Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Nic’s Interview with George James

Recently I got an email from a Pinwheel fan who had a few questions for Mr. George James who played “Jake” on Pinwheel. He asked if I would mind forwarding them to him and of course I didn’t. After Mr. George sent back the answers I asked if I could please blog the interview and was given consent.

So, with that I would like to say a huge thank you to Nic Nagel for allowing me to post this interview.

Re: Fan Questions
George James
Today, (Monday, December 4, 2017) at 3:03 PM

Dear Peggy Sue and Nic,

How great it is to have people like you continue to show interest in Pinwheel. It validates the idea that people were moved, involved and positively affected by the show; which was the hope of all who took part in creating Pinwheel.

Nic I hope that I can answer your excellent questions to your satisfaction.

1-How did he get to be on Pinwheel?
This could be a very long answer because I’m not sure where my road to Pinwheel began. My parents exposed me to the magic of theatre and music and fostered in me a love of people and of life of all types. I developed a passion for flexing the imagination in pursuit of expressing thoughts and feelings, which I had no lack of.

When I first saw Sesame Street I immediately realized what a powerful vehicle for presenting positive and informing ideas about the world children's television had become.

It was a time when children’s television was breaking new ground and creating programming for children of all ages. A new idea had emerged that children’s programming could and should entertain and inform everyone and play up to young people rather than down. It was very exciting. At the time that all of this was happening I was not involved in children’s programming, I was involved in recording and record production, but the thoughts of what was happening in children's television were ever present in my mind. And as luck would have it, someone who knew someone who was looking for someone to join a team developing a children’s show for the new and experimental initiative of creating programming specifically for cable tv called me to audition.

I auditioned and was hired by Warner Communications to be part of the Pinwheel creation team as developer, music director, song writer and actor. I was overjoyed!

I hope that this explanation adds to the information that Peggy Sue has already provided. If you want to know more specifics, I’ll be glad to answer.

2-Who was his favorite character on the show?
Nic, I’m sure you’re aware that the characters in the world of Pinwheel were by design diverse. Each with their own particular charm and appeal. I grew to appreciate the specialness of each of the characters and never considered which one I liked best. Sal, Smitty and Kim were as sweet and lovable off set as they were on camera. The brilliance of the puppet design and puppetry of Craig Marin, Brad Williams and Olga Felgemacher (now Ola Marin) was always a source of fascination and wonder. The artwork and puppetry of Jim Jinkins was as fresh, clever and imaginative as it gets. What I’m getting at is that I held everyone on the show in such high regard that picking one out as my favorite would be difficult. I did like working with Minus thought.

3-What does he think of Nickelodeon from the the 90's-now days? And did he think that Nickelodeon would become this big when working for it?
We had a saying between cast and crew that floated around the set which provided much laughter as well as thought. It was “Life is change…how it differs from the rocks”.

Of course, we knew that rocks changed too but the point was made. What this meant to many of us was that it was important to stay flexible and positive to the prospect of and even the. inevitable of change. To resist change is stagnating, to prepare for and initiate change is growth. I do regret that Pinwheel was not given a chance to develop and grow, there was much more to be achieved. In the early days of Pinwheel and Nickelodeon, although there were some rough edges, the intentions and objectives of all involved were.

Heartfelt and genuine. We knew that it was something new for television and we cared deeply about what we were presenting to our audience. I am not that aware of what Nickelodeon is like today, but I hope that some, if not all, of that initial excitement and commitment is still present.  I really had no idea how big Nickelodeon would get, I don’t think that anyone did. But one did get a sense of how big programming for cable tv was going to be. Although Pinwheel aired into the 90’s we taped our last season in the mid 80’s in the infancy of programming for cable tv.

4-Apparently in the shows early years their where 3 more birds (besides Admiral) that came from Zintar. Is this true?
The Wonkles! 

5-Does he have any funny behind the scenes story's?
See answer 3

6-If Pinwheel where to come back would he return to his role as Jake?
If Pinwheel came back and I was asked to be a part certainly I would, but I would be different, Pinwheel House would be different, with hopefully the same feeling from the heart!

Nic, thanks for your great questions and for sharing the experience with me.

All best,
George “Jake” James

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