I recently had the pleasure of speaking with John O'Hurley, bestselling book author, who is scheduled to be at a book signing at Borders in Westwood on Monday evening, August 3. His newest book, Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework, First You Have to Do It is his second whimsical self-help book where he playfully documents lessons he learned from his canine companions. His first, It's Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump is a New York Times bestseller. This new one is also certain to grab the attention of the 21 million viewers who watch him host NBC's The National Dog Show Presented by Purina every Thanksgiving.
O'Hurley's inspiration comes from his recurring daydreams, he says. In Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework, First You Have to Do It, his first child William has just entered his life, and the feelings of inadequacy which often overcome new parents are expressed through his wizened Maltese Scoshi, who wants to make sure baby gets good parenting. The dog is so wise in fact, that he can scribble notes to the boy. "Dear Little Pink Thing," the first note reads, "Who are you?" As all dog lovers know, dogs do indeed have a lot of natural wisdom and healing powers, and they also can be quite jealous and childlike at the same time. But Scoshi, because of his longevity of almost 20 years is past all that and takes on the role of a pure and charming guardian angel. When young William is old enough to read, no doubt he will be thrilled with this love letter from the dog by way of his Dad.
John O'Hurley is an inspired man who has been able to successfully fulfill his creative aspirations in many arenas. He is perhaps best known as a performer, and even there his talent is multifaceted and far reaching. Some of us know him best from his wry, witty and award-winning recurring role of Elena's boss, J. Peterman, on Seinfield, which is now the number-one syndicated series in the world in 85 countries. Besides Seinfield, O'Hurley has also created roles on many top television shows, including Murder She Wrote, Frasier, The X-Files, and Melrose Place.
He has a younger audience, too, of the 10-years-and-under set, who only know him as King Neptune in the popular SpongeBob SquarePants or Captain Star Johnson in Duck Dogers or King Wallace II in Kim Possible. They might even remember his voice from What's New, Scooby Doo?
When he is not on scripted television, he can be seen hosting Family Feud or TV's Funniest Bloopers. Or dancing his way to a championship in Dancing With the Stars. We talked about the explosion of reality television. He is very much against it, although he does not put games and talent shows in the same category. But of voyeuristic shows, he is not a fan. "They replace talent with ambition and are a misuse of writers, directors and actors. It is bad entertainment and usually poorly produced." He considers them to be offensive and bad habits for future generations.
When I asked him about his title by People magazine of one of the "Sexiest Men Alive," O'Hurley jokingly said it was more about the "alive" than the "sexy."
Originally from New England, O'Hurley got his first break in New York in 1981 when he was cast in a little-known musical Eternal Love. From that he got his agent and his Equity card. He was in the right place at the right time, and he was very prepared. The preparation is key. He still loves theater, and when he is not touring in Monty Python's Spamalot (now at the Ahmanson) or Chicago he is getting ready for a revival of Man of LaMancha. I will be covering his stint on Spamalot in a follow-up interview. Most recently, John starred with Loretta Swit in the comedy Same Time Next Year, where his performance received rave reviews.
He is also a corporate motivational speaker, a low handicap golfer who lends his name and game to help his favorite charities, Golfers Against Cancer and Child Development Institute.
With all these accomplishments, when I asked him about his favorite creative outlet, surprisingly he talked of yet another area of his expertise: he composes music for piano. His CDs Peace of Our Minds and Secrets from the Lake have hit the classical charts. His music is his most private expression of his inner self and he treasures it.
Georja Umano is an actress/comedienne and animal advocate.
Photos courtesy of Anderson Group Public Relations
Come meet John O'Hurley
on Monday, August 3 at 7pm
1360 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028