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#33 Bruce Sallan: Television Producer, Network Executive, Author, Entrepreneur

This high-energy conversation tells the story of an ambitious kid with zero show business “connections” who became one of Hollywood’s most prolific and successful television movie producers: Bruce Sallan.

 

 

Bruce’s inspiring story takes us from a film class at UCLA and into pitch meetings at the major television networks...then into casting sessions at Hollywood’s biggest studios...and on to film locations around the world with some of the biggest celebrity stars of our time. 

 

 

With more than 24 major television movies to his credit—all inspired by his personal commitment to telling the best stories with a redeeming social value—Bruce enjoyed a remarkable 25-year career on the highest rungs of the Hollywood ladder.  He’s one of those rare talents who moved easily between high-level jobs at production companies, movie studios, and television networks. 

 

 

In this rapid-fire, free-wheeling conversation, Bruce doesn’t pull any punches as he recalls his work with stars like Bruce Dern, Barbara Hershey, Alan Arkin, Don Johnson, John Forsythe, Dick Van Patten, Betty White, Ron Howard, Mickey Rourke, Lindsay Wagner...and the list goes on!

 

 

Bruce Sallan delivers more than just anecdotes here; he talks about the actual “how to” of a Hollywood career, what it takes to really pitch and sell a hot TV project, and how to navigate the treacherous politics of any show business career.

 

 

The conversation then turns to Bruce’s dynamic career as an author (The Empty-Nest Road Trip Blues and A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation), a nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist, the recognized and outspoken advocate for fatherhood, a leading social media icon, the creator of one of Twitter’s  #DadChat where his weekly “all about dad” Tweet Chat draws thousands of weekly followers.

 

 

As the father of two sons, a seasoned and expert skier and unmatched raconteur, Bruce Sallan is uniquely gifted communicator with a great message to share...and he shares it with unmatched intelligence and energy.  This is a conversation NOT to be missed!

 

Direct download: Podcast33-Sallan12.18.14FINALcompact.mp3
Category:Show Business -- posted at: 10:07pm PST

#32 Melissa Sue Anderson - "Little House on the Prairie" Emmy Award Winning Actress & Author

Melissa Sue Anderson became an internationally-recognized television star at the age of eleven and remains a fan favorite for her long-running portrayal of “Mary Ingalls” on Little House on the Prairie. 

In this revealing and very personal conversation, Melissa shares details of her life as a child actor who broke into the business because—in spite of her confessed shyness—“it sounded like fun”.

Melissa’s innate sense of humor is evident as she shares with Bob and Suzanne the anxieties of auditioning for network executives, producers, and directors…all the while competing with other talented kids like Jodie Foster.   But Melissa apparently had “that special something” that sold well on the tube, because by the time she was cast in her first television role on The Brady Bunch, she had dozens of on-air commercials to her credit.

Throughout the podcast Melissa delivers the impressions of a 10-year old working on Hollywood’s sound stages where she was surprised to find that “things were so fake.”  She describes her many co-stars with amusing candor, and shares memories of those who generously gave her their inside “acting tips”.

Fans of Little House will be intrigued to hear Melissa describe her first meeting with Michael Landon and what it was like competing for the role of “Mary Ingalls”…and ultimately working on the show where she really learned the ropes of working in an ensemble of actors on a hit series.

She also shares her secret to “playing blind”…a technique that served her well as she was cast as a sightless person more than she would have liked.  Melissa then shares her fond memories of working with her “favorite producer” Aaron Spelling and both the joy and disappointment of working on Dark Mansions, Bob’s 2-hour series pilot that fell victim to studio and network politics.

An author (her book The Way I See It is available at Amazon.com), Emmy winner, and member of the Western Performers Hall of Fame--whose favorite acting gig was on The Equalizer--Melissa Sue Anderson’s story is inspiring and instructive.

Listening to Melissa delivers great insights into working with agents, producers, directors…and the unpredictable yet very real value of “luck”.

 

Direct download: Podcast32MelissaFINAL11.1.14_2.mp3
Category:Celebrities -- posted at: 6:02pm PST

#31 David Gray: From The Kinks & Steeley Dan to The Oscars

From his early days in small town New England as an "electronics nerd", always tinkering with the family record player and stereo receiver, David Gray's professional career began as the guy repairing damaged speakers at the local drive-in movie theater for pocket change piecemeal wages.  David was an entrepreneurial "hippy" in college, promoting campus concerts and booking up-and-coming folk singers and rock bands...who all depended on his sound system technical skills.  While still in college, 19-year old David found himself on a national tour with The Kinks, where one of his jobs was repairing the band's beer-drenched sound gear. In this podcast, you'll learn what it takes to actually make a world-wide Rock & Roll tour a reality, as David recalls his gigs as concert tour sound engineer for Mahuvishnu Orchestra, Steely Dan, Linda Rondstadt, The Kinks, and Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. David tips his hat to the live performance talents of  The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and shares the reason why they were so great in concert. With "life on the road" behind him, David was one of the early engineers drafted by Dolby Sound just as Star Wars put the company on the map.  He then found himself working on movies ranging from Sex, Lies, and Videotape and 200 Motels to mega-hits Die Hard, Flashdance, Footloose, and Predator. Always at the intersection of talent and technology, David has been recognized by The Motion Picture Academy as one of the industry's leading innovators in bringing film sound and music into the 21st Century.   David shares details of the recent introduction of Dolby's Atmos  and true "3D sound" to movie theaters around the world,  and gives genuine inspiration to anyone looking to break into the tech world of "movie sound".

Direct download: Podcast31-DavidGray-FINAL10.20.14.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 12:47pm PST

Bob & Suzanne have a candid and free-wheeling conversation with

Paul Petersen, once a child actor and pop music teen idol,

now a prominent social activist and prolific novelist, and the

driving force behind "A Minor Consideration" working on

behalf of young performers everywhere.

 

Breaking into show business as one of the original

Mousketeers on Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club, Petersen went on to

a co-starring role on one of the most iconic television series of all time,

The Donna Reed Show, playing what he describes as

“the classic gap-toothed wisecracking younger brother”.

 

Paul recalls the professional acting lessons he learned performing

opposite movie greats Cary Grant and Sophia Loren in Houseboat,

and then from Emmy-winner Carl Betz and Oscar-winner Donna Reed

on The Donna Reed Show. 

He then shares the gritty real-world of Hollywood studio casting

when The Donna Reed Show went off the air after eight years,

and he suddenly went from young star to struggling actor. 

 

Articulate and painfully honest, Paul pulls no punches,

telling his story with compelling intelligence and honesty. 

You won’t forget hearing about the day that Hollywood legend

Mickey Rooney literally showed up unannounced at his doorstep

to give him the keys to a successful and fulfilling life.

 

What follows is a story of strength, stamina, and

personal transformation.  The lessons Paul Petersen shares

on this podcast should be heard by every “stage mother”

and by all talented kids with dreams of

making “the bigtime” in Hollywood.

 

This is the story of a "kid with talent" who became

an iconic television star and international teen idol...

and then walked into the halls of academe and a career as

a novelist and social activist.  It's a tale as dramatic and compelling as

any of Paul's TV and movie roles...and it’s rooted in

the bottom-line reality of show business.

 

If you’ve ever worked in the entertainment industry...or if

you have dreams of someday breaking into television,

movies, or music at the professional level, this interview with

Paul Petersen is no to be missed! 

Direct download: Podcast30FINALedit10-6-14.mp3
Category:Show Business -- posted at: 7:53pm PST

From television, to movies, to hit records...Shelley Fabares has

done it all, and she continues to do so with unmatched

grace, humility, and instinctive talent. 

One of Hollywood’s most enduring and  beloved leading ladies,

Shelley openly shares the details of her childhood as a

department store “fashion model”, and how that led to her first

television appearance at the age of 10.

In constant onscreen demand from an early age, she appeared in more

than 50 television series, from early classics like Annie Oakley to

her breakthrough role on The Donna Reed Show.

Shelley shares memories of her eight years playing “Mary Stone”

and working closely with TV legends Donna Reed, Paul Petersen,

and Carl Betz, and then describes the unique experience of

becoming an international teen idol with the release of

her #1 hit recording of Johnny Angel. 

As the only female co-star to appear in three of Elvis Presley's

movies (Clambake, Girl Happy and Spinout), Shelley describes

what it was like meeting “the King” for the first time...and how

she still thinks of him as her “favorite leading man”.

Shelley then goes on to recount her adult life as an actress on

shows like Love, American Style, The Rockford Files, and Fantasy Island

and her professional joy working opposite James Caan in the era’s

most memorable television movie, Brian’s Song.

This is an intimate, open-hearted dialogue with a legendary actress as

she shares the realities of Hollywood’s type-casting in the Sixties

while giving us a real sense of the personal and professional values

that brought her years of success on major hits like

One Day at a Time and Coach. 

It's an engaging conversation with a truly

classy lady as she reveals the personal side of

the Hollywood "actor's life" that you won’t want to miss!

Direct download: Podcast29EditFinal9.24.14.mp3
Category:Celebrities -- posted at: 9:48am PST

Michael Sloan was born into a British theatrical family and raised amid

the smell of greasepaint and the sound of applause.

 

Bob and Suzanne’s conversation with Michael starts with his youth as a budding actor

and his early adventures writing and producing his own independent feature films. 

Michael’s story then demonstrates his unique creative instincts as he describes how

he got his first major primetime television break writing for Columbo, a credit that

propelled him toward a meteoric career path at Universal City Studios and beyond.

 

Sloan’s credits soon ranged from BJ & The Bear (where he gave Bob his first primetime writing gig)

and Quincy to McCloud, Battlestar Gallactica, Sword of Justice, and The Return of The Man From Uncle...

to name only a few of hundreds!  His was the producing and writing “juice” behind

unforgettable shows like Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and

the contemporary Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

 

And as if his hundreds of writing and producing credits weren’t enough, Michael was also

the creator of one of television’s most highly-acclaimed suspense and action series,

The Equalizer—now a major motion picture starring Denzel Washington

set to appear in theaters worldwide.

 

Almost as “throwaway” in the interview, Michael reveals that his wife—actress

Melissa Sue Anderson of Little House on the Prairie fame—first suggested Denzel Washington

in the role of The Equalizer’s “Robert McCall” a full seven years before the movie

went into production…and then we learn that Michael’s new novel The Equalizer

has just debuted in bookstores everywhere.

 

With great wit and humor, the lessons Michael Sloan shares in this podcast are

truly bricks of gold on the road to Hollywood success! 

Direct download: Podcast28EDITFINAL9.13.14.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 7:35pm PST

#27 Producing "by the numbers" with Dennis Brown

Suzanne and Bob reveal the latest news about their new book, Where Hollywood Hides: Santa Barbara Celebrities in Paradise,

and then talk to award-winning Hollywood producer Dennis Brown.

Dennis tells a uniquely personal story that saw him go from “small town boy” to a studio accounting department,

and then to the pinnacle of Hollywood success...with career highlights along the way that include

getting hired by Grant Tinker (who would later build MTM Productions with his wife Mary Tyler Moore),

surviving the destruction of United Artists Studio by  Michael Cimino's Heaven’s Gate,

and eventually being nominated for an Emmy.

During the course of his amazing career, Dennis has supervised multiple Academy Award and

Emmy Award-winning projects, has shot film on every continent on the planet. 

The major stars he’s worked with include Jerry Seinfeld, Lindsay Wagner, Farrah Fawcett,

Liza Minelli, Tom Selleck, Burt Lancaster, Peter Fonda, Leonard Nimoy...

and  in this interview, you’ll learn which actor holds a special place in his heart.

 

While sharing the one-work "key" to becoming a successful independent movie producer,

in a candid and emotional moment Dennis reveals what has truly mattered most to him

in building his career.  Throughout the interview, you’ll hear what it takes to plan a Hollywood career and

how “the Hollywood dream” can become a reality.

 

It’s an easy-going intimate conversation about an incredible life working

behind the scenes in Hollywood...and one you won’t forget!

Direct download: Podcast27EDITFINAL9.8.14.mp3
Category:Show Business -- posted at: 1:32pm PST

Suzanne and Bob talk about their new book, Where Hollywood Hides: Santa Barbara,

and are then joined by Lloyd Schwartz, one of TV’s most prolific writer-producers for

stories of his long and successful career in Hollywood.

Starting as a standup comic (with a member of The Black Panthers as his working partner),

Lloyd recalls selling his first network script while still in college and describes the confidence

and writing skills that made him Hollywood’s youngest television producer.

With TV writing credits ranging from Harper Valley PTA and Baywatch to movies like

The Invisible Woman and A Very Brady Christmas, Lloyd was well prepared when he

became the producer of one of television’s most iconic series of all time, The Brady Bunch.

Lloyd doesn’t pull any punches as he describes his notion of “happy projects” and reveals

his secret to building a lasting writing career and delivers a realistic and practical step-by-step

strategy for breaking into the studio system. 

“If you do exactly what I’m saying, you’ll get into the business”.

Throughout the conversation, Lloyd shares stories of his favorite actors, talks about

what it was like moving up through the ranks from dialogue coach to producer—eventually

becoming a network executive—and then to writing America’s first live dinner theatre plays.

It’s a high-energy inspirational interview peppered with rock-solid tips for surviving in Hollywood,

including Lloyd’s personal mantra “The phone will never ring.  You have to make it happen.”

Lloyd Schwartz has a unique and inspiring story, and if you want

“the keys to making it in Hollywood”, you’ll want to hear this podcast.

 

 

Direct download: Podcast26EDITFINAL8.21.14_copy.mp3
Category:Show Business -- posted at: 10:00am PST

After his childhood appearance as "Tommy Bailey" in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life 

and an incredible 500 acting credits alongside stars like Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn,

Sally Field, Shelly Fabares, Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Rick Nelson, and Elvis Presley,

Hawkins grew restless co-starring as "America's favorite boyfriend and sidekick". 

He wanted more out of his Hollywood career...and he went out and got it.

Turning away from acting, Jimmy Hawkins set out to “remake” himself and soon became

one of Hollywood’s most entrepreneurial and commercially successful independent film and television producers.

You’ll hear how Jimmy navigated the shark-infested waters of Hollywood power-brokers and

deal-makers to help finance and produce Evel Knievel with George Hamilton, and the thrill of

the movie’s star-studded premier at Grauman’s Chiinese Theater that turned

a small independent film into a 25-million dollar hit.

Not resting on his laurels, Jimmy went on to create and produce hit films like  Scout’s Honor starring

the young Gary Coleman, Don’t Look Back: The Story of Leroy “Satchel” Page with Lou Gossett Jr.,

and Love Leads the Way, starring Timothy Bottoms. 

He reveals why each of his movie or television projects has projected positive values, the best in

human nature, and personal redemption...

and the keys to his ongoing personal and critical success.

With unmatched creative instincts, Jimmy has the uncanny ability to transcend genres,

formats, and media.  After creating and producing Motown Returns to the Apollo, he soon jumped into

the publishing world to author no less than five best selling books targeting

the everlasting appeal of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

This is a conversation you won't forget as Jimmy Hawkins shares the genuine secrets to

producing both movies and television projects in Hollywood.

Direct download: Podcast25-FINALAug11.14.mp3
Category:Show Business -- posted at: 10:59am PST

Garner Simmons—television and feature film screenwriter—joins Bob McCullough and

Suzanne Herrera McCullough for a faced-paced conversation focused upon

the twists and turns of his Hollywood writing career.

With “writing in the blood”, Garner tells his unique story of breaking into show business while

working on his PhD by writing the definitive biography of legendary movie director Sam Peckinpah. 

With Peckinpah: A Portrait in Montage as his calling card, Garner began climbing the rungs of

the Hollywood career ladder by following his personal mantra: “keep writing”.

Simmons reveals how winning a studio screenplay contest first brought him to the attention of

mega-agents and gave him the courage to leave Chicago for Hollywood...only to discover

that agents don’t always deliver on their promises.

Once he was in Hollywood and hearing the frequent advice “to forget this business and go back home”,

Garner did what he does best: he kept writing.  You’ll hear his story of  unmatched “chutzpah”,

determination, and the work ethic that helped him create his own “breaks”.

Garner talks about working as Story Editor in the early seasons of Falcon Crest,

and the credits that quickly followed as writer, story consultant, and producer on shows like

Yellow Rose, “V”, Spencer for Hire, Buck James, and Poltergeist.

As a writer of unparalleled versatility, Simmons has written for all genres and transitioned from

TV series to longform movies (A Rare Breed, Miracle Landing), wrote the early drafts of

The Last Samurai (starring Tom Cruise), and currently has

multiple feature films in development.

More than just telling his own story, this quick-tempo conversation with Garner Simmons 

reveals the hard truth about working with Hollywood agents, delivers valuable career advice,

and is truly a lesson in finding “the keys to success in show business”!

Direct download: Podcast24EDITFINALJuly9.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 4:26pm PST