24 April 2014

[continued from Part I]

TT: How did you land the role of conniving bad boy Pit Lassiter in the 1978 horror film Jennifer?

WE: You know, they just gave me that. I really wasn’t part of the audition thing but they said, “Wesley, would you do a part in this?” They said they didn’t have a part but they’d make one up for me.

TT: Oh?

WE: Yeah, Marvin Paige was the casting director. He was a great guy. In fact, he got me C.H.O.M.P.S too the following year. Marvin did a lot of movies.

He was so great to me. When I was on Days of Our Lives and he was head of casting at General Hospital, I needed to get health insurance for my mother. And he used to put her on as an extra…to work enough days for her to qualify for health insurance every year.

TT: That’s terrific. Is your mother still alive?

WE: Yeah, she’s in Palm Springs in an assisted living home - but doing really great. She wins at Bridge all the time!

TT: Nice!

Jennifer was so obviously influenced by the success of Brian De Palma's Carrie. Were you aware of that at the time?

WE: It was their answer to Carrie, absolutely. We all knew it was basically just a rip-off of that story.

But Lisa Pelikan was this wonderful, dark actress that brought such texture to it. She was terrific and creepy as hell. Basically, she was the “It” girl at the time. Everyone thought her career would be like Meryl Streep’s.

TT: With Jennifer, the filmmakers took the Carrie-bible thing and plagiarized it, to be sure. But they added this whole Southern redneck thing, with the evangelical revivals, and sideshow snake stuff. The whole effort's pretty good, actually…

WE: I thought so too. They just said to me, “Would you come play with us?” and I said, “Oh sure, I’d love to!” I had some time and did it. It literally wasn’t a part.

TT: Did you have any idea that snakes played such a pivotal role in the story?

WE: (Laughs.) Oh my God. They had this snake trainer that would bring in this giant aquarium of snakes. Every color you could imagine but non-poisonous, obviously. The director could pick any length, any color, anything he wanted.

They were gonna do the close-ups of all the actors, myself included, screaming with snakes around us. So we’re sitting there with the production's snake trainer.

The trainer was this overweight guy who had hands that were gnarled from snake bites. And he hands me this Gopher Snake. It was big. And I’m petting it like it’s a dog, when suddenly the thing rears up and goes for my face.

And just as it was about to bite my face, the trainer takes his hand in a split second, covers my forehead - and the snake bites his hand instead.

TT: Wow.

WE: And then they go, “Wesley, on set now - with the snake!” I’m shaking. I’m so scared. I’ve just had a snake almost bite me in the face!

TT: Can you imagine?

WE: Thank you!

So for the scene, they wrap about six to eight snakes around me. And I hold two of them - one in each hand - and pretend like they’re trying to go after my face.

They go, “Okay, action!” I’ve got these snakes and I start to scream. I’m screaming so loud and doing this scene and I finish…and I scared the snakes so much that they shit all over me.

TT: You scared the snakes? What a switch!

WE: Yes. And the smell! You’ve never smelled anything like it. They said, “cut” and I ran off the set and jumped into the shower to wash all the filth off of me. It was gross as can be. And the director says, “Wesley, that was so good. Let’s do that again.” I walk out with a towel and say, “Does this look like I’m gonna be filming that again?”

TT: We would never guess that snake shit smelled like...well, anything.

WE: Oh God! The glamour of Hollywood! (Laughs.)

TT: Was that end scene the most colorful memory you have of making Jennifer?

WE: Well, that, and the snake trying to bite my head was kind of interesting…

I also remember at the end, they had the huge Boa that goes on a small convertible. It was on a soundstage with snake wranglers - the Boa was one of the largest snakes in captivity. Nowadays, we would do it with CGI. But that snake was real - and they warned us.

They told the cast and crew, “Ladies and gentleman, please exit...we’re now bringing the snake out.” Even though the snake was at the other end of the soundstage, we were told that it could strike and move VERY quickly.

They wrapped the snake around the car and it was pretty amazing to watch that happen. The Boa was huge. It’s amazing to think of what they accomplished without digital effects.

TT: Unlike now, they used imagination and ingenuity back then…

WE: It’s like Snakes on a Plane. It’s all CGI, and so you can get away with more…

TT: Without having your face bitten off?

WE: Exactly.

TT: In Jennifer, you got to show off some groovy dance moves in the discotheque.

WE: That was fun. It was in this great club in Hollywood and the cast all had a terrific time. We all became friends. We would see each other after the filming and have little get-togethers.

TT: You were all about the same age.

WE: Yes.

TT: Amy Johnston is really good as the blonde bitch, and nemesis for Lisa Pelikan. She was also in The Buddy Holly Story that same year (1978).

WE: She used to come over to my ranch all the time afterwards. One time, she picked me up in a new Fiat, with a girlfriend of hers. I lived way out on a horse ranch, and she said, “Let’s go for a ride up into the mountains.” I said, “Okay."

I’m in the back seat, and she starts speeding. I’m talking really SPEEDING up the mountains, twisting and turning. And I’m yelling at her, half laughing, but asking her to stop. And I’m starting to get scared. This is a national forest with cliffs and we’re going higher and higher and higher.

Finally, we get to the top of the mountain…really, really high up…and she’s laughing and laughing. And I looked at her and screamed, “How dare you put my life in danger?…how dare you scare me like this?” I was so frightened. She apologized and said, “Wesley, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” So, coming down the mountain, she decides to speed AGAIN. And she starts laughing again. And I began to get even more scared.

TT: That sounds like her character in Jennifer.

WE: Thank you. Well, finally, I reached over and turned off the ignition. The car flipped around, spins and hits the mountain. It came to a standstill and we were all in shock. I said, “Well…you finally stopped.”

The car made it back down to my place, steam coming out. And I got out and said, “How dare you - don’t you ever do that to anybody again!” And she went on her way. I talked to her later, and she told me she had borrowed the car. It had been hit on each corner…

TT: Good story.

Bert Convy was one of the leads in Jennifer, and was a big name in the game show world. That's a good seque to talk about your steadfast work on game shows in the '70s; you did a lot of them yourself. Do you want to tell us about that?

WE: Yeah, I loved the game shows. I was on lots of them. I did many Password shows. I was one of the regular players on that. Match Game too, a little bit. I hosted pilots for NBC. Later, I did the number one show on Nickelodeon at the time called Finders Keepers.

TT: On Password, you seemed as excited as the winning contestants.

WE: I was. Listen, I played to WIN. (Laughs).

TT: Is it true that you felt intimidated by our favorite TV witch Elizabeth Montgomery on that show?

WE: Oh yes. The first day they put me on, they gave me Johnny Carson’s parking spot. There was my name over Johnny's name at NBC. And I looked over and there was Elizabeth’s name. I panicked.

I love game shows and, like I say, I play to win. I’d watch her on Password, and she was the best.

TT: So were you intimidated by her stature in the world of television, or her playing skills?

WE: Both. But mostly how good she was on Password. My focus was on winning. Of course, it was my first day and I also wanted to prove myself. I was the new guy and if I didn’t do well, they’d never have me back.

Then they started pairing the two of us together quite a bit. She slaughtered me that first day. I kept my own but she beat me a lot. And finally, I got competitive and called her out all the time.

TT: You would shoot several shows in a day, correct?

WE: We would shoot five shows in one day. A whole week’s worth of shows in one day. Three shows in the morning, lunch, and then two shows in the afternoon.

TT: And you’d have a change of clothes.

WE: Right, five different outfits. And they gave us two thousand bucks for the five shows - which was a lot of money back then.

TT: You also worked with another huge TV legend, Lucille Ball.

WE: They actually asked me to teach Lucy how to play Password.

TT: Really? She had been playing for years - since the mid ‘60s.

WE: Yes, but she didn’t play well. She was horrible. Lucy was a great Backgammon player but she sucked at Password. Really sucked. So they asked me if I could teach her how to play. At the time they called, they considered me the best player, which is very sweet. I was very pleased.

They asked me if Lucy could stay in my dressing room for the whole five shows and I said, “Are you crazy? Of course!” So I called my mother and asked her if she wanted to go to the studio and spend the day with Lucille Ball and she said, “Yeah!” It was great.

In between the shows, we would talk about clues and about what went right, what went wrong. But it just wasn’t Lucy's game. Carol Burnett was much better at it.

TT: You look like you really admired host Allen Ludden.

WE: Allen and I became friends - and Betty White. It was just lovely. And then of course, he passed on. In fact, the day that Allen died, I was hosting my first pilot for a game show for NBC and couldn’t go to his funeral at Forest Lawn...which was just around the corner.

Most people didn’t realize, but Allen used to mark his lower lip with eyebrow pencil to make it look fuller. That was his make-up secret.

TT: Interesting.

WE: So I was sitting in the chair, thinking about how I couldn’t go to his funeral. I had a little tear in my eye. And I took an eyebrow pencil and put a little line under my lower lip and said, “Allen, this is for you.”

TT: That’s a sweet story.

We’ve always been really big fans of Debralee Scott. The two of you were so competitive on Password. What was she like?

WE: She used to live next door to me. We played against each other a lot. We had so much fun. She was my neighbor and we really liked each other an awful lot. Her passing was very sad.

TT: Were you in touch with her during her last years?

WE: I was not. I didn’t find out for several years that she had passed.

TT: Her final years were pretty tragic, unfortunately. Her fiancé had been killed in the World Trade Center attack on 9/11 and she died about 3 1/2 years later.

WE: It’s sad. You never know when this journey is over with.

TT: Match Game is our favorite game show, hands down. What was that experience like?

WE: Intimidating. Charles Nelson Reilly, Brett Somers...that was their domain. I always sat in the first seat because that’s the easiest seat. Because if there was a funny answer, then the new guy gets the laugh. By the time you got down to the Richard Dawson and Fannie Flagg area in the bottom row, that’s when you had to be really smart. And funnier.

TT: What were Charles and Brett like? More than thirty years later, they’re still so fun to watch.

WE: Fabulous. I knew Charles outside of Match Game, and I would see Brett from time to time. We all sort of hung out a little bit, and it was great deal of fun. We had such a good time.

TT: Charles was another Sid and Marty Krofft alumni. He had been Hoodoo in Lidsville.

WE: I thought he played the Green Genie on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters..

TT: That was Rip Taylor. The confetti guy!

WE: That's right.

There’s a funny story about Rip. When Goldwyn Studios burned down, the Kroffts were filming Sigmund and the set caught on fire. It burned the whole soundstage down. People's cars got burned, including the Krofft’s cars. The whole set burned up.

And Rip was in full green genie makeup, with big flippers on his feet. His car was burned and he had to walk home down Santa Monica Boulevard - which at the time, was where all the hookers plied their trade.

So here he was, walking down towards his place in West Hollywood. It was mid morning...and he told me that not one person looked at him like he was strange! No one gave him a second look. Ah, Hollywood!

TT: That’s hilarious.

Any thoughts on C.H.O.M.P.S - the Disney-esque film you made with Valerie Bertinelli?

WE: It was fun. I remember that Conrad Bain kept talking about an idea for a show (Different Strokes). He was a real negotiator. That was before they did the series and who knew it was gonna be such a big hit?

C.H.O.M.P.S was Hanna-Barbera’s first live-action film. We had a mechanical watch dog...our own home protection system.

TT: That was your first real starring role.

WE: Yes. I gave Valerie her first screen kiss.

TT: She’s adorable. Did you enjoy working with her?

WE: I knew her and Mackenzie Phillips from One Day at a Time. Valerie was a lot of fun. I arrived at the set on the first day in my little pick-up truck and we went to a location at a mansion in Pasadena. My character lived in a guesthouse and Conrad lived in the front house - in the mansion.

So I pull up and the crew is waving at me. I’m excited because it’s my first big starring role. I felt like royalty because they were all waving. I pull over, smiling - and they go, “Is that your truck?” I told them it was - and they proceed to ask me if they could use it. The truck they had was too big for the driveway! They jumped in and off they drove with my truck. (Laughs.)

TT: That’s funny.

What else sticks out in your mind about that C.H.O.M.P.S?

WE: I remember I was supposed to drive up and see the dog...and give a command. And the radiator in my Ford Courier overheated. It never overheated before. So we had this big battle about who has to pay for the radiator. I mean, it was fucked up! I made them pay…

TT: That film wasn’t a hit at the box office, yet people remember it from cable, renting it…

WE: Oh yeah, it played on Showtime all the time. It was actually a big hit in Australia. The Australians loved it.

TT: What was the true story behind your departure from Days of Our Lives in 1981?

WE: Well, my contract was up. I was headlining in Vegas and had gotten rave reviews with Bill Cosby and all that stuff. And then I suddenly got a call that they let me go.

My mother was in a hospital for a colon cancer operation that morning. I was heading to the hospital, which was right next door to NBC - and it was the place where I had just finished my last scene filming. My TV wife had died of Leukemia and we actually filmed on location at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank.

And they didn’t expect my mom to live and all of a sudden, I get a phone call that they’re letting me go. In fact, not only letting me go – but they had found another guy to play the part.

TT: So they weren’t dropping the character - just replacing you?

WE: They were dropping ME. They told me they loved my acting and this and that.

TT: Why would they have done that?

WE: I found out later it was because I was gay. It was anecdotal. Because of course - they would never say anything publicly. But I actually confirmed it recently with one of the main actors.

The make-up artist, and one of the costumers, who had been a friend of mine, also confirmed it. They said, “Well, the rumor going around is they just wanted to get rid of you because you were gay.”

TT: There are so many gay actors in Hollywood. Why would you have been fired if you weren’t out at the time?

WE: The answer is, you’ve got to go back to that time - in the early ‘80s…

No, I didn’t lead an open life…I didn’t go to gay bars…but I made no bones about being myself with the cast, being who I am, and I was pretty honest with my life. To everybody, including the Kroffts.

TT: It’s a shame you were treated like that by Days of Our Lives after so many years on that soap.

WE: It was very sad, I must tell you.

TT: And your mother was in the hospital. When it rains, it pours..

WE: It was a horrible day. I was in shock. I mean, I spent my entire twenties on that show.

TT: Did you keep the news from your mother?

WE: It was interesting. I went to the hospital that day and she was getting prepped for surgery. I walked in and I’m thinking I’m not gonna tell her. And she looked at me and says, “What’s wrong?” I tried to pretend I was just worried about her coming out of surgery but she didn’t buy it.

So I said, “Well, I just got fired from Days of Our Lives.” And I remember she looked up at me and said, “Thank you so much for telling me and not shutting me out of your life at this time.” I cried. The last thing she wanted was for everybody to treat her like she was a dead person.

TT: Very cool.

WE: And of course, my mom survived and she’s still with us. I put her through law school and she graduated at the top of her class.

TT: Wonderful. That’s terrific.

How did you get into writing children’s books?

WE: I just had an idea one day for a story - and I sat down and wrote it. I thought about it for a year and I wrote the novel The Red Wings of Christmas in four days. With a pencil. It’s like I was possessed for those four days that I did the draft. I re-wrote it for a year after that.

TT: What inspired you?

WE: I always used to wonder how Father Christmas could have one toy sack and have enough toys for all the kids. So I wrote the story…

TT: Did you ever try to option it into a feature or TV special?

WE: Actually, Disney bought it for an animated feature. I had been backpacking around the world. I had moved to Bali and I had been backpacking in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, India…

I moved to Bali and I had a monkey named Frankie. Before I left, I knew Disney had been interested and I told them I was moving over there. This was before cell phones so you can imagine the communications were not that good.

TT: Had the book been published yet?

WE: No. What happened was…one of the great producers named Bill Melendez, who had done Snoopy and The Peanuts…

TT: Sure, we know that name...

WE: He had this huge handlebar moustache. Anyway, somebody gave him a manuscript of my book. He called me up and said we were going to Disney. He had not been back to Disney since the 1930s or 40s - when he was the head animator there. He had started the union and Walt Disney kicked him off the lot and hadn’t spoken to him ever again.

Walt was pissed off that Bill was trying to start a union with the animators. But Bill went on to become one of the greatest animators of all time.

Anyway, we’re going to Disney and we walk into the place that used to be the animation building on Buena Vista in Burbank. Suddenly, there’s these hand drawn cells from Snow White and he stops and says, “I painted this.” And he started to cry.

This was a man that looked like a giant bear...with a huge moustache all curled up at the ends. He hadn’t been there since the ‘40s and he kept pointing out what he had painted.

TT: How did the initial meeting go?

WE: Well, we walked into the meeting and I’m thinking it would take an hour or so. And Bill takes my book, slams it on their table and says, “This is the best book I’ve ever read. You’re going to make it. Let’s go Wesley,” And we walked out.

TT: How did the executives react to that?

WE: They bought it! I was in Bali and they told me to come back to work on it. I spent a year writing the screenplay and songs. I finished it and they went, “Uh, no.”

TT: Oh boy…

WE: And then they did Toy Story. Hmmm…

TT: Unbelievable.

WE: Hollywood. Isn’t it great?

TT: But you were paid for the work?

WE: Of course, yeah.

TT: The Red Wings of Christmas is still in print, which is nice.

WE: It sells pretty well. It still sells.

TT: The illustrations are by Ronald G. Paolillo. Would that be Ron Palillo, 'Arnold Horshack' from Welcome Back, Kotter fame?

WE: Yes it is. He spelled his last name his father’s way, not like he did on the show.

I knew him, and had seen some amazing drawings he did. I called him up when I sold the book and said, “Hey listen, do you want to do the illustrations?”

TT: Did you work in separate locations?

WE: Totally separate. He was in New York and I was in L.A.

TT: Did you work well together?

WE: It wasn’t the greatest or happiest collaboration. It's amazing when you let someone illustrate your work - and you see it one way and they see it another. And you have disagreements and fights.

With most of my other books, I’ve had a great relationship with the illustrators...and Ron’s work is spectacular. We had a disagreement about the last painting in the book.

There’s a little boy, and the door was open with these two people there. I called him up and said, “Ron, that’s not in my book. The door doesn’t open at the end of my book. You don’t know what’s behind that door.” He said, “Yeah, yeah, but this is what everybody wants it be!”

The whole point was that I didn’t want the door to be open. You don’t know what’s gonna happen...and that’s what the book is about.

Well, he was so mad at me that he took a drawing he had done, just put a piece of paper over it and drew a door closed with a Christmas tree. I thought, “C’mon, man…this is a great opportunity for you.”

That was a disappointment but his drawings are amazingly detailed. See for yourself in the book. Like old English wood blocks.

TT: Do you talk to him now?

WE: (Laughs.) No. And that’s so sad. He’s a very talented guy and God knows, he’s a great guy. I hope I gave him a break with his first published illustrations. And he actually did another book with a publisher I hooked him up with.

It was just that we had artistic differences. He’s still a good guy.

TT: Sure.

Let’s talk about your decision to come out as a gay man. Was it the worst kept secret in Hollywood?

WE: Of course. But it's like suddenly the Land of the Lost movie was coming out, I was getting all this attention and hits on websites…

TT: Did you want to come out when you were younger and still acting?

WE: Oh, you couldn’t even think about it back then. Many actors still aren’t out because they would lose their “leading man” status.

What happened was, I was on the red carpet for the Land of the Lost feature, with this girlfriend of mine, Deanne Anders, who I’d been going to parties with since the ‘70s.

Deanne and I were on covers of magazines...from "Teen Beat" and "Tiger Beat" to "After Dark." She worked on Days of Our Lives as a production assistant…a real pretty redhead. We’ve been friends for all these years.

TT: Was she your “beard”?

WE: Basically, yeah. She had come back into my life. She was teaching in the Palm Springs area and so we decided to go to the opening together. I had to pay for my own valet parking, of course.

My partner Richard went with another friend of mine. And I'm walking down the red carpet with Deanne, dragging her around like she’s a little puppet. There are like 200 photographers in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Of course, I was already disappointed in not being part of the movie, being cut out of it.

So, I’m dragging Deanne, and I look to my right, and off the red carpet is my partner Richard. He's smiling, happy as can be, and so proud of me. And I thought, “What is wrong with this picture?” I decided never again will I do this. Never again will I lie.

I’ve raised a lot of money for charity, including AIDS, and I just decided it was a disservice to all my friends who passed away. A disservice to all the people who have fought these battles. I thought it was nuts. I was too old to play this game anymore.

TT: Were you approached by AfterElton.com to tell your story?

WE: I had an offer to do an article but it wasn’t a “coming out” piece. They knew I had raised a lot of money for AIDS charities. But they weren’t expecting me to do this, no.

It was on a Saturday and the movie was coming out on a Thursday. I thought about it hard. When you hold a secret for that long, it’s part of your life. I said to AfterElton, “Okay, I’ve got a story to tell you.”

TT: Was it difficult?

WE: Telling the truth was the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life. I called my partner and said, “Richard, your boyfriend is gay.” He started laughing.

TT: That’s great.

WE: When the article got posted, I told Richard, “I’m not straight anymore.” And he said, “Well. There goes my fantasy!”

TT: What was the reaction like?

WE: Over the next few days, I had 60,000 hits on the website - and the most amazing coming out stories from men and women. Also, apologetic stories from the straight community. It was remarkable. All these people were telling me about their struggles.

This one guy said to me that when he finally came out to his brother, his brother had said, “Oh, I’ve known you were gay ever since when we were kids. Mom said wish upon a star for what you want. I looked up in the stars and wished for two bicycles. You looked up and said you wished you were married to Wesley!” (Laughs.)

The most amazing thing was the reaction from the straight community. They were embarrassed and thought this was nuts. They just had no idea what it was like to keep a secret like this.

TT: Are you fighting the hateful anti-gay marriage ban in California?

WE: There was a rally I attended after that defeat in front of the Desert AIDS Project. I was there with my partner and everyone was up in arms. The cameras come and they’re filming it for the news. And we left and Richard goes, “You realize that’s the very first time you didn’t let go of my hand when the camera was there?”

So it’s a different life now. Back in the '70s, the word “gay” was hardly mentioned. There were no role models for someone like me.

TT: Well, you’re a great role model now. And WE are proud of YOU.

WE: Thank you.

TT: You left acting in the ‘80s…

WE: Well, in 1987...I got the game show Finders Keepers. And I started writing books and producing. I had a whole different world of businesses I was working on. I did some reality television, but I got bored with that.

TT: Totally Hidden Video?

WE: Yes. And SPY TV for NBC, which I directed and wrote...which was a hidden camera show after Friends.

TT: Were they fun gigs?

WE: They were great. They kept asking me to continue to produce things and I just didn’t want to keep doing reality television. Things are so mean-spirited these days.

I also did Dragon Tales for PBS and we beat out Sesame Street for a 16 million dollar grant. I helped create that and it sold in three days. It’s been on the air ever since.

TT: Did you see the 2003 remake of The Toolbox Murders?

WE: I didn’t.

TT: We didn’t either. This site takes a very dim view of remakes and the unoriginality of Hollywood these days. Any thoughts about that?

WE: I just keep thinking - can’t they come up with something new? I mean, how many times do we have to redo these ideas? From what I understand, that remake was more supernatural with a haunted kind of thing. It had more kind of ghostly things in it.

I don’t know a lot of remakes and sequels that actually work.

TT: Right. Even a talented person like Tim Burton does a “re-imagining” of the original Planet of the Apes. It’s ridiculous and lazy. You can’t improve a classic like that.

WE: Absolutely right.

TT: You do a lot of charity work…

WE: I do fundraisers in Palm Springs like LalaPOOLooza - with 85 performers and synchronized swim teams, along with celebrities like Greg Louganis, Bruce Vilanch and Kaye Ballard.

You can see snippets of the first year’s show on YouTube.

TT: LalaPoolooza is an annual event?

WE: Yeah, but we didn’t do it last year because the economy just tanked and all the charities were suffering. It requires almost 200 people to put the show on and we decided we weren’t gonna make enough money to warrant that much work. We had seven charities as the recipients last time.

TT: Will you do it this year?

WE: We’re talking about it. It’s usually held in September and we have to rev up for it.

Palm Springs is an amazing place. It’s one of the most philanthropic places. So much money is raised here for different organizations.

TT: Do you miss acting?

WE: Oh yeah. Definitely.

TT: Is it something you’d want to do again?

WE: Sure, it’s the easiest job in the world. I’ve gone to the other end, where you have to write and create and produce and get the money...and do all that stuff. That’s a lot of work. Instead of walking in and everyone’s treating you so nice and having everything catered. You say your lines and go home and get paid well.

But absolutely. I’d love to do some more acting.

TT: It would be great to see you in another horror film or series.

So what’s next on your plate?

WE: I’m opening a new musical by Stephen Schwartz. I’m one of the producers and we’ve been working eight years with Stephen. He’s done Wicked, Pippin, Godspell

This is a new musical called Snapshots. We’re doing another workshop production in Oklahoma City at the Lyric Theatre starting February 5. We just brought Richard Maltby on board to direct.

Maltby won all the Tonys for Ain't Misbehavin’ and wrote the lyrics for Miss Saigon, Babe, Starting Here, Starting Now. He directed Fosse.

Along with Stephen Schwartz, Richard is a mega player and we’re very excited about what's gonna happen. Hopefully. The cast is rehearsing in New York right now. They go to Oklahoma City in a couple of days for a week’s rehearsal - and then we open.

TT: You’ve led an interesting and varied life. With your experience as an author, have you considered writing an autobiography?

WE: I’ve been thinking about that because I’ve had so many requests. Hmmm…I just don't think my life is that interesting compared to anyone else.

TT: It is. You should consider it. We’d be first in line to buy it.

Wesley, thanks for talking to us and good luck with all your endeavors and journeys through life.

WE: Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. It was very nice to talk to you.

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