William Daniels Says "There I Go Again" As He Recounts Acting Jobs in Book And Interview

Whether winning acclaim as John Adams, Mr. Feeny, or the voice of KITT, how would accomplished actor William Daniels celebrate his 90th birthday? Not doing much, he says.

March 31st, 2017 may be just any other day to him other than his knowing he’s unable to stop his sons baking a birthday cake. That said, I’m still in awe of a man who was grew up in the spotlight. Not surprising for a man having over 70 years of acting experience, his book, There I Go Again, has the feel of writings from an elder professional who doesn’t get giddy in his most joyous moments.

I had a pleasant time speaking to Mr. Daniels and his wife, Bonnie Bartlett. They addressed my questions no matter how goofy they were. The following clips are edited from this conversation. Apologies for the low quality of my voice:

A Chat with Bill Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett

Saved By The Bell Creator Peter Engel: More Interesting Character Than Any Bayside Tiger

A review of Peter Engel’s life story-turned-memoir. From an advanced review copy.

80 years old on the release of his book, TV producer Peter Engel has embraced having brought the world Saved by the Bell as his legacy. I Was Saved by the Bell: Stories of Life, Love, and Dreams That Do Come True is more about the creator than his creations. Engel had spent his professional career trying to produce the hit TV show.

Yes, something, something, Jessie was originally on speed something, but who could forget Sirota’s Court? How awesome would a talk show hosted by either Bette Davis, John Lennon, or Orson Welles be? Engel pleasantly recalls his failures to be the next Lorne Michaels (SNL) or Normal Lear (All in the Family).

I’ll go into further discussion of Engel’s book and not just fan-gushing over Saved by the Bell. If you want to hear Peter Engel confirm that Jessie was intended not to take caffeine pills, check out my interview with at the 6:57 timestamp.

Before readers get into the Bell years, Engel had finagled his way into being an NBC page, worked with popular 1950s entertainer/variety show host Perry Como, campaigned for John F. Kennedy with little resources, rode with a reckless Army pilot, found and accepted Christ, and befriended carmaker John Delorean. As someone into TV and showbiz history, I find all this stuff fascinating.

But Bell fans looking for intimate backstage gossip will be sorely disappointed. Peter Engel himself told me not only that Jessie was to take Speed, not caffeine pills in the memorable episode, “Jessie’s Song,” the rest of the script was left unchanged. No one can resist any tidbit about Jessie’s addiction. It’s a memorable episode, but my living in a drug-infested environment and knowing that that girl on my TV screen will be fine in the next episode meant “Jessie’s Song” didn’t resonate anything profound for me.

I Was Saved isn’t the sequel to Dustin Diamond’s dirt-dishing Behind the Bell. In fact, Engel’s portrayal of Diamond is that of a silly goof; he spoke fondly of Diamond during my interview with him. From what I’ve learned from interviews and news from the cast and crew, many of whom are still active in Hollywood, I find it hard to believe anyone else on Bell desires to top Behind the Bell in delivering juicy gossip.

Engel’s reminisces about Bell are more discussing the nuts and bolts of TV production than calling out bad behavior. Saved by the Bell is a teen comedy that relied on the cast’s charm and chemistry with each other. It’s not full of intricate plots and explicit darkness that any broadcast network entertaining Alf or Smurf-loving kids would find unacceptable. Maybe we’re wanting for something that isn’t there.

That said, there are a few interesting tidbits such as when Engel recalls when Brandon Tartikoff wanted him to fire Lark Voorhies after two episodes of Saved by the Bell due to poor performances. Despite a lack of contact between Engel and Voorhies, she pulled through satisfactorily when it came time to shoot “Lisa’s Card.” The cast and crew of Bell would become Engel’s extended family and he was a fatherly boss who would enjoy the energy of the studio audience.

Also in the book, there’s an anecdote of how Diamond was almost swept away far into the Pacific Ocean and footage of his being rescued was used in Hawaiian Style.

There are more stories involving his TNBC shows, but Engel goes into detail about his personal life. He talks about his three romances-turned-marriages, his friendship with Pat Robertson, and also his relationship with his daughter and two sons.

Not every moment is filled with rainbows and sunshine:

  • As Engel’s thrice married, he’s thrice divorced. His book details the moments when his relationships are built and broken down. He’s still on good terms with his latter two ex-wives, though.

  • Near the end of the book, Engel shares when he had a very tense argument with his son who was doing humanitarian work in the West Bank. While the argument is about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict somewhat, Engel tried to persuade his son to stop out of fear his son might die in a dangerous area.

  • He shares his final moments with network exec-turned-Engel company president Linda Mancuso. He first saw her being playfully flustered seeing Mario Lopez. Sadly, she lacked much of her energy during that last dinner date before her passing due to breast cancer.

  • His final moments with collaborator and friend Leslie Eberhard. Eberhard, who was gay, wondered if Jesus would accept him into heaven. Engel, knowing Eberhard to be a good man, responded that if his friend doesn’t get in, he doesn’t get in either.

  • His break from evangelical Christianity after delivering the blistering speech on how “The Gospel of the Pentagon Is Not My Bible” at the 2006 National Media Prayer Breakfast.

  • Also, a “shrine” of his other son’s prestigious award placed between pictures of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama is eerie to me knowing the results and aftermath of the 2016 election.

I highly recommend this book if you like famous people going through professional and personal transformations. During my interview with Peter, I was impressed at his vigor (he runs four miles on his home treadmill) and his willingness to answer my questions to best of his ability in the limited time we had. As a former TNBC fan, the man whose shows were TNBC’s foundation is someone I found to be a pleasant man with an incredible career.

Rating: ***** out of *****

See also: Six Things About Books from Saved by the Bell Alums.

Interview: 2000AD Editor Matt Smith

Editor of 2000 AD & Judge Dredd Megazine

Re-posted from RedHeadedMule.com

Editor of 2000 AD & Judge Dredd Megazine, and also writer of Judge Dredd: Year One, Matt Smith responds to my questions. Tharg the Mighty could not be reached for comment.

Red-Headed Mule: How’s the weather at the 2000 AD offices? What does Tharg think of the inclement conditions?

Matt Smith: Tharg’s full protected from the UK’s never-ending winter by his fully insulated jumpsuit. Besides, the ever-present glow of Thrill-power keeps all the droids warm.

RHM: Why did you choose to use the psychic angle for Dredd: Year One? What other story possibilities did you seriously consider?

MS: I thought it would be interesting to see Dredd’s first dealings with Psi-Division. We first became aware of psychic Judges when we were introduced to Anderson in the Judge Death story, but this is Dredd’s first dip in the psychic pool – and it’s not something he’s comfortable with.

I wanted to go for something that would give the opportunity for big visuals, which would suit comics.

RHM: How did you decide on Simon Coleby (The Simping Detective) as the artist for Dredd: Year One?

MS: He was a couple of weeks off finishing Simp for 2000 AD, knew he could do a good Dredd, and suggested him to Chris Ryall at IDW. The fact the has experience working for US publishers was a bonus. Continue reading “Interview: 2000AD Editor Matt Smith”

Interview: Simon Fraser

Re-posted from RedHeadedMule.com.

In Prog 1791 of 2000 AD, Nikolai Dante, finished his last adventure, Sympathy for the Devil. Dante, the Russian who’s “too cool to kill,” was created by Robbie Morrison & Simon Fraser.

While I’m a newcomer to the Dante experience, I enjoyed the story and art of Nikolai’s fateful wedding day nonetheless. After much anticipation from me, I now present responses, insights, and vivid stories from the Scottish artist.

Red-Headed Mule: While I’m late to the Nikolai party, I’ll still congratulate you and Robbie Morrison on ending the saga. How did you feel after finishing the last page?

Simon Fraser: It felt satisfying in an immediate “I’ve hit my deadline” kind of way. I find it difficult to see Dante beyond that point so it feels like an ending. It feels like we’ve said all that we can say and now we can let him go. When I see it in print next week I’ll have more of a sense of closure probably.

RHM: How long did it take for you and Robbie to make Sympathy for the Devil?

SF: I started working on it at the end of February. Robbie has been working on it on-and-off for 16 years I think.

RHM: How much of your personality have you put into the characters?

SF: Dante is certainly a product of both Robbie and I. His happy-go-lucky attitude is pretty much the way we behave after a few beers. I’d like to think we share a certain boyish charm 😀

RHM: Were there alternate endings to Nikolai Dante?

SF: Nope, that has pretty much been the ending since the beginning. There are some small details that have matured, but ultimately this has been the endpoint we discussed a decade and half ago. Continue reading “Interview: Simon Fraser”