paul kyriazi, author, feature film director, motivational speaker.

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Directing James Darren

Paul Kyriazi directs James Darren

For the part of the self-involved rock star name Shane in Rock Star Rising audio-book. I wanted someone that is connected to rock 'n roll or at least singing. My agent gave me a choice of Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, or James Darren. Even though I'm a big fan of Rydells (Bye Bye Birdie) his nice guy personal didn't fit the wicked rocker that Shane is. Frankie Avalon has a stronger persona and was in one of my favorite movies, The Alamo with John Wayne. Still, he has more of a relaxed beach comedy persona.

But James Darren played a stone cold killer in The Guns of Navarone with Gregory Peck. A classic action movie that still has a large following. In fact, the new dvd has "The making of...." in it. James Darren was a student of the prestigious acting teacher Stella Adler. He also has a popular following of Star Trek Deep Space 9 as Vic Fontaine the hologram night club singer. In fact, the next day after recording with Darren he was go to a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. It's good to have an actor that is current. So it was no contest of who to chose to play Shane.

I also figured that Darren would have no hang ups about playing a pushy bad guy, that the character of Shane is. And as I figured, when he got into the recording booth he really got into that character without any help from me. My main job was just to add and cut words or phrases that would help the scenes play smoother with the way he was approaching the material. I had scheduled Darren to arrive an hour after Robert Culp and the other actors because Culp had scenes without James Darren.

I was pleasantly surprised when Darren arrived before any of the actors, more than an hour ahead of his call. He introduced himself and said, "I know I'm early. I just wanted to get her and then study the script." Which he did in the outer lobby as I got to work with Culp and the others. James' scenes with Robert Culp, playing the part of his agent, were something to behold. Especially the scene where they have a big argument over career choices. Before that scene, I went into the booth (I prefer going in, instead of just talking over the intercom through their earphones). I said, "Okay, here's the one scene where you guys can really yell at each other. So feel free to do so." And they, not so much as yelled, but really got angry with each other. It's one of my favorite scenes in the show.

Later, after Culp and Kevin McCarthy's scenes were finished, James had a lot of work to do putting his voice in a couple of scenes that were already recorded with other actors. For example, he plays a nicer guy on the beach in Hawaii with a girl that charms him. After finishing that, I said to him, "Hey James, is that the first scene you ever did on a beach." He laughed as he had done three "Giget"s (as "Moondoggie") as well as many other scenes on a beach. He said, "It's the first time I've been on a beach with my street clothes on." Later, James had to do some long soliloquies as he talks about his past life and future plans. Those he did with sincerity and sensitivity in contrast to the crazy rocker he was in the beginning the show. I didn't think about it at the time, but James and George Chakiris played brothers in Diamond Head with Charleton Heston. Chakiris told me they are still close friends.

I forgot to mention this to James when we were recording and even now James nor George knows that they are in the same show, as their characters never meet. They be surprised when they receive the CDs and see the credits. As for that, Robert Culp as in the middle of recording, "Whose the narrator?" When I said Rod Taylor he hung his mouth open in surprise, as he didn't know the extent of all the stars that were involved in this. Now I wonder if he was told that Russ Tamblyn and George Chakirs were already recorded by that time too. Well, he'll find out soon enough.

These days, James Darren is still performing in Las Vegas and directing TV shows such as Walker, Texas Ranger. You've got to hand it to a guy that started out as a pop singer, then actor, then actor/singer/director in a long career that never had a lull. As for Rock Star Rising, I think he'll be surprised when he hears the production's effects and music. Especially, a piece of a song that I bought that sounds like him, for a scene where he's cutting a record in the story. I think he'll like that.


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