I'm thrilled to report that after a two-plus year run as Zazu in The Lion King (at the Mandalay Bay Theater in Las Vegas), my friend Patrick's back in town.
I know him best as a dear friend, but Patrick is best known to the world as a deeply talented actor who attended Yale Drama School and has graced stage and screen since. I've seen him do Shakespeare in Santa Cruz, I've seen him in Steve Martin's The Underpants at the Geffen, I've seen him at South Coast Rep. Every time I'm at Ralphs or Starbucks with him, it seeems, people will come up and say...Curb Your Enthusiasm! Or Hannah Montana! or ER!...
At least as much to the point, Pat's got a huge heart and a wicked sense of humor, and he is also generous, thoughtful, kind, and one hell of a good listener.
So in honor of the fact that L.A. now has back one of its own, I'm thinking to run this piece I wrote years ago when I went to watch the taping of an episode of Frasier:
It's a kick living in and around Hollywood but I'm not exactly in the loop. I don’t know Matthew Perry from Perry Mason, Drew Barrymore from Lionel Barrymore, Paris Hilton from
. When I first met my friend Patrick I overheard him talking to someone about Frasier. “Frasier,” I piped up. “That’s a TV show isn’t it?” Yy-eah, he replied. I’ve had a guest spot on it for the last eleven years.” Paris, France
Recently Patrick invited me to the
Paramount lot for a taping of the show. I’d brought along a book—Camus’ The Plague--but in no time I was yukking it up with the rest of the studio audience and had forgotten all about my book. There were people from all over: , Topeka , Duluth . A comic, whose very hard job it was to keep us from getting restless, informed us that Cheers had been filmed on this very stage. There were three sets: one of what looked like a radio studio, one of a living room, and a third from which a giant set of digital scales loomed from the shadows. When it was time to begin, a pony-tailed man stepped to center stage and clapped two little striped blocks of wood together, just like in the movies. Perth
As far as I could figure, Frasier worked on some radio advice show and the plot of this particular show was that his crew was having a contest with the crew of a rival radio station to see which could lose the most weight. At home, he had a cranky father, a brother who was phobic about germs, and a Jack Russell terrier named Eddie. The dialogue was smart and engaging, the off-camera crew interacted with split-second precision, and the whole thing was way so absorbing I didn’t once turn to Camus.
Between scenes Patrick kept coming anxiously over with food--cardboard cups of cashews, miniature candy bars--to keep my strength up.
“Boy that brother’s sure good,” I remarked, tucking into a Three Musketeers. “Do people know him?”
“Heather,” Patrick replied. “That’s David Hyde Pierce. He’s won about seven Emmys.”
“Oh. How about that Roz you have a crush on? Is she a regular character?”
“That’s Peri Gilpin. She’s been on since the show since it started.”
Of course to me the best part was Patrick himself, who played a Trekker geek named Noel. He had one scene where he was doubled over with stomach cramps, one where he popped up from a dead faint on the floor, and one at the very end where he snuck back to the site of the weigh-in, grabbed a lock of Roz’s hair and stuffed it down the front of his shirt. This brilliant actor clearly stole the show and I couldn’t restrain myself from turning to the couple beside me to loudly stage-whisper: “That’s my friend!”
“Wow!” I told him the next day. “That was fun. No wonder everyone likes TV!”
When Christmas rolled around that year, Patrick handed me a card. “Awake and sing!” it said on the front. And inside was a year’s subscription to People magazine.
Welcome home, Patrick.
If you want to keep up with him, Pat also madly twitters @patiokerr.