On The Jazz
On The Jazz Newsletter: Volume 3 Issue N°1

Date: October 6, 1996
Author: Nicole Pellegrini
Download: otjv03i01.zip

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The totally unofficial A-Team electronic mail newsletter
***** Now in it's THIRD year of publication !! *****

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Administrivia: Nicole Pellegrini
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*Home of the On the Jazz Newsletter Archives**
DATE:   October 6, 1996

Greetings, everyone and welcome to the THIRD ANNIVERSARY EDITION of ON THE JAZZ!!! That's right, 2 years ago (October 9, 1994, to be exact) the very first edition of the onthejazz newsletter went out to a select group of perhaps 20 A-Team fans. We didn't even have a real time mailing list yet - that would be many months away - and we did our best what little information we had on the show and the guys to pull something together. Today, our subscriber's list is huge - about 90 people on the newsletter list, and 130 on the full list, and membership is in a real upward trend as of late, with the fX network graciously showing the A-Team every night and allowing countless fans to enjoy the show once more (or, for the first time!) We have people on the list now that have been involved in A-Team fandom since "the early days", and many who have only discovered the show in syndication. It's great to see so many different people on the list and that we can have a lot of fun discussions about the show.

2 more years, and we should be discussion the A-Team feature movie! Here's to ensuring we're still around in 1998, and beyond that!

DIRK BENEDICT IN TV-MOVIE, THIS MONDAY! October 7, Dirk Benedict will appear in the TV movie "Abduction of Innocence: A 'Moment of Truth' movie", on NBC at 9 PM EST. The plot summary in the TV Guide reads: "In rural Oregon, an FBI investigation of a kidnapping raises gnawing suspicions that the teenage victim-the only child of a strict multimillionaire-may have planned the crime herself."

A-TEAM PHILLY FEST - NEXT SATURDAY! Yes, next weekend it's definitely happening, here in Center City Philadelphia. Come on and come all to enjoy the festivities, starting noon, October 12, and going however late people can endure. Kyle will probably insist on us watching some Galactica along with A-Team ;-), and who knows what else will make its way onto the television (I'd vote for a late-night screening of "Alone in the Dark"). Please RSVP with me as soon as possible if you expect to attend.

THE A-FILES: ALMOST HERE, HONEST! Yes, we're in the really, final stages of putting this 'zine together, and there will *definitely* be a final announcement about it by the next newsletter. I've gotten a lot of volunteers for proofreading assistance on our other upcoming 'zine titles, but do we have any good artists out there? Please, please, let me know if you might be interested in illustrating for any upcoming A-Team 'zines and of course, new writers are always welcomed! PLANS SCAMS AND VANS 3 is already looking to have a great mix of authors, new and old, but there's plenty of room for more people to contribute still...

CONVENTION NEWS - I read a usenet post that Dwight Schultz actually did NOT appear at the recent Trek convention in the Netherlands; he annd Robert O'Reilly were both replaced with other guests at the last minute. So, those of you who couldn't make it, looks like you didn't miss much! No new news on the status of Dirk's appearance at the Cult TV con in England later this year.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! - Last but certainly not least, October 1st would have been George Peppard's birthday (although there seems to be conflicting dates given for the birth *year*).
Last week, we had a pre-A-Team interview with Dirk Benedict, this week, continuing the trend, we have a pre-A-Team interview with Mr. T...
>From CINEMA ODYSSEY Vol 2 No 1 (1982)
Mr. T Goes The Distance. He's clean, he's mean, he's a wreckin' machine, and he caused a sensation as Clubber Lang in Rocky III. They call him Mr. T, and don't you rorget it!

From the moment he bursts upon the screen, a one-man demolition team bent on destruction, Clubber Lang is brutally mowing down contender after contender.
It doesn't take long to realize that these snippets of fight film aren't
just window dressing. This guy's in for the long haul, and everything about him spells trouble.
The character is Clubber Lang, a lean mean fighting machine with the will to win. But that of the person behind the persona? The power behind the punch?

His name is Mr. T. And while ROCKY III may be this heavyweight's first big shot at an acting title, he's no newcomer to the bright lights of show biz. In the world inhabited by the shakers and movers of big time sports and entertainment, Mr. T's reputation is well established. Widely considered to be "the bodyguard", his client roster has included such names as Leon Spinks, Muhammmad Ali, Michael Jackson and LeVar Burton. "I'm the best bodyguard there is," says Mr. T, with the confidence of a man who would challenge anyone to prove him false. "I'm not the biggest, the baddest, the roughest or the toughest," he says. "I'm the best." The reason he's so good? Bottom line - he goes all the way. "If I'm in a room protecting you," he says, "and somebody has a gun, I'm going to put my body around you. I take the bullet. If there's a knife, I get stabbed. If there's poison, I take it...I'm like a kamakaze pilot.
They're dedicated to their country, I'm dedicated to my client...my card reads, 'Mr. T - Bodyguard Extraordinaire'. There's none better than me."
An original rags-to-riches, only-in-America story, Mr. T's climb to the top rivals that of Rocky himself. Born Lawrence Tero, he was the tenth child in a family of eight boys and four girls. Home was a cluster of high-rise apartments for low-income tenants, a concrete jungle on Chicago's South Side. Raised by a mother on welfare, the family subsisted on faith rather than funds.

"I come from the area where they say nobody ever makes it," says Mr. T, a glaring exception to the unwritten rule. "That's why I gotta try so damn hard," he continues. "'Cause when I make it, the people back in the ghettoes make it. And every time I give an interview and say, 'I'm from the Projects, I'm from the Welfare, I'm from a broken home,' you know what that does to people in those situations? It makes them straighten up. A lot of people think they're just by themselves. That they're the only ones to have a hardship, or whatever. So by me overcoming it, that'll make them overcome it."
Even in the early days, long before ROCKY was a twinkle in MGM/UA's corporate eye, Mr. T was already rising through the ranks, distinguishing himself from the crowd. At Chicago's Dunbar Vocational High School, Tero made his mark as a three-time city wrestling champ. His overall record was 90 wins, one loss. "When you speak of my school," he says, "you automatically gotta talk about Mr. T." His record as a high school football halfback was equally spectacular. The 35 touchdowns he scored earned him a scholarship to Prairie
View, where he played for three years. After serving with honor as a military police officer in the Army, Mr. T was invited to try out for the Green Bay Packers. When a knee injury forced him to leave the Packers' camp, the strapping 275-pounder turned to the security guard profession.
Fortunately, Mr. T has no regrets about his aborted football career. "This way I can reach more people," he says, "I'm invited to more banquets. I speak at more lectures at colleges and universities." Mr. T credits the success of his speaking engagements with his surprisingly inspirational presentations. "A lot of people just talk and say nothing," he comments. "They figure I'm the kind of guy who gets up there and says, 'Uh, er, uh, er, football, hit low, hit hard,' you know? Then they see me and say, 'This guy can speak. This guy is heavy,' People think it's unbelievable that I can quote Socrates, Aristophanes, Euripides, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Mark. They're stunned, like I hit them with a couple of jabs...That's the biggest joy I get from this tour, watching people change when they see how I really am."

An active member of Reverend Hardy's Cosmopolitan Church, Mr, T "acknowledges God in all that I do." "When I was small I was baptized," he says, "but I sorta went astray." In 1978, Mr. T was baptized for the second time, and began his increasingly serious involvement with the church. "I haven't looked back for nothing. Haven't worried about nothing. I've been in fights and come out on top. Why? Not because I'm tough. I've been in fights where guys jumped me from the back. I got cut, but it wasn't that bad. Why was that? Some people say, 'Well, you sure are lucky. That was a miracle.' Well, God gives miracles every day. All you have to do is have faith and believe."

When it comes to the perlrs of his new found career, Mr. T relies heavily on that faith, refusing to be seduced by the power and the glory. "I'm not gonna run out and buy a Rolls-Royce or stuff. They say, 'You're going to make a lot of money. Get down.' So they try to blow my mind with limousines. I've been in limousines before. They say, 'We'll give you a suite in the hotel.' I've seen all that before, so that don't excite me. I'm honored,but they can't, you know, mess me up. Those guys that get hooked on drugs, they're looking for happiness in the wrong place. They think they can impress me with bringing a girl to my suite or having a girl meet me at the airport limousine. That won't excite me. I don't want that. I don't even want to be caught up in things like that." His family is equally reticent about his good fortune, determined to keep it all in perspective.

"I was successful a long time ago," Mr. T says, referring less to his bodyguarding exploits than the achievement of personal goals, "A lot of people determine success in different ways. My life would be in vain if all I wanted were material things - diamonds, girls, and all that. Life would be too shallow. I'm at peace with myself. I'm content with myself because God is with me. When I meet my Maker, God's not gonna be concerned with how many rings I got, or how many movies I made, or how many Oscars I won; but did you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, administer medicine to the sick, try to comfort the
heartbroken, were you concerned? Did you try to do those things? 'No, I was trying to get every dollar I could. I was a billionaire, God. I got a lot of money. I got four mansions.' 'Go to hell, you gotta' be concerned.'"
The transformation from Lawrence Tero to Mr. T was an important one, and the security guard-turned-actor is candid about his feelings. "I changed my name to Mr. T because I got tired of white people calling me 'boy'. That comes from the old slavery thing. 'Hey boy, clean this out, get my shoes,' this and that, I changed my name to Mr. T so that the person had to call me Mister - the sound of respect."

Yet there are those who refuse to recognize the change. "They don't like to call me 'Mr. T,'" he says. And although a rose by any other calling card would smell as sweet, the former bodyguard's nsw name is the official one. "It's on my birth certificate now, it's on my passport, my driver's license; it's on everything. But the people still say, 'Well, you wasn't born Mr. T. On your birth certificate it wasn't Mr. T.' And I say, "Nigger" wasn't on my birth certificate either, but I been called that.' I say nobody questions that fact about the Pope. He wasn't born Pope John Paul the second. He took the name from two dead Popes. But nobody questions that. You know, a black man comes along looking like me, fighting like me, calling himself Mr. T. 'Who're you joking!' they ask. 'What's your real name?'"

Playing the man everyone loves to hate is not always an easy task, but Mr.T seems to understand and sympathize with Clubber Lang better than anyone. He even compares Glubber to Rocky in his pre-championship days. "He's hungry," Mr. T comments. "He's got to do things to make people take notice." But according to Mr. T, Clubber Lang has no real animosity toward Rocky. He's simply a man working toward a dream, and his anger lies in the fact that he's being avoided, ignored, "It's not really Rocky's fault," comments Mr. T. "It's his manager Mickey that's keeping us apart. He says, 'Rock, you can't win, you ain't been hungry since you won that title.'" Mr. T recalls a similar real life situation: "That's why Leon Spinks beat Muhammad Ali the first time. Ali wasn't hungry. Leon was. I say in my book, if you've ever seen Rocky, you've seen Leon Spinks. He is the real-life Rocky. He wasn't even ranked, Rocky wasn't ranked. Apollo Creed gave an unknown a chance. Leon was vicious and mean and took everything Ali had, knocking him out. At least, the first time."

Although only a newcomer to motion pictures, Mr. T has already developed a dim view of those who make their living by criticising films, especially when they're criticizing Stallone's films. "People don'i like Stallone because he came up the unconventional way," he comments. "Stallone didn't have an uncle in the business. All he had was a script. He borrowed money, and on and on. They told him, 'We like the script, but we don't like you,' So then ROCKY's a smash, an Academy Award winner. They say, 'Do more ROCKY.' Then they say, 'We're tired of ROCKY,' so he can't win. When Rocky vins, they identify with him; and they hate the loser, because in the loser they see themselves. But if Rocky always
wins, they can't identify with him no more. Success breeds hatred, misery loves company. So what the critics are saying is they're tired of Stallone making millions of dollars off ROCKY, and then they get madder because the movies come out good." Fortunately, there is a moral to Mr. T's story: "People don't give a damn what the critics say anyway."
Mr. T, however, is quite candid about voicing his own critique of ROCKY III. "This one is the best," he says. Why? "Because I'm in it...I have to be honest about it. I trained and worked damn hard for that. I'm still grateful to God, though." Of his role in ROCKY III, Mr. T comments, "It's the most exciting assignment I've ever had. I've always admired fine actors and enjoyed films. It's been a real challenge to give it a try." Although already well-known in motion picture circles, Mr. T came to Sylvester Stallone's attention through exposure of a different sort - a professional bouncers' contest. Winner and champion two years running, it was Mr. T's aggressive performance that earned him the coveted role of Rocky Balboa's newest adversary. Mr. T himself admits that his attitude during the contest was very much like the one displayed by Clubber Lang in the film. "I had to be hungry to win," he says. "It wasn't a game to me. When I say in the movie, 'I will destroy any man who tries to take what I got,' that was my feeling in the second bouncer contest."

Although he'd had no previous acting experience, when it came to playing the role of Clubber Lang Mr. T was a natural. Says Sylvester Stallone, "You don't rehearse him, you just turn him loose. He has a certain street rhythm that would be a crime to tamper with." Mr. T adds, "I never acted before. I never studied lessons before. I won't study lessons. Not because I think I'm so good, but because I have this God-given talent. I can play a Pope or a Priest in a movie. I can be a cook. I can be a black Apache, I can be everything." This confidence, this unyielding belief that he can do anything he truly wants to do, is an attitude that pervades every word Mr. T says, every move Mr. T makes. "If I wanted to swim the English Channel," he comments, noting that he never swam distance before, "I would train to do it. See, I don't believe in the word 'can't'." He adds, "I'm a very positive person."

Along with this upbeat confidence comes a certain self-discipline that parallels the "give it all you've got and then give it some more" message of the ROCKY films. "Every day you've got to prove your worth," he asserts. And how do you do that? In the world according to Mr. T, the answer is quite simple. Just be "the best". "I can't be no ordinary anything," he says. "Dr. King said, 'Be a bush if you can't be a tree, If you canlt b a pine on top of the hill, be the strongest one in the valley. If you can't be a highway, just be a trail. Go out and sweep the street the way Michelangelo carved marble, like Beethoven wrote music, like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that folks in heaven would have to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper.'"

Rererring to the challenges presented by his newly-adopted career, Mr. T comments, "I want my characters to come alive. I want to entertain, but I also want to deliver a message on the screen. I want the audience to feel sorrow and joy." Unfortunately, Clubber Lang was not a vehicle for soliciting many positive emotions. "He's the opposition. Hets the opponent. If he's the opponent, he's the enemy. The enemy has to be destroyed." However, the fledgling actor is quick to acknowledge that, as Clubber Lang, he played a pivotal role. "I entertained," he says. "I am poverty. I am the landlord on your case. I am everything, all the things they (the audience) hate; so that when I get beat, it makes them feel good. They feel like Rocky. So if I can make them feel happy for just a few minutes, I did what I set out to do. I entertained."

Entertainment is exactly the quality that Mr. T hopes to bring to future film projects. "I did a good movie," he says, "but the next one has to be good. A high quality movie." Although he agrees that the early black exploitation films were successful because they broke new ground, Mr. T has no ambitions to be the next "Shaft, Slaughter, Super-Fly, black man kills and takes over Harlem." "If I'm gonna' make a black movie," he says, "it's gotta' have a positive story." Unsurprisingly, he thinks his own climb to the top would make pretty good viewing. A movie version of his upcoming biography, THE BODYGUARD, is in the works.
<The End>
TRIVIA TIME Last issue's question was:

>What was the name of the cook at the POW camp the Team was held in during the

Irene was the first in with the correct answer (Michele only moments behind!), which was Lin Duk Coo.

This week's question, for the truly trivially minded:
>What was the inscription on the watch Murdock gave Face as a farewell present
>in 'Alive at Five', and who had given Murdock the watch?
Well, that's all for this issue - until next time - stay on the jazz!

Quote of the week:
"The sky is so big and my plane is so crummy - please
don't let me eat it!"

  - Murdock in "Where is the Monster When You Need Him?"

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