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Hey, guys, it's Mike Rowe, and this is Episode 186 of the way I heard it, and it's called That was Perfect. Do it again. That was perfect. Do it again. Story of My Life. The episode starts with Chapter eight from my book, which tells the true story of what I think is the greatest audition ever. And it introduces a terrific character actor who also happened to be an actor of great character. We conclude with a moderately inappropriate conversation between myself and Chuck, wherein we recall a few of the many thousands of auditions we've endured over our 80 plus years of combined experience in this circus we call show business.


If you are sensitive to things like cultural appropriation, I can only apologize in advance and remind you that times were different not so long ago. We mean, no offense, we're only discussing the way things were for us as voice over actors trying to scratch out a living back in the 90s. Also a trigger warning for anyone offended by the notion of a gig economy. Friends, the gig economy is not the enemy that so many people have made it out to be.


In my opinion, anyway, the business of freelancing, of eating what you kill, that's the essence not just of every successful actor I've ever met, but every successful person. Once again, we began with a short story called Can You Be There by 9:00? Followed by a personal recollection about my dad, another actor of great character, and then a wildly unscripted conversation with the producer of this podcast, Chuck Klausmeier, my old friend and the only guy I know who's auditioned for more gigs than I have.


It's episode 186. It's called That was Perfect. Do It Again. And it all starts right now. And when I say right now, I mean right after, I urge every business owner listening to this to stop relying on quick books and upgrade to NetSuite by Oracle. Why? Because NetSuite is the world's number one cloud business system. No. One, NetSuite gives you immediate visibility and control over every aspect of your business financials, H.R. inventory, e-commerce, everything you need, all in one place instantaneously.


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Do it again.


Chapter eight. Can you be there by 9:00? Al sat on the back of a horse that wasn't his drew, a pistol that wasn't loaded and shot an Apache who wasn't an Indian. The stuntman screamed and fell unconvincingly to the ground and the director yelled, Cut back to one, everybody.


Let's do it again. I'll glance nervously at his watch, 630 p.m., not good, his audition was at 9:00 the next morning. St George, Utah was seven hours from L.A. by car and Al didn't have a car. All right, everybody, here we go. Ready and action. Once again, Indians swooped and charged, townspeople screamed and scattered, and Al pulled the trigger, shooting the same guy for the tenth time that day. But now, when the Apache, who wasn't an Indian, fell to the ground, the director called Cut.


That's a wrap, everyone. Check your call times for tomorrow. Al knew his call time already three p.m. tight, but doable. He turned his horse away from the set of bullet for a bad man and rode hard toward the nearest highway. It was rough terrain, but he could handle a horse. You probably knew that if you'd seen him in Springfield rifle with Gary Cooper, the big trees with Kirk Douglas or the true story of Jesse James with Robert Wagner.


For a big man, he rode well. Five miles later, as the sun was about to set, I'll reach the highway, he dismounted, turned his horse back in the direction of the stables and gave it a slap on the rump. One thing about horses, they always know where the stable is, especially around dinnertime. After that one left in a cloud of dust, Al knew that there was no turning back. He stuck his thumb out and two hours later, an 18 wheeler finally pulled over.


Where are you headed, cowboy? Los Angeles. I can take you as far as Vegas. I'll take it, said Al. Al jumped into the cab. The truck driver said he looked familiar. Al asked him if he liked the movies. Sure, said the driver, who doesn't like the movies.


Well, did you see Dive Bomber with Errol Flynn? I don't think so. I was in that one. Oh, yeah? What else you been in? Well, I was in Up Periscope with James Garner. Didn't see it. Time out for rhythm with Rudy Vallee. No. What about rogue cop with Rod Taylor? Sorry, to the shores of Tripoli with Harry Morgan. Negative. The sea chase with John Wayne on the West Point Story with James Cagney doesn't ring any bells.


By the time they arrived in Vegas, it was firmly established that Ali's driver was not up to speed with his passengers resume, but out in mind with a wife at home and four kids to feed. Al didn't care about being recognized. He just wanted to work. That's why he was busting his butt for a chance to audition for the role of Jonas Grumbly, the final character to be cast on a new show for CBS. His agent said he looked like a Jonas grumbly and Al couldn't disagree.


The driver dropped him at McCarren Field just in time to see the last flight to L.A. take off without him. Al slept in the terminal the next morning. He boarded the first flight to Burbank, landing a half hour before his audition time and grabbed a cab to the studio. Al smiled when the cabbie picked up exactly where the truck driver had left off. You got one of those faces, said the cabbie. Where have I seen you? I don't know.


Said how you like the movies. Sure, said the cabbie who doesn't like the movies. Ever see Mon Cher Beaucaire with Bob Hope? Don't think so, said the cabbie. I was in that one, said Al. Oh yeah? What else you been in, Alcide?


Hometown story with Marilyn Monroe. Didn't see it. How about Battle Hymn with Rock Hudson? Not yet. No Time for Love with Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray. It's on my list. Young at Heart with Doris Day and Frank Sinatra. Al arrived at the studio with two minutes to spare. He didn't look like a man who had ridden the horse, hitched a ride and slept in an airport just for a chance to audition for a role. He probably wouldn't get nor did he look like a man who would be flying back to Utah in less than an hour to shoot some more Apaches who weren't really Indians in another movie that no one would ever remember.


He looked like a Jonás Grumpy, the smiling, bumbling, exasperated character he'd come to read for. Al glanced again at the lines which he'd already memorized. He walked into the room, a skinny kid with a funny hat on was waiting in front of a camera. Al shook the kid's hand and they chatted briefly about the scene. Then somebody said, Action. That was that magic no one would ever look at all again and wonder where they'd seen his face.


Thanks to that audition and five decades of syndication, Al's face would be forever seared into America's retina.


Jonas Grumbly would accumulate more screen time than all the stars that Al had ever worked with combined. And so when he died in 1990, Al's ashes were sprinkled over the Pacific Ocean, a fitting sendoff for the man who became synonymous not with the Cowboys he'd so often portrayed or the Indians he'd so often shot. But with Jonas Gumby, the sailor whose name was changed after the show's pilot to the one you know today, the ubiquitous title by which he was called Every Day for the rest of his life.


Such was the fateful trip of Alan Hale Jr., a great character actor who just happened to be an actor of great character, a man whose 12 hour odyssey from St. George, Utah, to Los Angeles, California, earned him a three hour tour to a deserted island that wasn't really deserted, an island where he was known as the skipper. Even though the real boss was a skinny kid with a funny hat named Gilligan.


Alan Hale Jr. never won an Oscar or an Emmy Award, he was never even nominated. But if Hollywood was in the business of recognizing character, surely there'd be a trophy somewhere with his name on it, maybe even a statue, because what Hale did back in 1964 was nothing short of heroic. Imagine you're a middle aged character actor. You're not rich. You've got a wife and four kids, all of whom depend on you in the middle of a paid gig in Utah.


You sneak away on a horse that isn't yours and make your way to Los Angeles on the off chance that you'll land a role you know nothing about. Then you get back to Utah in time to do the job you've actually been hired to do. Alan Hale Jr. didn't give a damn about fame. He believed in something far more noble, something Hollywood has never recognized and probably never will. He believed that a promise made was a debt unpaid, specifically the promise he'd made to care and provide for his family.


That's what makes him a hero to me. And that's why his journey reminds me of another voyage by another actor.


A regular guy who taught social studies for thirty years, started a vocational training program at the junior high school where he worked, raised three boys on a single income and appeared in 50 productions of better than average community theater. The first time I saw my dad on stage was in 1975, when he played the lead in a production of Woody Allen's Don't Drink the Water. The character was Walter Hollander, a middle aged American tourist trapped with his family at the U.S. embassy and a fictitious country somewhere behind the Iron Curtain.


I was transfixed. Who was this man inhabiting my father's skin? Why was everyone laughing hysterically? Not just at the things that he said, but at the way he said them? Where was the no nonsense teacher who'd come home every night and loom over me as I did homework? The stern taskmaster who woke me up every Saturday at seven a.m. to split would mow the lawn and shovel the snow. Don't drink the water, split my father's personality into he was still my dad, still a dedicated teacher and church deacon, still the reliable head of our household.


But every six months or so, he became an entirely new person, someone with bulging eyes and a funny accent. All that his wife and sons could do was watch the transformation, marvel and take turns running lines with him. I recall a production of Agatha Christie's towards Zairo dad played a Scottish inspector, called in to investigate a murder at a country estate from the front row. I watched him confront the guilty party with damning evidence. The expression on his face was one I recognized immediately.


It was an expression that accompanied countless other investigations, all conducted in the house I had grown up in and whose muddy boots left the dirt on the carpet and who drank the last of the milk. And whose socks are these jammed into the sofa cushions?


Such questions directed to my brothers and me were always accompanied with a raised eyebrow and followed by some dramatic revelation, the muddy boot, empty milk carton were wayward, sock held high for all to see. Ha! As a sleuth, he was a natural. My father's innate desire to get to the bottom of things informed his understanding of history and his desire to teach it to eighth graders as much as it drew him to plays that posed the question whodunit dial M for murder.


Witness for the prosecution. 12 angry men, a shot in the dark. The butler did it. A death trap that's done them all. His portrayal of Judge Danforth in The Crucible comes back to me all the time. We burn a hot fire here. It melts down all concealment. Sitting in the front row at the Dundalk Community Theater, I was sure that his lines were directed at me and seeing that there was more to my father than I had imagined made me wonder if maybe there was more to me.


Mom certainly seem to think so. One day, Michael, you'll be the star of the show, just like your father. If watching my dad was a privilege, working directly with him was an honor, a role you might say I was born for and the rainmaker, he played a sheriff who arrested me for trying to convince desperate farmers that I could make it rain during a drought in Inherit the wind. He played a judge again and threatened to send me to jail for contempt of court.


That, too, was a very believable portrayal. Seven years after dad's debut and don't drink the water, I appeared in a production of the same play, not in the same role. I was still too young to play a middle aged American tourist. I had auditioned for the part of Axel McGee, the hapless son of the U.S. ambassador who'd fallen in love with the beautiful daughter of Walter Hollander, the character my father had played. The production was staged at the cockpit in the court, one of the more respected venues on the Baltimore theater scene.


I had butterflies on opening night. I remember the audience murmuring on the other side of the curtain as the lights dimmed. But what I remember most clearly is that in the front row, laughing loudly and all the right spots, no doubt wondering who is this young man inhabiting my son's skin and getting all of these laughs.


Coincidentally, or maybe not, my dad was back at the cockpit in the court while I was writing my story about Alan Hale Jr., auditioning for a role in another production of you guessed it, don't drink the water.


Now that he was in his mid 80s, he was too seasoned to play Walter Hollander. But thanks to a passable Russian accent and his no nonsense demeanor, he did get cast in the role of Kojak, a KGB investigator determined to get to the bottom of things. Watching from the front row, I thought about his many roles over the many years, all the rehearsing, all the time he spent memorizing lines. I thought about the hospital. He volunteers at two days a week and the shut ins who anticipate his cheerful delivery of Meals on Wheels every Monday.


I thought about the former students who stay in touch with him and the church that still relies upon him to collect and count the weekly offering. And I thought about the three boys he'd raised on a single income. After the show, he told me that things weren't as easy as they used to be, but as anyone who knows my dad understands, easy was never the point. My guess is that Alan Hale Jr. understood that as well.


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OK, we are rolling. I mean, you really are like the producers producer.


We pull all that together, opening up my calculator when I'm trying to open up and hitting the record button. Oh, yeah. All of it coming together. I got this down, man. All right, enough. Chapter eight is one of my favorites, modesty aside, in my book, because my dad is the star of the show and an Alan Hale Jr. and Gilligan's Island and all that stuff, you know, I mean, it's just it's just so familiar to me and and so weirdly relevant when I listen back to it, as I just did.


I assume you did as well. Yes. Your thoughts and hold nothing back? Well, it's one of my favorites, too, because it's a story of perseverance. It's a story of he's a guy who knows he's working. He's working on a major motion picture on location. And he still because he's a jobber, because he knows this job will end, he is thinking about the next gig. So much so that he takes this extraordinary action. And just the idea of seeing big ol Alan Hale on a horse, you know, headed towards the highway where he then hitchhikes to the airport, etc.


. It's just it's ridiculous. And I don't even know how he got back.


Well, the thing, you know, when I read the the telling of that story and I don't remember where I first read it, but I was immediately reminded on a much smaller level, of course, of how many auditions that you had done that I had done that all our friends have done over the years, the lengths to which you go in order to get, you know, to some godforsaken little studio on the other side of town during rush hour in Los Angeles, back in the days where there was nothing but a Thomas guide.


Oh, right.


So annoying. And no cell phones right now. So if you run into traffic, the huge dilemma back then was, OK, do I pull over?


I know I'm going to be late. Do I pull over and call ahead to let them know I'm going to be late making myself even later, or do I just press on?


It's like catching a falling knife. Did you have an ashtray full of quarters? Oh, yeah, me too. Yeah, I had an ashtray full of quarters in order to pull over to make the inevitable I'm lost call or I'm running late call or to call the agent and apologize as well. And that damn Thomas guide this. If you don't know what a Thomas guide is, folks, it's imagine a small phone book, you know, in a large metropolitan area with all of the the entirety of Los Angeles County inside page by page.


So it's a grid. Right. So page 14 might actually be attached to page 109. Right. And if you're trying to track your brother is a very effective but but but clunky.


Well, the way to get from here to there, the way I remember it is it was it was like a giant map that if you laid it out, as it should be in its entirety, would be the size of a small bedroom.


OK, but you're only allowed to look at maybe eight and a half by ten inches of it at a time. If that I hadn't I thought of it like Ghostbusters. Yes, right. Yeah.


Anyway, boohoo. Right. That's us in the nineties trying to get from Studio City to the north end of Burbank. Alan Hale Jr., St George, Utah, all the way to Burbank. I mean, it's just it just speaks to so many things. The phrase I think I'm most proud of in that chapter is a is a character actor who turned out to be an actor of character. Yes.


Of great character. I think something like that. I was so proud of it. I can't even quote it properly.


It was good. It's a it's a good line. It's a good line.


And he really was. And he, like your dad, was making a living. The difference is, is that your dad did it for fun.


He was actually doing it to put food on the on the table.


Big difference, right? My dad taught public school, but it was it was transformative for him. You know, my dad was very serious and still is kind of an uptight guy who takes comfort from rigor and discipline. And community theater for him was just this excuse to become somebody else. I mean, why else do most actors act, you know, hail though? He was a journeyman for sure. He was putting food on the table and laboring in in anonymity.


Oh, and I and I want to ask you to because you've just made the same mistake that I apparently made sort of the correctors came out of the woodwork for this when you referred to him as Alan Hale. And how well is it because I he officially dropped the junior. I believe before he got the role of the skipper, because his dad, of course, Alan Hale, where Alan Hale senior like, are you a senior before you have a junior?


No, I think I think it's the junior that makes you a senior. You're just Alan Hale until you junior comes along and then you're obliged to put Senior after your name.


Well, only if the junior becomes someone of note, I think.


And if Junior has a son, he's then he's the third the third year.


Anyway, Alan Hale senior was a major star in silent films. And so his boy, Junior, lived in his shadow. Even though he was a well-respected, accomplished actor, he lived in the shadow of his old man. And it wasn't until that extraordinary ride to Burbank that he became ubiquitous. And again, it doesn't happen over time. You look back and it seems like, oh, now you're anonymous, now you're famous. You know, it took a while.


They made some terrible deals on that show, you know, I mean, nobody made any money.


But suddenly, thanks to syndication, I mean, it's a hell of a thing to to ultimately eclipse your father. I would imagine if you're Alan Hale Jr., both working in the same trade right. In the same business, I just can't imagine how that level of celebrity would would truly transform your life. Yeah, I would imagine that it would, although I guess in the within the industry, Alan Hale Jr. must have been a pretty big deal around town.


People must have known him around town. Yeah. But remember, the bubble, Chuck, by the way, is down in in L.A. right now. I'm up here a little north of San Francisco where we're each in our bubbles. But the acting bubble is really most people, I don't think understand at all what it means to be a working actor who spends 30, 40, 50 years mostly anonymous. Right. Most Americans don't think of what that's like.


Yeah, I mean, that's that's that's what I did, you know?


I mean, very, very few people know what more people know me now because of what I do with you than ever knew me before. Although I do remember when I was on Days of our Lives, people would recognize me. I remember walking into the bank one time and the teller looking up and gasping and and I was sort of shocked me and I said, What's wrong?


And she goes, You're you're on Days of our lives. I go, Well, yes, yes, ma'am, I am.


She goes, I hate you because I played a very bad guy. So well, I've said it before to you and and the others.


The the luckiest thing for me. And there have been a lot of fortunate things, but but to be associated not with a character, but with me yourself and a version of me that I don't have to, for better or worse, pretend you know.


Right. But I think the interesting thing about you and every other character actor I know is that a glance at your resume would suggest a life of unbridled success. And I mean, I say this with respect, right? People don't understand. You've been in soap operas, you've produced movies, you've written movies, you've starred in movies, you've been on sitcoms. You've done more voiceovers, really, than anyone. I know you've I mean, it is page after page after page.


And there's so many others right now who are living and working exactly as you do. And they're not back on their heels. They're not coasting. You know, every month you get up, you make the doughnuts Little Rock at a big rocks. You know, I mean, not to suggest for a moment you're engaged in some level of of drudgery, but it is workman like I mean, it's true freelancing. Our industry still is one of the freelancers under assault, as you know.


But in our industry, it's it's still a thing. Yeah, well, you know, freelancing is like you did it for years and years and years, you hung your hat on it.


It was it was a it was a great pride for you to, you know, to to start every month with 30 empty squares, you know, and and slowly fill them up. It's it's I know, you know, there are a lot of people who can't handle that lifestyle. My sister I don't know how many times my sister would say to me, I don't know how you do it.


Well, one square at a time. Yeah. But look, I mean, I don't know if we want to go here necessarily. I mean, hell, we can go anywhere we want. Freelancing is worth talking about. It's a big part of our foundation that we run, you know, jobber's. You like the idea of being a jobber. You use that expression. Earlier, Alan Hale Jr. was a jobber. Today he'd be called a Gigha.


Right. He was in the gig economy, right. Well, the gig economy is under assault. Jobs are now more to be pitied than admired because they're seen as people who who who don't have any security. Right. It's completely upside down from like the way I thought of myself when I was a job or was independent and self-sufficient. And you eat what you kill and you get out there and, you know, all of that stuff was very satisfying to me.


And now here in California, anyway, I mean, that whole way of working is under a full scale assault. And I, I don't think anything good can come of it.


Well, you bring up an interesting point with the foundation, because this is something else that occurred to me when I listen to this episode again, and that is that Alan Hale Jr. embraced the sweat pledge, which you wrote, which all of the recipients or applicants, I should say, have to sign in order to get a work ethic scholarship from your foundation, the Michael Works Foundation. You can see it at Micro Worksop. Arjay Smooth, thank you.


But he really I mean, just delayed gratification, you know, work ethic. You can't deny the work ethic a positive attitude, you know. And what's the fourth pillar?


Personal responsibility and responsibility, by the way, none of which you're allowed to say anymore today without getting you know or. Yeah.


How did that how did phrases like delayed gratification, work ethic, personal responsibility and a positive attitude turn into some dog whistle, some some coded speech for something unpleasant?


Because nowadays instant gratification just takes too damn long.


And if somebody is telling you to work a little bit harder, yeah, that actually is code for. Oh. Lazy, you lazy son of a gun, you know, it's not meant to be any of that. Of course, I just I am struck by Hale's work ethic and I'm struck by that that journey that pops up a lot in the book from relative anonymity to fame. And I obviously was reminded a lot of my dad and dude don't drink the water.


Yes. I mean, let's talk about the play that neither of us had ever heard of. Right. That suddenly is like running through this whole weird quilt like a giant thread. Yeah, it starts with your dad, it was his first community theater production, is that correct? Nineteen seventy five. He was cast. The social studies teacher was cast as the lead in a play by Woody Allen, a play that I think to this day no one's ever heard of.


You know, I mean, of all the things Woody Allen has done, you know, nobody ever sits down and says, OK, Woody, let's talk about don't drink the water.


I don't even know if they made a movie of it. Did they make a movie? They did. And it starred Jackie Gleason.


Oh, that's great. And he was terrific to watch.


Don't drink the water. I mean, it's a it's camp. There's a bit of farce in it. You know, it takes place behind behind the Iron Curtain. I don't know any of this course. I was 13 and suddenly there I sat in a giant auditorium watching my dad get all the laughs in a play I'd never heard of. And I just I'd never seen a play before. I didn't even really understand what they were or why people would do such a weird thing.


To memorize somebody else's lines and get on a stage was all just it was it was bizarre on its face. But then to see my dad in the midst of it. I just so many things clicked into not quite clicked into place, but so many things suddenly seem possible. As I watched my dad, a man who had never had never indicated any interest at all in acting, suddenly had the lead in a show and getting all those laughs. It was incredible.


Well, let me ask you, was that the first time that you'd been to live theater as yet? Yep. That was the first time. The very first time. And you're seeing your dad?


Yep. There were there were no expectations. There were no rules. And it was almost impossible to square it after the event. I wasn't quite sure what I had just witnessed. All I knew was that my dad the next day was back to normal, being a hard ass, making us get the chores done.


And just, you know, my dad, you know, my dad, he he he was not from that school of oh, I'll be your friend's son, Mike.


That was he was not our friend. He loved us and we loved him. You know, he loved my mom first and foremost. And he he raised his kids as best he could. You know, it's not that it was unpleasant. I mean, he was always there for a laugh, but the laugh didn't come first. All of a sudden, he becomes this this character. It was a lot for my brothers and I to get our heads around, believe me a lot.


I got to tell you, one of the things I remember about when we were in high school, I guess, and I think that's this is about the time that this happened, was the family portrait that you guys took where? I don't know. You must have you must have won it from Sears. Is it nearby? Because that thing.


Yeah. Let me see. It is phenomenal. Oh yeah. I got it over here. Right.


So so before I show this to you, here's what happened. I we we got a we got a phone call from Sears saying, hey, come on down and get your get your picture taken. You know, it was it was Öland Olan Mills. I think they were called. Right. And it was this outfit that went all around the country back in the in the eighties and nineties. And they would go to malls and they would take these family portraits.


It was a it was a real moneymaker, you know, and they came to the Golden Ring Mall where there was a Sears. And I said to my family, look, let's just all go get a picture taken, all right? I mean, it might be fun, but let's do it like this. Let's just all don't don't dress for the picture. Just come meet me at the Sears doing whatever it was you were doing. And so this is this is basically what happened.


So obviously you were. So let me just describe the picture for our listeners. There is a John Rowe is wearing just a white t shirt and suspenders holding a pipe and a cap.


His mom is wearing an apron and stirring a bowl with a wooden spoon. His brothers are just looking as goofy as ever. And Mike looks like he just came from either a production of Oh, God, I can't think of the name Chippendale's.


Chippendale's. There you go. Magic Mike is what I was trying to think of. But that was that didn't come until years later.


Yeah, you look like a stripper. I, I, I had just come from a wedding, so I had a tuxedo on and I and I took off my shirt and I had a trench coat and I kept the bow tie on. I don't know why I did that, but I disturbing honestly.


But the first time I saw it honestly, I just was like, wow, they really have a great sense of humor.


My dad was up in the woodpile cutting wood. My mom was making something pancakes. I think Phil had just come from a luau and Scott had been digging a ditch with my grandfather outback.


Thus the bandana on his head. Yeah, yeah.


So, yeah, we all just showed up, got the picture taken and then. Just sort of forgot about it until they sent the proofs a week later, and so I'm looking at the proofs and I you know, I think this is interesting. You know, everybody else just thought it was just kind of a waste of time, whatever. It's a goof. But I went to Sears to pick them up and there was a line of people waiting to get their pictures taken and they were all dressed in goofy outfits.


They had taken this photo and blown it up and had put it out front like the next day.


And so now families all over Baltimore are showing up.


You know, in for my goofy picture, hon, I won't get a picture myself with my mom and dad. My family's just as goofy as that bike ride family.


Yeah, man, I had forgotten all about this. Funny you mention. But that that absolutely did sort of capture the the smoldering thespian potentiality that that lurked just beneath the surface of all the rows.


All right. So before we get too far afield here, I want to swing this back to the classic audition story. We talked about this before. I know you've got a million different audition stories, gig stories that are just, like, so weird. Give me yours the if you had one that that sums it all up for you.


What was it?


I guess the one that it was the audition that I didn't realize was an audition.


And this was probably in the late 80s, early 90s, I guess, when I still had a hosting agent and Nickelodeon was doing some new kids' show. And my agent called me and said, well, they you know, they had put me on tape here in L.A., but the production was in New York, the producers were in New York, and they were like, we want to have Chuck fly out. And and, you know, it's between him and another guy, right?




And so so I was like, well, this is you know, this was new territory for me. I'd never been flown anywhere to screen test or audition, you know, particularly because I live in Los Angeles. You would think I was already there. Right. So but no, they flew me to New York, put me up in the the park.


Was that was that Harki? It is it it's a terrible I can't remember.


It's one you see in a lot of movies. But anyway, so I'm having dinner with everybody and you know, that night and then the next morning they're going to put me on tape and run through this game show with actual kids. You know, me and this other guy, we were going to tag team and they were going to decide. So that night we go out to dinner and I don't I don't want to say the guy's name, but the producer of the thing is, is we're also there's like eight people around this large table.


And he says, do you like to drink?


And I said, well, sure, I suppose so. He's like, great, let's get some champagne. And what what sort of cocktail do you want? And I'm like, well, if we're having champagne, I don't know. I really want to go get a cocktail as well. Come on. You know, so so I get a cocktail at we're drinking and then we're looking over the menu and I say to the woman next to me, one of the associate producers, I say, so what what's good?


What are you going to get?


And before she can answer, the producer jumps in and says, no, no, no, no, wait. What he orders will tell us a lot about him. And it was just weird, and he threw throughout the night, he would barrage me with just questions like he would interrupt me constantly and and then he would say things like, what's the square root of forty nine seven?


Well, yes, but anyway, he he was I found him really, really annoying, and I think my annoyance came through and I went the next day and I did the thing and I was great with the kids. And I remember years later talking to Mark Summers, who I think egg what's no, no, he didn't get the gig. He was a big deal with the network at the time. But he told me he goes, yeah, he goes, they didn't hire you because of the way you acted the night before that.


And I said the guy was acting like a total child. He goes, Yeah, that was the whole point. It was it was it was to see how you would react. I'm like, but I was reacting to an adult.


Yeah. You know. Yeah. So you blew an audition that you didn't know you were having. I didn't know was an audition. Yeah, that's a good one. But look, that's also life. Everybody is auditioning all the time constantly for everyone. Everything, everything is an audition. Everybody today is being weighed and measured like never before. Yeah, and it's not only it's not only for you, not you're not judged just on what you've done today, you're just judged on what you've done your entire life, everything that you've written, every and anything you said that's recorded.


It's it's a pretty it's a pretty amazing time. You know, it's funny you mentioned drinking. I was at a dinner one night. I got hired to to host an infomercial by the Tourism Bureau of Atlanta and not Atlanta of St. Petersburg, Tampa and Clearwater.


Right. And, you know, it's just me walking on a beach making the case for this particular part of the country. And there was a woman that was sort of a co-host and we were shooting this thing and it was all very terrible.


But they hired Robin Leach to sort of do the voiceover for this, but also have a little presentational thing, you know, at the top of the video. And and there was an issue over his fee and is probably still alive.


I don't know if he's still alive or not. I'm speaking like a Robin Leach and I don't know why so.


Well, if he is, my apologies, whatever. It's a harmless story, I think. But he shows up to dinner and I'm there with the producer and his wife and my co-host and a couple other people. And we're just sitting down to talk about the project. And and Robin Leach orders a twenty thousand dollar bottle of wine.


Oh, and I didn't you know, at that point, I didn't know there was such a thing. You know, you and I used to drink, you know, Taylor Champagne, you know, for like nine dollars when we couldn't not.


Oh, no, no, no. It was much less than that. Was it 1980?


Yeah. Anyway, until you see an actor order a twenty thousand dollar bottle of champagne that a producer really can't afford to pay for, but open it anyway and start passing it around. You know, it's so craven. It's so awful and it's so great and it's so funny. It was good wine. Leach died in twenty eighteen by the way.


All right, good. So we won't be hearing from his attorneys. Yeah, no we will not.


So give me another audition story, something that was something strange that happened or I.


Well, I mean, look for me, it's, it's, it's always the near miss. There have been so many. I came really close to hosting the reboot of Hollywood Squares. I came really close to hosting, I think, like everything Tom Bergeron ever hosted. I wound up getting called back for I came close a lot of times.


The one there were two, actually. Do you remember e t e television, entertainment, television. When that channel started, it was called Movie Time and movie time back in the early 90s was a big deal. It was one of the early cable stations and it was catching on. And a guy named Dan Gibson invited me to audition for a new show on movie time that really didn't have much to do with with movies. It was it was going to be a talk show or something, really a roundup of all talk shows.


And it was called talk soup.


Right. And Talk Soup. Didn't know what it was, but I did a really good audition and they called me back. And I and I, modesty aside, kind of knocked it out of the park. And Dan Gibson called me after that and said, look, we like you. We like you a lot and we like another guy a lot. And the guy we like a lot that isn't you lives about five minutes from the studio here in L.A. I was living at the time back in Baltimore or maybe was New York, but I was back east and and they said, look, this could really go either way.


And I said, well, I'm on the edge of my seat. Let me know what you decide. And Dan Gibson told me he literally flipped a coin.


He literally flipped a coin and Greg Kinnear wound up hosting Talk Soup, and of course, he changed the format for a lot of hosts. He was so irreverent and subversive and funny and likable and all the things I aspired to be. Yeah. And I don't remember exactly when, but, you know, hallway leads on the way in this goofy business.


And the next thing you know, Greg Kinnear is winning an Oscar. I know, for as good as it gets. Starring alongside Jack Nicholson. Crazy, that story reminds me of a story where I actually won the coin toss, and that was for a now defunct home improvement store that competed with Lowe's and Home Depot but was home base.


Yeah, I remember west of the Mississippi. Right. So, yeah. So it was for the voice of and they had three rounds of auditions.


This is back in the day where, you know, you put the auditions on a CD and FedExed it out. Right. People did anyway.


So after three rounds of auditions, I get the job and it's the it's the job that we all aspire to where you you know, you show up every two weeks and read a stack of copy and then just sit by the mailbox and, you know, take a wheelbarrow with all the checks. Right.


And so about a month into this, I'm at the shoot.


And there were long days, you know, we'd have we break for lunch and everything.


So I break lunch with the client and one of the producers says, hey, did I ever tell you how you got this job? Which, by the way, is a question you do not want to know the answer to you, don't you really don't. But I was young and dumb.


I mean, I think I you know, I'm like twenty five at this point or something.


I'm like, no. Yeah. What is it.


Actually, that was a little older, maybe twenty nine as I know how to get the job because I just assumed I was the best guy for it because you know, we played the final callback for the for the client and he was like, yeah, they're all pretty good, just go with the first guy.


And I happened to be the first guy on the, on the CD, you know, not as when when I when I would tell the story, when I when I taught Veoh, I would always say that job built the pool and all of the landscaping around the house that my ex-wife and her husband enjoy.


To this day, people should know you have been teaching. Voiceover for how many years now?


Over twenty. I don't know, since the early 90s. I think amazing. Something like, well, did I ever tell you about the Domino's campaign I had. Yes, but but please share it again.


Well, I mean, I was living in New York at the time and impersonating a consultant and in business with William Shatner, of all people. And we were working on this completely unrelated project, but it was headquartered in a jingle house called Paradise Paradise Music.


And I was there late one day and I was walking out and the guy who ran the joint, guy named John Lefler, said, Hey, Mike, you want to earn two hundred bucks real quick, which, you know, in those days in New York is something you have to be very careful before you say yes.


But I said, yeah, yeah, well, what do I have to do? And he said, I got the client over here. The ad execs from Gray Advertising were in charge of the Domino's business back then and they had just introduced Domino's deep dish pizza. And, you know, there are a bunch of guys in there, the the the jingle was done and everybody's happy with that and it just needed a quick thing at the end. And the line was when it's got to be deep and it's got to be thick, it's got to be dominoes.


And the and the executives wanted to a low voice. So I said, sure. So I walked up to the mic and I said, when it's got to be deep and it's got to be thick, it's got to be dominoes.


And they're like, hey, that's not bad. And they gave me two hundred dollars and I left. And a couple of days later, spur of the moment, Scott Flansburgh, who, you know, the human calculator and I decided to take a trip to Australia and I was gone for a month and we had a great time down there, but some new friends and had a ball and I came back and went to my apartment in New York and there were about twenty six thousand dollars in residual checks jammed in my mailbox.


And that's when I realized, oh, voiceovers.


That's interesting. Yes, it is. I had no idea, Chuck. I had absolutely no idea you could make money doing that kind of thing. But they took that sample for two hundred bucks and they dropped it in the actual commercial and they raided my friend. I got upgraded. Didn't know what that meant either, but dominos were like, yeah, he sounds right. And so for the better part of a year when it's got to be deep and it's got to be thick.


Yeah, it's got to be dominoes. Yeah. You never know, though.


You did a scratch track that turned into a gig. You know who is famous, who is I think the most famous person who who turned in scratch tracks into a career was Don Lafontaine. Oh jeez.


Well, the man the hero of all voiceover right. He was a producer, I think, for Paramount at the time.


I don't I don't remember where it was, but I knew that I know that he used to he used to do scratches and and then they were like, jeez, why aren't we why do we need to change this?


LaFountain, for those of you who don't know, is the guy who introduced and perfected in a world. Yeah. One man. Right.


I mean he took the movie trailer to a whole different level, almost a parody unto itself. And he did it because the guy he hired to do it didn't show up. So he was cutting trailers I think for Paramount and he went in the booth and did it. And the executive Paramount heard it and said, yeah, get that guy again. And of course, Don didn't say anything, but he was that guy and he just kept doing it over and over again and again and made millions.


I got in his poker game. I was I was sort of an alternate for his regular poker game. So I played poker at his house a couple of times.


Huh. Really? Yeah. Yeah. That's the house the voiceover built. And it was is a beautiful house.


Well, it's where, Chuck, that we're talking about. Voiceover You know, because Alan Hale Jr. was a film star who became famous on TV. But it's the anonymity of voiceover that I think is the most interesting thing. I mean, most Americans couldn't list the ten most successful voiceover artists of all time. All they could list are the ten celebrities they've heard who do. Voiceover But, you know, there is an industry that is rooted in anonymity and for a time generated a lot of money for a relatively small number of people who no one's ever heard of, who made a fortune just going into the booth and doing exactly what we're talking about.


Can you think of a a most embarrassing audition? Did you ever did you ever just absolutely muck it up or something happened that. Sure, sure, but, you know, not as many as you would think, because I I figured out early on that. That the reverse commute was the thing to do in an audition, you know, like they they give you the sides, which is just a fancy word for some scripts and they give you some very specific direction.


And so your assumption is that you should follow those directions because your further assumption is because the people who are telling you what they want actually know what they want. But, of course, they don't know what they want. And so if you ever get to the point in your career where you get to be on the other side of the camera and sit through an audition process, what you see is a terrible sameness of people desperately trying to follow direction.


And what you wind up rewarding so many times in the end is the person who comes in and ignores you and goes another way. Right. You wouldn't give that person a ton of credit right out of the gate because you first have to see dozens of people trying to please you. And then when the guy comes in or the woman who just suddenly doesn't seem to care and does it the way they think, that that's the thing that becomes refreshing and interesting, you know.


So I only embarrassed myself, I think, in the early days, trying really, really hard to follow direction and stopping myself. If I didn't think it was going well or if I got a line wrong saying, no, no, no, let let me try it again. And and trying so hard to please these mouth breathing sycophants that I only debased myself in the process.


I've been there so many times. So many times. We all have. Yeah, it's. That I don't even want to you know, you know what, sorry, wee, wee, wee, I want to circle back to don't drink the water because you didn't mention that that we did that. Well, I mention it in the story, but I didn't realize how, you know, to see my dad do a thing I've never seen him do before in a in a play.


And then for me to get cast, not in the same role, but in the same play years later was interesting. The fact that you happened to be in that production, too. Yes. Is beyond interesting. And then years after that. My brother did the same play at his school, huh? So, you know, I don't know if that matters or how interesting people might find that, but to have a play come out of nowhere and touch multiple people in your family as well as your best friend.


You know, our friend Ricky directed that thing back at Essex. Strange, right? How about how just to some words on a piece of paper turn into this thing that winds up connecting friends and family? You never know.


Yeah, you never know. You played who you were, Kojak or know the priest. Father Drobny. Father Drobny.


Right. Is this interesting to people, you think? I have no idea. I have no idea.


But isn't that I mean, look, that's really the point of that chapter. I didn't mean it right now, but but that is the question that torments people like us. And I bet a lot of other people, too. And in any other industry. Is this interesting? Is anybody buying this?


Do people like this? I mean, Alan Hale Jr., right. He goes to hell and back to audition for a role he's probably not going to get right. And he had to be asking himself along the way, am I doing it right?


Do they like me? Is it interesting? Or maybe he was just at that point in his career where his job was just to throw mud against the wall and see and see what stuck. I mean, that was dirty jobs for me. At that point, I wasn't even trying anymore, I was just I was just throwing mud. People love that. People respond to that.


I you know, I can think of one audition that I walked into where I thought, there's no way I'm getting this. I look like I'm 14. I'm supposed to be a doctor. This is never going to work out. You know, I went in and I just I threw it away and they called me and they and they booked me. And it turned out to be a scene I got to do with Jon Voight. Right. Nopal the final morning.


Yeah. You know, and but but here's the thing for me.


And I know that you figured this out early, but I, I, I don't think I, I figured this out. I just can't execute it is that I can't stop caring about stuff.


And you really do. You have to you have to not care. You have to go. I don't, I don't give a flying f whether or not I get this job or not. And that's the kind of thing that is so attractive to people. People, people smell that, they see it. People can also likewise smell desperation. And I've been on the other side of the camera where, you know, sitting next to you in some cases where we see people, where we're looking at people who come in and you can you can smell the desperation.


And that was and I recognize oh, my gosh, that's that was me many, many times, man.


I my hope for everybody in our own godforsaken industry is that they can sit on the other side of the camera at some point just to see that, you know, and it's my same hope for anybody who has ever interviewed for a job. I hope that one day you can interview people, dozens of them, you know, because it's it's just so poignant and it's just so enormous, you know, to to see person after person after person. And and if you think about the difficulty they went through to get there on that day, you know, probably not Alan Hale Jr.


difficulty. But if you just think at the think of the adversity that people have to overcome just to get there, just to show up, just to wait to be weighed and measured.


And ninety nine percent of the time found lacking.


I mean, that's life, the greatest bit of wisdom that was given to me around auditioning was from a casting director who said, listen, I really want you to be good.


I'm on your side. Right?


If you come in and blow me away, that makes my job so much easier. You know, if you just come in and just do you be you be the best you that you can be, you know.


Yeah. And because I think the thing for me was I would I would as as we learned from Fred King, you want to think about what you're doing and not how you're doing. And I was way often too often thinking about how I was doing.


And more importantly, like with jobs like like I went to network for four full house for the for the TV show Full House a million years ago.


Right. And all I could think about with that voice was how it was going to change my life to be on a sitcom.


So I didn't have the job yet. And I and I was already thinking about my life and how how how different it was going to be. And then was this good or was this bad? And, you know, I wasn't focused on what I was doing. I was thinking how I was doing and what could come of it.


I was up for the role and full house. What happened? I didn't get it.


That so many stories, man. You know, after the talk soup thing, I thought that I thought that would never happen again. I didn't think it was that possible that I could ever get so close to something that blew up so big. But let me tell you something, man. There there is no moratorium on how many near misses you can have. I got hired, as you know, but I got hired to host The Daily Show. Mm hmm.


And they went on this was back in the late 90s, a colossal talent search. They went all over the country and it came down to two people, me and a guy named Craig Kilborn. And it was going to be me because Craig Kilborn was tied up at ESPN and his bosses weren't going to let him out of the contract. So I got the call on a Friday from a woman named Madeline Smithburg.


I hope she's listening.


And she said, Mike, you did it. We loved you. Three auditions, by the way. Right. She said you crushed it each time.


Everybody here is a fan. You're going to start on Monday. But why don't you come in on Friday just to meet the writers and hang out and say hello? And I said great. And I came in and Madeleine was in a room by herself looking very sad. There were no writers. Sorry it wasn't. Friday was Monday. I went in on the Monday because over the weekend over the weekend, I think Doug Herzog let Craig Kilborn out of his contract.


So I missed The Daily Show.


They offered me a correspondent role, but I was bitter and angry and like correspondent medical correspondent role because Dick Clark, who you'll meet later in the book, offered me the role of a host on an actual game show in L.A. That's what got me out to L.A. again.


But then, Chuck, as you'll recall, a year later, Craig Kilborn quit. The Daily Show to host, I think it was CBS Late Night and they came back at Smithburg, I swear this is true.


She came back and she said, Mike, I feel terrible about that last that last go around, you know? But obviously, Craig is going on to greener pastures. And we'd love to have you back. Love to have you host the show. I said sure. She said the only way this isn't going to work out full disclosure is her words. If this tight ass network comes up with a big pile of money for a Norm MacDonald or a Dennis Miller.


Or a Jon Stewart, but that'll never happen. Famous last words three days later and four million dollars. They did a big old deal with Jon Stewart and I missed it again.


So, yeah, man, that's why Alan Hale Jr. resonates, because you resonate and my dad resonates and so many other friends I know in this business who are still going about the business of pushing the rock up the hill, many with good humor. And and they figured out a way to be OK, laboring in a relatively anonymous way in a field that is defined almost completely by celebrity. And I just find the the inherent nobility and all of that interesting.


Well, good. I think this is a good place to wrap this up since we've been yammering now for about 50 minutes.


I just wanna remind everybody that you've just listened to Chapter eight of the way I heard it with Mike Rowe, which is the book that is based on this podcast. You can get it in its entirety wherever fine books are sold. You can also get the audio version if you want to hear it all together. But stay tuned. We're doing one chapter a week.


Hey, the the paperback is coming out. Do you know when I don't?


The publisher told me, but I don't. I don't know. I mean, what's the advantage? Oh, I guess it's cheaper of the paper. Well, A, it's cheaper and B, it's easier to read, it's easier to hold a paperback than it is a hardback book. A lot of people wait until the paperback comes out. I think your mom even mentioned this, that she prefers the paperback.


Remember she said you told her that that it was coming, that the paperback was coming out, and she said, oh, good. That's they're so much easier to read. I'll wait.


Yeah, she's got the arthritis. You know, she can't hold on to those hard backs. And she still hasn't figured out how to listen to a book on tape yet. I work with her. Yeah. All right.


You get on that and I'll see you next week.


Hey, I ever tell you about the the Maseda story? Yes. Is it too late, have we talked too much? I mean, I don't listen. I don't know. Well, I mean, let me look. How long have we been talking? We've been talking about it 52 minutes. Good God. I hope you like that. This just occurred to me because in the world of video and in the world on camera and in the world in general, this just speaks to the absolute futility that I think we were alluding to earlier.


I'm back in New York. I don't remember what year it is, but they call me in to audition for the voice of Mosta and I get it. So they call me back to do the record. And I walk into the booth and the engineer says, give me a quick level. And I look down at the copy and it's it's one word, Maseda. So I say Maseda. Mazda, Mazda, he says, OK, great, and then the genius's pop on, right, there's a guy in Tokyo, there's a guy in San Francisco and there's a guy in New York, they're all patched in and they're all listening choc ice.


I stood in that booth. They booked me for an hour to say one word. Right. And I said that word every imaginable way you can think of for the next hour. And everybody on the line took a took a turn and directing me Mazda, more authoritative, Mazda, friendlier Mazda and so forth and so on.


It was the guy in Tokyo asked me if I was like, what's your body language when you're saying the word Mazda? He says, I said, What do you mean? I'm in a booth. I'm saying Mazda, because I'd like to hear you say it as you step forward and gesture with one of your hands, like your. Like you're announcing this to a room full of people, so I start doing it like an asshole, right? I'm standing there just I'll do whatever they tell me.


I'm so desperate to please them. Then the guy in San Francisco says, listen, this is going to run in Japan as well. So we would like you to say Mazda in a you know, they're different dialects. So like up in Hokkaido, they would say Matsuda. Matsuda, I say try it again, more authoritative Matsuda now down in Tokyo, maybe on Honshu, you know, it's going to be more like Mazda. The Mazda is how they say it.


So I say Mazda, the friendlier Mazda, the more authoritative Mazda. And then my favorite, they say, you know, we're not sure how this is going to play over there and elsewhere, but we'd really like to hear the English pronunciation with with the Japanese accent.


Oh, no. Like, what are you talking about? And like, no, no, no, it's it's OK. But that's that's kind of what we want to hear. So I'm I'm I'm alone in the booth, Chuck, and I'm looking at the engineer who's looking back at me.


And we're all just there's nothing to do but quietly and silently commiserate me on one side of the glass, him on the other, as I leaned forward into the mic and say, Mozhdah, oh, jeez, got.


And they're like, yeah, that's good. Think, think Bruce Lee. Right, think. And I'm just I'm literally standing there imitating a Japanese person who's trying to say the word Mazda as an American. And then we go the other way and it just goes on and on and on and on. I say the word Mazda in some way, shape or form. I say between five and six hundred times in the end. They chose the second mike test.


The engineer asked me when I said Mazda, Mazda, right, Mazda. Yeah, they went with Mazda. Yeah. And Simplist. That was it. Yeah, that was it.


I know that that's like an inappropriate story to tell today, but that was the way it was, you know, asking a guy like me to say Mazda, Mazda, that nobody would blanket that, you know, 20 years ago you've been there.


I sadly I have.


Yeah. My my Mazda was we need more egg.


But of.


I mean, I don't I don't I don't know how it happened, but but it was it was written like that and and, you know, I read it and they booked me and I did it. It was for Realtor Dotcom or something.


I was like a, you know, an entrepreneur running his own restaurant. But apparently I was Asian. I also did. No, no, no, wait, wait, wait. OK, I just want to hear it one more time. We need more egg, you can't do that. I can't do it again. So, I mean, but look, please don't cancel us, but this is how the business work, I mean, if you think cultural appropriation is a thing in general, fine.


But in the world of VOICE-OVER, when you're invisible, how does anybody ever get caught? How does anybody ever know? But, you know, I mean, this was day in and day out for you.


Yeah, I was I, I did tap into the taste of deal, which that's a terrible accent. But I booked it and and I and I was the voice of south of the border for a time as well. How'd that go?


I don't remember, you know, come in for our great enchiladas, you know, or just a slight little thing. And, you know, I went to I was with William Morris at the time, and the booth director was a guy named Marco Reya, who was a great guy, Latino. And I was so embarrassed. I'm like, you know, Marco, I'm like, you know, forgive me for what I'm about to get, because that's okay, buddy.


It's all right, you know?


And so then I just affect this little Spanish that I went all the way from, like, just a little tiny thing all the way to Ricardo Montalban.


You know, I like what they've done to.


My God, that's terrible. Well, I mean, is it is it really terrible? And and, look, you're more into this world today than I am. But what's happening in voiceover like, would they ever ask you to do that again?


Would ever ask any. No, no, no, no, no, no.


You would never even if it's voiceover and you can't tell, didn't you do what was the video game you did when you were in indie earth and beyond?


I was great. What's the man that's not even an accent?


No, I don't. Look, you know, it was a long time ago, but and I literally when I walked into the session after they booked me because I just first of all, when they when they when my agent called me to book me, I just laughed hysterically, like, you have got to be kidding me. And I literally walked into the job and I shook the producer's hand. And the first thing I said was, I can't believe I'm the best.


You found you're looking for a Native American. Funny at all. He did. Fine. Let's let let's go with Klausmeier. He's Klausmeier. Sounds like he's got that real Apache thing going. Unbelievable immunes, I have worked this place gig. No, I mean, I'm just doing like an impression of every bad Indian voice I'd ever heard, but that's but that's the whole thing, man.


I mean, that that's the world we're in. Tell the story of.


I mean, how many times in the last few years have you gone into the booth where it says in the style of Mike Rowe and and how annoying must that be for you?


Well, I mean, you know how many times because every time I send you the copy, I go, hey, look, somebody else wants you to do this. And what do you always say?


I always say, send them to me, let me do it. You always say no, let me record it, and you put your name on it and that's it.


That's it, man. I got another one you'll love to, but I also, before I forget. Oh, Gary Owens.


All right. So I used to I used to Booth direct at The Voice Kastor, which is the biggest voice casting agency in the world.


And that, you know, in basically all these actors and when I first started in the late 80s, like every face that you would ever seen on all of the sitcoms we grew up watching would come through those doors and sit down from, you know, the guy who played the manager on The Partridge Family to.


To the guy who. Mr. Ed.


Yeah, the actor who, you know, who was the owner of Mr. Ed to Chuck. Chuck was named Chuck McHale. Chuck Hagel. She's like you would just so many of these faces that you would recognize from Get Smart and Bewitched. And they were they were always in there anyway.


So one day they were looking for a Gary Owens type. But but there are several things going on there, like for booths there. So you have all these different jobs going on.


So the cast Gary Owens, by the way, is Gary Owens was the laughing.


You know, he was the announcer on Leffen. Right.


This is Gary Owens. It was just a really just a classic great crisp voice.


Anyway, so so Lisa, Lisa Dyson was the casting director and she's she's got a room full of these guys and she says she's talking. She's got her back to the door and she's addressing them all and saying, well, we're looking for is that straight sort of classic announcer read like Gary Owens. And just as she said that. Behind her, the door had opened and another actor stepped in and this actor said, did somebody say Gary Owens? And it was Gary Owens?


And she turned around and screamed.


She literally went, oh, because he was not reading on the Gary Owens gig.


And this is the thing that people need to remember every day. Somebody asked me, how do I get the voiceover business? How do I get in our business? Like, look careful you wish for, because that that is still to this day going on. That's how they'll direct. That's how they'll look for a time. If Gary Owens isn't right for Gary Owens part, you've got to ask yourself if you really want to get in this industry.


Well, what's that old joke? You know, the five stages of an actor's life, it's like, who is Mike Rowe? Let's see. Mike Rowe, get me Mike Rowe. Get me a Mike Rowe type. Who is Mike? Was Mike Rowe.


I think that's how it got. Where am I right now? You're still in the you're still in the get me Mike Rowe. Oh, but actually, no, there's there's there's the the micro type. I mean, they're always, you know, particularly in voiceover. I mean, you really you really that is that is you just have that great narration voice, you know.


Well, I'll leave you with this because somebody is asking me about it on Facebook the other day. But remember American Chopper. Oh yeah. So American Chopper came out right around the same time Dirty Jobs did and and Deadliest Catch. And it was produced by the same company who did Dirty Jobs, Pilgrim Films. And the guy who who runs Pilgram Craig Religion sort of owed me a favor. I had hosted something called worst case scenario a year or two earlier that really, really did live up to its name.


God wanted.


All of this was, you know, another one of those on camera kind of crash and burn things.


And you were wearing like a suit or something. You know, I was wearing like a Zenga suit and I had all this. I mean, I would hit my mark and I would say my line and I would talk like this. And, you know, I was just I was still channeling every other bad host I had ever seen. And anyway, Craig and I had stayed in touch, and he was ultimately the guy that I brought dirty jobs to to help me get it to the network.


But before that happened, he he started throwing me these little scraps. Right. His little bones. He's like, I got this show American Chopper. And we had been talking about a show for motorcycle enthusiasts. Right. The idea was the networks don't know what they want, but nobody really knows anything. So why don't you find a group of people who are already passionately interested in a subject and make a show just for them? And that's kind of how American chopper evolved.


And Craig hired a guy named Hank Capshaw to direct Hank's brilliant also did the pilots for dirty jobs. And I never met him, but they sent the studio some copy and they asked me if I would do the voice for American Chopper. And I. I said, sure, why not?


I went in the booth. It was just like with the Mazda thing. It was just me and the engineer. I put on the headphones and I look at the copy and the engineer needs a level. Right. You always got to do a mic check. And I gave him one as a joke. I read the copy like every bad sort of FM D.J. beats every car commercial you've ever heard. Right? So it went like this.


A father, a son, the drama, the deadline. There weren't sentences. There were just these ideas. So it's part Don Lafontaine part this, part that, but mostly just something for the engineer. And I get done reading everything on the page. And I hear this voice in the headphones saying, Hello, Mike. I'm like, Oh, hey, Hank. He goes, Yeah, Hank Upshaw. I'm like, Hey, it's nice to meet you, Mike Rowe.


He said, Hey, that was great. And I laughed because obviously he's pulling my chain, you know, because that's that's not how a serious voiceover actor would bring copy like that to life. He would bring more pathos, more empathy, more emotion, you know, more of a narrative ebb and flow, blah, blah, blah. I know all this, of course.


And and I say, OK, well, let me let me lay down a couple for you. And he says, well, OK. But I really did like what you just did. And I laugh again because clearly this guy's hysterical. Right.


And now I do it the way I want it. You know, I massage it, I caress it, I get it right. And in high school, he's like, OK, great, great. I got I got a lot to work with here. I got to go and capture. I is very busy. Long story short. They take the joke, they take the mike test again, and they drop it into the beginning of the first episode of American Chopper, I went on to narrate over 100 episodes of American Chopper, and Hank went on to hire me to be the voice of American Casino, American Hotrod, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters International and and the UFC.


I was the voice of the entire UFC franchise for like ten years.


And every single time I went into the booth, just every single time, if it was a Hank project, you know, I'd look at the copy and say, OK, and Hank would go, You know what I want?


Yeah. Previously on The Ultimate Fighter. The drama, The Deadline now on American Casino.


And of course, that just morphed into Deadliest Catch and so forth and so on and so I.


I just Forrest Gump my way into the voiceover business by two jokey performances in order to facilitate a mike test that wound up being used, Domino's, Mazda and then ultimately American chopper. So when people say, how do I get in the voiceover business, I tell them, get famous and then do what you're told.


Yeah, we'll see what you do. Chuck, is first thing is get a hit show and star in it and then it's pretty easy after that.


Yeah, it's amazing what happens next.


So the moral of the story, friends, indeed there is one is that nobody really knows what they want until they hear it. In spite of what they tell you, nobody really knows what they think or what they like until they see it in spite of what they tell you. These lessons are true in life. They're true in acting. They're true in voiceover. They are true between fathers and sons, directors and actors, friends and lovers. That concludes the true message of Chapter eight, where Chuck, I once again have attempted to land the plane.


I feel like it was a three pointer, Mike. Well done. Sadly there. Six wheels on planes.


Aamco No, not really. Who knows? Next week, friends.