So by now, youâ€™d all know that I live and breath everything Reagan-era. Iâ€™m a purist, a supporter and a devotee of anything that came out of the 1980s â€“ even those ridiculous fucking monkeys that apparently came to life when you let them swim in the base of the toilet bowl.
I still import TAB into the country. I have the original 1989 â€œBatmanâ€ ticket stub somewhere. And I wore out my â€œNine and a Half Weeksâ€ VHS by the time I was twelve. And Iâ€™m probably the only guy reading this column (I could stop right there, couldnâ€™t I?) that actually has â€˜fondâ€™ memories of seeing â€œHoward the Duckâ€ at the theater – not to mention being meekly turned-on by Martyâ€™s mum going down on a pluckinâ€™ duck. And despite being bought up in the country, the only Farmer Iâ€™ve ever met is Ted, the one that snagged Molly Ringwaldâ€™s damp nickers.
Mostly, I just love the cats that came out of the era â€“ the Judge Reinholdâ€™s, the Mickey Rourkeâ€™s, the Dan Aykroydâ€™s, the Ami Dolenzâ€™s, the Lucy Deakinsâ€™, The John Cusackâ€™s, The Kevin Peter Hallâ€™s, the Emilio Estevezâ€™s .. .. (Why the hell am I referring to them all with a plural!? Did Bobby Duvall clone them in that Spotiswoode flick?). I miss them near as much as my Han Solo-in-Hoth-attire action figure that was destroyed by destructive cousins in the Summer of 1984.
Do you remember all those youngsters that came to fame in the 80s? Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re familiar with Drew Barrymore, Corey Feldman, Jerry Oâ€™Connell, and River Phoenix. Some, if theyâ€™ve got The Onion bookmarked, may even be familiar with Wil Wheaton. But what about Chris Young? Remember him? He was the youngster that fronted such fun teen flicks as â€œBook of Loveâ€, â€œThe Great Outdoorsâ€ and TVs â€œMax Headroomâ€. Whereâ€™s he? Or what about Martha Plimpton â€“ she was one of â€œThe Goonies â€“ who was quite the starlet there for a while? Or how about the love struck duo from â€œThe Boy Who Could Flyâ€- Lucy Deakins and Jay Underwood? And donâ€™t even try to convince me you werenâ€™t a fan of Zack Gallighan of â€œGremlinsâ€ and â€œWaxworkâ€ fame. And who else wanted shares in Kristy Swanson after she smashed Anne head with a basketball in â€œDeadly Friendâ€?
Now that Iâ€™m working in a producing capacity, Iâ€™m able to not only personally thank – a lot of the time anyway – these people that entertained me throughout the years â€“ but Iâ€™ve also had the pleasure of working with a few of them. I recently finished a picture with the adorable Kerri Green of â€œThe Gooniesâ€ and â€œLucasâ€, have worked with the wonderful Dee Wallace of â€œE.Tâ€ and â€œCujoâ€ on a couple of occasions, C.Thomas Howell too, did a project with Lisa Wilcox from the â€œElm Streetâ€ series, and also Ferris Bueller himself, Matthew Broderick, to name but a few. â€¦.
â€¦. And in my travels this week I crossed paths with another face you may remember from the 80s – Keith Coogan. He was in the terrific little Touchstone comedy â€œAdventures in Babysittingâ€ and later, â€œToy Soldiersâ€ with Wil Wheaton, and the surprise smash â€œDonâ€™t Tell Mom The Babysitterâ€™s Deadâ€ (who, reading this column, doesnâ€™t remember rushing out to see that one on opening weekend? If only to check out Christina Applegate on a larger canvas!?). I hadnâ€™t seen Coogan in anything for years – heâ€™s 39 now, but hardly aged a day â€“ so was intrigued where heâ€™d been hiding.
â€œI have been living here in Los Angeles, working on the occasional low-budget art flick – soft-core pornography, but with a Catholic twistâ€, Coogan laughs. â€œ[Basically] kicking my legs up and enjoying all of those big residual checks!â€.
And heâ€™s probably not kidding â€“ some of the films he made made a mint.
One thing my friend Eric Stoltz told me recently was that it was a different time growing up as a young actor in the 80s than it is now. I recall he mentioned that he didnâ€™t have a publicist. Coogan said he agrees with Stoltzâ€™s comments.
â€œIt sure was a different time. I would say that kid actors werenâ€™t commoditized nearly as much as they are today. And the idea that publicists are a new thing is ridiculous. You had guys hanging around all of the events, sharking you. They had a more difficult time in the past convincing parents to spend money on publicists, managers, trainers, stylistsâ€¦ now itâ€™s something you have to do merely to keep up. That, and in the past, there were no â€œCooganâ€ accounts. You had to trust the parents to stash some cash for the future. Now, a check canâ€™t even be cut by the producers unless the Coogan account has already been set up.â€
For those that donâ€™t recall, Coogan played one of the kids Elisabeth Shue has been charged with babysitting in Christopher Columbusâ€™s â€œAdventures in Babysittingâ€. Itâ€™s considered his claim to fame.
â€œSurely â€œAdventures in Babysittingâ€ launched my feature film career. But I have to say, â€œThe Waltonâ€™sâ€ was a big boost when I was 10â€, says Coogan. â€œI worked pretty consistently in television from the late 70â€™s up until I was cast in 1986 by Chris Columbus. He was adamant that I was right for â€œBradâ€, and fought for me when Disney said no.â€
And of course I had to ask him about â€œDonâ€™t Tell Mom The Babysitterâ€™s Deadâ€ â€“ a comedy from one of my favourite filmmakers of that time, Mr. Stephen Herek. Itâ€™s the one where he said â€˜The dishes are doneâ€¦ dude!â€
â€œSummer camp for adultsâ€¦ and kids!â€, Coogan says of that experience. â€˜â€™Stephen Herek had directed â€œBill and Tedâ€™sâ€ and â€œCrittersâ€, so I knew we were in good hands. Christina Applegate had been a friend for many years, and it was absolutely terrific working with such a pro. She really did a great job on that, Christina held the whole movie together. And I have to point out, the quote is, â€œThe dishes are done, man!â€â€¦no dude!â€.
Yeah Okay, so his memory is better than mine.
Further proof? He remembers the weekend that â€œAdventures in Babysittingâ€ opened.
â€˜â€™Yeah, opening up the newspaper the weekend it opened. I couldnâ€™t believe the ad campaign. Full page color spread in the L.A. Times. I just about had a kitten. I said to my mom, â€œI think they spent some money on ads, no?â€ Adventures in Babysitting was hugeâ€¦ it did very well at the box office, and was one of the few George Bush investments that ever worked out – he was on the board of Silver Screen Partners IIIâ€.
And surprisingly, he ainâ€™t pissed theyâ€™re trying to remake the movie.
â€˜â€™Not at allâ€¦ Iâ€™m hoping they keep to the spirit of the originalâ€¦ hard to do todayâ€¦ the juryâ€™s out until I see or work on it.â€™â€™
One of my favourite films in Cooganâ€™s back catalogue is â€œBook of Loveâ€. I wondered whether he even realized who director Bob Shaye was?
â€˜â€™Bob was awfulâ€¦ he didnâ€™t know anything about being on a setâ€¦ he couldnâ€™t control us actors, and he had no idea what he was doingâ€¦Just kiddingâ€¦.â€™â€™, laughs the actor. â€œRobert Shaye became a good friend. For rehearsals, he invited the cast up to his beautiful Hollywood Hills home, and cooked dinner for us while we played with his Nightmare on Elm Street toys. He giggled while he showed us the trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and he asked us all for our input. Book of Love may have lost money for NewLine, but it taught Bob how to directâ€¦ while we were on the set he even confided to me and Chris Young that he had this great idea for a Sci-Fi film. He was talking about â€œThe Last Mimzyâ€, which was really good by the way. Big difference from shooting a simple period piece to mounting a huge special effects filmâ€¦ but thatâ€™s Bob for you, always taking on big challenges.â€™â€™
Mainly, Coogan says he keeps in touch with his â€œBook of Loveâ€ co-star Chris Young (who, I believe, is now working in technology now? Phones-or-something-or-other?).
â€˜â€™Iâ€™m still friends with Chris. And I probably wouldnâ€™t punch Anthony Rapp in the face if I ever saw him againâ€¦ he was pretty cool, too.â€™â€™
What Coogan is stoked about is that some of the casting directors that heâ€™s now testing for are fans of his. Seems the kids that grew up on â€œAdventures in Babysittingâ€ and â€œBook of Loveâ€ are all grown up now â€“ and taking over the industry.
â€œThe new breed of Casting Directors are all fansâ€¦ now if it would only turn into a guest spot on â€œLostâ€!â€, he laughs.
And hereâ€™s hoping we get to see more of Coogan again soon – – thanks for watching VH1â€™s â€œRemember Whenâ€¦.â€
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