Not much has been heard from longtime Bay Area radio giant Don Bleu since his forced retirement off the airwaves back in July of 2015… until recently that is.
The word is, he’s been tapped to appear in the HBO Series “Ballers” starring Dwayne Johnson. “Ballers” is a half-hour comedy drama of the lives of professional football players. Johnson stars as Spencer Strasmore, a retired football player turned agent/mentor to current and former players.
Don Bleu was picked by SF Casting after answering a cattle call. They were looking for gentlemen to play NFL owners. It was shot in San Francisco at the Fairmont Hotel so there were several other parts to fill, like tourists, etc. Cattle calls will seek categories such as males between 55-70, any ethnicity, or a female 18-29. A lot of people who come to these are former actors or insurance salesman who like to do this. Fortunately, Don got a call back.
“I get a call at 5:30 in the morning to appear at the base camp located south of Market Street in a big parking lot filled with trucks and trailers and everything. I stand in line in wardrobe wearing a suit. When I get to the front of the line, the wardrobe lady says, “We have enough suits, what do you have that’s casual.”
Don told her he had jeans and a shirt, and was asked to change into them. When he returns for approval she says, “Oh yeah, much better. Wait, you’re not an NFL owner, are you?”
“Yes I am,” he replied.
“Oh, no, then you have to have a suit. Go change. What team are you?”
Don had not been given a team yet for his part. “I’m uh, Atlanta Falcons, “ he said making it up.
“Great, then put on a light suit,” she instructed.
Don returns to the trailer and puts on a light suit and heads for his scene at the Fairmont. There, another wardrobe staff member says, “That’s too light, go put on a dark suit.”
Before Don’s day had started, he had been through three wardrobe changes.
What was it like working with the Rock?
“The Rock is very professional,” Don acknowledges. “He did his lines like 15 times, as they shoot from many different angles. We were sitting at the table, he does his scene, then they relight, reset, and shoot again, then relight, reset, and shoot again and again. That’s not like Clint Eastwood. He shoots a scene and is like, ‘How was that take? That was great. We’re done. Next.’ One take that’s all he does. This guy does 30 of them.”
Don was asked not to give away any plot spoilers, but his scene involves him sitting at a large table with other NFL owners waiting for the Rock, (Spencer), to make a big announcement. The episode won’t appear until next season, so we have a long wait before we can view this.
“I think it’s slated for the last episode,” Don says. “I had hoped I would be part of the big drunken party on a boat, but no,” he adds.
Don’s part required no speaking. Everything was pantomimed. There was one scene where the cameraman asked Don to stand right in front of the camera.
“I’m like, hey, I’m in front of the shot!” But what he needed was a shoulder to go by as the camera panned. So, at one point, we will see his shoulder go by.
Although this is Don’s first attempt at acting, he’s done several TV shows and commercials. Don was host of the “Gong Show” after Chuck Barris left. He was also host of Discovery Channel’s science show, “Know Zone” as well as appearing on Evening Magazine and PM Magazine TV shows. But he has never pantomimed in a scene pretending to be excited to meet another guy from Pittsburg. At least he got to smoke a cigar in his scene.
“It was fun. It’s a long day because your waiting all day for all the scenes you’re not going to be in.” When they’re doing something without you, that takes forever. You just sit there while they keep re-shooting over and over. But I enjoyed it. I’d like to do more speaking stuff and principle parts. We’ll see what happens.”
At the end of the long day, actors redeem their voucher for pay. The guy asked me, “Did you smoke?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Did you smoke in a scene?” he answers
“Oh, yeah, I smoked a cigar.”
“Okay then, you get an extra $9.”
“My income is soaring,” he quips to me. You have to love Don Bleu.