Wkrp, Howard Hessman, Johnny Fever discussed on Fresh Air

Fresh Air


On root metrics U.S. report results vary. What happens when you're pushed to the limit? And what does it take to go further? I'm Jay Williams, and those questions define my journey to the NBA and beyond. But overcoming limits is something we all have to do. So come with me, as I explore how. With some of the biggest names in sports business and culture. Listen to my new show, the limits from NPR. Howard hessman, the actor best known for playing a radio DJ on WKRP in Cincinnati, died Saturday in Los Angeles due to complications from colon surgery. He was 81. In the 1960s, he performed in the San Francisco improv troupe the committee, which regularly performed at anti war and civil rights demonstrations. He had many minor roles in film and TV, including playing a hippie on dragnet. Before landing the part on WKRP in Cincinnati, which aired from 1978 to 1982 on CBS. Hesseman likely drew on his experiences as a San Francisco DJ for the character of Johnny fever. It is time for this town to get down. You got a gun in it. Doctor John F fever, and I have burning up in here. This one was also known for playing the teacher Charlie Moore on the sitcom head of the class, which aired from 1986 to 91, and for other roles, including a brief appearance in The Rock and roll mockumentary, this is spinal tap. He played the manager of a rival band who politely blows off the members of spinal tap after they try to chat him up in a hotel lobby. Where are you playing his head? Are you playing here? What are you doing the normal dome, whatever it is? It's terrific. Oh, yeah. That's a big place. That's good. How are you, Eddie? Great to see you, too. So really good to see you. Liam. Listen, we'd love to stand around and chat but we gotta sit down on the lobby, wait for the limo. Great to see you. Good days. Good days. And in an episode of the TV series ER, hessman played a man high on drugs found in the middle of the street. In the middle of the street, directed traffic. Well, I was just trying to calm the math as the there was so much negative energy that nobody could feel that universal connection that we all have. Right, right, right. What are you on, buddy? Oh, no, you know, when I touch you like this, we are exchanging matter on a subatomic part. Why, I don't know where your atoms are bent, so it's best that you just keeping yourself. What's this? I'm taking acid trip. Oh, you would be. Wrong. Yeah, LSD is a man-made chemical and psilocybin as a gift from God. Oh, the magic of mushrooms. Yes. Terry spoke to Howard hessman in 1988 when he was starring in the sitcom head of the class. Ahead of the classes in a way a reversal of the type of school shows that television had on say in the 1960s because in this case, the students are the overachievers and you as the teachers who's trying to loosen them up a little bit. I guess, yeah, that's accurate. But yet you're the authority figure which most TV viewers aren't used to seeing you as. Well, I guess they're not. I'm not used to seeing myself that way. But you know when you say it's sort of a reversal of the 60s, so are the 80s in a sickening sense. Reversal of the 60s, in which nobody wants to take responsibility for much of anything, but they want they want all the rewards in accoutrements of a responsible life. Thus the planet is sort of slowly dying off. At least that's my sort of pinhead view this morning. What are the parts of the character that you think of as yours? Character dimensions that you added that weren't in the way the character was initially conceived. Well, in television, particularly where everything is done in such a, I don't want to say a shorthand manner, but a shortcut manner. Actors have. Actors sort of are the character. It's not as though you're given a well delineated character that's been tried and tested over a period of time like stage characters or someone who's a character that's had the benefit of a long period of development of gestation and development in the writer's mind. The character is created and once it's sold, there is this enormous rush to make things work in a very tight time schedule with as tight a budget as possible. I mean, some of these things are certainly true in movies and in stage work as well. But I think more and more because of the voracious appetite of television as a medium, writers depend on personality quirks of the actor to delineate character and in the long run. My feeling is an actor is that there is no character. There's me, and I am limited by what this character says and does, according to the text. Were you anxious to get back into TV? After one day at a time and after KR P? I know, I don't think I was ever anxious to get into TV. Even now, on an almost daily basis, there's a certain sense of to quota friend joyful dread each morning. You know, I like to work. I like the actors work. I love doing it. But there is something about television and particularly series production that saps me of the will to live. But other than that, it's great. Where does the joyful dread? What's the dread part of the equation? Well, most of television is so predictable. I mean, that's not limited to television either. A great deal, a great many stage plays that we see now in a great many movies. Are so predictable in terms of the plot in terms of the action in terms of what little character revelation and delineation occurs. You know where they're going. You're not surprised. And I suppose, you know, I have these standards that are relatively impossible for me or anyone else to meet in part because I can't define them. But I'm just for the most part disappointed when I look at television, particularly network television. Do you find that television viewers preconceptions of you very according to who you're playing on TV? You know, when you were Johnny fever, do they think of you as being a high, someone who was always high and a real anti authority kind of figure, then when you were on one day at a time as someone who was going to marry Bonnie Franklin and that was the teacher and head of the class, do people have a different idea of who you are based on who you're playing? Absolutely..

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