Robbie Rist rocks, reveals: Part two of our Monitor interview
Read to Me
Let’s move on to Mary Tyler Moore, which we also carry on Me-TV…
Oh, right on!
How did that show happen for you?
Well, first off, it is an honor to be a part of what I believe is one of the best television shows ever. I’m proud of what I did in The Brady Bunch, and what it brought into my life, but when it comes down to what I believe to be quality entertainment, Mary Tyler Moore – it’s one of the best shows ever. And also, I got to be a part of one of the best last episodes ever. The last episode of Mary Tyler Moore is heartbreaking; I can’t watch it now without crying. It’s a really beautiful moment in television history, and I’m lucky enough to have been in the room when it happened.
We’ve worked with Ed Asner, and he’s quite a character! Tell me a little bit about him.
Oh, yeah, he’s definitely a character! I seem to remember that I spent the most time with Ed; we had the most scenes together. It was sort of like, if the show was to continue on, I’m sure I would have been some sort of comic foil for him, because there was a fair amount of exchange, I think, between he and I.
We also carry The Love Boat. Do you have any memories of shooting that?
Oh, yeah, totally! Let’s see, first off, Melanie Chartoff, Larry Wilcox, Gordon Jump was in it! And I worked with Gavin again. And again, you know, I’m lucky, because I’ve never really been on a series for any protracted amount of time. Mostly I’m a trench warfare kind of guy; I go in there for the one episode, do what I gotta do, and then I get out! But, in that strange career I’ve had, and I hope this doesn’t sound stupid, but some of the shows that I’ve been in, they define the era they were in. You know, for a lot of people, The Love Boat was ‘must-see’ television for a Saturday night, that and Fantasy Island.
Do you get recognized for your work in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
Not so much for the voice, but again, it’s that lucky thing. I get recognized for different things, depending on how old the person is. So someone who’s between 30 and 40 now, they’ll possibly recognize me for Brady Bunch, and they’ll ask me, ‘So, did you do anything else?’ At which point I’ll roll my eyes and say, ‘Yeah, a couple things!’ And I’ll bring up the Turtles and they’ll just lose their mind
It’s had a strange life, and I don’t want to say it’s like ‘Star Wars’ but it’s like ‘Star Wars’ in that it’s becoming generational, where guys of a certain age are playing it for their kids and it’s garnering a new audience. And the strange thing is, it still has the same impact, twenty years on. If you’re between 7 and 12 and you see that movie for the first time, I think it makes your head explode. If you see it at the right time in your life, it becomes a real defining moment.
I keep trying to find a way to market myself in a way that says, if you put me in your thing, I’m not saying it’s going to become iconic, but apparently the chances go up!
Sharknado, perfect example! The director and I have known each other for 25 years, and every project he’s done, I ‘ve done music for, and when I heard that he was directing this thing I threatened him with physical violence unless he put me in it. I mean, the title alone says more in three syllables than A Trip to Bountiful does.
It’s Snakes on a Plane.
Yes, totally. It’s so incredibly high concept that you hear the title and say ‘I know exactly what this movie’s about and I have to watch it!’ And then, crazily enough, when you think about all the summer movies, the big blockbusters that under-performed last summer, Pacific Rim, The Lone Ranger, all these crazy, big budget movies. It turns out that the movie of the summer was this under a million film they made and it set the Twitterverse aflame. So, that’s kind of a cool thing to be involved with, and I also wrote all the pop songs that are in the movie too. We’re just about to release The Ballad of Sharknado on vinyl.
When you guys were filming it, did you know you had this phenomenon on your hands?
I did! I mean, I didn’t know, but I did tell (director) Anthony (Ferrante) before he took the thing on, that I didn’t know if the thing was going to pan out, but just based on the title alone I knew that people were going to watch it. And right now, he’s in New York doing Sharknado 2! We’re working on the end theme song right now, which, because it takes place in New York is called ‘I’m Going To Take A Bite Out Of The Big Apple Before It Takes A Bite Out Of Me’.
Are you still in contact with any other former child stars of your era?
God bless the intwerwebs, because I reconnected with a whole bunch of people. Kirby Furlong, I’ve been talking to lately, Mason Reese. I’ve been talking to Susan Olsen the entire time. Dawn Lyn, I’ve been talking to her, I re-established my friendship with Quinn Cummings. I talk to Johnny Whitaker every once in a while. There’s a whole bunch of us catching up on what we’ve been doing for the last 30 years.
What are you up to now?
I’m on a Disney show called Doc McStuffins, and if you have kids between 3 and 7, it’s the most popular show in that demographic. Once again, there’s that icon thing – just put me in your show, I promise! But around the time of the Turtles, I transitioned into primarily doing voiceovers, and I’ve been doing that pretty steadily for the past 30 years now. So I’ve got that going, and I’m auditioning all the time and doing music stuff as well.
You play every instrument and seem to play in every type of group out there.
Um, yeah! You know, my music co-existed with acting the whole time. I’ve got a ‘70s night thing that I do at different places around here. There’s a place out in Moore Park called Rock and Roll Pizza, which is a former A&W that this couple have bought and turned into a kind of rock and roll museum and club, and I play there on Fridays. I’ve got my new original band called The Wrong Dots and we’re in the process of getting our songs together. I’m producing Lisa Harrison from The Waltons, I’m helping her work on a musical. Someone told me a long time ago, if you’re going to be in entertainment, don’t specialize, so I kinda overdid it!
Check out Robbie’s take on The Raspberries’ classic ‘Go All The Way’.
Here he is giving the straight dope on voiceover acting:
And here’s the link to his weekly free-form radio show:
Again, we had a great time talking with Robbie, (here's part one of our interview in case you missed it) and we’re pretty sure that’s not the last you’ll see or hear from him on Me-TV.