Ted McGinley: The Mariano Rivera Of Pop Culture

Ted McGinley
CREDIT: Ted McGinley.com
Ted McGinley, star of pop culture juggernauts Happy Days, Dynasty, The Love Boat, and Married... With Children, is starring in Christmas With A Capital C, which premieres Sunday evening at 7:00 PM on GMC. Yesterday, we had a twenty-minute conversation where we talked about his upcoming film, Sam Kinison, Revenge Of The Nerds, the Baldwins, and the whole "Patron Saint of Jump The Shark" stigma attached to him.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.

First of all, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. We really appreciate it.
Any old time!

Your latest film, Christmas With A Capital C, premieres Sunday, December 5th, on GMC. Can you tell us a little about the film?
Well, it's an interesting film because we made it for practically nothing. As far as film budgets go, it was a very, very small budget. Seward, Alaska was a small town. It's actually quite busy in the summertime but in the winter, it basically shuts down. It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. They opened their doors and said, "This town is yours. Wherever you want to film, put your camera and we'll make it happen." And it was a miracle! It was absolutely amazing! I have never had such an experience in all my years of work. It was just so cool.

Christmas With A Capital C
CREDIT: Wikipedia
I'm the mayor of a small town and I run sort of a tourist business where we take people out sightseeing. Daniel Baldwin's character grew up in the town and he decides to leave at some point. He becomes an attorney and he makes a million bucks and comes back. It turns out he's an atheist now and he's angry about the fact that we're putting up Christmas decorations in the town square. And we have one of those things that happens all over America: for example, if you want to say "Merry Christmas," now you have to say "Happy Holidays." That's offensive to some people and this movie deals with those issues in a gentle way. It's not really beating anyone over the head and I think it's a sweet little movie. We're thrilled that GMC picked it up and wants to air it.

What drew you to this role?
Being someone who really enjoys saying "Merry Christmas" and someone who embraced my right to say it. The fact that right now during Hanukkah, if someone wants to say, "Happy Hanukkah" and put a menorah up, I'm all for it and I'll take my kids by and we'll check it out. It's good to see the things that everyone believes in and I think it's good to have an open mind. This movie for me was like, "I wouldn't mind saying this. I wouldn't mind letting people know how I feel."

It's caused quite a stir, to be honest with you. I've had lots of people on my website and different websites around the country talking about it. Atheists are really in an uproar about the fact this movie was even made at all. I think it's kind of interesting that it's created such a stir. I didn't anticipate that in the least.

Also, the idea of going to Alaska in February is amazing. Who gets to do that?

As you said, Daniel Baldwin co-stars in Christmas With A Capital C. Was this your first Baldwin?
No. I worked with Alec on Pearl Harbor. I did a movie reading with Stephen a long time ago and I've hung out with Billy a couple of times, so I knew all the Baldwins except Daniel so this was kind of fun for me to get to finally meet them all. Now I have to meet the girls because I understand there's a whole bunch of sisters, too.

Oh really? I never knew that. They don't get the press.
I didn't either! I had never heard that before. But Daniel said, "Yeah. We've got two sisters as well."

Do you think Christmas With A Capital C will become a holiday classic like "It's A Bundyful Life?"
No, I think it's too controversial and plus this movie really was made on a shoestring. But I can't imagine that to be the case. It would be wonderful, but in all honesty, I would guess no.

But you never know. From a religious standpoint, there's a group of people for whom this movie will really mean something and they might find this right down their alley and something they want to see on a year-to-year basis.

Did they talk at all about a theatrical release for this film or was it always going to be straight to television?
Yeah, they were. I was in total shock, to be honest with you. I just found out four days ago that they were going to release it on television. To me, this is a DVD release anyway, but they wanted to do it theatrically. I'm not sure why they decided at the last minute to put it on television. But I think it's the right place for it.

You mind if I ask you a few questions about your past roles?
No! Anything you want.

Married... With Children
CREDIT: Amazon

I mentioned "It's A Bundyful Life" earlier. How'd you go from being Peggy's husband in Al's dream in that episode to D'Arcy a few seasons later?
You know, it's funny. It's the same way I went through all of my jobs except for Happy Days. That's the first one I actually got by going and auditioning. The Love Boat, for example. I was a guest star on The Love Boat and they said, "We like you. How'd you like to be a regular?" It was the same thing with the Bundys. When I did that episode, they said, "We like you. How'd you like to be a regular? Here's what we're looking for. Would you do it?" Same with Dynasty.

But it was fun. Sam Kinison was a buddy of mine so it was fun to be on the show with Sam.

That's what I was just getting ready to ask you. I knew he was on that episode as well and I wanted to know what it was like working with him.
Amazing. Amazing. One day he just didn't show up and they were really ticked off because Sam had a certain reputation. It turned out he was in horrible pain and had a root canal done. He showed up the next day to say that he was sorry with a bunch of strippers and catered a lunch.

That was my first show with Married... With Children and I thought, "Wow! This is Married... With Children!" I hadn't really seen it before that, so it was crazy. Crazy. Sam fit in there. It was always like that on Married... With Children. It was always crazy.

Did they ever reference that you played two roles on Married... With Children?
No, they never did. And you know my character, in the last four years became a spy, like a CIA agent? That was because I said, "At some point, you've got to let this guy man up a little bit." They said, "We're going to have him be a spy but Marcy doesn't know anything about it." And that was just to placate me.

You were a star on some of the biggest and most-loved shows of the '80s: Married... With Children, Happy Days, The Love Boat, and Dynasty. What do you attribute to that nearly unparalleled string of success?
Well, I'm glad you put it that way instead of the fact that I'm the end-all death of each show.

I'm going to get to that eventually, too.
Yeah, but I like the way you're putting it. Because that's the way I look at it: that I've been amazingly fortunate. These shows were making that turn when I came on. I like to think I was able to keep a show on for another three years. Or in Married... With Children's case, another seven seasons. Happy Days was four seasons. The Love Boat, three more seasons. I made them last a little longer as opposed to going away sooner, so I don't really subscribe to the "jump the shark" deal.

I just attribute it to the fact that I'm a team player, I'm an athlete. I come from nothing but team play. I'm a guy you want on your team. I show up on time. I know my stuff. I'm about the team, I'm not about myself. I'm a guy that when people hire me, they hire me again because I'm a guy you want to have in your foxhole.

So I guess reading that you're the "Patron Saint of Jump The Shark" can make you feel kind of crappy, huh?
Yeah. I've been a pretty good sport about it over the years but the truth is it's not fun. One, it's not true. The world is just so negative. Everybody likes to pile on and I think so many people out there feel bad about their own lives that it makes them feel better to pile on somebody. And that's alright. It comes with the territory. And to be honest with you, I've had a lot fun with the "Jump The Shark" thing over the years. It's kind of been fun but the truth is, it's just not true.

When I was on Hope & Faith, we did three years on that show. Anybody that works in television will tell you, no matter how successful they are, if you can just get a show on the air, it's a miracle. That is a major accomplishment. If you can get a show on air for two seasons, you're killing. I've been on so many pilots that have went on for six show and out. But that's a great thing. Just getting your show on the air is saying something. If you make a show go three years, you're doing a great thing.

On the flip side of the whole "Patron Saint of Jump The Shark" thing, I've also seen your career compared to a closing pitcher, that you're put in the game in the last few innings to make sure they go out on a winning note. What do you think of that comparison?
Well, I'll take it. I'm kind of like a long reliever.

Can we call you The Mariano Rivera Of Pop Culture then?
I would take that! I would take that any day of my life! One of my all-time favorite pitchers, not to mention a major Hall of Famer for the rest of his life. I'm not in his category.

Like in Married... With Children, that was just good writing. I just showed up. I didn't really have to that much. I just lucked out. Happy Days was my very first job ever. I had never done anything before I was on the show. I had never even looked at a script. It was my first job, it was like my first girlfriend. I made a lot of mistakes, but I'll never forget her.

So to be thought of at all in a nice light or in a somewhat decent light would be nice.

Revenge Of The Nerds
CREDIT: Wikipedia

You also had a major part in Revenge Of The Nerds playing the head Alpha Beta, Stan Gable. We're coming out with an article next week where we name Revenge Of The Nerds the third best '80s sex comedy. What was it like to be on such a memorable film so early in your career?
Phenomenal! One of the greatest experiences ever! We had so much fun making that movie! The writers wrote the template and we would just sit there and come up with bits constantly.

It was an amazing group of people. The cast was so strong. The writers, producers, the cinematographer, everyone in that movie, the people involved in the music: they all went though the roof in their careers. They did very well. So somebody had a great eye, whoever cast that film. And Jeff Kanew, the director, had a lot to do with that as well. That was a well put-together movie. It was a lot of people just on the verge of their careers and many of them really took off after that.

But we would come in and we work all night. For one section of the movie, we were up all night long. We would go back to our trailer and start pitching bits. "What do you think about this? What do you think about that?" And Jeff Kanew, the director, would say, "Let me see it." And we'd do it and he'd say, "Great! Let's do it." So it was one of those very collaborative amazing time periods.

Cool. It's now time for The CB3, the three questions we ask every guest. Thriller or Purple Rain?
Definitely Thriller.

Debbie Gibson or Tiffany?
Debbie Gibson.

And finally, Pretty In Pink or Sixteen Candles?
Tough one. Tough one, actually! Sixteen Candles.

Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule and talking with us today. I hope Christmas With A Capital C does well and everybody tunes in and watches it.
Well, thanks. I appreciate that. If they want to, great. If they don't want to, that's alright, too. Maybe it'll run again next year. But it's worth checking out.

Christmas With A Capital C debuts on December 5th on GMC with airings at 7:00, 9:00, and 11:00 PM ET.

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