2010: A Look Back at a Lot of Interviews

At the end of 2009, I took a look back at 100 interviews I’d done over the course of the year, and it was exhausting…not only for me, but possibly also for you, the reader. Oh, I still think it was a heck of a piece, but I believe I made a mistake by numbering them. I mean, you get about 20 – 25 into the proceedings, and it’s, like, “Oh, geez, I’ve still got 75 left to go? Screw this, I’m out of here.” So this time, I’m not going to tell you how many quotes are in the piece. I’ll just say that I talked to a lot of really funny, fascinating, and decidedly forthright people during the course of 2010, and I’ll let you dive in. Hope you enjoy the chance to reminisce as much I did, and here’s to a great 2011 for us all!

Big Shots at the Box Office

“I was in Australia, touring with my films and live show, and I got an E-mail from my agent, saying that there was interest in me for Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ I thought, ‘Okay, that sounds good.’ I thought it would be for a day or two, maybe a few days or something, and I would’ve been very happy to do that. But then the offer came in, and it was for virtually the entire run of the film. I didn’t even know what part it was for, so I asked my agent, and he said it was for the Knave of Hearts. So I looked up the Knave of Hearts in the original book online and…it didn’t really seem like a character that would require the run of the film. I thought, ‘Something must be different.’ And then I got the actual screenplay, and it was extremely different. I could see that it was written as a sequel. But it was a great part, and I was ecstatic to be in it…and I’m still ecstatic to be in it!” – Crispin Glover, Alice in Wonderland

“They called my agent and said they were auditioning for (‘Inception’), so I flew myself back, I read for Chris (Nolan) once, and I left. I think it was later that day that I heard from my agent, saying, ‘They’ve cut everyone except you. Now, they’re going to go to London to see some people, and then we’ll know more after that. So don’t get your hopes up, but…this is great!’ Then I came back and read again, and I got the job. And then, as you might expect, I freaked out completely.” – Dileep Rao, Inception

“I was actually down at my ranch in South Texas, and my guys called me and said, ‘Hey, we’re trying to get you a meeting with Sylvester Stallone. He’s casting a movie called ‘The Expendables.’’ Several months went by, and he’d already cast ‘The Expendables,’ but he still wanted to meet me for potentially playing the part of Dan Paine. So I went in to meet Sly, it was the first time I’d ever met him, and I’m a huge fan. I remember watching ‘Rocky’ back in ’76 or whenever it was, then getting up the next morning, drinking eggs, and running down the street…and now here I am meeting with this guy!” – Steve Austin, The Expendables

“I was privileged and honored to work side by side with Sly (Stallone in ‘The Expendables’). Most of my scenes take place with him, and I’m telling you, man, he took me under his wing, and it was a brilliant thing. I don’t know what else to say. ‘Rocky,’ ‘Rambo,’ just everything he’s done is iconic, and it wasn’t lost on me. I love the man, and I can’t wait to do another one, ‘cause Sly’s the king of the sequels…and in my whole career, I’ve never done a sequel to any one of my projects. So I’m, like, ‘Sly, I’m ready for ‘Expendables 2,’ okay?'” – Terry Crews, The Expendables

“Jessica (Pare) was just about to disrobe…we were in the (hot) tub…and they were, like, ‘Ready!’ And she took off whatever was covering her in the tub. And somebody asked the boom guy a question just as she was disrobing, and all he could say was, ‘Yesssssss…’ He could only whisper. I didn’t make a joke about it, though. I was just, like, ‘Okay, Craig, keep it cool, keep it together…’” – Craig Robinson, Hot Tub Time Machine

“I made the mistake of using one term loosely and saying (filming in 3D) was a tedious process, and somebody made it sound really bad. The bottom line is that it took a little longer, and the one that suffered more than anybody was (director Kevin Greutert) and the camera guy, because they have to get it right. You know, calibration and being specific with lights and all that stuff. For me, it was a good excuse to go play with the crew that wasn’t on set and crack a couple of jokes, so I got to socialize a little bit more.” – Costas Mandylor, Saw 3D

“Usually, when you’re coming in completely blind with who you’re working with, you don’t know if you’re going to get along, nor do some people put the time in to try to get along. We were all in Pittsburgh, and we did do, like, two weeks of rehearsal before we started shooting (‘She’s Out of My League’), and in those two weeks, we hung out a lot…and, luckily, it went good rather than bad. Because sometimes it’s just awful, and you’re going, ‘I can’t stand that guy!’ So we were lucky. I know a lot of people always say this when they come off work, because they’re kind of trained to say it, but with this one, we all really got along, and I think that’s what helps our chemistry on screen so much: we thought each other were funny, we even liked to hang out afterward, and that played well. ” – Nate Torrence, She’s Out of My League

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A Chat with John Walsh (“America’s Most Wanted”)

And, now, for today’s “this’ll make you feel old” moment: on Saturday night, “America’s Most Wanted” will be celebrating the airing of its 1,000th episode. The series has been on the air for an astonishing 23 years, and when you consider the number of criminals that host John Walsh has – with the assistance of the show’s viewers – helped put behind bars in that amount of time, you have to hope that it will continue to run for at least as many more. I had the chance to chat with Mr. Walsh when he made an appearance at the January TCA Press Tour, and I quizzed him about the show’s origins, its longevity, and its ties to the TV movie based on his own real-life events (“Adam”), but given the heavy topics at hand, it seemed appropriate to ease into things with a slightly lighter topic.

Bullz-Eye: I wanted to start off by asking you about a couple of your pop-culture appearances outside of “America’s Most Wanted,” the first being your turn as a character in DC Comics’ “The Outsiders.”

John Walsh: It was a real honor. It actually was a real honor, and when I talked to the guys who draw and write “The Outsiders,” they went, “You know, we’d like to incorporate you into this, because you are the real-life Batman.” And I went, “What a compliment!” And they said, “Well, you were a successful businessman, and you’re kind of not a vigilante. You really want to try and change things.” I considered that a real compliment. I have a 15-year-old son who’s a terrific artist and a big fan of comic books. I had had the distinct pleasure of being the only guy ever written into the “Dick Tracy” comic strip, too, so I’d experienced it years before, but “The Outsiders” is kind of a cool comic book, and for an old guy like me… (Laughs) You know, it’s so funny, but of all the things…I mean, I’ve been honored in the White House Rose Garden by four different presidents, and that’s something that really touches your heart, but my son said to me, “Dad, you’ve been on ‘South Park’ and now you’re on the cover of ‘The Outsiders.’ Now you’re cool.”

BE: Did you manage to score any of the original artwork from your “Outsiders” appearance?

JW: I did! And I treasure it, because they really did it with some dignity. The segments were about the exploitation of runaways, of how bad guys use teenage runaways that may be running away from a terrible abusive home or sexual abuse, and they hit the streets and get exploited. And, you know, a lot of the Outsiders are kids who’ve been through Hell themselves and are trying to make a difference. So, yes, I have some of the original artwork, and I treasure it. It’s really kind of a gratifying thing.

BE: So how about that “South Park” appearance? (Laughs)

JW: “South Park” I loved. I loved the “South Park” guys, was a fan of the show, and didn’t know I was going to be on… (Laughs) …and was on the road somewhere and….I have another son who’d just graduated from college, and he said, “Dad, everybody at my college is talking about you being on ‘South Park.’ It’s all over school.” I thought it was funny. It’s really an irreverent look at society, and it was very cool. I’m a fan of that show.

BE: Did you send them a thank-you note?

JW: Oh, gosh. You know, I should. I actually should, because it was very funny. Very satirical, but very funny.

BE: Have you turned up anywhere else that’s really stuck out for you?

JW: You know, someone told me the other day that there’s a punk rock band called John Walsh, and that they’re not kind of the alternative punk. Their music is pretty edgy, and they’re kind of on the side of the right. Their punk music says, “Hey, there are heroes out there, and there are guys who are making a difference, but you can still be an alternative type of person and a punk rocker.” I never cease to be amazed by the younger culture in this country.

BE: How thrilled are you that the show has continued to thrive for as long as it has?

JW: I’m amazed, because we…now I’ve been told that we’re the 3rd longest running show in prime time history, behind “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours.” That’s a real compliment to the fans. And we’re still #1 in the most important demographics. I mean, I don’t kind myself: you’ve still got to be #1 in the 18-49 demo. It’s such a rewarding experience, because we’ve caught over 1,000 guys, and last week we caught the guy who murdered a 6-year-old girl and shot three other people on Thanksgiving. He’d been out there 5 weeks. I went down to south Florida to do the show, and he got caught 10 minutes after the show aired. It was fantastic. I’ve walked in those people’s shoes. I’m the father of a murdered child. I’m amazed that we’ve been able to stay on this long and that we’re so popular, but I thank the public. Now we’re worldwide, we’ve caught people in 35 countries, our website is huge and usually the second most popular TV website next to “American Idol”…usually, depending on the week. (Laughs) It’s such a gratifying experience, and I think it’s the public saying, “We don’t want to be vigilantes. We watch the show because we want to make a difference. Maybe we’ll see one of those creeps, or we’ll learn something, or we can help society.” Last year, we caught someone in China, we caught someone in India. Both countries extradited those creeps immediately. We’ve kind of been woven into the global culture now, and it’s a pretty gratifying thing, it really is. Especially for the father of a murdered child.

BE: That actually leads me to a question I’ve been curious about. When they made the movie “Adam,” about your son, were you very involved, or was it just something that came about because they were aware of your experience and wanted to bring it to the public consciousness?

JW: It was a wonderful woman named Linda Otto, who is now deceased, who brought the idea. She was an award-winning documentary film producer, and she’s the one who brought it to NBC. At that time, Grant Tinker was the president of NBC, and they were the #1 network. I’ve been told it was the most-watched TV movie of all time. It aired three times. She said to Grant Tinker, “We’re going to do it with dignity and integrity, and I’m going to involve the Walshes. I want to try and stay as close to what happened with the Walshes as possible.” And I thought they did a really good job, but the most incredible thing is that, with those three airings of “Adam,” it was the first TV show ever to show pictures of missing children…and they found sixty kids from those three airings! Most of them were non-custodial parental abductions, but they were kids that were missing for years, so I sort of learned the power of television from watching and being part of the movie “Adam.” I think NBC did a very dignified job of doing it, and Linda Otto sort of changed the way this country looks at missing children with a TV movie.

BE: To bring it full circle, was it “Adam” that led you – either directly or indirectly – to “America’s Most Wanted”?

JW: No, you know, it really was people internally at Fox. Rupert Murdoch had seen “Crimewatch UK” in England, which is done by the BBC and has been on for 40 years. When they approached me in 1987, I said “no” for six months. I didn’t know what Fox was… (Laughs) …and I didn’t know who Rupert Murdoch was, and I didn’t know who Barry Diller was. I didn’t want to be on television. I was trying to change laws, trying to recover from Adam’s terrible abduction, and…I was a businessman. I built deluxe hotels before Adam was murdered. So when they approached me…it wasn’t my idea…they said, “You know, you’ve spent so long trying to change laws and change the way this country looks at missing and exploited children. How would you like to host the first reality television program?” My first question – other than “who’s Rupert Murdoch?” and “what’s Fox?” – was, “What’s reality television?” Because America didn’t have reality television. So we were Fox’s first show. I did it because the first guy was a child killer that escaped from prison. He was our first capture. Three days after the show had aired, he was caught in Staten Island, New York. Guess what he was doing? He was running a shelter for the homeless. An escaped killer and rapist. (Shakes head) It’s been an incredible experience…but it was really Fox’s idea. They pursued me, and it’s been a wonderful partnership for 23 years.

  

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