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Thursday, May 7, 2009


Part #1

Part #2

Part #3

AWT: Not only do you love doing theater, but so does your wife, Colleen Zenk Pinter (Barbara; ATWT), and two of your children. Didn’t you all appear in a production together recently?
MP: We did Follies at Little Theater on the Square in Sullivan, Illinois. We have six kids, and two of them are actors, Kelsey and Dylan. Kelsey graduated Musical Theater from Syracuse, and Dylan graduated Theater from Catholic University in Washington. They’re both plugging away; I’m real proud of them. We were able to put this Follies project together. It was just going to be a concert version of the show, but it turned into a full production with a 27-piece orchestra behind us. We had only four days of rehearsal, and then we were all off-book.

AWT: Did your daytime background help you memorize all of your lines so quickly?
MP: I think that’s what daytime does for you. It makes you so fast and so quick, and able to take on those kinds of challenges. Oftentimes you say to yourself in the middle of all that, “Why? Why am I doing this?” Or just before the curtain goes up, you look at each other and say, “This is really not fair to us, putting ourselves out there like this.” It’s just horrifying. It’s so horrifying, it really gets your attention. I played Ben and Colleen played Phyllis, and then Kelsey played Young Phyllis and Dylan played Young Ben. We got to work with them, we got to watch them do scenes together. We would be backstage, crying our eyes out, watching them dance and sing together, and then we’d have to get our act together and go back out and do our stuff, too. It was (an experience) I’ll take to my grave.

AWT: You talked earlier about starting out in the business and gravitating towards the older actors, asking them for advice. How does it feel to now be the older, experienced actor whom younger actors are coming to for advice? And then having those younger actors be your own children!
MP: It’s funny, isn’t it, how that happens? It’s all a big circuit. My son does ask me for a lot of advice and I try to give him some. Kids find their own ways. But they always have looked up to us. I remember rattling on to a shrink once about kids and my family and how they all showed a penchant for the business. And he said, “Well, I don’t know why you should be surprised at that. It is your family business.” Oftentimes, children do what their parents do, even though you may not send them on that road. We never, ever pushed our kids in this business. Because it’s a very, very difficult business. You want to spare your children the pain of being told ‘no’ all the time. You really, really have to get used to being beaten on the head in this business. Sure enough, they found their way down that road. And then you think, “As long as you’re passionate about it.” Because life is nothing without passion. I don’t know too many actors who aren’t passionate, because why else would you be in this business, unless you were absolutely passionate about being on the stage, or passionate about being in front of a camera, or passionate about writing, passionate about lighting, editing, anything in the business? It requires enormous passion. And they seem to have that. So you can’t argue with it.

AWT: So what are some of your latest professional passions?
MP: I’ve been a writer for years and years and years. My wife continues to remind me I have too many folders of unfinished projects. But, about four years ago, I decided to really sit down and write – passionately -- again. I took on a writing partner and we’ve written four or five screenplays in different mediums. We’ve joined forces with a producing partner and formed a production company called “Transplant Entertainment Group.” We have a slate of seven different screenplays and teleplays which we have been very passionate about trying to find financing for. They are niche dramas that can be done on budgets of five million dollars or less. Our whole niche is to create something which can be done on budget and on time and therefore be attractive to an investor. Also our stories are geared towards women. Our casts are primarily women. We discovered – though I don’t think it’s a big surprise to anyone in the business and or even to the audience – that women that have reached a certain age no longer get the kind of material that men do. There is a dearth of important roles and there are many important actresses out there who need to be re-explored and given opportunities. And it’s not difficult to get to them, because they don’t get scripts anymore. We’ve attached some people’s names to some scripts and now we go about our business of trying to find financing in a very difficult economy. I’m sure that one of these will get produced one day, and if we’re very, very lucky we may get to produce them all.

Come back tomorrow for the final installment!


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