we have to do an interview just for us. Some of you may recognize
Erin Gray from her years as Ricky Schroder's stepmother on Silver
Spoons, and some of you may just be scratching your heads.
Erin herself points out, for those of us of a certain age
she's forever Wilma Deering from the NBC series Buck Rogers
in the 25th Century, and a crucial part of our, ahem, formative
and incredibly gracious, Erin let us have an interview despite
having no idea who we were. And continued letting us have
an interview after I opened with the dumbest question ever:
McCaw: What have you been doing for the past, oh, ten
Gray: That's a lot. How about the last two? In the last
two years, I did eight independent feature films. I did a
recurring role on Profiler. I did a recurring role
on Port Charles.
I recovered from my first gaffe to phrase:
On Profiler I played Karen Archer. She's a congresswoman
who ends up pulling the funding that funds that particular
group, the Profilers, so now the show is defunct because of
my character. I'm the one that ended it.
And we thought it was NBC.
That would be my character.
And Port Charles, that's the General Hospital spin-off?
Hey, I'm impressed that you know that.
I'm depressed that I know that.
I played, uh, who did I play? One of the lead characters who
was up for murder, I played her mother. A very cold-hearted,
uppity woman I would say.
Had you done soap operas before?
No, I never had.
Was there a big difference between working the daily grind
of a soap opera versus your previous experiences?
Actually, it was very similar to working on Silver
Spoons, with four cameras. The whole set-up is very much
like shooting a sitcom, which is different. And in terms of
speed, well…so much television and film work is hurry up and
wait. It was really a pleasure to get up there and work and
just keep working. And even then there are a lot of pauses
Do you have anything lined up for the future?
Not right now. The only thing that I've done that hasn't come
out is, I did a film with Robert Urich last year. It hasn't
come out, but it was a wonderful film and I had a wonderful
time working with a real gentleman. It's an independent film
called Clover Bend. At least, that was the working
title. Of course I don't know what it will end up being.
one or two other films that haven't been released. One is
called Special Weapons Tactics, very much a Police
Academy kind of, very college-humor type film, so I'm
sure it will have a big cult following. I play "The Mayor"
- I don't even have a name -a woman who is very concerned
about her position as mayor, and doesn't want to give up her
days playing golf and tennis. So when there's trouble in town,
she brings out the S.W.A.T. team, except the S.W.A.T. team
is more like The Marx Brothers, and can do nothing right.
So she brings in another S.W.A.T. team of all women. And they
are G.I. Janes. You put the two together and you got the drift.
On to Buck Rogers.
Battlestar Galactica did not last as long as you did, and
yet there's a lot of talk about reviving that. I hear nothing
about Buck Rogers.
(laughs) That's because Richard Hatch (Apollo on
Battlestar Galactica, not the Survivor guy) is one of
the most enterprising s.o.b.s I have ever met in my entire
life and GO TO IT, RICHARD!
But it's out of his hands. He's not the one now.
No, but he's the one that stirred up all the interest, you
know? He just had a vision and he's written a book and a screenplay
and a trailer…he kept the vision alive, kept the fans excited
about it. And then suddenly Hollywood went, "ohhh…maybe this
is a good idea after all."
And neither you nor Gil (Gerard) wanted to do that?
I would love to do Buck Rogers again, and do it right. Oh.
I shouldn't say that.
No, no, you should. Let's get more of that.
Particularly my role in terms of, and Gil is one hundred percent
behind this, Wilma never really got a chance to kick ass.
She was in the position of being the head of the Earth Defenses
and most of the time she was going, "Buck, are you all right?"
And in the second season…
It was even worse.
What happened there? I loved that first season, and we were
just discussing last night, should we talk about Earth Defense
I loved Hawk. I must say I'm very partial to Hawk, only because
I'm madly in love with Thom Christopher (the actor who
played him) and I can't say enough nice things about the
just changed the whole feel of the show completely.
the network tries to fix something that doesn't need to be
fixed. And they brought in another producer who wished to
put his stamp on the show. And that was John Manley, and John
Manley was from Gunsmoke and he had certain ideas of
ecological stories that he wanted to do, and some scripts
that he had in the drawer that he just sort of changed the
names around and used on our show. Which is a shame.
what they had in that first season was working very well,
but I don't think the network got it. And when I say that
I don't think they got it, part of my theory - and this is
just my theory - cable was just starting. A lot of people
don't realize that numbers were shifting around. Suddenly
the numbers game, and you know that Hollywood is very into
TVQs, numbers, ratings and so on, were shifting. They really
weren't losing that many, but it was just enough of a loss
in numbers that they were going, "oh, we have to do something.
Fix the show."
had the numbers…we had then, now, we would be the number
one show. Through the ceiling. But they just got fearful.
And you know how people are when they're fearful. They make
changes. And they didn't need it.
don't think they realized also that what people loved about
the show was that A, it was a family show. Everyone, Mom,
Dad, the kids, could all sit down and watch the show and get
something out of it.
of sci fi nowadays is very dark. You get an eight-year-old
kid in front of some of these shows and it's like "eeee, I'm
going to have a nightmare all night long."
fun. It was tongue in cheek. There was a little bit for everybody
to appreciate. There was humor. How often do you see sci fi
with humor, other than Galaxy Quest? That's the only
other one I know that's tongue in cheek and fun.
I get from women is that I made an impression on a lot of
young women. They come up to me now and say, "you know, you're
the reason I joined the Air Force." "Really?" "You're the
reason I became a police officer."
time period, having a woman in that kind of position or role
was really a terrific thing. I'm very fortunate.
What about the impression you made on young men?
Oh yes. The number one line I get: (low breathy tone)
"You were my first." I hate to ask first what, but I was their
first. I have a girlfriend who thinks I should have a t-shirt
saying, "I Was Your First."
It was that opening credit sequence to the movie version of
Oh, you recognized me? (laughs) Yeah, interesting.
interesting for me is that there's a certain age between 30
and 34, right around there, and I can be walking down the
street and all of a sudden I see lightbulbs go off behind
the eyes. I think "uh huh. I was your first. I know."
know, that's not a bad thing.
We've got the headline.
There you go.
Do you do a lot of conventions? I know I've seen you here
the last couple of years.
I've done three years in a row here at San Diego Comic-Con.
I took off pretty much for the last year; I didn't do any
shows. And now I'll start doing shows again. Actually, Gil
and I are getting together and doing shows together.
Very cool. He's not here, is he?
He's not. He said to me, "I don't do any in California." So
I took him seriously and didn't tell him about San Diego Comic-Con.
When I talked to him yesterday, he said "where are you going?"
and I told him and he said "WHY AREN'T I GOING?" I said, "you
told me you didn't want to do any in California." He said
Maybe next year.
There you go. I think definitely I can get him to come next
year. And right now, I've got to whip out Australia, Kansas
City, Pitttsburgh, we're doing a whole tour next year.
Goodson: (notices her shirt) What is Woo Way Enterprises?
Okay. I'm a teacher of Tai Chi Tuan, and I teach at UCLA and
an acupuncture center and the Wu Chan Kung Fu Academy. Woo
Way in the Chinese spelling is "Wu Wei," and it means "the
way of non-action." Like going with the flow.
made it the Americanized spelling, which is Woo Way. It sounds
the same way, but I spell it differently. I actually have
two companies, one is with the Chinese spelling and one with
this spelling. Anybody who says "Woo Way" is smiling. And
that's my gift to that person.
It's hard to say with a straight face.
And then when you say "woo," the way of woo means the way
of love, so you've got another message. You've got the smile,
you've got the love, hey, I'm doing my job.
Have you had any weird fan reactions? Or do you think you're
lucky that Wilma was such a down to earth person? No special
No special powers. I haven't had any problems with that. I've
had people come up to my table in their Klingon costume, and
the wife is dressed in her mythological witch costume or something,
and say, "we got married as Buck and Wilma, in costume."
know, gee, great. Whatever makes you happy. I think that's
terrific. It's pretty mild, and most people are pretty wonderful.
I'm just delighted that they loved the show. That's great,
to do something that leaves such an impression on people.
think about it. This was twenty-something years ago, and people
really remember it and love it to this day. Not many people
on this planet can say they've done something that's that
memorable in people's minds.
fact that every thirty year old guy on the planet between…oh,
my God, I mean, I'm blessed! Every young woman…I empowered
her. What a gift.
interesting thing is that it was predicted to me by a psychic.
Yeah. And that goes "woo-ooh-ooh." But I went to this psychic
in New York two years before I did Buck Rogers and
I asked him, I said I'm thinking about becoming an actress
and did he think I would be successful.
yes, you'll do something that people will remember you for
more than anything else. It's of another time period. You'll
sign a contract with the letter "M" and you'll argue with
the producers about the color of your hair.
half years later I'm arguing with a producer at Universal
Studios because I want to be a brunette for the second season
and suddenly it hits me. Another time period, I'm arguing
with a producer about the color of my hair, but I kept thinking
"what's the M?"
thinking it was Universal and it wasn't.
(smiles and gives a theremin impression) Is there such
a thing as psychics? I don't know.
Erin Gray says yes.
Can we figure this out? I mean, that's pretty strange, you
So we ended our interview, after taking a couple of shots
for the photo album, and remembered that no matter what else
happened at the Convention, we had talked to Erin Gray.
And the kids at Cupertino Junior High said it would never