Afternoon TV, September 1975, Vol. 7, No. 8

"I tell them exactly what I think!"
by Barry Grael

"Oh, I'm sympathetic with actors who love to play 'good' parts, but at least I try to give him [John Dixon] a sense of humor. I tell you, though, even at his worst, I never thought of this fellow that I play as an evil bastard. After all, nobody's that absolute. Even bad guys have their good moments and some kind of motivation that makes their evil understandable.

"I did a talk show in Hartford, and the lady asked me, 'Why isn't there more actual physical action on your show?' It has to do with economics and the time element and the fact that we're live. There's a formula. We go from an establishing shot to a closeup, and try to get an effect of motion. It works, but it's a shame that something more can't be done.

"The fact that it's live, though, makes it much better. There's an excitement every time, knowing you may make an ass of yourself in front of thirty million people! For me, it's the closest thing to theater there is. Our fun is the hairy things that can happen. You know, the human element. I mean, somebody'll get out there in front of the camera and burp... it's the human element.

"Of course our show perpetuates the myth we've all been brought up with. Our mythical town is Oakdale. There's only one way in, through a car wash, through an electrified cyclone fence. Then you're stripped, scrubbed, given a button-down shirt, and you stay. If you ever leave or are kicked out, you go to England. Not Spain or anyplace un-Anglo-Saxon... always England. We've got a lot of fugitives in London.

"I went in the Army in 62. It was just at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the first thing they told us was, Don't worry about the cold... where you guys are going it's warm!' Of course we never did have to go. I was getting out in November, 64, and that September the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed. Well, you'd have thought it was World War III. The post where I was stationed changed overnight. I was doing a show there and we lost two guys from it like that!"