Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hollywood Days - An Interview with Andre Gower

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If you are new to my blog, on Wednesdays I post about my experience in Hollywood as a former child/teen actress. If you want to start at the beginning of these posts go here.

Do you remember this face? Teen Beat, Bop, Big Bopper, 16, Tiger Beat. It was all over it back in the late 80s and early 90s. 

I was very familiar (in a BOP magazine way) with Andre Gower when Kerry and I ran into him at an audition at NBC. Between my Units belt and Kerry's XXXL Rugby, I think Andre was starstruck. After I got the role on The New Lassie (a year or two later), Andre and I ended up at a lot of the same events. By then we had moved on to Z Cavariccis (WHY DID THOSE EVER GO OUT OF STYLE?) and The Wet Seal. Andre has resurrected his blog so be sure to check it out when you are done over here - especially if you or your kid has any interest show business.

Here we are a few years later at some shindig with my partner-in-shin digging, Christina Nigra.

Andre and I recently reconnected thanks to this fad called the Internet. He was googling "groupies you meet at auditions" and found this post. He enjoyed surfing around my Hollywood posts and walking down memory lane  . . . so I sucked him into memory lane and this Q and A.

You may remember Andre from the movie Monster Squad, over 100 TV commercials, the shows Valerie's Family, The Young and the RestlessMr. President, or my favorite . . . Circus of the Stars. Andre has over 30 years of acting experience and yet, he seems to have turned out normal! 

1. How did you get into show business?

My Older sister was in it before I was. She did tv and film in the 70’s and early 80’s, most notably as the little girl in The Towering Inferno. I was always around it and began working in commercials around age 5.

2. You left Hollywood for North Carolina for about 10 years. Why?

I actually left after I graduated high school as I had an opportunity to play basketball in college which was a long-time dream of mine. I didn’t want to pass on that opportunity. I decided you can always read for parts and act. You only get one chance to play basketball in college.

Some of my closest friends are from those years and I don’t regret one minute of it. I had a great time in college, got an education and loads of memories.

I have been back and forth in Hollywood for the last 10 or 12 years.
Christina Cupo and Andre on set - It's Hour Come Round - shot in North Carolina.

3. What was your favorite show/movie to work on? And who was your favorite person to work with?

Hmmm. I worked a quite a few great sets. The largest and most encompassing experience was probably working on The Monster Squad. It was a big budget film with lots of locations, special effects and creatures.

The fact that is has had a huge resurgence in the last 5 years and a special edition DVD created solely from fan demand has certainly made it very important to me. There were a lot of great people on that production (Cast and crew). Obviously Fred Dekker (Director) was a great guy as was Shane Black who then was a fresh, young writer who became one of the biggest names in screenplays.
Anthony Michael Hall, Zach Galligan, and Andre a the Horror Con in Baltimore. September 2011
I did work with George C. Scott on the tv show Mr. President for 2 seasons. That was a something to remember. I actually wish I could recall more stuff than I can. He was a force to be reckoned with and quite an experience to be around. That show also had the likes of Madeline Kahn, Conrad Bain, Johnny Carson and Ed Weinberger. 

The most memorable was probably doing Circus of the Stars - twice. Even though it’s just a one-time shoot, as you know, it is months of training and learning. There is no experience like that out there. It was incredible to do that at such a young age.

4. I didn't know you too well, but it didn't appear that you were crazy or out nightclubbing with your parents. What do you think the key is for a child actor to stay grounded?

Mostly having solid support, good parenting and people watching out for me. I also had a pretty good balance of industry life and “normal” life. I had a lot of friends that weren’t in the business and was always involved in team sports and activities that weren’t connected to Hollywood.
(Note: Andre went to high school with our friend Russ. You know, that Russ?)

Plus I wasn’t a dumb-ass. I was never one to look to get into trouble. I was able to navigate growing up in the business and stay away from the pitfalls and problems that some seem to be unable to avoid or either ran into full-steam. But, this topic is a whole blog itself!

5 . I did Circus of the Stars in 1990. One of the greatest experiences of my life. Do you feel the same about it? How long did you train for that and how many bruises and blisters did you get over that time period?

I was fortunate enough to do the show twice. When I was 10 and again when I 14. I did an aerial act called “The Double Cradle” with Tracey Gold and then had a solo act on the “Low Wire” (which is very different from the high-wire). I can’t say enough about the show itself, the people that ran it and the people you met doing it. To be friends with these extraordinary performers from all over the World  that have these amazing talents was just very cool.

I was introduced to the show from a great friend Peter Scolari (Bosom Buddies, Newhart etc.) who taught me how to juggle when we worked on a tv show called BABY MAKES FIVE. He had done COTS the year before and was doing it again so he brought me out and introduced me to the producers and trainers and they put me through a few work outs and offered me a spot in the show.

I trained for about 3-4 months each time. The first act (double cradle) was set up in a warehouse over at the fairgrounds in the Valley. They also had the tiger act in the same building so I got to spend 2-3 hours every morning before school flying through air next to 9 tigers!

The second time I spent at Bob Yerkes yard the entire time training for the Low Wire (which is only 8-feet high, but has a spring on one end so the wire actually sways and bounces as opposed to the taught High-Wire). That was another 3 or 4 months straight every evening running, jumping and flipping on a steel cable.

I have been friends with Bob Yerkes ever since we first met and I even stop by his house to say hi or work out from time to time. I will go jump on the trampoline, walk the wire or fly on the trapeze when I get a chance. I even used to go every Thursday and Saturday to work out with famous stunt men learning how to fight for the camera, high falls, choreography etc.

The things I did and learned from that time have stayed with me and I still enjoy them.

And thanks to YouTube we can all enjoy the Circus.

6. Did you have a subscription to any of the Teen magazines? And who was your TeenBeat crush?

I never had a subscription, but I was in all of them so I had/have hundreds of teen mags in storage. (MUST FIND THEM!)

As for my teenage crush?....I don’t know if there was only one. Being friends with all you cute girls of that day made it hard to narrow it down. (Vote Andre for President)

Andre and the ladies - Bottom row Hilary VanDyke, Alyson Hannigan, me (Wendy Cox), Christina Nigra. Top row: Soliel Moon Frye. And then a bunch of dudes like Jason Marsden, Stephen Dorff, Brian Austin Green. . .
Same day. Same crew at Magic Mountain. 

7. Favorite TV show now and favorite TV show 20 years ago?
Then            -            Jeopardy
Now            -            Jeopardy

8. You still work in the industry - what are the biggest changes for a child actor now versus what was happening back the olden days?

I think the exposure is the biggest change. The vastness of programming and outlets for kids to work these days is enormous. Back in the day there was no cable, barely any pay-channels and there wasn’t a ton of  kids programming like there is today.

We now have multiple shows and even whole networks geared directly to younger audiences. So the basic amount of work has increased exponentially.

Back in the days of yore…you had your show or movie, some magazines and that was it. Maybe you got on Entertainment Tonight or a talk show but that was kind of it.

Today…the internet has made it possible to have constant exposure 24/7 all around the World. Add to that the digital entertainment publications, websites, gossip sites, social media, blogs etc., you could be literally everywhere at once.

That has to create a different mindset then 20 years ago and I can only imagine how it actually affects young people when they are trying to develop a sense of self or determine what and how they experience the World. Growing up is hard as it is, doing it in that environment is something totally different. 

Plus, the money is a lot more these days!

9. Would you let your child get into show business at a young age?

I think so, as long as he/she was comfortable and actually wanted to be there. I wouldn’t force them and hopefully, it would never be a case where I had to rely on my child’s income to live.

When that’s the case, you start getting into some dangerous territory that borders on insane. Parents end up in a lot of trouble when they have to rely on their kids to provide. It should actually never be used to fully support others and only be a small supplement -if anything. The money they make should go to them for their future (more than just the Coogan money) and that money should be managed professionally or at least diligently.

10. Starbucks, Peet's, or The Coffee Bean?

I ‘m not a coffee drinker. I am a tea fiend. They all have decent tea!

11. What are you most passionate about?

Well then Andre, you'll probably like learning about what I just found on YouTube. Have you seen it?

12. What are you doing now?
Ahhh . . . you guys will have to come back for next week's post for the update on Andre!
Now go check out Andre's blog and come back next week to find the "Where Are They Now?" scoop.
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Jessica said...

Oh my gosh, I was so terrified of Monster Squad when I was a kid. Like, I am a grown woman and I still get a little freaked whenever I hear it mentioned! However, I also remember Andre from Square One, which was my most favorite. I love this interview! :D

Linda Z said...

What a thoughtful guy. Glad he's doing well.

Z Cavariccis?? Why have I never heard this term. Is that like MC Hammer pants?

hannah singer said...

SO fun.
love the pics.
and yea, hooray for youtube, we all need the circus! :)

TDM Wendy said...

Linda - Are you Amish? How could you have missed them?