Tag Archives: Robert David Hall

Robert David Hall Trades Death for Birth on This Week’s ‘CSI’

Robert David Hall CBS photo by Andrew MacPherson

With its final episode of this season just about to go into production, the original “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” is “like a battleship cruising through the ocean.  We still seem to have full steam.”  At least, that is the opinion of the show’s Robert David Hall.  And he’s certainly not alone, as “CSI” continues to be a strong ratings performer in its 11th year, and is listed among the formidable TVByTheNumbers’ Renew/Cancel Index as Certain to Be Renewed for the 2011-2012 season.

“We recently did our 250th episode and had a little party on set.  Billy Peterson came to visit us,” he adds, referring to the former “CSI” star.  “They took pictures, cut a cake.  The executives came out, and the crew…We were all shaking our heads, like, ‘250 episodes?'”

For Hall, this week’s (4/7) episode, penned by show creator Anthony Zuiker, offered a rare chance to get his medical examiner character, Doc Robbins, out of the lab — and then some.  “After all these years of dealing with death, I actually got to deliver a baby,” Hall says.  But, this being “CSI,” you know it’s not going to be a balloons-in-the-maternity ward kind of occasion.  In fact, the young mother has just committed suicide.

“Dr. Robbins acts very quickly, to deliver the baby right there…It’s based on something that really happened with Daniel Holstein, a pathologist who is an advisor and sometimes writer on the show.  There was a situation just like this in Los Angeles,” says Hall, who shares the segment with George Eads.  “At the end of the scene I’m actually holding a live baby.  Acting is one thing, but holding an infant in a scene is a great responsibility,” says Hall, whose own son is grown.

MEANWHILE:  Next up for Hall is a return to focusing on his infectious, Americana-style music.  He has two local gigs this weekend, and musician pals, including his “Things They Don’t Teach You in School” album producer, Chris Wall, in from Austin, Texas.  Hall, who lost his brother Steven to liver cancer just over a week ago, is especially valuing having good work and good friends right now.  The actor told us last year that it was Steven’s encouragement, and his corageous battle against the disease, that motivated him to finally get out and pursue his life-long dreams of music-making.  As he notes, “It’s so important to honor your dreams.”

Robert David Hall’s Summer of Song, McCartney Encounter

Robert David Hall CBS photo

“CSI” coroner Robert David Hall is having a high-flying time of it this summer — in his other career, as a music man.   His “Things They Don’t Teach You in School” album, a folksy, rootsy, Americana-style collection of songs he wrote himself and recorded in Austin, TX, is getting a reception Hall admits exceeds his hopes.  He slipped Craig Ferguson a copy, then Ferguson invited Hall to perform on his “Late Late Show.”  Come June 19, he’ll be at Nasvhille’s legendary Ryman Auditiorium as part of the lineup for the Grand Ole Opry 85th Anniversary celebration’s “I’m With the Band” series.

“This is sort of a Warp 10 for me.  I’m not scared.  I am thrilled.  I know it’s going to go well, but I don’t want to think about it too much because it’s almost overwhelming.  I lived in Virginia for awhile, growing up, and I listened to the Opry.  So many wonderful musicians have played there you can’t name them all.  Anyone who is anyone in country music.  It’s the highest honor,” he gushes.

Hall got to see some of his favorites, like Emmylou Harris, at the recent Gershwin Awards presentation to Paul McCartney at the White House (airing on PBS July 28).  “Being in the room with the President was amazing enough, but there were also Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, the Jonas Bros. – they’re not my cup of tea, but I know the first daughters like them – Jerry Seinfeld, who was hilarious…and Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters.  He was the surprise, playing ‘Band on the Run’ and adding a lot of energy.  It was such a spectacular thing.”  Hall, a double amputee whose work on behalf of the disability community has taken him to the White House before, says he and his wife Judy just happened to have McCartney to themselves for a minute as they rode a White House elevator together.

“I introduced my wife, and he sang to her — ‘Hey, Judy’” Hall imitates.  “She was doing cartwheels.”

Hey, Judy?

THE SPICE OF LIFE:  Paul Dano, the “There Will Be Blood” and “Little Miss Sunshine” actor who continually turns out performances in unusual indie fare between major feature roles, has the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz “Knight and Day” actioner, plus “The Extra Man” comedy – with Kevin Kline, John C. Reilly and Mrs. Cruise, Katie Holmes — coming out this summer.  And he says he also has high hopes for “For Ellen,” in which “I get to play a hard rock ‘n’ roller who is a little bit at the edge.”  The latter drama, completed this spring, is from filmmaker So Yong Kim, who did “Treeless Mountain” a couple years back.

As for what’s next, how about Paul uniting with girlfriend Zoe Kazan?  They’ve worked together before, after all.  “Sure,” he says.  “I don’t see a lot of reasons not to.  We both tend to like the same things, so you never know.”

‘Breaking Bad’ Turned ‘Upside Down’ in New Season says Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston in 'Breaking Bad'

Bryan Cranston in 'Breaking Bad'

Bryan Cranston, who’s earned two Emmys for his work on “Breaking Bad,” tips that the third season of the highly-lauded AMC show will be “like a million-piece puzzle that’s hiding the picture on the box.”Cranston, who directs the March 21 season-opener, reveals that as the story progresses this year, “The very structure of the show is turned upside down.” His character, science teacher Walter White, who started cooking crystal methamphetamine to make big money to support his family when he learned he had terminal lung cancer, has been keeping his double life secret.

“Yet, the one thing that can’t happen does happen. His wife finds out and all is lost,” Cranston says. “He must make amends, live with the fallout of his actions and try to win his wife back and to reconcile who his is.”

That might be, but make no mistake that drugs won’t still be a vital part of the story, as will Aaron Paul, who plays Walter’s former student who’s teamed up with his one-time teacher in the drug trade.

Cranston, who counts his role as the father in “Malcolm in the Middle” among his many credits, notes how flawed many television heroes have become today. Among them: Denis Leary as an alcoholic fireman in “Rescue Me,” Edie Falco as a cheating, drug-addicted wife in “Nurse Jackie,” murderers and such in “Sons of Anarchy.”

The way Cranston has figured it out, “In the old days, the leading man was handsome, never drank, didn’t abuse drugs, always figured out what his problems were and solved them. But today, we are accepting more sophisticated storytelling — more honest portrayals of the human experience.”

MAKING IT HAPPEN:  Robert David Hall, a.k.a. “CSI’s” coroner Al Robbins, is about to unveil “Things They Don’t Teach You in School” — a bluesy Americana-style labor of love he recorded last summer in Austin, with “some of the best sidemen in the business.”

Robert David Hall

Robert David Hall

He tells us, “I’ve been a musician and a singer almost all my life, but it just sort of faded.” Then, “My baby brother came down with cancer, liver cancer. He’s 46.” His brother’s battle awakened Hall to the fact that none of us has unlimited time to accomplish “that secret list of things we want to do in life” — and sparked him to get busy.

“I’m a good musician. I think I’m a good writer. I have no illusions. I just hope that people who check this out will enjoy it,” says Hall, who wrote seven of the songs on “Things They Don’t Teach You in School” and co-wrote two more. Samples of his enjoyable folksy fare can be checked out at his robertdavidhallmusic.com website.

Meanwhile, Hall, a mighty multi-tasker if there ever was one, continues his “CSI” duties as well as his leadership roles as an advocate for people with disabilities — as well as being among the founding fathers of the Screen Actors Guild’s iActor online casting database. It allows “all paid members to upload their reels, headshots and resume information. It’s a place where casting people can look and know that they have paid up union member.”

EXPANDING HORIZONS: Lea Thompson is moving forward with preproduction on her “Damaged Goods” project — that will have the “Jane Doe” mysteries and former “Caroline in the City” star behind the cameras, as a director. Though Lea’s directed herself in “Jane Doe” movies, this will be her first shot at helming a big-screen romantic comedy.

It’s about a high-flying, chic Malibu lifestyle guru who finds herself falling for a guy who operates a used furniture store in New Mexico and, well, owns chickens. Can love prevail?

James Denton and Jonathan Cooper are cast and subsidiary roles are being filled now.

CASTING CORNER: Now that the applause has had a chance to die down since the announcement that Kate Winslet will star in a remake of “Mildred Pierce” as an HBO miniseries, there are questions to be asked. First, who’ll play the key role of Veda — the selfish ingrate daughter that tenacious businesswoman Mildred can’t please.

Casting forces are working on that one now. The role won Ann Blyth an Oscar nomination for the 1946 feature — which, of course, netted Joan Crawford a Best Actress statuette.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster