Kevin McDonald may not maintain as high a profile as some of his fellow Kids in the Hall, like Scott Thompson, who’s on NBC’s “Hannibal,” or Dave Foley, who’s on everything, but that’s because he spends at least as much time as a writer or in a recording booth for some cartoon or other as he does in front of the camera. Tonight, however, McDonald steps back in front of the camera as a guest prankster on TBS’s “Who Gets the Last Laugh?”, and he spoke to Bullz-Eye about his experience on the show while also discussing guest-writing for “Saturday Night Live,” playing Pastor Dave on “That ’70s Show,” and ongoing attempts to get the Kids back together again.
Bullz-Eye: So how did you find yourself involved in TBS’s “Who Gets the Last Laugh?” Did they reach out to you?
Kevin McDonald: They reached out to me! Yes! I was in my nice blue house in Winnipeg, and I got the email from them, saying, “Would you like to do this?” And I thought at first that I’d be too Canadian to do this. Like, too polite. I thought I’d be too nice to pull pranks on people. That’s what I thought in my blue house in Winnipeg. But as it turned out, I could do it!
BE: Did you have to fight your every Canadian instinct to do it?
KM: Yes. [Laughs.] At first I did. Because we’re too polite and too nice, and we feel guilty. But then you get into it, and…it’s not even like the cruel part of me kicked in or anything…until it did. But it wasn’t even that. It was just, y’know, “It’s a job.” And once I started getting into it, it sort of became like a sketch, only with one of the people not knowing what the script was. And that was sort of the challenge, but I got really into it. I really enjoyed it.
Theresa Russell has spent far more of her career on the silver screen than the small screen, so when she takes on a TV role, it’s a pretty big deal. Of course, “Liz & Dick” was already destined to be a big deal whether Russell had been cast as Elizabeth Taylor’s mother or not, simply by virtue of Lindsay Lohan playing Liz, but that doesn’t make it any less lovely to see Russell turn up.
With “Liz & Dick” now available on DVD, Russell kindly set about doing a bit of press for the production, and in chatting with Bullz-Eye, she discussed how working alongside Lohan caused her maternal instincts to kick in, revealed how serious funnyman Bill Murray can be, and detailed the good and the bad about her short-lived stint as a series regular on The WB’s “Glory Days.”
Bullz-Eye: I feel like I’m the only TV critic who didn’t get a chance to watch “Liz & Dick” when it originally aired, so I’m glad they sent me a copy of the DVD release in time to watch it before you and I talked.
Theresa Russell: And…? [Laughs.] What did you think?
BE: I enjoyed it well enough.
TR: It’s entertaining, I think.
BE: Well, I tend to enjoy bio-pics in general, if only just to see how a cast and crew decide to tackle the challenge of bringing someone’s life story to the screen.
TR: Yeah. I think Lindsay did a good job. And I didn’t realize that (Elizabeth Taylor’s) mom was so involved her life, either, until doing that, so I thought it was interesting. I actually met Liz. My former husband, Nicolas Roeg, did…I think it was for CBS, but it was Tennessee Williams’ “Sweet Bird of Youth” with her. She was just a wonderful woman. I even tried on that damned diamond. [Laughs.] She goes, “Here, try it on!” I was, like, “Oh, my God…” We were standing around her pool. I put it on, and the thing was…I’m not a big jewelry person, so I thought it would look like a hunk of glass, but it didn’t. It was beautiful. I mean, looking into it was like looking into infinity. It was unbelievably beautiful. She was a trip, though. She was an amazing woman. She really was special. A special creature.
Last night on Twitter, I earned a few favorites and reTweets when I sent out the one-liner, “At last, my months of following “The Great Space Coaster” on Twitter have paid off: I just won an autographed photo of Gary Gnu.”
Funny thing is, though, I wasn’t joking: I really did get selected to receive a Gary Gnu photo which — unless I very much miss my guess — will bear the signature of puppeteer Jim Martin, who brought Gary to life on the show.
Reminiscing about that live-action kids show in turn got me to thinking about other such shows from my youth which, for the most part, tend to have been forgotten by just about everyone who didn’t experience them when they were originally on the air.
Here, for your reading enjoyment (and possible education) are a few that crossed my mind. Some were on broadcast networks, others were in syndication, but they all clearly left their mark on me in one way or the other, since it’s been at least 30 years since I’ve seen full episodes of most of them. Mind you, that’s not to say that they’d hold up for me now, but I’ll say this much for ‘em: every damned one of the theme songs has a hook that’ll stick in your brain for the long haul…except maybe the one that leads off this list, but, damn, even that’s screaming to be sampled by an industrious DJ somewhere.
1. Curiosity Shop (1971-1973)
Chuck Jones, the man behind some of the most memorable Warner Brothers cartoons of all time, brought his unique sensibilities into a live-action setting for this educational program which, at least as far as ABC was concerned, seemed like a perfect opportunity to pull in some of the audience of this new PBS show called “Sesame Street” which was all the rage for the single-digit set. Thanks to Jones’s cartoon connections, he was able to pull such luminaries as Mel Blanc, June Foray, and Don Messick to give voice to the various characters, but there were also actual cartoons incorporated into the show, including animated adaptations of such comic strips as “Dennis the Menace,” “The Wizard of Id,” and “Miss Peach,” and trivia buffs may also be interested to know that the Schoolhouse Rock song “Three Is A Magic Number” made its debut on the show.
Some know Robert Picardo for the time he spent playing the Emergency Medical Hologram on “Star Trek: Voyager,” while others remember him more fondly for his work as Coach Cutlip on “The Wonder Years,” but at the moment, the TV show on his resume that more people are talking about than any other is “China Beach,” which is – after way, way too long a wait – finally on DVD. Picardo took a few minutes to chat with Bullz-Eye about the release of “China Beach: The Complete Series,” his reminiscences of working on the series, and if viewers are wrong to see a touch of his Dr. Dick Richard turning up in the aforementioned EMH.
Bullz-Eye: From what I understand, it sounds like we’re both on the same page as far as being unable to refresh our memories on “China Beach”: they tell me my copy of the complete-series set is due to arrive tomorrow.
Robert Picardo: Oh, good for you! But I did already get mine. [Laughs.] They got it to me yesterday, and I devoted some time to it. I watched a couple of the bonus features. There are 10 hours of bonus features, and I guess I watched about two hours of them, or thereabouts. And then, even though I had to get up very early this morning to do these interviews, I thought, “Well, I’ll pop in the pilot and just watch the first five minutes to see the quality of the transfer.” And, of course, I watched the entire pilot. I couldn’t turn it off! So that was a good thing. The fact that I was so captivated was a good sign.
I’m really happy to see that the show, which was a period piece to begin with…I mean, we made it in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, but it was set from ’68 to ’71, principally, and then the last season we kind of skipped into the future as late as 1987. But basically it was a period piece to begin with, so in that respect it hasn’t aged. It’s still a great time capsule and doesn’t feel dated, and I’m so proud of the work in it. Dana is extraordinary, Marg Helgenberger is extraordinary, but the whole ensemble is just great. You know, it was a very special time in my career, and I know and I’ve heard Dana and Marg and pretty much all of the actors say the same, so to have it reach a new audience is really very gratifying and exciting.
BE: What do you remember about your first read of the pilot script?
RP: I remember reading it and thinking it was great. And important. It felt like an honor to be part of something like that, which was really about something, I mean, obviously, you’d…I guess you’d say the success of the movie “Platoon” led to the possibility of major television networks doing Vietnam dramas. And, of course, “Tour of Duty,” our sister show… [Laughs.] Well, that was really more about “Platoon” and about the soldiers fighting. What was unique and special about “China Beach” was that the point-of-view character was a woman, an Army nurse who served there. So it gave the show a special perspective. It wasn’t about combat, it was about saving lives. It was about supporting and helping soldiers. The war was like an offstage character.
We were the support group there—the nurses, the doctors, the USO people—to sort of support and patch the guys up and either send them back or, if they were too injured, send them home. And more often than not, if they were dead, you’d offer the last gesture of respect to them. That’s what Michael Boatman’s character did, the guy who ran the grave registration. What a terrific role, and an extraordinary performance for a 24-year-old guy. I mean, to have so much…what’s the word? He created such a character who had seen everything, and he was totally believable as a guy who…that was his life, just all of that death and loss. And what that had turned him into was sort of a 24-year-old old man. Anyway, it’s just great writing. William Broyles, who served in Vietnam and who co-created the series, said that he feels it’s the best war drama that’s ever been on television. And, well, yeah, you could say that he’s a little partial, since he co-created it. [Laughs.] But you know what? I agree with him.
Chevrolet recently released pics of the 2014 Corvette Stingray Coupe, and now, pricing has arrived. The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe will have a suggested starting retail price of $51,995, and the Corvette Stingray Convertible will start at $56,995. Both prices include a $995 destination fee but exclude tax, title and license.
Standard features on the all-new 2014 Corvette Stingray include:
- Seating with lightweight magnesium frames for exceptional support, and eight-way power adjustment
- Five-position Drive Mode Selector that tailors up to 12 vehicle attributes
- New seven-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Matching
- 6.2L LT1 V-8 engine with direct injection, Active Fuel Management, continuously variable valve timing and an advanced combustion system
- Carbon fiber hood on all models, and a carbon fiber removable roof panel on coupes
- Aluminum frame that is 99 pounds lighter (45 kg) and 57-percent stiffer than the previous model’s structure
- Advanced, high-intensity discharge (HID) and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting
- Dual, eight-inch configurable driver/infotainment screens, with next-generation Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system and rear vision camera
- Bose nine-speaker audio system with SiriusXM Satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and SD card and auxiliary input jack
- Keyless access with push-button start
- Power tilt/telescope steering wheel
- An all-new, fully electronic top on the convertible that can be lowered remotely using the key fob
As shown at the North American International Auto Show, the Stingray Coupe fitted with the major available options would be $73,360, including:
- 3LT interior package, with leather-wrapped interior ($8,005)
- Z51 Performance Package ($2,800)
- Competition sports seats ($2,495)
- Exposed-carbon-fiber roof panel ($1,995)
- Magnetic Ride Control with Performance Traction Management ($1,795)
- Dual-mode exhaust system ($1,195)
- Carbon fiber interior trim ($995)
- Sueded, microfiber-wrapped upper interior trim ($995)
- Red-painted calipers ($595)
- Black-painted wheels ($495)
The 3LT interior package includes: Bose 10-speaker surround-sound audio system; SiriusXM Satellite radio with one-year subscription and HD radio receiver; color head-up display; memory package; navigation system; heated and ventilated seats with power lumbar and bolster adjustment; premium Napa leather seating surfaces; and leather-wrapped dash and instrument panel, console and door panels.
The Z51 Performance Package includes: high-performance gear ratios; transmission-cooling system; larger 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels and tires; larger, slotted rotors and brake-cooling ducts; electronic limited-slip differential and differential cooling system; unique chassis tuning; and available Magnetic Ride Control active-handling system with Performance Traction Management. Equipped with the Z51 package, the Corvette Stingray is capable of accelerating from 0–60 mph in under four seconds, and more than 1 g in cornering.