Man I’m getting old. To paraphrase Neil Sedaka…”They say that waking up, is, hard to do.” Oh well, there were enough hot babes at Day Two of DragonCon2003 to help even an old fart like me get my blood flowing! The crowds were massive today. The temperature in the Dealer’s room was stifling due to wall-to-wall fans (not the electric kind.) Luckily I was able to move in and catch a few moments with a number of the celebrities on hand.
After a smoke break I went on the prowl for more interviews. I was lucky to catch actress Tanya Roberts during a lull in the crowds. Ms. Roberts co-starred in the 70s TV series “Charlie’s Angels.” She is also well known for her film “The Beastmaster.” More recently, Ms. Roberts co-starred in the hit TV show “That 70s Show.”
EI: I’m a huge fan of “That 70s Show.” Why did you leave?
Tanya Roberts: My husband got encephalitis, a brain disease during the fourth season and was in a coma for six months. I had to leave to take care of him. He’s still in a wheelchair, but I can go back to work this year. So, I’m might go back. But we’ve developed two shows while he was sick. So I’m really not sure what I’m going to do.
EI: It’s nice to see someone make that sacrifice.
TR: Thanks. He’s my best friend. We’ve been married 20 years. He’s coming along. That’s the good thing.
EI: Have you done many of these conventions?
TR: No, I’ve only done this since he’s been sick. It’s really trippy. It’s cool to see this side of the business.
EI: Tell me about the shows in development.
TR: They’re both for cable. One is a golfing show. I do tour events all over. And the other one is a home improvement show. So they ought to be on. We already have a couple shot. I’m also starting to do a comedy of the week with Richard Hatch. We’re doing a take off on his show “Battlestar Galactica” for Comedy Central.
EI: What’s your handicap in golf?
TR: Oh, about 18.
EI: You’ve got me beat! Thanks.
IT’S A SMALL (and Freaky) WORLD AFTERALL!
Time for another smoke. I spot a sexy blond in leather with vampire fangs. I snap a picture and she leaves. I get into a conversation with a conventioneer who sounds like he might be interested in reviewing DVDs for Einsiders. I get his contact info. Later that day my daughter comes up to me and points out the creepy guy who was stalking her on Day One. Turns out to be the guy I was talking to about doing reviews earlier! Talk about your small world. I thought it was funny that the guy was telling me about his great girlfriend. I don’t think he’ll be reviewing DVDs for me.
Back on the convention floor I meet British actress Juliet Mills. Ms. Mills is the daughter of legendary Oscar winning actor John Mills. She is the older sister of 60s heartthrob Hayley Mills. Ms. Mills is currently appearing on the NBC soap opera “Passions.” Ms. Mills won an Emmy for her work in the outstanding Leon Uris mini series “QBVII.”
EI: More than anyone else in this room, you probably have the best pedigree. Was there a lot of sibling rivalry between you and your sister?
Juliet Mills: I wouldn’t say so really. Because I am four years older than my sister, and I started in the theater. That’s where I began my career. When she started I was already doing very well in the London Theater. In fact had already been to New York and had been nominated for a Tony. And that was my life. So when Hayley broke into films at a very early age I was only too delighted. We never sort of went up for the same parts or anything like that. And so there never really as been…there’s been sort of a mutual admiration society. We both love and admire each other’s work. Actually, I suppose it was seven or eight years ago we worked together for the first time.
EI: What was that?
JM: We did a tour in England and Australia of a Noel Coward play called “Fallen Angels.” We did 700 performances, and we had a great. Great time on that.
EI: I’ve always admired your father.
JM: Yes, he’s remarkable. He’s 95 now and he’s still going strong. He has all his faculties. He still regales you with stories ad jokes. He’s wonderful.
EI: He has done so much great work. He deserved his Oscar for “Ryan’s Daughter.”
JM: Thank you.
EI: Have you done many of these conventions?
JM: No. This is only the second one. This is certainly the biggest one. I did the Hollywood Collector’s Convention, but this is quite a different experience. There is quite a parade of people. You certainly are not bored; I’ll say that!
EI: That photo is from “Avanti!“?
JM: Yes, with Jack Lemmon.
EI: Any memories of working with him. You’re classically trained. I believe he was a method actor.
JM: Yes he was, but he was also theater trained. And of course, he was just a brilliant actor. Very adept in any medium. He was just like he seemed to be. You know what I mean. On stage and off he was the same. He was a great actor and a great friend. He was always very sweet to me. Working with him and Billy Wilder, who directed the film. Billy Wilder was the funniest man I ever me. I never stopped laughing on that film. Just one laugh after another. Certainly the highlight of my film career.
EI: How did your role on “Passions” come about?
JM: That came about through my agent. I went and met with the producers. They weren’t sure that I could be bad enough, to play a witch. Because she’s bad, as well as funny. And so I did an audition for them, a screen test and I got the job. I love it. I’m having a great time. It is fun to play the bad guy! (Pointing to a still photo from “The Nanny and the Professor”) She was very, very good, and she (“Passions”) is very, very bad.
EI: I remember “The Nanny and the Professor” when growing up. Who was your co-star, his name escapes me?
JM: That was Richard Long.
EI: He died very young.
JM: He died right after we finished. He was 47. He was very, very good. He was a good actor. He was rather like Gig Young. He was a great light comedian.
I notice a photo of Ms. Mills with actor Josh Ryan Evens, who died earlier last year.
EI: It was a shame about that young man also.
JM: Oh tragic. It was strange because he actually died in the show. We taped it; of course he was going to come back to life. It was going to be the Christmas miracle. And he actually died on the same day that his character’s death was televised. We taped that three weeks earlier. It was a very strange thing. But I felt that Josh would have liked it that way because he was a showbiz kid and he loved it. Now, it’s like he’s legendary because not many people have done that, I don’t think. I comforted myself with that. He didn’t have a very long life expectancy. He was only 23. He had heart problems.
EI: He had a full life.
JM: He did! He made all his dreams come true.
EI: And you have made one of my dreams come true by giving me this time. Thank you very much.
Back to work! Day Two is turning out to be very nice. I find another beautiful woman who will talk to me with out running away. Actress Toni Keohler has the sweetest face you ever saw. She personifies the ‘All American Girl’ look. The petite brunette took a few minutes away from her hoard of fans to talk with me.
EI: So, you have an episode of “The Sopranos” coming up.
Toni Koehler: Yeah, it’s filmed already. It should be airing in about two months.
EI: It’s for season five?
EI: Is it a one shot deal, or do you have recurring role?
TK: Not sure yet.
EI: Do you get whacked?
TK: No, I did not get whacked! I’ll leave it at that.
EI: What’s your role.
TK: I’m in the club scene.
EI: Are you working for Tony?
TK: I can’t say.
EI: What’s Mr. Gandolfini like?
TK: Everybody is very nice. Very professional. It’s all good.
EI: You were in “The Thomas Crown Affair.”
TK: Yes, with Pierce Brosnan. I was a dancer in the ballroom scene. My best known part was in a cult TV show called “Strangers With Candy.” It aired on Comedy Central and has gained a cult following now that it has been cancelled. I play one of the snobby girls who used to tease and taunt Jerry.
EI: Are you a regular on the convention circuit.
TK: There are a few I hit regularly. Chiller Theater in East Rutherford New Jersey, DragonCon here in Atlanta, Shore Leave in Maryland. Sometimes I’ll travel out to LA for GlamourCon. Depends. I try to make the rounds, get seen, see my fans. I have a website. You can write me e-mails, buy my photos. Check out my past and upcoming performances and appearances.
EI: How did you get into acting?
TK: The bug bit me at an early age. I took some lessons, did some work in plays and just kept going from there. Started doing films and TV and here I am promoting myself.
EI: Thanks for your time.
TK: You’re welcome.
Across the aisle from Ms. Koehler I found actor director Stephen Furst, Flounder from “Animal House.”
EI: You must be really excited about the release of “Animal House” on DVD.
Stephen Furst: Yeah. It’s a great DVD. It has a lot of extras on it. I watched it and thought it was hysterical.
EI: Not everybody gets to act in what is considered an American classic film.
SF: I know. I feel very fortunate.
EI: Would you share any memories of John Belushi?
SF: He was just a really, really nice person. And a good friend. Just a pleasure to work with.
EI: Were you hurt by being typecast by Flounder.
SF: I was typecast, but it didn’t bother me. And now that I’m a director it doesn’t bother me at all. I began directing about five years ago. I prefer directing to acting.
EI: What are you working on now?
SF: I just finished a film called “Dragon Storm” starring John-Rhys Davies from “Lord of the Rings.” It will be on the Sci-Fi channel early in 2004.
EI: Do you write and direct?
SF: My first picture I wrote myself. I’m not a writer. I prefer to take better writers than myself and do their work.
EI: Thank you very much.
SF: Thank you.
Bill Mumy (pronounced Moo Me) is a 60s Icon. His work on the TV series “Lost in Space” and “The Twilight Zone” forever cast him in the memories of the Baby Boomer generation. Unlike some child actors, Bill Mumy has continued to work successfully in many mediums. He was half of the Musical Duo “Barnes & Barnes.” They recorded the cult, novelty song “Fish Heads.” In addition to his acting, Mr. Mumy is an Emmy nominated musician, novelist, comic book writer, screenwriter, voice actor and narrator for the A&E TV series “Biography.” Of course I didn’t know half of this when I went up to interview Mr. Mumy. I also made the mistake of calling him Mr. Mummy. Oh well. He was cool about it. There were over 350 guests scheduled for DragonCon 2003. I wish that I had the time to research all of the guests, as I believe that Mr. Mumy would have been the subject of a great interview. Here’s what I got. My apologies to his fans, our readers and Mr. Mumy for an interview that probably doesn’t do him justice.
Bill Mumy: I’m narrating “Biography.” That’s my current series. A&E. I’ve done 26 this season and I did 8 or 10 over the past few seasons. Now I’m one of the four guys who narrate the series.
EI: How is the music coming?
BM: Well, I’m writing a lot, and I’m playing a lot, and I’m making records. I can’t say I’m exactly tearing up the Billboard charts, but I’m making uncompromised Mumy albums. I’m painting my canvasses and hopefully some people will listen to them.
EI: If it comes from the heart, that’s all that matters.
BM: Absolutely. It may not always be in your neighborhood record store, but you can get it on Amazon.com or Bill Mumy.com. Stuff like that.
EI: How has being an Icon to the Baby Boomers affected your life?
BM: Well, I was fortunate enough to play some roles that have stuck in the consciousness of the public. I enjoyed the time I spent working on those projects very much whether it was “The Twilight Zone” or “Lost in Space” or any number of other shows. I’m glad I’ve continued to work. You know, between some of “The Twilight Zones,” “Lost in Space” and “Babylon 5,” Barnes&Barnes “Fish Heads” and stuff I have been attached with a handful of things that resonate within the Id of society. And that’s kinda cool. It’s rarely obtrusive to my privacy or anything. I don’t mind chatting with the public.
EI: I enjoyed your cameo in “The Twilight Zone: The Movie.”
BM: We did a sequel on UPN this year to “It’s a Good Life” called “It’s Still a Good Life.” I’m back as Anthony Freemont 40 years later. It’s very cool.
My impression was that Mr. Mumy was also very cool. Maybe next time I’ll be prepared for a better interview. I liked what he had to say and how he said it.
FORREST J. ACKERMAN
One of my lifelong wishes came true on Day Two. I finally got to meet Uncle Forry. That’s Forrest Ackerman to the uninitiated. Forrest Ackerman was a childhood friend of bith Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury. He’s Uncle Forry to a legion of fans of the magazine “Famous Monsters of Filmland.” Mr. Ackerman was the creator and editor of the monthly magazine which brought news from the world of Monster movies to fans the world over. Unfortunately a thunder storm prevented me from doing an interview with Mr. Ackerman. We spoke briefly at his display table. The noise in the room made it hard for him to hear me. He looked frail in his wheelchair. Mr. Ackerman has had health problems recently, but said that he is on the mend. His eyes showed that none of the spark has left his mind. Mr. Ackerman underwent a lengthy legal battle with a man whose name is not worthy to appear here. Uncle Forry has climbed back from the edge of that hard-fought battle to continue to inspire many folks the world over. I thank Mr. Ackerman for the years of entertainment and information he brought to me. Meeting him is my most cherished moment from the entire DragonCon experience.