Ted McGinley

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Ted McGinely is sort of a hero of ours. “Happy Days,” Revenge of the Nerds, and “West Wing” don’t hurt the claim. But it was the role of Jefferson D’Arcy on “Married With Children” that made Ted McGinley a household face and name. For some, the show was a disgusting, male-ego-out-of-control type of program. But to people who actually find cultural critique in satire, Married With Children became the battle ground of the middle class against “The Man,” the little guy fighting against the mundane, crappy existence he has been dealt with in suburbias across the United States. The show was smart, and Ted McGinley was right in the thick of it all.

Our Los Angeles writer, Nisan Perera, spoke with Ted recently about what he was working on now, the impact that television has on an audience, and really just how goddamn cool it is to work on an actor’s schedule. Especially when you are an actor that has been active for over 30 years. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy Ted McGinley and his last words on Betty Childs. —The Citrus Report staff

Q) So what are you working on these days?

You know it’s weird, normally this would be pilot season for me, which it is still pilot season, but the writers strike really slowed everything down so far that there’s not that much stuff going on. And as you get older the opportunities get fewer and fewer and you have to be more right for the part, the parameters narrow, so to speak. But I did a movie for Hallmark last Christmas and they’re doing a sequel to it because it’s the highest-rated movie they’ve had, so that was good. So we’re trying to figure out if it’s going to be a series of movies or just a sequel. Also, I’m developing a feature project that I’m going to take somewhere else and try and get produced, so we’ll see.

I’m kind of feeling like I don’t really know if with the acting thing, I’m done or if… Well, I’m really in a cross-roads right now.

Q) Would you be ok with it if that were the case?

Well only if I had something really fascinating to do, like if I decided to write full-time, or be a producer, or maybe I should be a professional baseball manager… I just don’t know. But I’ve found that with acting, the thing I’ve enjoyed most about it is that I’ve never been able to master it. And it’s very disheartening, and it makes me come back and back, and I wake up today and I have no idea what I’ll be doing until I get a call from my agent or manager that changes the next year of my life. And that’s exciting, and I’m lucky to be in that position and be able to still feed my kids while I get that excitement.

Q) Do you feel like there are actors out there that have been able to “master it”?

Yeah, I think there are some that at least feel like they’ve been able to master it, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the good ones. But it’s like any form of art, one never masters it. It’s a constant changing canvas. But I don’t know. I wonder if there are some people who feel like they are really on top of it. The further you get away from it, the more you think, “Wait, do I really do this?”

Q) But I mean, your first acting credit is from the 1970’s, so to spend 30 years in the world of acting is pretty huge right?

Yeah, I guess in dog years that’s not too bad.

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Q) Exactly, so you’ve done something right then?

Yeah, it’s just that sometimes I look around and I’m so proud to have had such a big part in it, and have had so much to do in it being successful. I’ve been really lucky to have joined some projects that were going for a long time, but I don’t really deserve any credit for them, sure I take credit if given to me though, but I probably don’t deserve it…

Q) Well, I don’t know about that, Jefferson was a pretty big deal…

Well yeah, that and all the original Nerds movies had an impact on people to this day, but I guess it just didn’t have that same impact on me, you know? They weren’t the projects I thought would define my career. Happy Days had a bigger impact on me personally, where it was the first time where someone said, “We’ll take you.”

And all I could respond with was, “Me?” It was so bizarre. And that day had to be one of the greatest days of my life. My wife and I were out a few weeks ago for our “first date” anniversary, and I told her that was date was one of the best four days of my life, and I wasn’t lying. Two of the other days were the days my two sons were born, and the last one was the day they gave me that show. It seemed like a complete fantasy when I was auditioning for that role, and it was totally out of my wheelhouse. But all of a sudden they let me become a part of that world, and I had no right to be there. And that moment changed the course of the rest of my life.

Q) So there’s obviously a lot of ups and downs in having a long lasting career in acting, and that was the highlight, but what was the lowlight?

Oh man, there’s so many… You constantly go through self-questioning and doubts, but it just gets trickier when you become a parent. The only time Ron Howard had me in, and I’ve always loved Ron Howard and I’ve always thought he should put me in one of his movies because I really get his stuff. So he called me in one time, and it was the day after my son was born. I had the longest two days of my life leading into it, and I just wasn’t able to be totally there for that audition. But I guess if the lowest moment of your career comes with the silver lining of your son being born, you haven’t done that bad.

Q) So kids factor in pretty heavily into your career decisions now I suppose?

Huge. My wife’s also an actress, so I’m always torn between trying to balance schedules. But the thing that makes it so great is that when I’m not working, I have the greatest life on earth; I get to coach baseball and go to all the soccer games, and all the stuff other guys don’t get to do. Which really makes not working palatable.

Q) So then, what’s the secret? How do you survive so long in this profession, stay consistently employed and not be flipping burgers and somehow stay sane and raise a family all at the same time?

I think it’s just because I have so many other interests outside of “the business” so I don’t have to rely on “the business” to determine my worth, and I just rely on living my life well to help things fall in line. They don’t always fall how you want, but I’ve always been able to role with that. Also, I don’t have the ego where I have to be “the guy” or in “the title.” I mean, I’ve made a living being the 13th guy, and I’ve been able to make a really good living at it. And I guess I’ve always enjoyed being totally under the radar. I’ve got just enough fame where it’s still kind of fun, and I still get a table sometime, but I never expect to get the table.

There are so many people that see the carrot, and the carrot is so golden that they’ll sacrifice anything to get there, but it’s never been worth it to me and I always thought I’d rather flip burgers than do that.
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Q) Okay, moving on to the “Married With Children” days, we’re not going to make some huge socio-political meaning out of a show about a guy with his hand down his pants, but it was one of the longest running sitcoms on Fox, and it’s still syndicated all over this world to this day. Do you know the impact that a project like that is going to have when you’re working on it, or is it just another job?

Well that one surprised the hell out of me because I didn’t realize the gravity of that show. My god, I hear from people in Israel come up and say “I love that show!” and people in Germany say ‘What a great show!” (using thick German accent), and Australia, and on and on… And you can only respond with, “You gotta be kidding me?!” And it wasn’t until two years into it that I said to myself, “I can’t get over this show!” It was great for me, because it was a total different audience after doing Happy Days and such…

And that show to me is remarkable because it’s really dark and yet so many people across the world relate to it. I think it’s really because Al was the every-man, he was just the guy who wanted to get back at the man, and we can all relate to that. And as sick as it was, the family still loved each other for some reason.

Q) Doesn’t the arc that show took just seem crazy sometimes? Like it started as almost an underground cultish show, and by the end of it’s run it was huge. But after it was over it seemed like it got even bigger.

In fact, of everything great about that show, what seems like the stand out is that we never did that one last sappy show to close it out. Because they wanted to do one half-ass, and were thinking, “Well we might end it, we might not…”

And Ed (O’Neill) said, “You know what, we’re not doing it. If you want to do it, we’re going to blow it out.”

And that was so great, I was so proud of everyone for making that decision. That’s what that show deserved, the audience deserved it. And it was just fitting that the “T” was never crossed on that show…

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Q) How were the last days of that show, was there spin-off talk and such?

Well there was talk of doing a “No Ma’am” show, but at that point Ed was burnt out and just couldn’t do it anymore and I’m not sure it could have worked without him…

Q) Do you still see those folks?

You know, it was such a friendly set and we don’t keep in touch constantly, but when we see each other it’s always great. But it was a great family to work with and it was the greatest place in the world to work. It was sick amounts of fun.

Q) So in a lot of ways people consider “Married With Children” the show that launched FOX into prime time television. So you think you’re hot-sh*t I bet, huh?

Well yeah. No, the crazy thing about it is that if it hadn’t been for this one lady in Michigan, Terry Rakolta was her name, who decided that the show was too racy and boycotted the show, the show really wouldn’t have done that much. But people hear that, and all of a sudden perk up and are like, “Well we better check this out.” And that was it… And it did pretty much put FOX on the map. It did feel good that when FOX lost that show, they lost a lot for a while.

Q) Nice to feel your absence I’m sure…

Yeah, especially when they’re so sick of you by the end of it, and they’re tired of dealing with everyone. And then you close down shop, and they’re suddenly like, “Well I guess it wasn’t that bad, maybe we should have gotten one more year out of them…”

Q) So do they give you tickets to “American Idol” or anything now?

No, I don’t think anyone at FOX actually knows who I am, so I don’t ask. But I’m not really a guy that asks…

Q) So, level with me, is Revenge of the Nerds the best movie ever made, or does it just fall in the top five?

Nah, I say just top five.

Q) So, how hot was Betty back in the day?

Hot. Those guys were pretty much fighting over her constantly.

Q) You didn’t win?

No. I think I had something else going on at the time. But she was great, she was fun… Actually, everyone was great, we laughed constantly while making that, and it was just a great group of people. It was one of those great jobs. And they gave us so much freedom to do whatever we wanted on it, and come up with any bits that we wanted. And Tim Busfield was on there who just would come up with so many bits constantly. And it was just a great time period for all of us in a lot of ways, just everyone coming into their own as actors.

Q) So being a television person, what are some of your favorites to watch?

Anything my wife’s in, I watch.

Q) Good answer.

No, I watch a lot of documentary things, Discovery Channel things, and a lot of sports with my kids to tell you the truth. And I actually love “Survivor.” I’m just waiting for the celebrity version to come out…

Q) You’re going to jump on it?

Oh yeah, right after I do “The Biggest Loser – Celebrity Edition…”

But I’m not one of those fatalist people when it comes to television. I still think it can be a great medium of expression. And it can be brilliant or just pathetic. When I see things like Jerry Springer on television, I’m pretty sure it’s the end of civilization. Or whatever that other show is with the lie detector test. I just think that those people should be shot. The producers, the network for running it, all of them should be shot.

But you know what? People probably said that about “Married with Children” at some point too, so who am I to talk.

From The Citrus Report

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Celebrity Awkwardness 2010: Shaq and Justin Bieber

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Eric Spitznagel from the Vanity Fair Blog just posted his 2010 in Celebrity Q&As: A Look Back in Awkwardness.

Some of our favorites:

Eric Spitznagel: Is sexting the modern equivalent of standing on somebody’s lawn with a boombox, blaring a Peter Gabriel song?

John Cusack: I guess it is. Either that or Twittering. As long as you can tell somebody how you feel in 140 characters or less.

That might be enough. [Sings.] “In your eyes, the light the heat, in your eyes, I am complete . . . ”

I don’t know. I don’t think any of that really counts, you know?

You want to be a cop?

Shaquille O’Neal:I do, yes. I was just offered a chief-of-police job somewhere, which I can’t talk about, but I had to turn it down. I’m a volunteer or honorary policeman in a couple of different states. I have a badge in Arizona, Florida, and California.

So you could totally arrest me right now?

I could. But trust me, you wouldn’t want me to. You really, really don’t. If I’m in your living room, you know you’re in trouble.

That’s the understatement of the year.

I’m not kidding.

Neither am I.

As long as you stay on the right side, you’ll be fine. For the last seven years, I’ve been a detective for Internet crimes against children. So if you ever see me, you know we’ve got you. If we come to your house, it’s all over. You’re going to be arrested. You’ve been having Internet conversations with me, and we’ve got all the evidence we need to take you down.

What’s your arrest catchphrase?

My catchphrase? Like a motto?

What do you say when you’re roughing up a perp? “On the floor, dirtbag!” “Book ‘em, Danno!” That kind of thing.

Well, uh. [Long pause.] My job is to be a little girl.

Come again?

I play a little girl on the Internet. So whatever name I’m going by, that will probably be my catchphrase. If I’m Tanya, then it’ll be something like, “Tanya says hello.” And they’ll be like, “Tanya who?” And I’ll say, “You don’t know no Tanya, huh? I’m Tanya. Let’s go.” And that’s when the cuffs get slapped on you.

I’d be less concerned with the handcuffs than the fact that a seven-foot bald man just introduced himself as Tanya.

[Laughs.] Yeah, they don’t like that very much.

Read the rest here

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Banksy @ HMV

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We wrote awhile back about cleverness and the artist formerly known as discrete and undercover, Banksy. We actually broke our analysis of the larger than life street artist into two parts, one about Banksy and Public Space, and the other about Banksy and his celebrity followers. We enjoyed his North American tour promoting the film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, where the artist who normally creates one piece of street work that causes worldwide response plastered city after city with multiple pieces, including a very publicized amount of work in San Francisco. It was the Spring of Banksy, and it never really seemed to be too tired in our eyes.

This past week, Banksy promoted the release of the DVD of Exit Through the Gift Shop with three original pieces installed in HMV music stores in London and Bristol, England. Yes, that’s right, HMV. Music stores. Banksy and the English still believe in music stores, apparently. The new works are well guarded by a hired security team. The pieces have probably garnered more attention in a music store than if Liam Gallagher showed up to play a solo set of his new songs (okay, we exaggerate, but you get our point, it is super popular).

Again, Banksy is causing a huff amongst haters and lovers alike. Bombast, of course it is. Self-promotional, well, that is what Exit Through the Gift Shop was all about. Original, there is no one else in the art game that we can think of who would promote his or her own DVD release by creating original pieces to be placed in a music store equivalent to a mall store. To us, this is again a moment where Banksy going over the normal has paid off. He is bringing the art back to his original fans, perhaps not on the street, but at a unique street level in a music store. The work isn’t for the staid audience in a museum, but for the active who are participating in popular culture at a place that sells affordable art (sometimes bad art, but oh well). A record shop, how clever.

We don’t want anything from Banksy other than a continuing story to be written, to not hide away for years scheming away on his next big move (although we are sure that is the next chapter, a long delay of silence). What people need to remember is that this is all fun. The whole Banksy game is fun. The amount that the work goes for at auction is arbitrary, and none of us can afford it anyway so who really gives a damn? Just try and remember that in 20 years, Banksy will probably be a museum staple, and let us hope it happens on his own terms, the way he has treated the last year of his career. Take it seriously because he’s not. He is just performing his own art world joke of “The Aristocrats.”

Thanks to Arrested Motion for the images.

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