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December 09, 1993 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-12-09

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, December 9, 1993 - 5
SeaQuest' star Tomlinson gives a spoonful of advice

By DAVID SHEPARDSON
"For every light on Broadway,
there are a thousand broken hearts,"
goes a fabled saying regarding the
difficulty of getting work as an actor.
With more than 90,000 actors in Hol-
lywood alone looking for jobs, the
fife of a thespian is astrange one. To
e a "working" actor, non-star, get-
ting jobs in commercials, movies of
the week and sitcoms is becoming
increasingly difficult. Bringing home
a paycheck to feed the family every
week may still be glamorous, but it's
not easy.
Enter Michael Tomlinson. A
working actor, husband and father of
adaughter in fourth grade, Tomlinson
one of the actors that has "made it."
n a telephone interview with the
Daily, Tomlinson discussed life as an
actor in the ever-competitive world
of Hollywood where it's easy to lose
sanity and hard to keep a job.
The reporter asks him the ques-
tiontelevision interviews always pose
to stars. "What picture are you work-
ing on?"
"What picture? Well, I don't have
41ne.ButI'd like one. Do you know of
any?" he joked.
Tomlinson mentioned that he re-
cently auditioned for an ABC movie
of the week. He said that stagnant

..

growth has depressed the Los Ange-
les economy and the film industry.
"The recession that hit America a
few years ago has just caught up with
Hollywood," Tomlinson said. "And
stars' are taking smaller and smaller
parts that people like me used to get."
Tomlinson, a veteran of several
major motion pictures, including
"Jacob's Ladder," starring Tim
Robbins, continues to take minor roles
in film. Tomlinson played the army
surgeon during the early part of the
movie.
Tomlinson has also played sev-
eral roles in films with two-time Acad-
emy Award winner Gene Hackman.
"It was great working with Gene. He
never acted like a 'star.' He hung out
with everybody. He was a real regular
guy." Tomlinson last acted with Hack-
man in the 1989 film "The Package."
He has performed in several soap
operas, including "All My Children"
and "Days of Our Lives."
"It's great work. Once in a while
they call me back to do guest appear-
ances."
Plus, he says, he gets recognized
for his work on soap operas more than
anything else. "I'll be at the shopping
center and someone will come up to
me and say 'Hey weren't you on
Days?'"

But Tomlinson added that people
are different in Hollywood. With so
many stars, people become "desensi-
tized."
"You see so many stars that people
realize that it's no big deal."
Known widely for his voice,
Tomlinson, like many working ac-
tors, occasionally acts in commer-
cials. "It's something everyone does
to make money. It's not bad work."
Tomlinson currently stars on
"SeaQuest," the popular NBC action
action-adventure series. He is the pub-
lic address announcer, and is occa-
sionally seen on screen.
Much of his work has been on
stage in both New York and Los An-
geles. But with a young daughter, the
life of the stage is not for him.
"I can't be away for three months
touring. I want to have a life," he said.
"You know, too many people say,
'Boy that's really easy what you guys
in movies do.' But a lot of the times
it's hard," Tomlinson said. "Getting
up before my daughter awakes and
then getting home after she's asleep.
But you move on and you keep go-
ing."
Tomlinson does a lot of television
series' pilot episodes. With the net-
work introduction of mid-season pi-
lots, the process which used to con-

fine itself to once a year, is now year-
long. However, movies of the week
are primarily made in the summer.
Among the movies he auditioned for
were "Ambush in Waco" and "Twin
Terrors: Bombing of the World Trade
Center."
"It's part of the lottery of televi-
sion series. Roll the dice and hope
you get lucky," Tomlinson said.
He related the long process to get-
ting a television series:
First, one reads several scripts
for pilots,
Second, one chooses what tele-
vision series to audition for. After a
long series of auditions, one is given
a part.
Following a long process, the
network decides what pilots to accept
for production.
A pilot is made over several
weeks.
E If the network picks up the
finished pilot, the series enters into
nine weeks of production.
If the show does well, the series
will produce an additional 26 shows.
Tomlinson mentioned many of his
friends who are working actors. Tim
Daly, who is a star of "Wings" on
NBC, simply auditioned for another
TV series and got lucky. "Tim and I
are good friends. He got a really good

break."
Breaks, Tomlinson says, is what it
takes it to make the leap from work-
ing actor to star. "You need about 50
breaks in a row. It's almost impos-
sible," he said. "You need to be seen
in a movie and have someone offer
you a lead in a movie, and have that
movie do well. But you're only as
good as your last film."
Tomlinson says he reads about
three to four scripts a week. "I hardly
have time to read anything except
scripts. And most of them are excep-
tionally bad."
He is a distant cousin of actor and

fan-favorite David Tomlinson, who
is best known for his Academy Award-
caliber performance as the stern but
sweet George Banks of 1700 Cherry
Tree Lane in the always popular "Mary
Poppins." Amid some controversy
among hard core fans, Julie Andrews
- in her film debut - received an
Oscar for the 1964 movie, but
Tomlinson did not.
Tomlinson reflects on his life as
an actor. "I wouldn't trade it for any-
thing. Like any career, being an actor
takes hard work and dedication. But I
love it. And if you are thinking about
it, go for it. You just might get it."

Hemingway fantasies and Linden Street lessons

By JON ALTSHUL
I got an e-mail message from this
buddy of mine in Israel last week.
Standard fare mostly. He offered a
few little anecdotes, waxed out some
political diatribe, described some of
his recent dreams land then suggested
that after graduation we start up a
micro-society/occult group/counter-
.culturalist movement in Northern In-
dia.
Sounded fun. We could perform
Pagan rituals by day and toss back
whiskey sours by night. For $2001
month and a $1300 plane ticket we
could live like kings. Two contempo-
rary Hemingways go west, or some-
thing like that. We could talk in choppy
sentences and sulk over our self-in-
flicted impotence. Or better yet, we
Ocould open a bar for eccentrics and
other ex-patriots and call it "Jon's
American Caf6." We'd be a trip. We
could seduce women with lines like,
"Don't worry sweetheart, we'll al-
ways have Bombay."
We'd live in a little two bedroom
apartment over our cafd so that we
could hear the trumpets down in the
smoky saloon just below us when we
ewent to bed. We'd never make our
beds and we'd wash our clothes by
hand and then dry them on a clothes
line outside our window. Hell, we
could even bag the two bedroom apart-
ment all together and instead get a
studio and decorate it with lots of
partisans.
In the summer we'd hike in the
Himalayas and woo the natives with
the tales of our treacherous adven-
tures. Like the time there was that

V

avalanche near the summit of K2 and
we had to sled down a glacier on the
seat of our naked bums to avoid the
falling ice. Or that time we killed a
cohort at 23,000 feet because he tried
to steal all our food for himself.
But we'd becounter-culturists first
and foremost, so we'd have to do
something tangible to justify our stay.
We'd be writers, yeah excellent writ-
ers, who wrote about love and adven-
ture. We could make sweeping in-
dictments against the lack of a com-
mon culture in the States and describe
how poetically ironic thejaws of death
really were. We wouldn't use com-

mas because nobody would be there
to tell us we had to. We'd start a little
literary commune in New Delhi and
we'd get Toni Morrison to be a visit-
ing instructor. American critics would
eat it up and our books would catalyze
a whole wave of needless tourism in
Northern India. I could be like Jake
Barnes and my buddy could be like
Robert Cohn.
But then, when I'm like 25, Rob-
ert and I get in a fight and, seeing how
he was a middleweight champion at
Princeton (not that I was very im-
pressed by that, but it meant a lot to
Cohn), he whips me but good. So I

leave India and take my act to Africa,
probably Kenya, maybe Tanzania. I
figure I'll teach English for a couple
years, save up some money to get
back to San Francisco. And then I go
to Eastern Europe and then to Austra-
lia for a few months where I wash
dishes and then to Buenos Aires where
I bushwhack my way up through
Latin-America and save a couple kids
with malaria along the way. Then I
start a business in Chicago and I get
really rich. But I feel guilty about
being rich so I go back to washing
dishes and then I just ...
"Isn't it pretty to think so."

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