Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A PASSION FOR ACTING




WORKING GIRL TV series

Law and Order, SVU
From the movie UNITED 93
With Will Smith on FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR


A man's man


Justin Marler on THE GUIDING LIGHT

Poster for DESERT HEAT the movie Tom wrote
It's a movement class at Goodman Theater School, then part of Chicago University. A tall, muscular, GI bill student and ex paratrooper has already caused an embarrassing scene by wearing his dance belt wrongly outside of his first pair of tights instead of underneath. Now he is manfully executing a leg stretch at the dance bar when, in his firm grip, the whole bar pops out of the wall, stopping the class. "Get out! Get out now!!" The teacher hollers in exasperation. "And don't come back!"


How about a New York City summertime opening night in an historical costume drama with all the top critics in the audience and the steam heat comes on causing an elderly actor to pass out into the orchestra seats. And the director caustically points out that was the high point of the show.

Or the revamped postal jeep radiator that sprang a leak on Fourth of July night on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu resulting in a very long ride home under the stars through expensive and fragrant real estate that became an unforgettable, mystical romantic journey.

Earthquakes, notice the plural, the Whittier and the Northridge to shake things up a bit.

Would you want to star in FROST ON THE PARSNIP? I thought not, neither did Tom. Or PORNO STARS AT HOME, at least he got to keep his clothes on.

The modeling shoot with the German model who spoke little English picking his nose during his close up, "I haf an animal in my nose."

Yes, it was a wild and wonderful life, crazy ups and downs, Guest Star to taxi driver, the constant terror of trying to get the next job, living not only paycheck to paycheck, but audition to audition. Always in Survival Mode. Stressful, yes, exciting always, the phone rings you got it or you're fired. Laughter and tears, lots of both.

THE BOLD RASCAL is Tom O'Rourke's journey to becoming a successful actor. How does someone become a working actor? If you want the answer to that question, you have to examine an actor's life, because his life is his laboratory. An actor is an artist in motion. Tom O'Rourke is gone and was far too modest to have allowed his story to be told while he was alive, but it's too good not to share. So here, compiled from my popular blog. is Tom's rollicking, no holds barred life story from his wry, candid private diaries, his personal photo collection, and the memories of his wife of 38 years, Marcy Casterline, a former model with Eileen Ford.

Tom was the first child of a teenage war bride and a sailor, who later deserted his family. He and his brothers were raised in poverty in New York City by his grandmother and his Merchant Marine grandfather, then off to the Army as a paratrooper instead of college, finally working in Chicago in a custom photo developing shop while he studied acting at Goodman Theater.

On the road to success in show business, there are no quick fixes, no short cuts. THE BOLD RASCAL has all the behind the scenes stories of Tom's years on national tour with a Broadway musical, backstage in the New York theater, the big break on the daytime soap THE GUIDING LIGHT creating the role of Justin Marler, the long rocky road to Hollywood, finally costarring in the nighttime TV series WORKING GIRL with Sandra Bullock, then on to his extensive work on LAW AND ORDER, and L&O, SVU, MAID IN MANHATTAN, AMERICAN GANGSTER, and UNITED 93. And then there was the movie he wrote, DESERT HEAT, shot in the desert heat 108 degrees; but his movie got made, starring Jean Claude Van Damme which doesn't happen very often in Hollywood.

The book has lots of photos because pictures, moving and still, were how we made our living and are very much a part of our story, a story of a love that grows through the shared passion for each other and struggle for success.

Tom was sexier, funnier, more romantic, more adventurous, nobler and more courageous than any role he ever got to play. He really was way too good for Hollywood. Now you can meet the greatest leading man of the late Twentieth Century you never heard of…Tom O'Rourke.

There are four more blog posts following which are samples from the book to give you an idea what's in THE BOLD RASCAL.


Tom in a sitcom with Nancy McKeon



Friday, June 13, 2014

COLOSSAL NETWORK

Are You Smarter Than a Network Executive


Tom O'Rourke and exciting new actress, Sandra Bullock in WORKING GIRL


Can you spot the future big star and Oscar winner? Yes? Then you're smarter than a Network Executive
If the Patriots had taken a pass on quarterback Tom Brady cause they didn't see any potential; if Amazon had decided to stop selling books; if McDonalds had left the special sauce off the two beef patties; if Tabasco had dumped the hot peppers for a sweet ketchup; if Cartier decided not to sell diamonds; if Coke changed its formula….Yeah, that dumb.
So what was this colossal blunder?
Biggest network mistake EVER was cancelling the nighttime TV series that co-starred handsome, talented, funny, witty actor, none other than Tom O'Rourke. Okay, that's my opinion, and I'm entitled to it, and that and $2.25 will get me a ride on the subway. Besides, anybody who reads this knows that I'm more than a little partial to Mr. Tom O'Rourke. So I have no proof that I'm right, because Tom never got another chance to show his comedic, leading man chops.
However, the cancelled series was Working Girl, based on the smash hit movie, and the star of that TV series was a young, talented actress just starting out named Sandra Bullock. You might have heard of her, she's been successful in both comedy and drama, and the Oscar winning star of, among many other memorable and immensely popular films, THE BLIND SIDE. She is an actress who has abundantly proved she is one of the greats of her generation, with talent, intelligence, sense of humor, force of drama, self awareness, poise, and did I mention she's drop dead gorgeous? When her name is on movie marquee, the audience shows up in record numbers. That Sandra Bullock.



So, yeah, the Network had this wonderful new actress's name on the dotted line in a TV series based on a smash hit movie, and they cancelled the show after 13 short weeks. Somehow, nobody at the network picked up on what a huge talent this young woman was. Nobody saw anything even worthy of another thirteen weeks. Sure the ratings were only good, not breakout. But most TV shows take awhile to find an audience. How do you let a Sandra Bullock slip through your fingers? How do you miss a super nova? How does a network so benighted make enough money to keep the lights on? Beats me. But I certainly think it qualifies as one of the Networks biggest screw-ups.
And Tom, my Tom, had the "and also starring Tom O'Rourke" billing. We coulda been a contender.
How big was this mistake? Let's see, we get network TV for free. And even for free, conveniently right in your living room, network TV is struggling to keep an audience. Whereas, people have to get in their cars, drive to a movie theater and plunk down big bucks to see Sandra Bullock these days. And they line up for the chance to do just that, movie after movie. She's that good. And they totally missed it. Guess Sandra taught Hollywood a thing or two about what constitutes genuine entertainment.
Sure, I know hindsight is 20/20, but these guys get big paychecks to provide something remotely resembling entertainment. It's like astronomers missing Haley's Comet, for Pete's sake.
Soooo, when the TV Network Executives start crying and BLAME THE AUDIENCE for the low quality of their programs, claiming they have to use violence, bad language and nudity to get an audience because that's what the public really wants, remember, they have to aim low because they are too Dumb and Dumber to spot real talent when it's right there in front of them. Creating something that draws an audience and doesn't involve violence, nudity and bad language is mostly beyond their pay grade, high as that pay grade is.
Or, when they BWAWAWAH about how TECHNOLOGY is to blame for their lack of profits, remember, it's not the technology, it's the people running the show, who don't seem to know squat about entertainment, that's what's killing their profits.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Getting Working Girl was our Nantucket Sleigh Ride; one of the most exciting things that ever happened to Tom. And it's a story with a few twists and turns that I think will amuse you. The next chapter will start at the beginning of our Nightime TV epic. 


TOM AND HIS GRANDMOTHER



Very early on after I met Tom, we'd known each other only a couple of weeks, Tom's grandmother had to go into the hospital. I don't remember what for, an ulcer perhaps. I did later visit her and meet her in the hospital, and she was a very cheerful and very pretty gray haired lady. We were supposed to meet for dinner after he visited her at Roosevelt Hospital. We planned to meet at O'Neals Balloon, an affordable show biz hang out across the street from Lincoln Center and a short walk from the hospital.
It was the end of the day after work and appointments. It was late spring and dusk. I saw Tom walking up 10th Avenue in his blue wool suit with shirt and tie on, and suddenly I noticed he was crying. He apologized, but couldn't help it. After a few minutes, he got control. But I think I truly fell in love with him at that moment. He seemed to be a human being above and beyond anyone I'd ever known. Not just a handsome young man, not just a former paratrooper who had served his country, not just an actor who could strut on stage and amuse and move people, but a real man of deep sympathies and sensibilities who was in the theater because he understood the human condition so well, felt so much and felt it so eloquently. My heart ached for his pain for his grandmother, and my admiration and respect grew enormously at that moment for Tom as person.
July 4, Wednesday, 1984
Grandma's passing
Entry from Tom's diary
"Went down to corner of Columbus Ave to get the paper, all out, so walked up 3 blocks to another stand. It's funny but something told me to go see Grandma in the nursing home. I did.
Grandma was on the second floor room 216, she was still in a low grade coma, breathing very difficult. I asked one of the nurses to please suction her. She did and told me she was very worried about her. That they had given her the last rites last night. I spent some time at Grandma's bedside. I told her how much we all loved her and thanked her for bringing us up. And that it is because of her that we are doing so well. I kidded her about coffee and cinnamon toast she always made for breakfast for us. I started to leave. I was waiting for the elevator when I thought this may be the last time I ever see Grandma. I went back to her room and sat with her for awhile. I kissed her goodbye, told her I loved her and that everything was going to be fine, all her boys were together again. I kissed her forehead, stroked her hair and said goodbye.
"Grandma died July 6th. God Rest Her Soul."

The photo is of Tom and his Grandmother taken by fellow Guiding Light actor, Bob Milli at our wedding, 1977.