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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Chiller Theatre Experience #2 (April 2009)

Since we had so much fun at our first Chiller Experience in October, it was now time to see if the sequel could live up to the original. From February up unto April, I was checking out the Chiller Theatre website twice a day reviewing the latest guest updates. Although the guest list was not as extensive as the previous show, there still were some celebs I wanted to meet. Plus it's only $25 to attend the show, the Parsippany Hilton is twenty minutes down the street, and I was free on Sunday so there were no excuses. This time my dad, brother, and I would be joined by special guest. And if there were going to be some old school legends in the house, it only be fitting that Mr. Old School Ron Hart also be there as well to join the Hersh brothers on our escapade.

We learned our lessons from the last show, so it was decided to get there early on Sunday morning. My dad and I got to the Hilton at 10:00 in the morning and waited in a line that went pretty quickly and got us into the show at a reasonable time. While in line, we caught some of the legends walking to and fro including Ax and Smash from Demolition and Lou Ferigno. My brother and Ron were scheduled to come a little bit later. The crowd seemed a lot more tamer this time around, and it was pretty easy to move from room to room. The guests were really full of conversation this time around, and many of them agreed to take photos with us at no fee because we proved once again that we were true fans of their work. My dad was like a teenage girl at a rock and roll concert because one of his heroes was at the show and there was no way he was going to pass up the opportunity to meet him. Who am I talking about? Why, it would be one of the best living actors of all time, Tony Curtis. Because it wasn't Halloween, there were very few people dressed up for the occasion. The Hilton had a vendor selling pizza for a dollar, which came in very handy considering my budget and hearty appetite. The set up was pretty much the same with the main stars in "The Pit", other semi-known guests in the random suites, and of of course "The Tent" outdoors with a lot of familiar faces.

List of Significant Guests:
Christopher Atkins (70's teen idol best known from The Blue Lagoon), Dian Bachar (the little guy who was in Baseketball with the South Park guys), Cheryl Bachman (former Playboy Playmate), Corbin Bernsen, Dale Bozzio (lead singer from Missing Persons who gave us Words and Destination Unknown), Dennis Cole, Gene Cornish (member of the Rascals), Peter Criss, Tony Curtis, Charles Cyphers, E.G. Daily (Dotty from Pee Wee's Big Adventure), Taylor Dayne, Demolition, Amy Dolenz, Micky Dolenz, James Duval (one of Randy Quaid's kids in Independence Day), Erika Eleniak, Lou Ferrigno, William Forsythe, Francine, Zach Galligan, Erin Gray, Dean Haglund (the nerdy dude from The X-Files), Pat Harrington Jr, Gregory Harrison, Tippi Hedren (legendary actress from The Birds and Melanie Griffith's mother), Jose Hernandez Jr, Kane Hodder (the actor who played Jason in four of the Friday The 13th movies), April Hunter, Richard Kline, Meadowlark Lemon (the most famous of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters), Jason Lively, Jason London, Jeremy London, Nancy Loomis (from Halloween I and II), Lynn Lowry, Donna Mills, Cynthia Myers (former Playboy Playmate and star of classic B movie Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls), Noel Neill (original Lois Lane from the 50's TV Show), Miguel Nunez Jr (the star of Juwanna Mann), Ken Olandt, Edward J Olmos, Amanda Pays, Cindy Pickett (Ferris Bueller's mom), Amanda Plummer, Geri Reischl, Deon Richmond, Oliver Robins, Robert Rusler, Richie Scarlet, Iron Sheik, Mark Slaughter, Frank Stallone, Suzanne Stokes (Playboy Playmate), Larry Storch, Tiffany Taylor, Jonathan Tiersten (Ricky from Sleepaway Camp), Eddie Trunk, Nikolai Volkoff, Zacherly (of course!), George Romero, Rene Auberjonois (it seems this guy has been in every TV show ever produced. Also the villain in Police Academy 5), Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation), Walter Koenig (Chekov from Star Trek), Garrett Wang

Show Highlights:

Hands down, the nicest celebrity I have ever met was Geri Reischl. For those of you who don't know who she is, Geri is and will forever be known as "The Fake Jan Brady". Geri Reischl's role in the overall landscape of pop culture is pretty impressive, at least in my mind it is. After the Brady Bunch ended it's run in 1971, people were still dying to get their Brady fix. So in 1976, The Brady Variety Hour hit the airwaves under the legendary 70's production team of Sid & Marty Kroft. Eve Plumb had no interest in reprising her role as Jan for this cheesy show, so she was replaced by a look-alike who had actual singing talent. The Brady Variety Hour is considered by many as one of the worst television shows of all time. But the whole 'fake Jan" thing became a phenomenon, and has been spoofed numerous times in film and TV. The Simpsons, Family Guy, and That 70's Show all used it as reference. Nobody seems to remember the fake Marcia (Lea Ayres on The Bradys) or the fake Cindy (Jennifer Runyon on A Very Brady Christmas), but most Pop Culture fans remember Geri Reischl as the fake Jan. We talked for a good half hour about her career and about her days working on the Brady Variety Hour. She told us that she was still very good friends with Susan Olsen who played Cindy on the Brady Bunch, and surprisingly has never met Eve Plumb although she would love to meet her one day. God, wouldn't that be a Kodak moment? Geri Reischl was so awesome and a genuinely sweet person. She even took our pictures, remembered our names, and put them up on her myspace page a week later. After the show, we emailed her to say thanks for meeting us and talking about the Brady stuff, and she wrote us back letting us know we were the highlight of the show for her. It's pretty cool to say you are buddies with the "Fake Jan Brady"! Geri Reischl also will play prominently in our third Chiller Theatre experience.

Jason and Jeremy London were surprise guests at the show. I always forget which one was in Mallrats and which one was in Dazed And Confused. Both of them were really cool. Although they are identical twins, they weren't sitting together and looked totally different. Jason now has short hair and a goatee. We talked a bit about Dazed and Confused and how it was one of the movies that had a big influence on me. Of course, I asked him if he still keeps in touch with Wiley Wiggins. He admitted that he did not, and appreciated when Ron and I gave him a Wiggins update that he was a musician. Sasha Jenson who played Dawson in Dazed and Confused was also supposed to be there, and Jason told us he was a last minute cancel. Scott and I asked him some twin questions including wondering if he ever would hit the Twins convention in Twinsburg. He didn't seem to care too much about the twin questions. Jeremy London was the one who was in Mallrats and Dawson's Creek, and he looked the same as how we always pictured him. I jokingly asked him if he and his brother would play the roles of Michael and Scott Hersh in the future movie about our lives. Jeremy stated that should the movie ever get made, it's a deal! Who else but the London twins could play us anyway? C'mon!

I've already written about meeting Erin Gray, but in case you were too lazy to read it, I'll provide a quick recap. Another sweetheart who was open to all of our questions about her work in Buck Rodgers, Silver Spoons, and Six Pack. She even admitted herself that she sometimes gets starstruck. She was only charging $5 to take a photo with her. That money was for a great cause, Breast Cancer Research. Might be one of the best $5 bills I ever spent. Erin was even interrogating Ron Hart about his Beatles shirt and how she would like to buy a similiar shirt for her daughter. Erin Grey still looks gorgeous, and was a total class act.

Corbin Bernsen was at the show. He seemed to be really enjoying himself standing up and smiling with his fans. He gave me a hard slap on the hand, and was so grateful that I appreciated his work as Roger Dorn in Major League. I asked why he wasted his time for the third Major League movie Back To The Minors, and he said it was a quick shoot and it paid well. He was accompanied by his wife, Amanda Pays who was also a guest at the show. I remember them getting married back in the early 90's, but didn't think it lasted. Guess I was wrong! I ended up taking a photo for somebody else. I actually should have finagled my way into having the dude reciprocate for me. I dropped the ball on that one.

I don't think I've ever seen my dad so star struck in all of his life. He was so adamant about getting a photo with the legendary Tony Curtis. Tony Curtis is an Oscar-nominated actor and a living legend. He also happens to be the father of Jamie Lee Curtis and was married to Vivien Leigh. My dad and Tony had a conversation, and my dad went even so far as to kiss Tony's ring like he was a mafia don. Tony then whispered in my dad's ear that them Jews had to stick together. I thought Tony Curtis looked good for his age, considering he must be closing in on 90 years young. My dad was in his glory that day, and it's good stuff like this to really give you a sense of how something so silly to one person can be so special to somebody like my pops.

Do you remember the kid from Poltergeist? Not the cute little blonde girl, but her brother Robbie who almost falls to his death from the large tree? His name is Oliver Robbins, and he was making a rare appearance at this show. I hadn't seem him in years, and wow did he get old! Oliver also appeared as the little kid in the cockpit in the second Airplane movie. He mentioned to us that he is still directing and loved working with Craig T. Nelson and Jobeth Williams on the first Poltergeist movie. When it came time to ask him about the Poltergeist curse and how he was the only living child actor from the movie, he didn't seem to know what I was talking about. Strange considering the franchise has been deemed with having the biggest curse in movie history. But then he quickly avoided any more questions and started talking to somebody else. Just a quick lesson for those interested: Dominique Dunne (Dana) and Heather O'Rourke (Carol Anne)both died prematurely. Dunne was strangled to death right after filming of the movie was completed in 1982, and O'Rourke died of intestinal complications in 1988 at the young age of 13 before Poltergeist III hit theatres. Hmm, strange. Good to know that Oliver Robins was still alive and able to withstand the curse.

I'm a huge fan of the National Lampoon Vacation movies, and was glad to meet Jason Lively who played Rusty Griswald in European Vacation. I told him that I always thought he was the best Rusty of the four, and always wondered why they didn't bring him back for Christmas Vacation. Jason spoke so fondly about his experience making the movie, and is so proud to be remembered as Rusty Griswald and the phrase Oink, oink my good man! He also told us he had a great relationship with Dana Hill who played Audrey Griswald in the movie, but unfortunately passed away in 1996 at the young age of 32 due to a stroke caused by diabetic complications. He was so sad that she couldn't be there to feel the love from Vacation fans. I asked him what his sister Robin was up to. If you didn't know, Robin Lively was the female love interest in The Karate Kid Part III, and the lead role in Teen Witch. He commented quickly that she doing her thing, but he needed to let us know about his other sister. I had no idea who he was talking about until he mentioned that his sister Blake is doing well. Putting two and two together, I totally forgot that Blake Lively is his younger sister. She's a huge star right now appearing every week it seems in her bikini in US weekly and also as the lead character on the hit show, Gossip Girl. Jason was joking that he didn't mind riding her coattails now, getting to hit the major parties while not having to do much work anymore. Because he realized how much of a fan I was of his work, he was more than happy to take a photo of us at no cost.

Eventually you are going to read a shocking blog post from me about Nightmare On Elm Street 2, and how it might be the most unintentional gay movie of all time. Anyhow, at the booth next to Jason Lively was Rob Rusler. Rusler played Grady the good looking jock who was Freddy's second victim in Elm Street. I went right up to him and asked if he knew at the time how gay the movie was? He gave me a serious look like he might kill me, and then let out a big laugh and admitted that the kid who played Jesse was a huge fag. We talked a little more about the movie, and then Scott and I went back to talk to Jason Lively. As we were chatting with Jason Lively, Rob Rusler came to his table and popped out his ipod. On the ipod screen was the scene from Elm Street when Jesse comes to Grady's room for help after having killed his gym teacher in another totally strange gay S&M scene. Again, he was playing up the whole gay theme and loved the fact that I brought it up. Scott and I went back to his table and talked about his other big movie, Weird Science. He and some guy named Robert Downey Jr. played Max and Ian, two of the antagonists in the movie who eventually become pals with the nerds in order to hook up with Kelly Lebrock. Rob Rusler told us he is still good pals with Robert Downey Jr. and also told us a funny story about the Weird Science TV show. He happened to be making a cameo on a TV show that happened to be shooting right next to the Weird Science TV set. He had no idea they were making this show, and walked on set to find out who was playing the part he made famous. Actually, Max and Ian weren't even on the show. Yet, the entire crew was happy to see him and he had drinks with everybody that night, but truly wanted to make some dough if he could for the show. He happened to be another class act, and was more than happy to get a picture with us. I hope to see his career get resurrected soon. Maybe he'll make a cameo in Iron Man 2 with his buddy, Robert Downey Jr.

Zach Galligan was probably on top of the list of Chiller guests that I was dying to chat with. Of course, we know him as Billy Peltzer from Gremlins 1 & 2. Although he appeared in a few low budget movies, his career never really took off. Yet, he might be one of the luckiest actors on the planet. He got to play with Gizmo for two movies, and of course got to make out with Phoebe Cates. Of course I admitted my jealousy that he got to kiss the legendary Phoebe Cates, and he assured me that he will never forget it. We joked around about the three rules about taking care of a Mogwi. For example what happened if it were three hours behind on the west coast and you fed Gizmo after midnight, or how did Gizmo drink anything if he couldn't be exposed to water? Pretty funny to hear the random questions right from the source. I admitted that I actually loved Gremlins 2 and thought it was a better movie. He also was surprised that a lot of people besides myself appreciated the second movie, maybe because it was more satirical and less dark than the firsy Gremlins. With the word of a new Ghostbusters movie coming out soon, perhaps it was only a matter of time until a new Gremlins movie hits as well. Zach figured since Ghostbusters and Gremlins both hit in 1984 and their sequels both hit in 1989 & 1990, it wouldn't surprise him if he gets asked to do another Gremlins movie. And if he gets to kiss Phoebe Cates again, that's a bonus!

Christopher Atkins from The Blue Lagoon was there. We had a great conversation, and he made us laugh with his comments about being nude on a beach with Brooke Shields. He also told us that his appearance on the VH1 reality show Confessions Of A Teen Idol was a farce, and he didn't even stay at the house during the shoot. But it was good to be with his old friend Billy Hufsey again and made a new friendship with Jeremy Jackson. Atkins seemed less than thrilled to even have appeared on the show. He was one of the only celebs that wouldn't take a photo with us unless we paid even though we had a good conversation about his career. We probably o should have gotten a free photo for having to shy away from the obvious nude photos of him on the table while chatting with him.

Peter Criss, the original drummer of KISS, was also there. I would have probably been in my glory to meet him, but he was charging a ridiculous fee and you couldn't really see him because he was trapped in a corner room. Considering I had already met him for free a few years ago and already got a photo with him at Virgin Records, it didn't really faze me. I would have liked to see if he remembered us. Yet, by the time we went back to see if we could chat with him, he had already left early either due to illness or lack of interest in being there.

Perhaps one of the classic moments ever, and it almost could have ended in a disaster. While Scott, Ron, and I were walking around chatting with the celebs in "The Tent", my dad needed a breather. I didn't know where he went, but all of a sudden Ron Hart told me to turn around because he just found the new Israel/Iran alliance. I had no idea what he was talking about until I saw my dad sitting on a bench with his arm around The Iron Sheik. The Sheik is a WWF Hall Of Famer and currently a member of Howard Stern's wack pack due to his incoherrent rants if you didn't know. This could have been so bad since I've seen the Iron Sheik on some youtube videos when he wasn't in the best state of mind. So I told Ron to keep his mouth shut because rumor had it that The Sheik was also not too fond of Jews, let alone Israeli Jews. But the Iron Sheik actually laughed and stated that he loved Israel because the falafel there was out of this world. My dad and The Iron Sheik shook hands and we got a great laugh out of this. I only wish I had gotten a picture of my dad with The Iron Sheik as it truly was a Kodak moment.

Speaking of ridiculous photo opportunities, my dad committed one of the cardinal sins trying to get one with an iconic TV character from the 70's. Let me give you a back story. About an hour before, we had been chatting with Richard Kline (Larry from Three's Company) and Pat Harrington. We were going to walk by the table, but Pat Harrington saw us smiling and talking about him. So we shook his hand and talked about the legendary character he played. Okay, the suspense is over. He was Schneider the handyman janitor from One Day At A Time. So an hour later, it was pretty ironic to see the guy who fixed the plumbing on One Day At A Time in the men's rest room. My dad screamed at me to get the camera and take a picture with Schneider in the bathroom while I was urinating. Pat Harrington might not have been standing by a urinal, but you still don't do stuff like this in the men's bathroom. He looked at my dad like he was not from another country, but from another planet!! I'll admit I have no shame, but do have some standards. Apparently, my dad has no standards and will bother anybody anywhere for a photo.

Frank Stallone was in the house. Frank is the younger brother of Sylvester Stallone who is best known for contributing his music to his brother's films. He had a major hit song in the 80's with Far From Over which went all the way to #10 on the charts in 1983 and also garnered a Golden Globe and Grammy nomination for Best Song From A Motion Picture. You probably also know that tune Take You Back, doo doo doo doo from the Rocky movies? That was also done by Frank Stallone. He also was involved in a legendary boxing match against Geraldo Rivera on the Howard Stern Show back in the early 90s, and just recently was a contestant on Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling program in which he was the second contestant eliminated. I talked with him briefly and expressed my love for his 80's tunes. He tried to hawk one of his CD's which I had no interest in buying. I asked him if he was going to write the music for his brother's next movie, The Expendables. Frank told me he had no idea what his brother was doing. I read into my conversation with Frank that Sly has cut him off which has caused him to be a little bitter. Catching this, I got my quick photo with Frank and walked off before he punched me in the face for asking another question about his legendary brother.

Remember how I mentioned at the previous Chiller Show that William Forsythe threw a fit when we accidentally said he was the son of John Forsythe per a book I owned about "That Guy" actors? Well, he was back for this show. I lived up to my word and brought the book to show him with hopes that he would give us a photo opportunity at no cost. He did remember us from the last show so I unloaded the book for his reading pleasure. He looked at it pretty quickly and threw the book right at me. I then figured that asking for the free photo was not a good idea. He really is a tough cookie just like the characters he plays in the tons of movies he has been in. Unfortunately, I lost all respect for this character actor slash psychopath.

The biggest line of day was for George Romero, the legendary director of classic horror movies such as Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, and Creepshow. Makes sense since this Chiller Show is supposed be an appreciation of monster movies! Romero and the stars of his movies were in the same room Ace Frehley had been in at the last show. I appreciate Romero's art, but am not a big fan of zombie movies. So instead of having to wait in line to chat with him, my dad and I walked into the room to see a bunch of actors and actresses I had never even heard of. One of them was Lynn Lowry, who had a cool banner behind where she was sitting. She started up a conversation with me, and although I had no idea who she was, I figured she could be interesting. Did I mention she was pretty hot for an old lady (a GMILF, might I add!)? Lynn mentioned that she appeared nude in Playboy and many horror films, and most horror fans know her as a household name. I apologized that I had no real knowledge of these films, nor did I ever see myself devoting a year of my life to study this genre of film. Yet, she was very fascinating and one of the nicest people I've ever met.

Dennis Cole was a semi-famous actor who appeared for three years on Felony Squad and made random appearances on many big 70s's TV shows such as Fantasy Island, Charlie's Angels, and The Love Boat. But he gets major props for having been married to Jaclyn Smith. I pointed to the photo of him and his former wife on the table, and proclaimed that he was so damn lucky! He gave me a quick smile. While researching for this article, I just found out that he passed away three days ago. Considering he got to have sex with one of the most beautiful women ever, it's safe to say he lived a damn good life.

Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees was in "The Pit", but seemed like he really had no interest in being there. He rarely smiled and probably was paying more attention looking over at his daughter's booth to make sure there was no funny business going on.

Ken Olandt made a surprise unannounced apperance at Chiller. Although I didn't know him by name, I was very familiar with his work in cult movies such as Leprechaun and April Fools Day. My brother was totally clueless who this guy was until I had to remind him that Ken was the always sleeping stripper in 1987's classic 80's comedy, Summer School. A smile came across his face once he put it all together. I inquired with Ken if he still kept in touch with Clayton Rohner or Deborah Foreman from April Fool's Day. He said that Deborah Foreman was gorgeous and fun to work with. We tried to get a photo opp with the guy, but he was charging $15. Although it was going to charity, how could I justify paying this when I just paid $5 for a real star, Erin Gray? Some of these C-level celebs have no clue that they should actually be paying me to take a photo with them!!!

To sum it all up, the April Chiller show was yet another good time. Definitely worth the wait, and we hoped that the next show in October would be another good time for us pop culture aficionados! Be prepared to read about my Chiller #3 experience in the upcoming weeks! May the force be with you!


  1. I must say I did some comedy theater in LA with Eve Plumb and she can sing, very well in fact.
    SHe's got great pitch and can sing harmony at the drop of a hat.
    She didn't do the Variety Hour because of the people running that show - the Krofts

  2. Hmm, that's interesting. Back when The Bradys released all of these cheesy albums in the 70's, it seemed like Eve Plumb had no interest. I know Barry Williams and Maureen McCormick pursued musical interests after the show but thought Eve Plumb only was involved because she had no other choice.

    Thanks for the comment. I know Eve Plumb was a brilliant artist/painter, but didn't know she also did comedy. What did she have against the Krofts, was she worried it was going to be too goofy based on their other projects? Eve Plumb probably made the right decision considering the show was one of the biggest flops in TV history!!!

  3. Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life