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Carlo Alban's greatest fear while working on Sesame

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by dwmckim, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

  2. Boober_Gorg

    Boober_Gorg Active Member

    When was he known as "Chris Alban"? :confused:
  3. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Maybe a misprint?

    Either way, this is an interesting read, and in a way, I feel sorry for having to live in fear the way he did: you never really think about what kind of inner "demons" are the people you see on TV having to live with while they work, and yeah, I can understand how humiliating it would be for him to be "Teenager from Sesame Street an illegal alien".

    I wonder if there wasn't so much legal drama in his life, and if he wasn't living in so much fear, if he'd still be on the show today, or at least longer than till Season 29?
  4. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Oh my gosh, I remember him! Wow what a story, I'm glad things turned out OK for him. :)
  5. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Well, I never cared much for him until I read this... Ouch. I'm not saying anything beyond that.

    Holy crap. David went through quite a bit at the time he was on... eventually it lead to his illness and later death well after he left the show. I forget the specifics, it's in that book I NEVER got around to reading or getting.. :sympathy:

    it is really sad when some of the backing is pealed off... when I learned about how everyone on ALF hated working on ALF I was very depressed by it. Sometimes the audience needs the smoke and mirrors. Thankfully it doesn't come off as any internal problems with the show here, and so far there hasn't been anyone who dreaded working for them. A lot of them seem pretty happy for what they've done on the series.
  6. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Well that was in part about mental illness; nobody asks for that to happen to them, it's tragic.

    Well personally I think some people should just be grateful they are working. ;)
  7. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Way I heard it, Paul Fusco was pretty demanding as a puppeteer... I recall some ALF bloopers on YT, and they took multiple takes of stuff that went on screen literally a minute... the hazards of puppeteering. Let's say profanities flew like migrating birds.

    But other than that, the actor who played Willie Tanner was furious with the fact he didn't get the good lines and everything was upstaged by the puppet... I forget what happened with Brian, but Lynne had weight problems (bulimia or anorexia, I forget...which...).. Kate had problems with multiple takes... and I remember when they had the NBC salute, they had all this special treatment to make sure ALF was not acknowledged as a puppet, and all this other weird stuff about the treatment and holding things up... I forget.

    Luke would fill you in much better than I could.

    Yeah, sometimes you should be grateful you're working... but sometimes you can only take so much.

    And sadly, the cartoon was so much more fun than the show.
  8. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Well I get that the guy was a "Shakespearan actor" (I saw him in Twelth Night at Lincoln Center years ago) and probably felt embarrassed doing a sitcom with a puppet. But seriously, did he actually think the stiff human father was supposed to get more attention than the funny alien puppet? Sometimes the writers do actually know what they're doing, heh. Plus I always found the whole cast to be very funny, so the upstaging wasn't that bad, IMO.

    But yes I understand how demanding and frustrating it can probably be to work with a perfectionist like the puppeteer seemed to be.
  9. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    heralde is right: Northern Calloway was, unfortunately, quite mentally unstable, the only reason he was still on the show was similar to Carlo's fear, to avoid having any kind of public humiliation that "Sesame Street's 'David' in trouble", etc, and they made sure he had like a supervisor, or a "guardian" on the set with him at all times while they shot. But actually, he was still on the show up until his death: he was there when Gabi was born in 1989, and that's the same year of his death; they explained on the show that David moved in with his grandmother, who needed help running her farm, and that David sold Hooper's Store to Mr. Handford.

    I've heard similar stories regarding people not particularly like a show they worked on: there was a lot of controversy from the beginning surrounding Hogan's Heroes. The pilot episode included a Russian POW, but when the series was picked up, he refused to sign on because of how the Nazis were made to look like lovable buffoons; conversely, Werner Klemperer only agreed to play Colonel Klink so long as he WAS made to look like a fool. A lot of the actors who played the Nazis were, in fact, Jews who fled Hitler's Germany; John Banner, who played Sergeant Schultz, even said in one interview, "Who better to play the Nazis than we Jews?" There was some initial friction between Bob Crane and Richard Dawson, since Dawson wanted the part of Hogan, but Hogan HAD to be the ALL-AMERICAN war hero, and his accent was still to heavy at that time, though in recent years, Dawson has mellowed down, and gotten his ego in check, and has said despite the "problems" on the set, he is glad he had the opportunity to be on such a long-running show.

    But getting back to ALF, you'd be surprised, even though there are a lot of people who would love with work alongside a puppet like that, there are just as many who would rather now, and it's kind of sad. In Caroll Spinney's memoir, he writes about a rapper who was brought onto the set in the 70s to do a rapping alphabet with Big Bird, but he kept flubbing the lyrics... FINALLY, he got it right... then Caroll flubbed a line at the end, and when they said they'd have to do yet another take, the rapper got physical with Big Bird for ruining the shot, and smacked the puppet's head right out of Caroll's hand, and it fell to the ground. Sadly, shows like these, the puppet characters ARE the stars, and the actors have to learn to accept that, BUT, the actors' egos get the better of them, and they can't accept that this fake construction of foam, fleece, fur, etc is the "star", and not them.
  10. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Never. Apologies to Carlo Alban. This is what happens when one both hardly eats anything anymore and posts late at night due to insomnia courtesy of overwhemling stress about drowning in finances and soon running out of their measly unemployment benefits. Suffice to say, my mental faculties have been rapidly diminishing all around.

    I'd ask a mod to fix the headline/original post but i've learned how much an exercise in futility this is lately.
  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member


    I KNEW I should've bought another one to read. I refuse to let my dirty mitts touch the one he signed.
  12. GonzoLeaper

    GonzoLeaper Well-Known Member

    Interesting read about Carlo Alban- I didn't know that at all. But I'm glad he and his family were able to get legal residency in America in the end- even though it sadly took 12 years. I don't condone coming to a country illegally- but I also have sympathy for those who are not trying to cheat the country necessarily- but who are trying to do it the right way and get caught in the crossfire. I also have sympathy for those desperate enough to get out of their own country that they are willing to do something illegal- but even so, it's still not right.
    The whole immigration thing is a tricky call all around. Though it is true that outside of the Native Americans (and even they migrated to America at some point), every American has immigrated from some other country at some point. Thus, the wording on the Statue of Liberty- "Give me your poor, your tired, huddling masses..." - that's the part of the phrase I'm most familiar with- and it reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30- "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.":)
  13. GonzoLeaper

    GonzoLeaper Well-Known Member

    And to quickly address the ALF issue- I love that show! I also love the cartoons- both the "ALF" cartoon and the "ALF Tales" cartoon. "Project: ALF" is also a great follow-up TV-movie to wrap up the series. I highly recommend all of them. I've seen some of "ALF's Hit Talk Show" and it's pretty good, but not really the same as the sitcom- but ALF is definitely great in that kind of role (like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog).
    Dr.Tooth- you might particularly appreciate this- ever read Marvel's ALF comics? I have a number of those and LOVE reading them! They really did a spectacular job with that series- in some cases, I find some of the comics even more laugh out loud funny than the show itself.
    For other random ALF appearances, there is also a recent appearance he made on Bill O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor" show and it was pretty funny- you can catch it on Youtube.
    I've also got ALF's quick cameo appearance in "The Network" episode of "Matlock" (yeah- who would've thought Matlock and ALF would ever crossover? LOL - okay- they don't actually meet exactly, but ALF does give testimony in the episode, along with a number of other TV stars- worth checking out.)
    But definitely- one of my favorite ALF appearances is his role in the "Blossom" episode- "The Geek". That one is definitely worth watching- the show "Blossom" itself isn't too bad of a show to begin with (though not necessarily a big favorite for me, but I remember it and like it well enough)- but ALF's appearance in this one was quite funny. Try hulu.com or Youtube for this one.
    I've heard ALF was also on "The Love Boat: The New Wave", which is actually a perfect vehicle for him to show up.:D
    Of course, "Fantasy Island" would've been a fitting place for him too.
    Anyway- I've segued into "ALF" a lot now because I love the character and his many series and appearances. But as far as work on the actual sitcom goes- yeah, pretty much all the cast have admitted that it was a really dysfunctional family there. I have read that Anne Schedeen was fond of her TV children, but tensions were definitely high all around with the whole being upstaged by a puppet thing. Max Wright in particular took the brunt of this I think. However, I have also read that he's reflected more kindly on the show in later years, acknowledging that ALF has brought a lot of laughs to a lot of folks and for that he's grateful.
    Of course, John LaMotta recently said the whole show was crap, so not all of the actors look on it as kindly.:rolleyes:
  14. GonzoLeaper

    GonzoLeaper Well-Known Member

    Oh yes- and I can't forget one of ALF's greatest appearances- the animated 1990 anti-drug special "Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue"-- that is classic!:)
  15. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I really wasn't going to do this... but

    I'm going to agree with both South Park and American Dad with this issue. It's a tool to say "They're taking your jobs" which leads to a racist chorus of "Dey Took err JERRBS!" That's not necessarily true. They're given said jobs... on a silver platter with a shiny bow on it. Why? Us Americans have a decadent system of wanting evil commie stuff like minimum wage, health benefits, and of course, basic workers and human rights. This of course after years of misery at the hands of shifty plant owners and Dickensian working conditions... basically stuff dating back to the industrial revolution. That's why we have unions... ideally, they're to protect workers from ever being exploited.

    Now, certain companies purposely higher said "illegals" (some very shifty people bus them in) to work dangerously long hours for less than minimum wage with no benefits... and they don't complain because ol' master's gonna call INS if they do. In other cases, yes, they take the jobs no one in their right mind wants to do (who else would want to pick grapes in the blistering sun?) Suffice to say, they're a source of cheap labor, and toughening legislation acts as both a scare tactic for them, and a "we pretend to care about you" tactic for the politicos. Of course, let's not forget, the same crummy system here exists worse over there, leading people to have to come here for crappy jobs... instead of waiting several months for plants to move down there so they can charge even less.

    Oh sure, they'll make "examples" out of small store owners and honest people who are TRYING hard to get naturalized, but they really just want to keep the cheap labor for their business buddies. Also, so we can forget that they also take the same jobs and gift wrap them overseas.
  16. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Well, not everybody can be a Jim Varney: here was a man who was also a Shakespearan actor, had a genius IQ, and ended up being pigeon-holed as Ernest... but he really didn't mind, because he knew people, especially kids, really loved Ernest, so that's what made the role worth-while.

    It's nice that some actors (though sadly not all) don't mind being identified by that one role that defines their career... like Barbara Eden saying that if she has to be remembered for one character, she's glad that character is Jeannie, though conversely, Elizabeth Montgomery did all she could to get people to stop identifying her as Samantha Stephens.

    But, on the subject of puppets and kiddie shows, I remember reading that John Simmit is not proud AT ALL of doing Teletubbies (I think he was Dipsy): he's usually a stand-up comic, and said once that as far the Tubbies are concerned, he "Only did it for the money".
  17. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    NO ONE wants Teletubbies on their resume.

    I think the woman that played Trillian on the TV version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was like a voice or something for that series.
  18. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Except for maybe the first guy who did Tinky Winky; I read that once that whole "Tinky Winky is a gay role model" controversy really took off when the show came to America, they fired him for the way he played the character, and was really upset over that, because he actually liked the job, and didn't see anything wrong with his performances. :smirk:
  19. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I do... he was on Teletubbies! :)

    Nahh enough of that. Seriously... what the heck was that?
  20. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    That's just what I've read. *shrug*


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