ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Inspiration From Gavin MacLeod and Terrence Mann's Audition Tales

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24 Feb 2014

Seth with Megan Hilty
Seth with Megan Hilty

A week in the life of actor, radio and TV host, music director and writer Seth Rudetsky.


Hello from seat 5C on Jet Blue flight 701. This is a week of non-stop flying. First, a flight from Newark to Ft. Lauderdale to do a show with Megan Hilty at the Parker Playhouse, then a flight from Florida to L.A. to do a show with Megan Mullally at the Broad in Santa Monica, then a flight back to Florida (this time Tampa) to announce the upcoming season at the Straz!

On the flight to Ft. Lauderdale, I brought the Gavin MacLeod autobiography I had just started reading. I'm a big fan of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and I already read Valerie Harper's great book and "Mary and Rhoda and Ted and Murray." I had just started reading the Gavin book that day and loved his opening chapter because it has a great example of the ups and downs of show business. Back in the '50's, Gavin was hired to do a new TV show. They had a read-through in the morning which went fine, but during lunch he was told he had been fired! He was devastated/ashamed, especially while having tell his wife and agent. A few hours after he got home, his agent called to tell him that, because Gavin had the afternoon free, he had an appointment to meet with Blake Edwards for a new TV show.

Gavin was feeling insecure and bad about himself and insecure. Turns out, he wound up getting the Blake Edwards TV show and then working with him for years on different projects! And the TV pilot he was fired from never made it past the first episode! If Gavin hadn't been fired, he would have had a job that faded out after a week and he never would have been able to meet with Blake and get all of those gigs!

Some airplane reading

It reminded me of an audition I went to back in the '90's. A big touring show needed a piano player (me) who could also be funny (me!). I had to play a classical piece and read from the script. I knew I'd be perfect for the gig and was summarily very upset when I didn't get it. However, a few months later, Rosie O'Donnell called me and asked me to write for her new TV show, which turned out to be a job that lasted for years! After she called me, I looked up the touring schedule of the show I didn't get and figured out I would have been in Vancouver when Rosie called, unable to get out of my contract. And, PS, I wasn't even up for the role. I would have been the understudy! It's so similar to the Gavin story because it made me realize that a rejection could pay off later on. So, after I read Gavin's story, I told it on my SiriusXM radio show that afternoon. That night, I sat down on my flight to Florida and took out the book which, tip o' the hat to "The Love Boat," is called "This Is Your Captain Speaking." Right before I took off, I checked my email and saw the subject line: "This is Gavin MacLeod Speaking." It was so surreal! I was getting an email from the person whose book I was reading. And what an email!


We LOVE YOU and listen to you all the time on Sirius radio...

This afternoon we were driving in our car, and were listening to you as usual. We were headed to do some shopping, as my wife wanted to buy me a birthday gift, and I start talking to my assistant. My wife says..."BE QUIET SETH IS ON!" So I shut up and at that very moment you said you were reading my book, 'This Is Your Captain Speaking'!!! IT BLEW US AWAY, and we are still pinching each other. We are such fans of yours and to think that you are reading my book and remember the tale of me being fired and working for Blake Edwards touches my heart. If there is one theme that I wanted to achieve by writing the book, it is to NEVER GIVE UP, the best is yet to come!

You are the best my friend, you lighten our load in life with your stories, your humor, and your zest for life and your talent. Just color the three of us your fans!!


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