When Robert Culp walked into the recording studio he was carrying his marked up script for Rock Star Rising and a whole lot of TV and film history. I always make it a point to not immediately go into the work at hand, but to welcome the actor and mention my favorite parts of films they did.
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I also try to have something of one of their films to give them. And not as a conversation piece, but as coming from a true fan. Since Mr. Culp was in three Outer Limits shows, I gave him the DVD box set. I mentioned to him that I had heard that the The Outer Limits episode Demon with a Glass Hand was the number one watched hour program in the history of television.He said, "That's right and also the highest cost to profit ratio in the history of television."
After looking over the episodes on the back of the box, Mr. Culp got right into questions about the character he would record for my Rock Star Rising multi-voice audio-book. His character was that of a shady agent for the rock star Shane. He had made notes in his script and we went through them.
As Mr. Culp is a writer as well as actor, I knew I'd better have good answers to his questions. Robert Culp started off in Broadway, and then jumped to starring in the TV western, Trackdown for two years where her began witting scripts which he wrote from "Gunsmoke" and The Rifleman, as well.
His big break came with I SPY on TV and then for movies with Bob & Ted & Carol & Alice. He started directing in the second season of "I Spy" as well as for other TV programs, and the feature film Hickey and Boggs appearing with Bill Cosby again. He appeared on countless TV shows including co-starring on the series The Greatest American Hero, while still appearing in features such as The Pelican Brief as the president. After going over his script notes for Rock Star Rising, he got into the recording booth for his first scene with a actress playing a reporter.
Then most of his other scenes were with James Darren playing Shane. However, I told the to actors that when Kevin McCarthy showed up, that we would jump to the scene between him and Mr. Culp.
At one point, Mr. Culp's character had to make a long speech, selling a new concert. He asked for me to wait a few moments. So outside the booth, me and the mixer waited for what seemed to be a long time, maybe 5 minutes only, as Mr. Culp, made notes, changes, additional lines, as he stood with his script in front of him. "All right. I'm ready", he said. And then went on to give a brilliant speech, better than I had written or imagined.
Following the script in front of me while recording, I would sometimes quickly look into the glass door and see Culp standing by the mike, waving his arms, and doing other physicality to keep him in character and deliver a superb performance in every scene. He seemed to really be enjoying himself. At the end of the day, he confirmed it by saying to James Darren, "This is the first one of these I've done and it was really fun."
After James Darren left the booth for a break, Mr. Culp motioned me inside the booth with him. I wondered what this was going to be. He said, "Paul, I feel I now know you well enough to say........." Now I'm really thinking, what favor is he going to ask me?" Mr. Culp continued, "If you for any reason need any of these lines re-done, let me know and I'll come back with no charge." Wow ! I thought. "Thanks", I said. "It's good to know because I often worry about what happens if I missed something."
When Kevin McCarthy arrived, he adjusted his quick rhythm that he had with James Darren, to the more thoughtful, methodical, and also effective rhythm that Mr. McCarthy had. Mr. Culp really gave to Mr. McCarthy, allowing him to warm up and get up to speed. Then the two of them performed a brilliant cat and mouse negotiating scene. I had chosen Mr. McCarthy, not only because I'm a big fan, but who else could intimidate I SPY's Robert Culp, but the man that save us all from the "Pods" in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
When Mr. Culp finished with both actors, it was time to say good-by. I told him, "The next time you see Hannie Caulder listen to the way you say my favorite one word line, "Winchester" when your are surrounded by bandits and want Hannie to throw you your rifle without them knowing it." He said, "Okay, I will. and thanks for the DVDs.", waved and headed out the door. You can see Robbet Culp on the upcoming NBS comedy pilot Early Birds.
One year later I hired Mr. Culp to co-star with Nancy Kwan in my audio-book thriller McKnight's Memory narrated by Frank Sinatra Jr. 'As he was the lead it took two long days to complete. The first day I arranged to have Mr. Culp do all his scenes with the other male actors who played the CIA chasing him. Mr. Culp was in the recording room at one mike and I had the other actors in the green room standing by, as I moved them in and out of the recording room depending on which scenes were coming up.
The next day Mr. Culp had many scenes with his romantic lead Nancy Kwan.As he played a CIA agent and sounded just like he did when he was age 40, he had many scenes reminicent of I SPY. Once again, he greatly enjoyed himself. He came up with some great text editing ideas as well as encouraged the actors that worked with him.
Mr. Culp really enjoyed listening to the final results of the 3.7 hour production once it was complete with music and film quality sound effects. It was was great time for all of us and I feel privilaged to work with him twice.
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