Lounge of Legends


Focus called.

They want you again.



THAT’S MORE LIKE IT.

Now we’re back to the old routine.

LIKE HOW GOD INTENDED.

Drive to Burbank.

Through the front doors.

Hey, look, there’s more actors on the photo wall that Marc Grau worked with.

^ you all don’t understand how sick that joke is. Only 5 people who ever read this blog will laugh at that.

Down the hallway.

Into the Greenroom/chill area/Lounge of Legends.

Lounge of Legends?

The Lounge of Legends is my nickname for the lounge/greenroom in the back of the Marc Grau studios.

When I first started recording there in the early 90’s, there was the main studio and the back lounge. It was a white-washed living room sized room with a single table in the middle around which could fit 6-8 people. A fridge along a wall. The back wall had a door that led to the back parking lot and a couple steps down from the door which were usually turned into stadium seating when the seats around the table would get filled up.

Hal… always had the same seat. Whether marking lines at the start of the morning or thumbing through the trade magazines littered everywhere in the afternoon. He always sat at the head of the table with the fridge behind him where he could see everyone coming and going down the hall to the studio.

This is The Room where I received my education on the Industry.



Shut the fuck up. And listen.

This is a concept that never bothered my ego. I like observing and watching and learning from people. To listen to the Industry Veterans trade War Stories and to understand the depth of decades of history they had.

Yeah well, I remember when Sid

This is a room where people call Sid Caeser, Sid. Cuz they knew him.

Most people reading this won’t know who Sid Caeser is, but… oh fuck just google him and learn some damn show business history ffs.

On any given day there were 3-4 people with 200 years of show biz personal war stories.

As a kid determined to become part of the industry… this was The Dream Come True.

It’s in this room that for the next 2-3 years my love of the industry and Art Form was really solidified. That lounge was my college. And who would come down that hallway or enter from the back door today?

Always a mystery.

Never a disappointment.

To just sit in that lounge as on any given day as Hal, Walker, Will, Corey, Katie, Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Recording is The Work.

The Lounge of Legends… is The Network.

And what made this era far superior to the prior 3 years in Pomona is that we were crammed together. I was forced to be in the same room all day with the whole cast. So you bond more. Learn more. Develop stronger relationships.

Also, I was getting older. And by now most of the adult actors knew me and seemed comfortable around me. And I think I was a rather well-behaved kid… at this point. And there’s no place I’d rather be than listening to Katie and Corey trade gossip about the latest Disney thing or Hal and Walker joking about Billy Barty pestering Hal to do the Odd Couple with him.

And the beauty of the Lounge of Legends is that when you’re an initiated member, there’s nothing sexy about any of this. It becomes normal. And it’s just… the business. Regular people who like to act and sing and dance who managed to craft these extraordinary careers but… they’re just regular folks.

Hal would order a large milk in a giant styrofoam cup that HAD to have tin foil wrapped around it to keep it cool. He ALWAYS had a cigarette lighter in the shape of a microphone– I WANTED THAT LIGHTER AFTER HE DIED– that somebody famous had given him. Someone weird. Industry Adjacent. Hank Williams Sr? Why do I have that memory? I may have that info wrong. It was some other industry legend that would surprise you. Hal had worked with everyone.

But that refillable microphone lighter…

The Lounge of Legends where I had a conversation with Bill Erwin IMDB— a character actor who appeared in every tv show ever made at least once.

And Bill had this fascinating habit of collecting words.

He carried a little spiral notebook in his breast pocket and whenever he heard a new word he didn’t know he would scribble it down and then go home and- not just find the definition- but research the whole history of the etymology of the word. Before the internet.

I only worked with him once.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 190- Moses: The Passover Part 1

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 191- Moses: The Passover Part 2

So my second time in the Marc Grau studio and Lounge of Legends…

They hand me a script.

“Welcome back… Jimmy.”

I’M JIMMY AGAIN?!?

No boy CHARACTER had ever survived Fucking Puberty™

It’s a hard thing to be the type of iconoclast that breaks all the rules. I’ll try my hardest to not let it go to my head.

Jimmy. how i missed ya…

Let’s do this thing!

And this episode is an Imagination Station episode!

Jimmy + Imagination Station + Historical Fiction = HappyDave

I get to be Jimmy again? I thought you guys said once my voice changed…

“The Fans complained that we had changed the actor and we’re like, ‘we didn’t change the actor the actor’s voice changed’ hahahahaha…”

That’s as close as memory gets to the accuracy of the only time that I would ever hear the words “The. Fans.” in relation to my work on that show… until the 500th episode recording.

You mean… the fans wrote in… about me?!?

*ask yourself why this surprises me after having been affiliated with this show for 4 years. almost 200 episodes in. never heard the fans mentioned to me EVER until this throw away line in passing*

And what I won’t learn for another… *checks decadal calendar*… 16 years is that the fans saved Jimmy as I reported in a prior post.

BUT WHATEVER.

Welcome back, ole friend.
How I missed you, buddy!

Corey plays 12 characters in this episode.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 192- Modesty is the Best Policy

I’m not gonna touch this one with a 10 foot pole.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 193- A Tongue of Fire

This was a fun one.

This was the episode where Corey and I really first bonded. And he created the Brian Dern character. I recall him and my Dad– who was there that day– and Corey was picking my dad’s brain about what right wing radio shock jocks he listened to. My dad’s long car rides into work perhaps providing some character research on the spot.

SIDE POINT: One of my favorite things about actors is how quickly and spontaneously they will immediately scour their environment for resources for any kind of little hook to get into a character. It’s a really fascinating part of the Art. And it’s a constant thing we all do, because you don’t know what text you’re working with that day. And in pre-internet times… damn I need to create a character in the next… *checks staff*… 15 minutes and what can I come up with.

And looking at the cast of this episode is interesting because it really exemplifies the people I was ultimately closest to during my entire run on the show.


Me. Katie. Hal. Will. Corey.



This. Is my happy place.

Give me that cast any day and those 5 people can create magic.

I’m trying to convince myself that my name belongs next to theirs.

But. It does.

Right?



Corey, sadly, only plays 1 character.

It nearly bores him to death.

Will Ryan performs emergency surgery with a ball point pen to save Corey’s life.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 204- Wonderworld

I had been told that at some point they might install a younger character as a way to… I dunno… create a symbiotic relationship for Jimmy to have so the young listeners wouldn’t be alienated.

Wonderworld is the episode where I met the actor who would play Lawrence.

And again, I won’t be using his name until he allows it.

Lawrence was, what 10? 11? Like, it was the moment where I realized I really had aged out of the demographic the show was intended for.

I recall he seemed a bit nervous and shy.

And my immediate thought was, “this is my opportunity to do for him what Hal did for me.”

And I also suspected– they didn’t say DAVE HERE’S YOUR NEW BESTIE OR YOU’RE FIRED– that this was the moment that this was happening. I mean it was so low key just, “here’sLawrencehere’sthescriptgo” which is how they always work.

But, I knew… the way he was being called “imaginative” in the script… oh this is L’il Jimmy.

And I knew that my fate on the show was tied to him.

I’m 15 years old.

The second run here is better than the first. As long as this kid is here and happy, I get to stay here and be happy.

And so, if Corey is becoming my new big brother… Lawrence is going to become my new little brother. I am taking this kid under my wing as best I can and make him feel at ease and comfortable and that when I sense he may not know something or he’s nervous… help out. Be kind.

Do for him what Hal and Katie and Corey and Will were doing for me.

One day… some months later… my mom says, “Lawrence’s mom says you’ve been very helpful for Lawrence.”

Well done, 15 year old Dave! You GrizzledIndustryVeteran™…



No. One. Is. Beneath. You.

Lawrence was awesome to work with. Incredible talent. And a good personality fit for me which I’m sure they factored into the equation. He had an effervescent spirit and was such a wonderful person to be around. And could knock the performances outta the park.

The Family of The Actor Who Played Jimmy is growing and expanding.

There’s a concept folks who have long term employment with the same companies for decades may not be familiar with.

The Temporary Deepest Relationship You Ever Had of the Entertainment Industry Way of Living.

This work most of the time pits total strangers together at all times on every show, play, movie. It is rare to get to work with the same actor twice.

Usually the only way that happens is if you have a really deep connection on a project and bond with a like-minded artist and the two of you find projects for each other– the word of mouth part of the business. Or making things together.

It’s rare to get to be on a show with the same cast for years. Extremely rare.

The odd thing about the VO world is that part of the industry is so small that all the top folk VO know each other and do work together a lot. But… it’s still few and far between sessions in a calendar year.

So, you have these compressed relationships. Actors are people in transit. And our stopovers are temporary and fleeting. And so you try to bond intensely as fast as you can. Actors usually are incredibly empathetic and instant studies of people and humanity. You can sniff people out real quick.

All the best actors are people people. That’s the Art form. To convincingly take a bunch of words on a page and breathe life into it and make a “person”.

And so these environments become passionate, fun, laughter-filled, little family reunions every session.

And these people worm their way into your heart and stay there for a lifetime.

The passing relationships are a unique type of scar tissue this Industry leaves on you.

Also, Corey plays 21 characters in this episode.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 214- The Living Nativity

Synopsis.

Please note the first trivia point: The controversial nature of this story launched an hour-long debate among the actors in the studio about the First Amendment and the true meaning of “separation of church and state.” While the discussion was healthy, it sure ate up a lot of studio time!

Shut the fuck up and listen and learn, Dave.

Corey plays 0 characters here.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 215- Caroling, Caroling

It is an ill-advised move to ever put me in anything that involves singing.

I am a brilliant Actor. As a singer… people have died. For realsies.

I don’t know if Corey can sing or not.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 219- Treasures of the Heart

Lawrence and the Barclays.

No memory.

But Corey is capable of having played all the parts.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 230- Our Father

I believe this is the first time I ever worked with Janet Waldo.

And you want to talk about fucking legends with a capital L…

You know you’re around interesting people when they can say they were discovered by Bing Crosby and got their break from Cecil B. DeMille.

And to be a woman of that era and still be slinging words into mics 50 years later by the time I met her… mad, mad R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

A ceiling breaker of legendary status.

Bow down. All hail, The Queen. Please.



Janet Waldo Wikipedia

Janet Waldo IMDB

To sit in the Lounge of Legends™ and listen to Hal and Janet give each other shit… surely the name is fitting.

Corey plays 191 characters in this episode.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 234- Our Daily Bread

No memory of this.

Corey plays 39 characters in this episode.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 236- Into Temptation

Huh-uh.

Corey plays 72.5 characters in this episode.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 240- And the Glory

No memory of this.

Corey plays 103 characters even though he’s not listed in the credits.

Adventures in Odyssey: Episode 248 Terror from the Skies

This would be the first time I would work with Earl Boen.

I had been itching to work with him for years. There’s a number of the cast that recorded during the same era that have never recorded together because the stories never collided. Playing Jimmy meant that my storylines didn’t interact with some of the most popular characters on the show. I had my own… I dunno… story track? Thread? The Barclays were a show within the show so I was segregated from a lot of the actual Town of Odyssey.

I’ve never met Townsend, for example. Itching to work with him, too.

But, Earl…

Earl was like Bill Erwin. One of these amazing character actors that was contractually obligated by God to appear on at least one episode of every tv show ever made.

These are the blue collar worker bees of the industry.

Guys with so much talent and hard, scrappy mentalities– this is a TOUGH industry to have a long career– like these aren’t your pampered starlets.

These are the Character Actors who reliably show up and they MURDER a performance to help push a storyline for all your regular characters. These guys are the invaluable soil of the industry, imo. Production teams NEED these guys. Your star can be a dip shit. But your guest character that needs to knock the storyline outta the park that they can’t cast wrong because it costs too much money once the live studio audience is in place? You need people that can bring it without fail. The guys and gals aren’t the face of the Industry…

They’re the blood of it.

And because they don’t have the luxury of stomping off the set to their trailer, these guys and gals have to MURDER their performances on the first take usually. They can’t be the ones to fuck up a scene, because the star is not replaceable, YOU are. So, you learn how to deliver and MURDER the piece perfectly every time.

You have to be a stone-cold, ice-in-your-veins killer.

And a consequence of that is they HATE star drama bullshit. Because they have to show and murder the work… you damn sure better bring it. Because if you don’t, you won’t have their respect. And the stories I’ve heard of stars that pissed these guys off. And the takeaway message is: Do the job right the first time.

I have the deepest respect for their success and careers.

Earl Boen IMDB

And the beauty of this episode…

This is a War of the Worlds spoof. The classic Orsen Wells radio drama? Yeah, I got paid to basically do a spoof of the one of the most classic radio dramas of all time.

One thing I really, deeply respect about the AIO creative team was their deep and abiding love for the art form and old Hollywood. And they really tried to honor a lot of the legacy of the audio theater medium and live television medium and that showed in who they cast, and the concepts they wrote.

So, imagine your greatest fantasy of radio theater?

It’s War of the Worlds.

It’s the most famous radio show in the history of American radio theater.

So, of course…

you’re gonna put Jimmy and Lawrence smack dab in the middle of it.



Oh.

And the cast you’re going to give 16 year old Dave Griffin to play with:



Hal Smith: 332 credits; 49 year career
Earl Boen: 292 credits; 43 year career
Janet Waldo: 160 credits; 66 year career
Will Ryan: 104 credits; 39 year career
Walker Edmiston: 157 credits; 57 year career

Corey Burton: 462 credits; 51 year career+

I. Am. A. Hard. Person. To. Impress. And. This. Is. Why.

You think politicians impress me?

Sorry, a U.S. Senator does not impress me as much as Janet Waldo.

And Janet Waldo knew who I was by name.

Get the fuck outta here.

How is this my life?

What an amazing fucking experience.

This one… this one was a gift, too. For those that love the history of this business– which I passionately do– this was a shit ton of fun.

Thank you, Production Team.

This is a gift to still be floating in the twerking brain lobes.

Corey played 1,631 parts in this episode, btw.

I hope… that as you read this you will recognize that I never took this experience for granted for one second. I mean in the first run of 3 years I settled into it and maybe that was taking it for granted.

The second time around, though, I knew the rare air I was breathing.

I was itching to get into this Industry.

I couldn’t wait.

I had a whole Voice Over family that I had been working with for 6 years.

Like, that’s impossible to understate.

At 16 years of age I’ve already got 6 years of experience working with all of these amazing people.

I am a card carrying member of the Lounge of Legends.

I served time there.

My future… is EXTREMELY BRIGHT HERE.

This is all I want to do.

This is what I love.

This is enough for me. To find a home like this in the Industry and become one of the worker bees and character actors. No paparazzi. No tabloid life.

Show up. Murder a performance. Collect your money. Go to the store and nobody bothers you.

That was the life I was CERTAIN I was capable of achieving.

I obviously can do the work, right?

I obviously am good at this on some level, right?!?

6 years.

56 episodes.

22% of the series.

(I lost some % during that Fucking Puberty™ year of exile)

I love this work.

And I love the people I’m working with.

I’m the happiest kid of all time.


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2 responses to “Lounge of Legends”

  1. Devon Avatar
    Devon

    I love how much emphasis and respect you put on the names of all these legends because it’s so very very difficult to convey the magnitude of their legacies. In the same way that climate change is caused by a small handful of like 100 people, there is a small group of like a dozen VOs that /are/ the industry, and most of them were regulars on this show, and most of the remainder were guests at least once.

    This also is making me nostalgic to relisten to Terror from the Skies.

  2. Devon Avatar
    Devon

    It’s also funny to me how Our Daily Bread gets no comment or memory, as this is the episode that begins the storyline for the Barclays that would carry them through their entire remaining time on the show (George getting fired->joining seminary/Mary gets pregnant->Having Stewart->George is pastor->Move to Pokenberry Falls)

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