Adam West. For the last 5 years I can’t watch his work without a small twinge of jealousy and regret.
Just like many a comics fan, the 1966 Batman TV series was pure enjoyment for me. I vaguely remember it being on ABC as very young kid, but most 1970’s weekday afternoons, I’d take a break from playing, to watch the re-run drama and action.
Adam West was not the brilliant actor/comedian we enjoy these days on Family Guy and the occasional b-movies. He was a legitimate action hero in my eyes till my adolescence .Then I went through that ” The Batman show was stupid” phase,and found I’d rather think about Girls . Followed by the “Holy Shit Frank Miller and Tim Burton have reinvigorated Batman,and I wish people would stop talking about that campy Adam West stuff.”
Eventually I wised up,and again celebrate the deadpan farce it was always intended to be , and the genius of that man behind the cowl.
You gotta hand it to Adam West.Like Shatner, he can take a nothing moment and make us hang on every word.
Did you know this 1969 TV PSA was made without West, but had Dick Gauthier (Hymie The Robot On Get Smart ) in the Bat-Suit?
Sorry Dick, you rocked as Hymie and Robin Hood (In Mel Brooks When Things Were Rotten), but you sir are no Batman . Give West any script or commercial copy, and you will have a commanding performance.
Which brings me to my sure-fire Holiday/Work Party Adam West story. If you didn’t know, Chicago is a major hub of Commercial Ad production. I have many friends who have gone on to great careers at major agencies , dreaming up a lot of national TV & Radio ad campaigns.
Voice-over work is highly competitive , even in the pre internet days, your VO cassette, then CD was pitted against voice vets from NY LA and right here in town. Every graduation season , someone I know has a child or cousin, who would ” Just be great for commercial work. How do they break in?” I always answer “When they find out, could they pass on my MP3 demo?” Like any great job, who you know helps.
Along with my current job doing local ads for 3 radio stations in town, I still try to get VO gigs, but it’s still tough. Even having 15 plus years doing spots for many campaigns in Chicago, doesn’t guarantee me a shot to audition, let alone actually get the national gigs. Here’s one of my VO demo reels.
Many times I’ve helped an ad exec friend do a mock-up of a radio ad, to help them in a conceptual selling pitch. It’s usually a fun script and character voice challenge. One time a pal asked if I could do a “smarmy Phil Hartman” style read for a beer ad ? He was very up-front saying “Not to burst your bubble but they are NOT going to hire you. They’ll probably get a comedian or cartoon actor to do it. ” I didn’t care, and was happy to do it for hundreds of dollars, as opposed to crying about the unlikely lottery shot I had to get the real gig. Still, I try to be professional in my work, so I gave it real thought and effort to make a great demo. He’s happy with the result, and I move on to other things.
A month later I get a call from him with a little excitement in his voice “I don’t want to get your hopes up, but they’ve tried 10 other actors, and the beer guys keep saying ‘We like the demo actor best.’ You’re beating some big pros, and I might have a deal for you in the next few days.” Obviously I allowed myself a little excitement and hope . Then he calls the next day to say, “Bad news. They gave the gig to Adam West.”
“Adam West? But I love Adam West. Him, Clayton Moore and Neil Armstrong were my first real heroes…Batman beat me? He’s supposed to help people like me… God dammit! Fucking Adam West! …”
I don’t remember what I else I said to my laughing friend, who did feel bad for me. Giving myself a few minutes to be pissed, I later realized this is how Super Villain Origin stories get started.
So he got the gig, and I got this party story.