On The Jazz
On The Jazz Newsletter: Volume 1 Issue N°23

Date: July 16, 1995
Author: Nicole Pellegrini
Download: otjv01i23.zip

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The totally unofficial A-Team electronic mail newsletter

Submission address: [email protected] (note the change!!)
Administrivia: Nicole Pellegrini
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DATE: July 16, 1995
Howdy folks!

First, a little administrivia: I will be out of town from the end of this week through to the beginning of August, so the next newsletter will be a bit late and I won't be reachable for a while. A few people are waiting for packages from me they will all be in the mail before I leave, I promise!

The big news I have have for this week is my report from the Shore Leave 17 con in Maryland I attended last weekend. I was there with HM from our 'net group here, so if screw up or forget anything important she can correct me :-) The quotes I'm throwing in from Dwight's talks are as accurate as I can remember them, but most likely not exact.

All in all, it was a lot of fun. I'm not even really a *big* fan of Star Trek, but there was lots of stuff going on and merchandise available for all different fandoms, mostly sci-fi but some non sci-fi stuff as well (I was finally able to get a copy of the A-Team Book #6, Operation Desert Sun. Whoo-hoo! They had the other 5 US released books as well, but I had to save my money for all the nice 8x10 Murdock & A-Team photos for sale, soon to be scanned in for my web page...) I would definitely recommend checking it out next year if you happen to live anywhere in the Maryland area and think you might enjoy a good, fan-run convention.

Ok, so to my main reason for going...Dwight Schultz. HM and I first spotted him Saturday morning on our way to the main ballroom about noon to the B5 special fx talk that was right before Dwight's talk. The official autograph session wasn't supposed to start until 4, but he was doing some special autographs for charity (the offical con ruling was only 1 autograph per guest in the auto line, on any picture/item you like, but if you paid 10 bucks for each of these special photos you could get however many you wanted.) Well, since this was totally unannounced there was hardly any line, and so I got one of the special Barclay pictures signed. Oh, I should point out that HM was there in a full Murdock outfit, hat to Converse sneakers, which Dwight immediately recognized and seemed to think was rather amusing (well, at least he didn't run away screaming.) "Twenty years form now we'll probably be doing an A-Team convention" he said jokingly, but if we have any say in the manner it will be a lot sooner than that...anyway, he was very nice and got up to let us both get a picture with him (insert another very loud whoo-hoo! here from me...)

Dwight gave two hour-long talks at the con, one on Saturday and one on Sunday afternoon. Saturday, he started by divulging that he actually had a bit of history with this hotel (the Hunt Valley Marriott Inn) -- he had worked as a waitor in the hotel's restaurant for a while when he was first starting out! He then talked about his interest in Star Trek since watching the original series when it first aired ("I actually thought Kirk's hair was real!"). He met Whoopi Goldberg while working on the movie "The Long Walk Home" and, after going on about how much he enjoyed ST:TNG ("What's Patrick Stewart like?") and her work on it, she suggested that he should do the show sometime. He figured, yeah right, they're really going to ask me to do Star Trek...and a few months later he got sent the script for the first Barclay episode. ("And I said 'Whooooooooooooaaaah! I'm gonna be on Star Trek!!!! I'm gonna have a huge pulsating head and get to wear all sorts of cool make-up!!' And then I looked at the script...And there was a nerd. And my manager called and said 'How do you like it, Dwight? They wrote it just for *you*!') But after his initial disappointment he realized that what made Barclay interesting was the fact that here was someone on the Enterprise that was, in fact, just an ordinary guy. Here's a ship full of people who are all extraordinary in some way, and Barclay wasn't, and because of that he didn't fit in at all and may not have even belonged there to begin with. It wasn't something that had been done on the show ever before, and he ended up really enjoying it. He talked about some of the practical joking that went on on the ST:TNG set. Jonathan Frakes, apparently, s a rather wild guy. He also mentioned something about the bizarre "padding" Patrick Stewart wore under his uniform to "beef up" his appearance ("he had these two pads on his chest... the weird thing was I think one side was bigger than the other...")

Dwight talked about a person he had known while living in New York as a struggling actor that had been his inspiration for Barclay, in particular Barclay's stuttering. This guy was a musician, a trombone player, who had gotten over a severe stutter as a child and could speak just fine while talking to someone in person but whenever he talked on the phone, the stuttering came back, badly. Dwight launched into a hilarious example of this, describing coming home one day to find his 45-minute long answering machine tape completely full, and that it was just 4 messages from this guy trying to say that he had an apartment he was trying to sublet and would Dwight be interested in looking at it. After about 5 minutes of this routine the audience was really going crazy, it was very funny. Anyway, the musician later explained to Dwight that the reason he had such a hard time talking on the phone was because he couldn't see how the other person was reacting to him, and this insecurity brought back his stutter.

Next came the story that I was dying to hear, the explanation of who was his inspiration for Murdock. Yes folks, it was a real person. Apparently, one night Dwight was driving through Louisiana on his way to Houston, where he had a role in a play. There was a terrible storm, rain coming down like crazy, and suddenly out of nowhere there were frogs flying around and all over the road (Hey wait-that sounds like the X-Files last Friday night...) Anyway, his car spun out onto the side of the road, and in the light of the headlights he saw this huge track of dead frogs behind the car, squished from the car wheels. ("And I learned to love frog legs that night...") After waiting a while for the storm to quiet down and recover from the massacre, he continued on his way to Texas, stopping off at a gas station in a town called Beaumont (sp?) to call in and report that he was going to be late. That was when the station attendant came out, hands in pocket, with the blue baseball cap, walking the 'Murdock walk' (which Dwight illustrated onstage). They then proceeded to have a rather bizarre conversation, after this guy hung around right by the phone while Dwight tried to make his phone call. Here's about how it went, if my memory serves me (wish I had had a tape recorder...)

"So you're in the theater, huh?"
"That's sorta like the TV, or the movies, except you're doin' it right in front of people instead of a screen, isn't it?"
"Uh, something like that."
"Are people payin' to go see this play you're in?"
"Are you some sort of famous actor or somethin'?"
::Awkward laugh:: "No, no I'm not famous."
"Well if you're not famous why are people going to pay to go see you in this play?"

And so on...they ended up talking for about an hour, this guy explaining that he really did know what the theater was, he was just playing a game. This guy also liked to interrupt the conversation every now and then and say things like "Do you believe anything I've said to you?" and Dwight just always remembered this guy and the way he could play with someone's mind, and that was a lot of the inspiration for Murdock. He said that he's often asked which character he prefers, Murdock or Barclay, and his answer is that Murdock, in a lot of ways, is the person he'd always like to be, but probably Barclay is a lot closer to who he really is, that he can identify with and relate to Barclay's insecurites and shyness. It's one of the reasons he doesn't do more publicity appearances and why he hasn't appeared at conventions in the past.

During the questions and answers part of his talk, someone asked about the A-Team and the chemistry between the actors being what really made the show work, and he launched into a really interesting story about how he almost got fired from the show before the pilot episode had finished shooting. They had finished the first half of it in California and were heading off to Mexico to finish shooting when the director came in to see him. Apparently, "they," the powers-that-be at NBC, weren't pleased with what he was doing with the part. It was originally meant for another actor (whose name I don't remember...), who was going to do it kind of crazy but not as wild as Dwight was playing it. So, "they" had decided he was going to written out of the show after the first seven episodes, and his part in even those episodes was being diminished. Well, that didn't lift his spirits much, but they continued shooting. Later, NBC did an audience-test on the pilot, taking a group of people and "strapping" them down in from of a big monitor with a dial in front of each of them. The purpose of the dial was when an actor came on screen, they were supposed to turn the dial according to their reaction to that person--turn it right if they liked him, turn it to the left if they didn't, leave it in the middle if they were indifferent. It was after this test that Dwight heard back from some one at NBC, "Don't worry, they're going to keep you on. You're dials were good! As soon as even just your voice came on the dials would shoot up!" So, Tim Dunigan ended up getting the ax instead of him, but now they had all these scripts where he wasn't given much to do, so he just improvised. A lot of the stuff in the early episodes were improvised by all the cast, it was later when the writers started trying to write in the crazy stuff that, he felt, things started going downhill, because they just didn't get it. ("One day I got a script and they literally had Murdock going up to a fire hydrant and lifting his leg, and I said, 'No, no, I don't think so...'")

Dwight finished Saturday by doing a really funny bit about the "Baltimore" accent and how he and an actor friend of his used to be able to clear out a room by going into it. (Think of the last scene in "It's a Desert Out There," when Murdock gives his little toast that "he learned one time in Baltimore.")

After the Saturday talk came the official autograph lines, so I got a Team photo signed. Someday, maybe, I can get Dirk and T to sign it too. HM got her Murdock had signed :-) Oh yeah, if anyone cares Garrett Wang from Voyager was there too, so we got his autograph too. Sunday we were back around noonish again and sure enough Dwight was doing more of the charity autographs so we went back up and managed to talk to him for a little bit. We asked whatever happened to Murdock's jacket, and he said he still has it--two of them, actually. They were both hand-painted, and sadly the artist that painted them died shortly after the end of the series of AIDS. We got another picture of him before going in for the afternoon talks.

Dwight started that day's talk by pointing out his parents, who were in the audience. They got a very large round of applause. He then talked a bit about science and Star Trek, and how some recent work is indicating that some of the technology in ST may someday really be possible (transporters, faster-than-light travel, etc.) He went through his stories about getting the role of Barclay and the inspiration for Barclay and Murdock again before taking questions. Oh yeah, both days he was asked to explain his inspiration for his appearance as Amis on Babylon5. He started by pointing out briefly the difference between B5 and Star Trek ("It's a much darker show...Star Trek is how we'd like to believe the future will be, but probably Bablyon 5 is closer to the way we'll really end up.") Amis was inspired by another person he knew while in the theater, a person from Baltimore who, in turns out, was the first person in the United States to go and have their sex legally changed on their birth certificate. This person had terible nightmares all the time, mostly involving the feeling that he was being "devoured" by something, that there was something within him that didn't belong there. Similar to the way Amis really had been partially devored by the Shadowman and how it was as if this alien thing was still ap part of him.

When asked about what upcoming projects he had in the works, he mentioned a new show called "Deadly Games," starting in August on CBS, that was created(?) by Leonard Nimoy and stars Christopher Lloyd as the main bad guy. It's a show about some computer game program that real people get sucked into, something like that. (Echoes of Tron, perhaps?) Dwight plays another one of the bad guys, a late-night infomercial guy who sells those "motivational" tapes shoot some sort of tape-gun as a weapon, and moves from level to level in the game by eating baloney sandwiches (?!). It sounded like this was a recurring role and not just a one-shot appearance, but I'm not completely sure, and that they just finished shooting the first ten episodes. Anyway, I always thought Lloyd and Schultz would make an awesome team, so it should be interesting to check out. He was asked to talk about his role in "Fat Man and Little Boy" a bit as well, so he described how the movie wasn't meant to be a completely "accurate" portrait of Oppenheimer and the development of the atomic bomb, but more of a morality-play about the legacy of the bomb in general. A lot of critics drummed on the film about that, but the intention of the film was never to be purely a historical document. Also, apparently there was supposed to be a whole subplot about the radiation experiments that were covertly performed on civilians at the time, but the execs at Paramount forced them to ax that whole storyline due to lack of evidence at the time. Now, the government has admitted that this in fact did occur, so it's kind of a shame in his opinion that this part had to be left out.

Someone asked a silly question about what he thought of there being dolls of himself out for sale. His response was "Well, I don't play with them, but I always check to see if they get the butt right!"

The final question, which he spent the last 10 or so minutes easily going on about, was whether he believed there was intelligent life in space and if he thought the government was covering up information about UFOs (now, someone convince me this guy didn't read that article from UFO magazine and didn't know how Dwight was going to answer *that* one!) Well, I'm sure I don't have to go into any details on Dwight's detailed response, which seemed to get a very enthusiastic response from the audience. Oh yeah, and before the end of the talk there was a spotting of Billy in the audience as well :-)

Ok, I'm sure I've left some stuff out, but nothing too major, I hope. I had a great time and would definitely say that if you ever hear of Dwight doing a con near you, make sure to check it out! He said he's only recently starting doing the Trek cons because he couldn't understand before why anyone would really be that interested in seeing him, considering he only did a handful of episodes, but now he understands more about the Trek fan community ("You're a part of the Trek family," Roddenbury's widow told him at the first con he did, "that's all that's important.") So hopefully he'll be doing a lot more in the future.

Well, I hope I haven't bored you all to tears. Finally (drum roll, please...) I have a trivia question to finish off this issue:

>Which mobster, mentioned as being dead in the early episode
>"The Rabbit That Ate Las Vegas," magically appeared alive
>and kicking in a later episode (and in fact was the main bad-

Next issue, something completely different. I don't know what yet, but it will be different!

Stay cool 'til August,
Quote of the Week:
Lady Park Ranger: "Will I ever see you again?"
Face: "One way or another, probably not."
                       (from "Incident at Crystal Lake")
-------------------------* End *--------------------------

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