I don’t think many Indabans are aware of this fact, but I was a child actor. Not a child actor like Gary Coleman or anything, but I did some small things when I was really young and then I had a major role in a series called Brooklyn Bridge (the part of Nathaniel Silver) that aired on CBS for 2 years when I was 8 (ok, still pretty young).
I don’t talk about this much, but I bring it up today because of an event I attended at the Paley Center for Media last night. Gary David Goldberg, the creator of Brooklyn Bridge (and Family Ties, Spin City, and many other notable shows and films) just wrote a book titled Sit Ubu Sit, and the event celebrated Gary and his latest artistic creation. In addition to all the usual components of an event like this, there was a really interesting panel featuring many stars from Gary’s various shows, including Michael J. Fox, Marion Ross, Richard Kind, Michael Boatman, Meredith Baxter, and Michael Gross. Much of the discussion focused on the changing nature of TV programming, and the departure from entertainment that once spoke to family values and thoughtful commentary. I found it particularly moving when Gary spoke about TV having been a “national campfire” – certainly something that is hard to argue in today’s world of reality shows and shallow sitcoms.Although the evening was thought-provoking, I really decided to write about it today because of what it meant to me personally. As I said I don’t often talk about my experience on Brooklyn Bridge – it was a long ways away – both in time (I was 8) and in geography (L.A. is very different from N.Y.). However, rare events like this bring me back into contact with people who were so central to one of the most formative experiences of my life, and I cherish the opportunity to reconnect with people like Marion, Gary, and Sam Weisman (the director of Brooklyn Bridge, and a long-time collaborator of Gary’s). I signed my first autographs in about 14 years, and was even asked to take photos with some fans of the show. Not a big deal to some of the other famous folks that were in attendance, but hey, I haven’t been “that guy” in a long time.Since the event was a celebration of Gary, much of the discussion focused on his ability to create familes – both on and off screen. The on-screen families he created on shows like Family Ties and Brooklyn Bridge were mirrored in the behind-the-scences worlds of TV production he developed to creates these show – everyone universally agreed that in a difficult, often negative business Gary created the most positive, comfortable, and meaningful environments to work in one could hope for. My perspective now is obviously very different than it was when I was 10 (when BB was cancelled), and last night reminded me that I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not been afforded the opportunity to live and work within the world Gary created so many years ago.Anyway, I wanted to share this trip down memory lane. Also, for all you Indabans, you’ll be interested to know that one of the characters on Brooklyn Bridge was played by Jenny Lewis – yes, that’s right, Rilo Kiley and Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins Jenny Lewis. And check out Gary’s book!