Charley

Alison today

Alison today

Alison Grooms played “Charley” in “Movin’ On” season 2 episode “Will The Last Trucker Leaving Charlotte, Please Turn Out The Lights”. In a post on our Facebook page, I marveled at the incredible ability of the unidentified five year-old child playing the part. That post got our fan community in gear and with the help of “Amazin’ Bazen”, Fred and Christopher, the little actress was identified and located. Barry’s wife was the first to make contact with Alison. Heather has a comfortable and charming Southern accent and we thought an out-of-the-blue phone call, forty years after the show aired from Heather was less likely to creep Alison out. It turns out we need not have worried. Alison was happy to talk to us and answer every question we put to her. She even supplied us a few photos that had never been seen outside her family.

I posted the interview with Alison over three Facebook posts. Below are the photos Alison shared and the entire interview I did with Alison.

How were you able to act so natural? Did you have any training? Do you recall following instruction from the director or others?

Alison in the newspaper

Alison in the newspaper

  • I had no professional experience prior to this. Though my mother says, “it just came naturally to me”, I owe her many thanks for her time spent and dedication in helping me with this early start to my years of acting. Mom said I listened well, but she did too. We forever remembered all the valuable direction that came from the crew, director and cast after every take and every rehearsal. I do recall hearing from the director that my mom was not the typical “stage mom”… she stayed out of the way and let me do my thing. It came “naturally” because cast and crew made it easy!

You were five years old, yes?

Alison

Alison

  • Yes, I was five years old when I auditioned but was 6 years old at the time of filming. My mother does remember the director being concerned about my young age in this large role.

You were so bold, so calm. How did that happen? What were you thinking?

  • It was the environment the cast and crew created that made my performance go well. In addition, my mom’s dedication to rehearsing the lines with me made me very comfortable in front of the camera.
Alison Grooms and Claude Akins

Alison Grooms and Claude Akins

How did get the job?

  • A neighbor dared Mom to take me to audition! I had no experience but Mom thought it would be fun to see how a TV audition works. She grabbed a school picture of me, a deck of cards, and we headed downtown. I remember sitting in a large room with many other girls waiting to be seen. My mother recalls most of the other girls had portfolios and composites, so she just treated it as a neat experience, a fun afternoon taking part in the selection process. She did not prepare me for the audition since she was unaware of what to expect. What she did tell me was to, “just be myself”.  When we got the next few call backs, I remember how excited she was but I did not realize the magnitude of the follow up calls. Finally, we were notified I got the part and we got to work!

 

Who cared for you on set?

  • My mother and grandmother were with me for most of the filming. At night, my Dad and Mom would go over the next day’s lines and I remember rehearsing in my dressing room a lot. On set I felt like I had even more “Moms”, as the ladies whose characters worked at the truck-stop were extremely nice and generous with their help.

Do you remember Barry Weitz, Claude Akins, Frank Converse or the director?Alison and Claude between takes

  • I remember all of them! They created such a fun (but professional) atmosphere and made me feel very comfortable. Claude Akins gave me a gold bangle with the inscription “Movin’ On”  which I still have today. Claude and Frank were very protective of me and I remember that if any of the actors or the crew used a bad word they had to pay a penalty. I also remember getting a toy “Movin’ On” truck.
Alison Grooms and Claude Akins

Alison Grooms and Claude Akins

How did you feel around the trucks? Were you impressed? Did you sit behind the wheel? Blow the horn?

  • The trucks were intimidating, there were so many buttons and knobs. I was fascinated by the sleeping cabin. I couldn’t believe people really slept in a truck. I did get to sit in the “Movin’ On” Kenworth, though the steering wheel was too big for me to be able to see anything over it. The scene where the truck is stolen while I sleep and I then have to wake up and try to blow the horn made me nervous because  “a bad guy” was driving and I knew the horn would be loud if I pulled it. Another time, Claude Akins, Frank Converse and I were acting like we were driving when we weren’t really moving at all. The truck was completely covered in a black drape and I could not believe the number of men physically shaking the truck to make it look like we were moving. I felt like I might mess up my lines or miss a cue because I was mesmerized by the logistics of it all.

Do you have other memories or stories of being on set or what it was like?

  • It is amazing how many memories I still have of being on set more than 40 years later. I remember I got to hold a kitten much of the time (the kitten was part of a segment in the episode). My dressing room was very “fancy”. There was food available anytime you wanted to eat and I had my very own director’s chair to sit in. I felt like a princess.
Alison Grooms, Claude Akins and Frank Converse

Alison Grooms, Claude Akins and Frank Converse

Did you do any acting afterward? Community Theater? Any wish that you had continued acting?

  • This opportunity led me to further jobs. I signed with several talent agencies and my jobs included national commercials, voice overs, and print ads – working with people like Peter Graves and Nancy Sullivan. Disney’s Mouseketeers wanted me but my parents decided against moving to California. I’m told they pursued me quite persistently. Imagine where that could have led! “Movin’ On” was an exciting start and my first great experience in acting. I am truly blessed to have been provided the opportunity.

If you have recently watched the episode, what do you think of it and yourself? What were your kids reactions?

  • It all came back to me. I even recall some things I said while filming that were not in the script. I was afraid I would get in trouble but my “ad-libs” ended up in the show. In one scene Claude Akins was carrying me, walking downtown, and I said, “It’s raining.” I said, “please” and “thank you” a few times when it was not in the script. My parents obviously taught me manners well. I also remember when I said the line, “Grits give me gas.” Everyone thought it was very funny but I did not understand. Mom had to explain the phrase to me. I recall the shower scene was confusing because I could not understand why I wasn’t really going to get a shower when people kept telling me to take a shower! My children were thrilled to see their five year-old Mom performing on a real TV show. And they especially like the memories I shared about the experience.
Alison

Alison

 

 

 

Barry Weitz: A Day In Production on Movin’ On

Barry Weitz in the Kenworth cab

Barry Weitz in the Kenworth cab

In answer to a question posed in our Facebook page feature, “Ask Barry Weitz”, Barry laid out what a typical day might be like during production on Movin’ On:

Getting Up To Speed  –

Let’s say the production schedule is such that we have a day shoot…12 hours… relatively easy stuff… a couple of long dialogue scenes with Sonny and Will and then a rather complicated chase scene with our trucks. The director has rehearsed the dialogue with the actors that morning and made some script changes based on what the location suggests and what the other cast members can handle. I’ve watched the rehearsal, made some suggestions, and released the script supervisor to type up the changes and get them to the various cast and crewmembers. Keep in mind that most of the crew has only read the previous version of the script. They are ready to “rock and roll”, but after the changes we need to update the crew and get them on the same page with the director and actors. As it’s an early call, the caterers have put together breakfast for the cast and crew and we go off to the truck for a delicious burrito and coffee, and to get the rest of the cast and crew up-to-speed.

Non-stop Meetings –

Once final rehearsal and blocking of the morning dialogue scenes are done, shooting begins. When I’m satisfied that all’s going well, I’ll drive to the chase scene location. I’ll meet with the stunt coordinator, drivers, and additional production crew to see if the “chase scene” is ready for the director and cast when the morning’s work is completed and it’s time to move on. As we had a flawless crew, all would naturally be in order and the conversations and decisions of our earlier production meeting would be coming together like clockwork. Satisfied with the progress, I might drive back to the office and perhaps meet some of the local casting options that our 1st. Assistant Director has assembled. I’ll make necessary casting decisions, and then meet with the location people to discuss what the next week’s locations look like and what problems they may be encountering trying to get the right look for the next episode.

Then it’s time for a meeting with the Unit Production Manger for a review on how the costs of the episode are going. Happy with that conversation, and curious to know how shooting is going…. and not having the pleasure of cell phones… I’ll drive back to the location and watch the First Unit do their thing. I’m probably driving while First Unit is taking lunch, so I hope they put aside something for me.

Company Move –

After we wrap the dialogue scenes the whole company: actors, crew, makeup, props, costumes, catering, and craft services – all move on to the chase location, joining the stunt drivers and show trucks.

I love watching the drivers move our monster trucks around like sports cars. I’m fascinated how our gaffers, grips and camera people rig camera mounts and lights on our Kenworths and chase vehicles. And I’m always surprised to see the sound guy hidden in the sleeper in order to record Will’s and Sonny’s off the cuff dialogue that’s always heard so clearly in the final print. The stunt comes off beautifully. I’m thrilled and promise to buy a round of beer when we all return to the hotel later that day.

The Finish Line –

Back at the office (again), I call the editors in LA to check how the previous days dailies looked, and was there anything additional that we need to film to make a particular scene work. If so, I would get those notes to our director and production crew and schedule a time to have that work done. Finally, the department heads and I will have conversations about the next days work.

I’ll often eat in the office while on the phone to LA or talking to the department heads. If not, I may join one or more of the crew for a bite. In any case, we’ll gather at some watering hole later where I’ll make good on my promise to buy a round. We all raise a glass and toast another day of work well done!!!!

Then I crawl into bed!!!

Robb Mariani and Overdrive Magazine

I had written of Robb Mariani in a previous blog. Robb is the creator of American Trucker, a series that ran on the Speed Channel. In my September 2016 blog I described how, at his first trucking show, Barry had met Robb. Now Robb has written his version of not only meeting Barry, but of the historic nature of Brad Wike’s Southern Classic Truck Show itself. In his Overdrive Magazine article, Robb recounts how five legendary trucks, icons of movies and television, assembled for the first time ever on a hill in Lincolnton, NC. Now, and forevermore, that hill will be known as “Hollywood Hill”.

 

Here is Robb Mariani’s article, including photos and a video.

History made on ‘Hollywood hill’: The day five famous trucks from 1970s trucking movies, TV shows all got together

Merry Movin’ On Christmas

Movin' On Christmas Card 2016

Movin’ On Christmas Card 2016

 

Merry Christmas Movin’ On fans!

2016 has been a great year with many significant steps forward for our beloved TV show.

2016 Highlights

  • Movin’ On is now streaming on Hulu, Yahoo View, PROClassicTV.  Youtube is streaming four episodes with more being added regularly!
  • Movin’ On merchandise is available at our own Zazzle Store
  • The Movin’ On / In Tandem Museum is open in Wake Forest NC and has already attracted 200 visitors
  • Our Facebook page  continues to grow. We now have almost 3000 followers.
  • Barry Weitz attended his first Trucking Show this past summer and had a great time.
  • Barry and Mark were interviewed on Sirius/XM Radio on Freewheelin‘ and The Jay Thomas Show. Re-listen to them by accessing our blog posts
  • Movin’ On was featured in articles by Overdrive Magazine, It’s About TV, and Television Obscurities. You can find them on the blog page as well (except for The Overdrive article. That link will be posted soon)
  • Bill Bazen remains “Amazen”! He continues tracking down locations, fan photos and stories, and vintage Movin’ On newspaper clippings and posting them on the Official Historian Facebook page
  • And of course, Barry continues to publish his memories and random thoughts on Movin’ On. All of which can be read on this website’s Episode Guide.

Upcoming in 2017

I’m going to take a risk here. I’m going to break one of my rules because I’m so excited about Movin’ On’s future. I expect Producer approved DVDs of Movin’ On will finally be available in 2017. I also anticipate that the success of those DVDs will allow us to remaster In Tandem, Movin’ On’s TV movie pilot! If everything works out, we will be thrilled to present In Tandem to fans for the first time in over 40-years, at the quality you deserve.

We are also looking forward to new dramatic audio production of the classic shows. Some details are still to be worked out with our partner, Colonial Radio Theater, but if all goes as planned, fans, both old and new, will be downloading Movin’ On audio dramas and listening to them on the road in 2017. To be clear, these will be brand new productions of the existing episodes. That means new actors, sound effects, and except for Merle Haggard, new music. We hope truckers everywhere will enjoy content specially created with them in mind. I look forward to the day when a trucker can listen to Movin’ On at the wheel of his rig all day, then curl up comfortably in his sleeper at night and watch Movin’ On on DVD.

Because of Barry’s incredible experience and Brad Wike’s Southern Classic Truck Show, we are striving to arrange appearances for Barry and the Big Green Kenworth at a show or two in 2017. We are aiming for The ATHS National Convention in Des Moines, The Mid-Atlantic Truck Show in Louisville, and The Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. Maybe we’ll even make it back to Brad Wicke’s with the rig this time! Stay tuned for details.

Lastly, thanks to Bill, I’ve been in touch with a photographer in Astoria, OR who found a box of large format pictures he shot in 1974, when Movin’ On was in town. This means there are new, never before seen high quality images from the episodes filmed around Astoria. We are working to bring them to the fans.

That’s it for now. Barry, Bill, and Mark wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

 

Barry Weitz at The Movin’ On Museum –

The Movin' On Museum Banner

Barry’s Emotional Visit To The Movin’ On Museum

Barry visited The Movin’ On Museum that Bill Bazen opened recently. The Museum is located at 14917 Creedmore Rd. Wake Forest, NC 27587. It is open Saturdays from 12 pm to 3 pm and Monday – Friday by appointment. Sorry, we are closed Sunday. For appointments to visit the museum on a weekday please email MOVINONFAN@YAHOO.COM or call Bill at 919-282-2372 and leave a message.

A look inside the Movin' On Museum

A look inside the Movin’ On Museum

The extensive collection of Movin’ On items at the museum left Barry a little dazed. On the phone to me later in the day, Barry had a difficult time describing the emotions he experienced meeting Bill and finally realizing how deeply Movin’ On, his creation, touched people. Claude Akins had once told Barry that his part as Sheriff Lobo was a job, done for a paycheck; his role as Sonny Pruitt was for love, he’d have done it for nothing! At the Museum, Barry saw a letter Claude had written repeating the same story.

Barry is used to actors saying things like that. He believed Claude completely, but after all, Claude was in show biz. At the Movin’ On Museum, and earlier in the week at The Great Southern Truck Show, Barry was hearing from people – regular people who had been touched by his program. It’s a unique experience for a Producer to be told things like, “What you did was what made me want to be a trucker,” and “Your show made me proud that my Daddy was a trucker.”

Barry was deeply affected by what he saw and heard in North Carolina. Describing it to me he used the words inspirational, touching, tickled. Barry spoke of getting a little “weepy” when he touched items that he hadn’t seen in over 40-years.

Barry Wietz and Bill Bazen

Barry Wietz and Bill Bazen

I don’t expect you will get weepy when you visit the museum. Maybe only the baby’s father feels that way. But, if Movin’ On reminds you of family, pride, and long ago good times, perhaps you will have to fight back one or two tears.

Barry Weitz Attends His First Truck Show –

Barry in the cab of the Movin' On Kenworth for the first time in 40-yearsBarry Weitz is not a man who tears up. He also doesn’t let his emotions show. This week has been an exception. True, he did not tear up, but for the first time since we began collaborating, Barry’s emotions were evident. He expressed his gratitude to me for reviving Movin’ On. He was effusive in his thanks and appreciation.

What brought this on? Barry is, for the first time, understanding the deep meaning that Movin’ On has for people. Barry visited Brad Wike’s Southern Classic Truck Show in late September. The visit was an afterthought, a short road trip with his wife to fill a Saturday afternoon. Meredith and Chris of Freewheelin’ mentioned that the original Movin’ On Kenworth would be at the show. By chance, Barry was in Charlotte, forty minutes away from Brad’s farm so he went over with no expectations. What Barry found in Brad’s lush field, in addition to many amazing trucks, was his past. Barry also discovered that his past is tied to the people that he made Movin’ On for – but now has he met them face to face.

Barry arrived unannounced and asked for Brad. Understandably, Brad was busy and didn’t like the idea of going back to the entrance to speak to some unknown visitor. “There are two-hundred people that want to see me,” Brad explained to his assistant over the phone. “You’re going to want to see this one,” Brad’s assistant told him.

How right she was. Once Brad understood that the Creator of Movin’ On was standing before him he could not have been happier. He was looking upon a hero of his childhood. He was remembering his father on the roof of their home in 1974, twisting the antenna to pull in a better picture on their TV. It was 8pm Tuesday night – Movin’ On was starting.

Barry wanted to see the Kenworth. But first Brad had to introduce Barry to another of the Movin’ On faithful, Robb Mariani. Robb is the Executive Producer of American Trucker and was attending the show with his Cobra rig. On Robb’s website, Movin’ On is listed as one of his all-time favorite trucker movies, TV shows, and songs. Brad knew Robb would be as thrilled as he was to meet the man who had propelled trucking into the pop culture 40-years ago.

Robb explained to Barry how important Movin’ On had been to him. It’s why he got into trucking.

Barry about to climb aboardFinally it was time to see the big green truck. I imagine Barry must have forced back a tear or two as he gazed on the truck, climbed on board, and sat behind the wheel. The look of joy on his face, looking out through the S. Pruitt side window says it all. The big grin and thumbs up are there to hide the deeper happiness.

The rest of the day Barry was told how important Movin’ On was to people. Every one wanted to thank him and tell how the show impacted their lives. Sure, Barry enjoyed seeing the truck after forty-years, but what really stuck with him were the fans. For the very first time Barry understood how what he had created affected people. They aren’t just an audience anymore. They are not percentages on a Neilson rating. They are people who appreciate what Barry and his team did. They are grateful and after many, many years they were able to express their thanks to the man who did so much for them.

Freewheelin’ with Meredith and Chris

Freewheelin'

On The Radio

Barry and I appeared on Sirius/XM Radio Road Dog channel’s Freewheelin’ with Meredith Ochs and Chris T. I was fortunate to be in studio and met the co-hosts and staff. It was a fantastic experience.

Chris T, Mark and Meredith Ochs

Chris T, Mark and Meredith Ochs

Meredith, Chris, Noa, and Ash could not have been more welcoming and charming. They were genuinely interested in the show. Chris remembered watching as a child. Meredith and Chris kept us on air almost a full hour and asked great questions. We had the chance to talk to several truckers who called in from the road. Every one of them had fond memories of the show and expressed thanks to Barry for creating a TV show that spoke to them. Most of the truckers insist that Movin’ On motivated them to get into the trucking business and is cause of their life-long love of trucks.

Barry and I had a blast!

Click here to hear the full interview. Thanks Freewheelin’!!

Barry Weitz At The Southern Classic Truck Show

A result of appearing on Freewheelin’ with Meredith and Chris was that we heard that the original, restored Movin’ On Kenworth was to be at Brad Wike’s Southern Truck Show in Lincolnton NC. What luck! Barry happened to be only 40-minutes away in Charlotte.

Barry about to climb aboardBarry showed up unannounced at the show on Brad’s farm. Once Brad realized that the man standing before him was the creator of Movin’ On he couldn’t contain himself. He escorted Barry all around the show, introducing him to everyone including Robb Mariani, the creator of American Trucker on the Speed Channel. Robb was as floored as Brad had been. He could not believe he was shaking hands with the man who had created one of his favorite TV shows; the man who to a large part was responsible for his love of trucks and his career as a trucker and television Barry in the cab of the Movin' On Kenworth for the first time in 40-yearsproducer.

Brad and Robb then led Barry over to the big green Kenworth. Paul Sagehorn, who restored the truck, had the same reaction as everyone else. It was like magic. Could they really be speaking with one of their heroes? Paul had Barry autograph the sign he carries with the truck. Then Barry climbed up into the cab. His huge grin and big thumbs up don’t tell the whole story.

Barry was very moved. He had to force back a few tears. Anyone would have under the circumstances. It’s a rare day that a man understands that his work has meaning. One almost never meets the people and hears their stories about how they were affected by what you did. It’s an emotional moment most of us never experience. If a tear or two had appeared in the corner of one of Barry’s eyes, I think we would all understand.Barry, Mariani, Sagehorn, Wilke

 

 

 

Birth Of Main Titles

Dennis Johnson asked this question:

I wonder how the opening credits of the show came to be. The song, the split screens, even the font of the lettering is perfect. Very well done! I have never seen another show with such a great opening.”

Great question, Dennis. I’ve rarely been asked that.

It all started with the song!

Once Merle Haggard agreed to write and perform the theme song, I knew I wanted something for the Main Credits that evoked the open road, something that looked like our heroes were traveling down the highway….”big wheels rollin’…. Movin’ On”…. taking them and their big rig all across America.

The editors come up big!

Our editors came up with the split screen idea. It was perfect, depicting lanes on a highway – and movement, always movement. When those images and shifting lines were married with the song, it worked beautifully. For the font I wanted something that had a “bold military” feel that said strong and solid.  Again, I credit our editors. They presented me several choices and we selected what you see today. I agree, it’s a title sequence that “pops out” at the viewer.  Thanks Dennis for your enthusiasm. I’m very pleased that you like what we presented.

— Barry Weitz

Merle Haggard Comes On Board

Merle Haggard Keep Movin On album coverOnce I knew our pilot, In Tandem, had been picked up for series, I began thinking about music. I wanted to come up with a theme song that would work with the plans we had for the show.

I had known Merle Haggard’s music and thought the Bakersfield Sound…. steel guitars…. rough edged…. would be a perfect match for the show. Haggard had that sweet, earthy, gravelly sound in his voice that made me think of heavy trucks rolling through the night. I decided to contact Merle and see if he would be interested in writing and performing the title song for the series. I called him at his home and I told him what I wanted. He laughed and said he had never done anything like that…. but was intrigued enough to meet me and discuss my thoughts.

“So, where should we meet, Merle?” I asked.

“Well, Barry, I love bass fishin’…. so if you like fishin’…. why don’t you come up to Bakersfield and we’ll go out on my bass boat and throw some plugs at large mouth bass”.

What Merle didn’t know was that I loved bass fishin’ and had competed in bass tournaments around California and Texas.

So, I loaded my equipment in my truck, drove to Bakersfield and met Merle and his crew. We had a beer and went to the lake. I started catching fish immediately – hot as a pistol right out of the blocks, while Merle played with the boat and sang “Okie from Muskogee” to himself. I finally decided that since he’s the host, I’d better back off some…. let the star catch the fish. Well, Merle turns it up. Now, he’s on fire and bass are flying into the boat. Merle’s happy, so I start talking Movin’ On with him. He agrees to come to Los Angeles and see the pilot. Now, I’m the one who’s happy.

Merle sees the pilot and loves it. He agrees to write and perform the title song. The song is an instant hit and helps make Movin’ On a success. Merle’s music is a perfect complement to “Sonny”…. “Will”…. and their big, green Kenworth truck and keeps those Big Wheels Rollin’…..

– Barry