays of the "Airplane" movies is that you can't take him too seriously! We had a great time doing this interview -- Billie Rae Bates of BRBTV and friend Andrea Melchiori -- as Hays discussed "Airplane," his much more recent project "Sharknado 2," and more. We're so glad to share it with you, in our continuing coverage of the event from the weekend before last ...

Thanks to Don for the assist with the camera!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Motor City Comic Con: H.M. Wynant

BRBTV was thrilled to discover the golden nugget of Mr. H.M. Wynant at the Motor City Comic Con the weekend before last. Not only has he been in a couple of the classic TV shows we cover, but he's been in a ton of other great classic television. Billie Rae Bates of BRBTV got the chance to chat with him on camera, and he talked about portraying Donna's literary agent Ed Chapman in the original "Dallas" series, as well as appearing in one of the best episodes ever of "The Twilight Zone" -- "The Howling Man," plus much more! Our BRBTV coverage of the con continues with this latest interview ...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Latest from "Dynasty" collector Bjørn is a very glamorous gold

In our September 20, 2013 post we told you about a "Dynasty" fan who has an amazing collection of items from the series -- wardrobe and otherwise. Well, Bjørn has made a new acquisition, and it's simply lovely. When we first saw this one, it reminded us of Fallon's red sparkle dress we love so much from the show (see the BRBTV "Dynasty High" guide for an interview with the owner of that precious piece). This dress is so much like the red one, except in glittering gold. So divine!

Bjørn tells BRBTV that this one is quite identical to the red sparkle dress except for the slit in the front. This gown was also worn by Sally Field for the PR for "Soapdish." Bjørn is actually looking for more photos of the dress -- if you've seen any, please comment on this post!

"I have also gotten Emma Samms' Fallon opening credits and PR shots in red dress necklace, and the pearls Blake gives Krystle when she loses the first baby," he tells us. Again, we're in awe!

Images courtesy of Bjørn; please do not copy without permission.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Motor City Comic Con: Jane McNeill

This author has had the great pleasure to talk to seven cast members (and three zombies) of AMC's wonderful "Walking Dead" series, so far, and that's mostly in just the past few weeks (look for the upcoming "Dead" interviews from Washington, D.C.'s Awesome Con on episodes of the "Fantastic Forum" TV show). At this past weekend's Motor City Comic Con, it was the lovely Jane McNeill that Billie Rae Bates of BRBTV got to chat with (along with Scott Wilson and Kyla Kenedy off-camera).  BRB and friend Don asked her about her experience on the "Dead," as well as the weekend's event, which was a first of a kind for her.

"It is not the first time I've been in Detroit," she told us, "but it is my first comic con, or convention. I've kind of done an appearance or something before, but I've never really done one of these, so it's been kind of exciting and different."

The role of Patricia on "The Walking Dead" was her first TV role. Nothing like starting things out with a bang! "I had started acting again in 2009 and I had an agent," she said, "and I had worked with a casting director and trained to be on camera, because I never really had done that. I quit acting for 15 years. Anyway, several auditions had come and gone, but this one came up and I just felt like I knew that character really well, even though I knew nothing about the show. And I mean literally nothing."

"I didn't even really know it was about a zombie apocalypse, to be honest with you. I just felt like I knew Patricia. It was the scene where I was stitching up T-Dog, and I worked with a bunch of nurses at my day job, so I kind of saw her as this one nurse in particular that was a friend of mine. So that was a sort of jumping-off point. And then I didn't hear about anything for three weeks, so it was just another one of those that came and went. And I was on a trip with my family and I landed in New York, and my agent called and said you have it, you have to be there Tuesday."

So be there, she was! "I live in North Carolina," she said, "so I was in New York, and then the flight was canceled, they lost my bags, I had to rent a car and drive to Georgia with nothing. I was completely wigged out. And the first day on set, I'm at the farmhouse, you know, to meet everybody, and they just kind of plopped me down, and I'm looking around like, omigod, and Andrew Lincoln comes over and kisses me and hugs me and says welcome, and I'm like, I think this will be OK."

Look for the video of our interview, as well as other video from the con, on the BRBTV YouTube channel.

Screenshots by BRBTV;
copying with credit is OK; a link would be grand

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Motor City Comic Con: Richard Anderson

The first thing we had to ask Mr. Richard Anderson at this past weekend's Motor City Comic Con in Novi, Michigan, is if he owns one of the 12-inch Oscar Goldman action figures Kenner did in the 1970s, to run alongside the popularity of "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman" TV shows on which he starred. Yes, he told us, he does. "And were you at all surprised that it's wearing socks?" we asked. "Very surprised," laughed the actor who became notorious on the set for not wearing socks himself. "What else do you have to say?" he quipped.

The actor, who took time out from signing at his table to talk to Billie Rae Bates of BRBTV and bud Andrea Melchiori, both lifelong fans of the two Bionic shows, elaborated a little more about how that no-socks thing came about in one scene of "Six Mill."

"The plane flew in. They opened the doors and several people come out. I think they cut to it. When I came out, I didn't have any socks on. So I came out, with just the feet, and it felt good, I did the scene without socks. And that next day, the place went crazy. They said you better come down for this new TV show ... And they said, how we gonna do this? They finally came up with the idea that you've got to mix in comedy, too. So I said I don't know how you're going to do that, too. Well, just do it, you know? It will get people more interested in the show."

Andrea asked Anderson what it was like to have to fight his "pal" Steve Austin on the episode of "Six Mill" with the Fembots, as well as about the Venus space probe and its different colors -- was it repainted for a later episode? Anderson wasn't sure about the probe, and laughed about the fight scene with Steve. He didn't mind having to go hand-to-hand with his pal. "I'll tell you, that guy can fight," he said of actor Lee Majors. All in a day's work, right?

We asked him if it was "The Big Valley," of which he did several episodes, where he and Lee first met, and he said yes. "That was a well-made show," he said. "It had Barbara Stanwyck. I'll tell you about Barbara Stanwyck. I came in a half-hour late. She was on the set. She saw me, and she said, 'Do you realize there are no scripts anywhere?' She wanted me to know she knew all of her lines. One of the best-known actresses."

He of course also worked with Linda Evans on that show, then worked with her again decades later on "Dynasty," when he played the legislator with an edge, Buck Fallmont. "I was only supposed to be on for one episode," he told us about the role of Buck. "I ended up being on there for two seasons."

When we asked about his experience working on the movie, "Tora! Tora! Tora!" Anderson kindly took out his wallet and took out two very well-weathered snapshots of the 1936 car he purchased while working on the movie." "I still have it," he said. He keeps it at the garage of a hotel on the West Coast.

Anderson told us one of his secrets -- seven hours of sleep. He goes to bed around 11 p.m. and gets up at 6 a.m. and says that works well with the sun's rising and setting and helps keep him in good health. OK, we've taken it under advisement! This classic actor was such a gentleman. We thank him for talking with us!

Screenshots by BRBTV
Copying with credit is OK; a link would be grand.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Motor City Comic Con: Rachel Skarsten

One of the guests of the Motor City Comic Con that BRBTV had the pleasure of talking to this past weekend was the stunning Rachel Skarsten, who played Dinah Lance / the Canary on the "Birds of Prey" TV series that aired in 2002, chronicling the adventures of the Huntress, Black Canary and the wheelchair-using Barbara Gordon as Oracle. The show, which only lasted a season, also starred Dina Meyer as Oracle and Ashley Scott as the Huntress. Skarsten was just a young teen when she first got the role of Dinah.

"We filmed the pilot when I was 16, and then the show got picked up, and I turned 17," she told us. She learned a lot from that role, and she got a lot of support from her two costars.

"Actually specifically both Dina and Ashley were just really really lovely to me. I had many sleepovers at Ashley's house when I missed my mom."

If "Birds of Prey" had gone into a second season, how did she see her character of Dinah as evolving?

"I think there was a real innocence to Dinah," Skarsten said. "I would've loved to have seen her come into her own more."

Has she read any of the Birds of Prey-related comics? Well, actually, she what she has read are Archies comics, believe it or not, particularly after she lost her father. Reading the tales of the teens of Riverdale were a great comfort to her at that time, she said.

How does her portrayal of Canary differ from how the character has been portrayed more recently on the CW's "Smallville" and "Arrow"?

"I never saw the Black Canary on 'Smallville,'" she said, though she has watched a few episodes of "Arrow" and loves Katie Cassidy's performance as Dinah Lance.

"I feel that we took her back. She had really just discovered her powers. And really was becoming a woman, too. Whereas most of the other portrayals, they're a little bit older than I was. They're either just more self-possessed as females, whereas for me, Dina was actually a lot like myself." Dorky, she said. Dorky, really? Yes, she said it!

Skarsten currently plays Tamsin on "Lost Girl. She does have a film project coming up that she couldn't talk about. We should see it in early 2015, she says.

Thanks to Mike for the great photos!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Motor City Comic Con serves up the great stars once again

What a great first day at the Motor City Comic Con in Novi, Michigan. BRB and buds Andrea and Cuz Don talked to a bunch of great folks, saw some pretty fun stuff. And it's only Friday! Scott Wilson of "The Walking Dead" (and those fab "Shiloh" movies!!!!) swung by to say hello to his friend Robert Hays, above, and we chatted with Hays on camera, as well. Look for that video on the BRBTV YouTube channel soon. We also interviewed H.M. Wynant, who has the privilege of being the star of one of the greatest episodes of "The Twilight Zone" ever, "The Howling Man." Here are some other images from a pretty big opening day at an event that we've seen grow immensely in the past decade ...

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

Terrific TV Toys: Oscar Goldman doll (with exploding briefcase!!!)

Need to send a message to mission headquarters? Look up the perp hideout on the map? Check the specs of your Bionic charges in their secret files? Access something in the safe? You can do all that and more with the amazing (exploding!) briefcase! But only if you're Oscar Goldman. If you're someone else, you better watch out!

In honor of Richard Anderson's appearance at the Motor City Comic Con this weekend, the next installment in BRBTV's Terrific TV Toys (*of a vintage nature) series takes a look at the action figure he inspired ...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Terrific TV Toys: Steve Austin doll by Kenner

(Or should that be, "Steve Austin action figure by Kenner"? Because many folks out there consider them action figures. But to this little girl they were dolls!)

The Terrific TV Toys series by BRBTV continues with another figure from Kenner's 1970s Bionic line, Steve Austin, "The Six Million Dollar Man," as played by Lee Majors (who, incidentally, is appearing at the Motor City Comic Con this weekend!).

As with BRB's Jaime Sommers doll, this is not the original Steve Austin doll released by Kenner. The first one had a completely red outfit. The one you see above was released a little later and might even be a little harder to find. It was labeled as having a "Biosonic arm."

Also in this video, you'll see Steve's "Critical Assignment Arms" playset.

Next up, Oscar Goldman and Fembot!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Terrific TV Toys: Jaime Sommers doll by Kenner

It's goofy, and it's certainly geeky, but that's kinda what we do. BRBTV is forging onward with this new video series celebrating the toys that celebrate and once ran alongside of the classic TV shows we love. We've showed you the four Mego supergals owned by Billie Rae Bates of BRBTV as a child. Now we focus on the Bionic set of her toys, looking first at the Jaime Sommers doll from the 1970s, perhaps in part to honor Lindsay Wagner's appearance at this weekend's Motor City Comic Con.

"The Bionic Woman" debuted on January 14, 1976, starring Lindsay Wagner. She had already appeared as Steve Austin's girlfriend on "The Six Million Dollar Man." Now she had her own show. And Kenner, being as wise as they were, also having success with their "Star Wars" line at about the same time, promptly added a Jaime Sommers doll to the Bionic line.

This is not the original Jaime Sommers doll -- that one wore blue jeans and a white sporty top, and debuted earlier. What you see above is the figure with the action-packed mission purse, and in this video you'll see each and every item in that purse (we think it's all basically intact -- even though BRB was a tyke at the time), as well as a whopping 10 Jaime fashions that were sold separately for the doll. Did we say 10? Yes, that T-E-N. (And Mother got a pretty good deal on them at the time, too.) Yowza, those gowns are beautiful. All nylon and polyester, as the fashions of the age were. Lovely!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Announcing the Kindle edition of "Them Dukes! Them Dukes!"

BRBTV has had the privilege and the pleasure to attend a great many events over the past several years celebrating "The Dukes of Hazzard." These have been fan events -- DukesFest and beyond -- in different locales around the country (but with a heavy concentration in the South, of course). In addition to some of the greatest friends in this author's life, another thing gained from attending all those events is a whole heapin' helpin' of photos. Fun, fun photos that take us right back to the event as we look through 'em. And what to do with all these photos we've compiled since launching the current print edition of "Them Dukes! Them Dukes!" reference guide in 2006? Well, put them in a Kindle e-version of the book, of course! Along with a bunch of other stuff!

The brand-new full-color Kindle edition of "Them Dukes! Them Dukes!" features all of the content of the current print edition, plus other great goodies:
  • Interviews with Byron Cherry, Christopher Mayer, Don Pedro Colley, and others involved in making the series (and that could be the very last interview ever done with Mr. Mayer -- we are blessed and thankful to have had that chat)
  • A huge section covering some the aforementioned “Dukes” events over the years
  • Boosted episode guide, actor bio information, and merchandise guide, as well as added features such as the Hazzard County Business Directory and an expanded “Meet Some Lees” section

On a letter-sized page in Microsoft Word, this Kindle edition measures out at more than 450 pages. Yikes. (We thought it would crash the Kindle system, but it seems to be moving along OK ... )

And yes, we're thinkin' what you're thinkin', if what you're thinkin' is, wouldn't you make a new print edition out of that, too? Well, yes, we are, and it's scheduled for release this summer, and it will include a brand-new cover by talented Baltimore artist Dale Cuthbertson, who illustrated the covers of the "Dynasty High" and "Superchicks" BRBTV books.

The Kindle edition of "Them Dukes! Them Dukes!" is a cool $6, available in a flash for your Kindle or other compatible device. And the title is part of Amazon's Matchbook program, meaning you can get a good deal between the print and e-versions.

BRBTV profusely thanks all the good friends who have helped with the content and review for this new Kindle edition: Brian, Paul, Derrick, Andrea, Cuz Don, Jim, Jason, Will, Billy, Zealand, Richie, Kevin, Natalie ... along with the many others who've helped contribute photos, fun and laughs over the years. This author is blessed to have you in her life. And we hope you enjoy this update. As we tend to say, it's a labor of love.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

It's true Bionic beauty at the Motor City Comic Con

Brace yourself, because it's the bold, beautiful, Bionic Big Three at this month's Motor City Comic Con!

This is a con we've loved for many years, a show that always offered a nice blend of guests from the comic book industry and the TV and movie spheres, long before it was cool to do so. And this year, the folks at Motor City are serving it up again! Lee ("Steve Austin") Majors, Lindsay ("Jaime Sommers") Wagner and Richard ("Oscar Goldman") Anderson of "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman" are leading a star-studded guest list that will converge upon the Suburban Showplace Collection in Novi, Michigan on May 16-18.

Jason David Frank, the Green (then White) Ranger of the original "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," will be there, as well as Herb Jefferson Jr., shown at right, Ernie Hudson, and other folks who've been on lots of TV shows we've loved over the years.

Billie Rae Bates of BRBTV will be roaming the floors, hopefully knocking out some good on-camera stuff with folks like last year. And on Saturday .... hmmm ... she's going to get her very first (firsthand) taste of cosplay. Do you know who she'll be dressed as???? You'll just have to come out and find out!!!!

Images courtesy of Motor City Comic Con;
copy at your own risk

Monday, May 05, 2014

Catwoman stars in the fourth episode of Terrific TV Toys

Meow!!! She was a catty, cunning villainess, but she got to hang with the heroes just the same. At least in the childhood doll collection of Billie Rae Bates of BRBTV, she did. She's Catwoman, more specifically the Mego 8-inch version of Catwoman, and she's bold and in your face in the fourth installment of the BRBTV video series, Terrific TV Toys (*of a vintage nature).

At the point this action figure (doll!) was released in the mid-1970s, the Catwoman character had been featured in the late-1960s "Batman" live-action series (portrayed by three different females), as well as Filmation's 1968 cartoon, "The Batman/Superman Hour."

Take a trip back through time as we take a look at this vintage piece from the 1970s ...

Look for future installments of the video series, tripping into the toys that go with great classic TV shows such as "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Bionic Woman" and "Charlie's Angels"!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Ben Jones and Alma Viator host Rappahannock Americana Music Festival

From the same lovely Virginia town where they recently hosted a Hazzard Homecoming, Ben ("Cooter Davenport") Jones of "The Dukes of Hazzard" and his wife, Alma Viator, are hosting a music fest in a couple weeks. From their email and website:

Ben Jones and Alma Viator present The First Annual Rappahannock Americana Music Festival on May 17, 2014 from noon to 10 p.m. in beautiful Washington, Virginia.

“Americana music is the home-grown music of America," Ben Jones says. "It is influenced by old time string music, jug bands, the blues and rhythm and blues, country and bluegrass, Cajun and Creole, and whatever else that came from the bottom up instead of from the top down. Some people call it ‘roots,’ some people call it ‘folk’ music, but it is all of that and more, because a lot of it is new music made in the traditional way.”

The event will be held at:
The Theatre and Avon Hall Washington, Virginia
291 Gay Street
Washington, VA 22747

Check the event's Facebook page or the official website for more info.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Next up in Terrific TV Toys: Wonder Woman (8-inch) Mego

She thwarted evil with a magic spin; she was the unstoppable Wonder Woman!!!! (And that spin was from the Lynda Carter version of Wonder Woman first, by the way, then the spin was brought into the comics.) Regardless, at the time the "Wonder Woman" TV series originally aired in the 1970s, there were a couple versions of a Wonder Woman doll / action figure that little girls everywhere and maybe even some little boys could enjoy. They were both made by Mego. One was 8 inches high and the first of a set of Mego's supergals in its well-known and well-regarded World's Greatest Super Heroes collection. She hit the store shelves just before Lynda Carter hit the TV airwaves, then continued to sell for a while, perhaps also inspired by the Wonder Woman of the popular "Super Friends" series of the time. Then she was eclipsed by the 12-inch, very detailed version which was more of an official companion to the TV series (complete with Diana Prince outfit -- it rocks, trust us), which you'll see in a future installment of the series.

For now, though, let's take a look at that 8-inch beauty from BRB's own childhood collection as the BRBTV video series Terrific TV Toys (*of a vintage nature) continues ....