Actors vary widely in their willingness to talk to the press. Some (Al Molinaro and Dick Van Patten spring to mind) are available 24/7 for pithy quotes and amiable conversation. Others (mostly unnamed, as I'm still trying to wheedle interviews out of them) are beyond the reach of media journalists. It's quite understandable: imagine that you're Bob Denver - - would YOU want to answer yet another Gilligan question?
Robert Urich glided somewhere between these extremes. On a face-to-face basis, he was always ready to craft an answer to most any question. His publicity machine, though, had all defense shields locked tight to prevent interview opportunities from occuring.
Since Mr. Urich's appearance as the TV Single Dad Captain in Love Boat: The Next Wave, I had been trying to snag a face-to-face or even a "phoner" with him. Over the years, his publicist would turn down interview requests, fail to return phone calls, or just flat-out fib about Mr. Urich's stage endeavours. I went so far as to offer the publicist free banner space for Mr. Urich's plays if he would just grant a 10-minute interview. No dice.
I figured nothing would change on this front, but my trusty Stepladder to the Stars (the Winchester, Virginia Apple Blossom Festival) broke through the Urich Curtain, as Mr. Urich's daughter had been named Queen of the Festival.
Huzzah! One quick phone call and I had a press pass. I was shepherded into the same church basement where I had conducted my Dan Aykroyd interview.
And there was Bob Urich! Mr. U. was parked in a wingback chair on loan from a local furniture company. His wife, Heather Menzies of the 70's Logan's Run TV-hottie sidekick fame, was hovering near an equally-troubling floral couch. Bob was chatting amiably with the papparatzi, fielding questions about Vega$ and The Rookies that I'm sure he'd heard one-half a bazillion times before.
I stabbed a button on my minidisc recorder, waded into the press line, and...
Mr. Urich, you've just finished a tour with Chicago on stage...
Robert - Mm-hmm, yeah.
and you've done movies and things. Do you see a return to series television any time soon?
Robert - A return to series television? Well, there was an inquiry just last week about the new Bette Midler show, which I - - they wanted to shoot it in New York City, and I just didn't want to do that. And I'm not ready for another series. I mean, I have fun doing other kinds of things. They've asked me to do Annie Get Your Gun on Broadway again - - and that's something I've been contemplating. Series work is just grueling - it's very hard to do. And I realize that I've cheated myself: there are other things I could have done to fill out the bouquet of my career, you know? So, while there's time left, I want to do different kinds of things.
Heather Menzies-Urich sat down on the couch next to Bob U. She listened to a few more questions, and chimed in on several answers just to speed things along.
More than anyone else in the history of television, you've played a single dad on television four times, in four different series.
Robert - [Laughs] I have?
Yes. Is -
Heather - It's only so that they could introduce women to the show.
Robert - That's right. It's the only reason.
That's it, you think?
Robert - That's usually a dramatic ploy to keep it more interesting. Not because - I mean, I don't think we ever did it where it was really to explore the notion of single-parenthood. I mean, today that might be a more-interesting notion. But it's usually about keeping a romantic interest alive.
That was about it for questions from me. After the press conference, Mr. Urich taped a quick ID for the site.