You made an episodic appearance on NEWHART ("The Prodigal Darryl"), where one of the Darryls runs away to hang out with you. And Newhart's character, Dick Loudon, has to help track him down. Did you meet Mr. Newhart on that occasion?
Did he remember you on down the line? Did that have anything to do [with you getting cast on GEORGE & LEO]?
No, he did not remember me. But you know, it's hard when you do that many episodes, trying to remember the characters.
I know Mr. Newhart has a sort of paternal thing for a lot of other stand-up comedians.
Yeah. I know his friend Tom Poston. Tom Poston and I -- and another friend of mine, Dave Thomas -- we go out to lunch once a month. And we just sit and tell lies to each other, stories and stuff. And Tom has a lot of fond memories of Bob.
How did you book the GEORGE & LEO part? Were you just hired for "The Wedding" episode, and it just became a recurring character?
The producers called and asked if I wanted to do several episodes, and I said, "Well, what's the character?" And they said, "It's kind of a funky priest." And I said, "Hey, I'm in." And most of my scenes were just me just me and Bob; I would counsel Bob Newhart. So for me it was just great.
Now I know Mr. Newhart had a Catholic upbringing and even worked that into his stand-up routine. Did he have any input into the Father Rick character?
Well, I had a Catholic upbringing as well. Went to Catholic schools my whole life. Went to an all-boys Catholic high school. So I didn't need any coaching as far as…
Not to imply that you needed help….
[jokes] I'm an Orthodox Jew, I just don't look like one, for crying out loud!
Do you happen to know anything about the actress switch in the role of Casey, the daughter? She went from being played by Bess Meyer to being played by Robyn Lively. What happened there?
I showed up for work one day, and that was a big change.
Kinda like Darrin on BEWITCHED.
Kinda like Bob Saget in FULL HOUSE.
We shot the entire FULL HOUSE pilot with another actor. Bob [Saget] was in New York, doing the CBS morning program. (…)
You've worked with your share of Bobs. Now, I pulled out my old GEORGE & LEO tapes and I laughed my head off. They're really good!
Great show, great show.
I know they changed the time slot once. To what do you attribute its cancellation? Did it just not get its rating shares?
I think it's the philosophy at the network. Unless you pull big numbers in a specific demographic nowadays, your show is gone.
But isn't Monday night supposed to be strong, solid -- but not particularly flashy -- numbers? Didn't Bob Newhart "make" Monday nights?
Yeah, he did. When you see somebody like Bob Newhart co-starring with Judd Hirsch -- two really talented comedic actors like that -- to do a show that was that well produced and that well written, to see it pulled, to not have a chance, really speaks about what the corporate climate is as far as network television. Shows really aren't given a chance to develop and find their audience. You get maybe a season, maybe a season and a half. So it was kind of a shame, because it was a really funny show. --Mike Malloy