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Bearing the Weight of the Name for Eddie’s

It’s been said that the only constant you can count on is change. This is true everywhere and definitely so in regards to the entertainment industry. TV and film stars had a clear path as to achieving success in the past but this has changed drastically in the modern era. Eddie McGee can confidently attest to this. It was eighteen years ago when McGee had just started acting in college and he auditioned for a new reality series called Big Brother on CBS. His goal was to see how the American viewing public would respond to him as an indicator of whether he should pursue this “acting thing.” Eddie emerged from that first season as the winner, a media darling, and with a much bigger bank account. Now, almost two decades later, with a resume of work which includes: Mutant X, Law & Order, Guiding Light, Desperate Housewives, The Cleaner, The Philanthropist, NCIS: Los Angeles, and a number of films, McGee is appearing as the lead in Eddie’s. This comedy depicts a Venice, California bar with Eddie as the owner/manager. The show is about laughing in spite of our troubles and differences. The creator of the show built it around McGee’s charisma, talent, and demeanor.

When longtime friend and writer Alex Scrymgeour approached McGee with the idea of basing a show on a character similar to him, he had no reservations. Rather than being based on his life, the show Eddie’s would present a main character who owns and operates a bar in Southern California and shares a positivity and hard work ethic similar to the actor himself. Scrymgeour had frequented one of LA’s oldest establishments in LA when Eddie had worked there; witnessing his positive interactions with patrons convinced Alex that he was the ideal centerpiece for a show about different people pulling together rather than being divisive. It’s understandable that being the lead in a show with such lofty aims could cause one to experience some self-reflection before accepting. McGee concedes, “I'm not gonna lie. I was a little nervous in pre-productions as I was listed #1 on the call sheet and the show is named Eddies. There was a serious amount of people employed and they will be employed all based on my performance; so there is that pressure. I was lucky enough to get in a lot of rehearsal time with the cast and Michael [Lange, known for his work on X-Files, ABC Family’s Greek, and award-winning directing on CBS’s Northern Exposure) made everything flow so smoothly. He’s such a wonderful director, instilling complete confidence in his actors. By the time the picture was up, I was ready to go.”

The cast exemplifies diversity, a fair part of the reason for the SoCal location. Truly an international city, LA is home to many varied types of people as well as a global tourist destination. The premise is to exhibit different people with a variety of outlooks who still find a way to come together and help each other when the chips are down. The shows’ creator, Alex Scrymgeour, was adamant that the story be family friendly and appeal to ages eight to eighty. It’s McGee as the straight shooting Eddie who “sets the temperature of the room” expecting fairness and demanding an even scale from all. When Eddie's character says to Jacob Zackar's character Billy (the bars newest hire) "Don't be a jerk" or throws out a man bun donning Josh (played by Eric Podnar) it's standard no nonsense Eddie. Different from Eddie and yet possessing a similar credo is The Captain, played by George Wendt who attained cultural icon status as Norm from Cheers. This plainspoken, direct, and untempered Sea Captain has adopted Eddie’s as his second home. He came years ago when it first opened to sell the bar and grille fresh fish and decided to plant some roots.

A premise of the show is that our differences don’t need to define us or separate us but can actually make us better as individuals and a group. It’s an idea that McGee has been a proponent for and had at times been challenging for him as an actor. He relates, “As a PWD (performer with a disability) my acting path has been a lot like those out there now and those before me. FRUSTRATING! I have acted in one way or another as a vet in every war this country has ever had from 1776-present. It’s been very challenging at different points of my career. I was going give up about 15 years ago until I met this visionary filmmaker Paul Hough. He was determined to not let me play a “disabled” role in any of his projects and it's because of the work I have done with him and his encouragement through the years and hopes of doing a project like Eddie’s that I have taken countless Veteran roles or “Wheelchair guy roles.” But directors like Paul and Michael Lange see that having one leg is a part of who I am but does not define who I am. The only true disability is ignorance.” Given this outlook, it’s easy to see how McGee has channeled so much heart and passion into Eddie’s. It’s his story and it’s the story of so many others who just want a chance to be themselves and be accepted. Eddie’s offers all this…and a lot of laughs.

Author: Kelly King

Bearing the Weight of the Name for Eddie’s Reviewed by JaamZIN on 1:09:00 PM Rating: 5
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