I'm Just Sayin'
Random Thoughts from a Random Guy

Name Dropping

My job as a television reporter and anchor has given me a lot of tremendous opportunities that I would not have otherwise experienced.  Everyday I get to meet new people, people like you and I.  People who are overcoming health issues, people who have lost a loved one, people who have served our country.  Many times, these people leave an impression on me and I consider myself lucky to be able to share their stories with southern Illinois, and now viewers online too.  Another cool aspect of the job, quite honestly is getting to meet some famous folks.  Of course, that may sound a little petty, all things considered, but it’s my blog, so what ev.  🙂

Arm wrestling the greatest IC champ of all time, the HTM!

Of course, many of these experiences have been with wrestlers, so bare with me.  My first celebrity experience on the job was in 1997, when I got to arm wrestle the WWF (at the time) wrestler the Honky Tonk Man.  He was in St. Louis promoting an upcoming pay per view called Badd Blood.  I was working as a production assistant at KMOV at the time, and the reporter going to do the story knew that I was a fan and asked if I wanted to go.  Of course of jumped at the chance.  Also while I was at KMOV, I got to meet actor Tony Curtis.  Unfortunately,  I don’t have a picture of myself with him.  But it was a pretty cool experience too.

My next celebrity meeting came a short time later when I moved to Florence, Alabama and was working at WOWL TV.  Tom Wopat, aka Luke Duke.  He was in town performing with a band.  The meeting was quite brief.  I just asked him a few questions for the story I was covering.  Also while in Alabama, I met a handful of wrestlers and actors George “Goober” Lindsey from the Andy Griffith Show and Ernest Borgnine.  Both men were in town for the annual George Lindsey Film Festival at the University of North Alabama.  Borgnine was there as a special guest and was being honored for his works.  Again, no pictures of any of these meetings either.  Sorry.

When I worked in Lafayette, Indiana I had a chance to meet Vicki Lawrence.  She was in town, performing her “Vicki Lawrence & Mama: A Two Woman Show” at Purdue University.  I did a quick interview with her and watch part of her rehearsal.  Years later, I got to actually see the show in person, when she came to SIU back in November 2008.

Ayyy, It's me and Mrs. C.

Another fun celebrity meeting came in southern Illinois with Marion Ross, the mom from Happy Days.  She is the official spokesperson for the city of Marion here in Illinois.  The city picked her because she spells her first name the same way the city spells its name.  The common spelling for the name is Marian.  So every once in a while, Mrs. Ross makes a trip to southern Illinois to do some PR.  She was last here back in 2006.  She performed in a play at John A. Logan College, and I was lucky enough to join her on a tour bus ride around the region the day before the play.  The picture you see was taken at the Garden of the Gods in Saline County.  It was very cool meeting Mrs. Cunningham.  Of course my kids know her better as the voice of Spongebob’s Grandma.

Then Lt. Governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn

The next meeting, wasn’t necessarily a celebrity, but I always enjoy interviewing politicians too.  Several years ago, then Lt. Governor Pat Quinn made a stop at Heartland Regional Medical Center to talk about the importance of heart defibrillators.  I’ve also had the “pleasure” of interviewing ex-governor Rod Blagojevich.  Of course that was before his impeachment and all the trouble he is now facing. I only wish I knew then.  🙂

Me & Chris Benoit just months before the double murder-suicide

The most infamous person I’ve ever met, was Chris Benoit.  For those who don’t know the back story, he was a professional wrestler, who in the summer of 2007, murdered his young son and wife and then killed himself.  I waited hours in the cold to get Chris’ autograph and a quick snapshot with him.  I hate the expression on my face, but what are you going to do?  This picture was taken in Carbondale in February 2007.  By June, Chris and his family were dead.  Some people have criticized the picture, but despite all he did, I can not ignore his accomplishments in the ring.  Sorry if that offends some of you.  Just voicing my opinion.

Everybody's gotta price for the Million $ Man Ted DiBiase

Former WWE superstar, the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase made a stop in Mt. Vernon a few years ago.  He was speaking at a church there.  It was on  a Sunday, my day off, but I grabbed a news camera and headed up there anyway.  It was a lot of fun hearing him speak and getting to meet him afterwards.  He even signed my action figure (not doll) which is still in the wrapper.  A few years later, I interviewed his son, Ted Jr., via satellite as he promoted his new movie, “The Marine 2.”

In late 2008, I got to meet the Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno.  As you many know, he has lived with hearing loss all of his life and was visiting a southern Illinois hearing center to promote the place.  I got a quick interview in with him.  Nice guy.  But I was too intimidated to ask for a photo.  Maybe next time.

I'm as awesome as the Miz, right?

I’ll wrap this up with my most recent meeting, with the Miz.   He was in Cape Girardeau recently with the WWE for a live show at the Show Me Center.  When I found out that I was going to get to interview him, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I hadn’t seen a whole lot of him on the Real World on MTV.  Watching his character on WWE TV, quite honestly he was kind of a douche.  But getting to meet him and talk with him, both on camera and off, he came off as a really nice guy.  He talked about how hard he fought to earn the respect of not just the fans, but his peers in the locker room.  It was a great interview, he didn’t put up the whole “Miz” persona for it.  He also mentioned he had very little sleep and was doing media stuff all afternoon before wrestling that night and then getting up and doing it all again the next day, so I appreciate him taking the time to do that.  His catchphrase is “I’m the Miz, and I’m AWESOME!”  and after meeting him in person, I have to agree.

Of course, these are just some of the “celebrity” meetings I’ve had through the years.  And I anticipate many more in the years to come.  It’s always fun to have these experiences and share them with family and friends, and now you.  Thanks for reading.


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