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AOL Interview
February 24, 1997


OnlineHost: Copyright 1997 America Online, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

AOLiveMC1: I'm Jim JMF (AOLiveMC1) and that's JaneEMC2 (AOLiveMC5), welcoming y'all to AOL Live...

OnlineHost: Recently named as one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People, David James Elliott stars as military lawyer Lieutenant Harmon Rabb in the CBS/Paramount series "JAG" which is produced by Emmy Award-winning producer Don 'Quantum Leap' Bellisario. The classically-trained actor was born in Toronto, Canada and graduated from the prestigious Ryerson Polytechnic Institute in 1983. Just prior to graduation, Elliott was accepted to the famed Stratford Shakespeare Festival where he remained for the next two years and where he received the coveted Jean Chalmers Award for most promising actor. Welcome!

AOLiveMC1: Let's give a warm and hearty applause to David James Elliott! Welcome to AOL Live this evening!

DavidJLive: Thanks. Nice to be here. I wouldn't be here without your help. I'm not a computer whiz... yet. But I'm working on it.

AOLiveMC1: Are you ready for some questions from the audience, David?

DavidJLive: Sure!

AOLiveMC1: Here's our first one for tonight:

Question: I think Tracey Needham is a gorgeous, charming and talented actress. Why isn't she on the series any longer?

DavidJLive: She left the series because the series was revamped... CBS decided they wanted to make some changes. One of the changes was to have a Marine Officer to have an equal rank to myself, so there would be a different branch of the military so we could go head to head. That was unfortunate for Tracey's character because she was a "lesser" rank. I really miss her and felt terrible about it all. Tracey is doing very well now. She's doing movies of the week, that sort of thing.

Question: Hi this is Donna. I love your show. What kind of research did you do for the role?

DavidJLive: Well, the research is ongoing. I've read many navy officer guides, manuals, that is. I've read books that were very well researched. We have technical advisers on the show, an admiral who is a 22 year veteran of the Marine Corps. I just spent the day today at the actual JAG headquarters in Washington, so my research is "ongoing."

Question: Jag, What was your fondest childhood memory? -- AM69AM69

DavidJLive: Hmmm. Going to the cottage with my parents, fishing.

Question: What qualities did you most want to see in the revamped "JAG," and do you feel you have achieved those qualities?

DavidJLive: Yeah, I feel we're achieving those qualities. I wanted to see us focus more on the internal relationships and to flesh out the humor in the piece. Those things are happening and hopefully we'll continue to explore them as we get deeper into the series. As for changes, I wanted to look at more at my character's dark side, to give him more of an edge -- to make him more "human."

Question: WCLakin: Me again! Do you realize how much of a sex symbol you are? Like perhaps when you meet your female admire fans?

DavidJLive: As for the sex symbol part... I don't spend a great deal of time thinking about it, but if you think so -- thanks!

Question: Do you really get to fly in the jets, or is it done in a studio

DavidJLive: Yeah, on the show we have live footage of jets, and we also have mockups where we simulate flying. This weekend I'm flying with the Blue Angels. In an F-18.

Question: Mr. Elliott, Do you prefer action series to drama series?

DavidJLive: The thing I like about this series is that it's both. And it's a comedy, too. Everything interests me, so long as it's done well.

Question: I saw you in the TV movie around Christmas "An Affair to Remember" it was great. I loved it.. A fan forever Angel

DavidJLive: Thanks!

Question: It is amazing that you can create such a high quality action-filled show on a TV budget and shooting frame. What is the secret?

DavidJLive: Spend very large amounts of money -- the show is very expensive to make. It's actually very big-budget for television. The Marine Corps helps quite a deal, as does the Navy occasionally. That adds a great deal of production value. We often shoot on active Marine bases. We will take footage from movies and also DOD footage. (Department of Defense) Lent to us by the Navy and Marine Corps. Each show costs about $2 million.

Question: You're 6'4" tall. In real life, wouldn't that be too tall to be a fighter pilot?

DavidJLive: Actually 6'4" is the cutoff, so I'd be fine. :)

Question: Is JAG filmed on location?

DavidJLive: No, but we film all over Southern California, and have filmed as far north as Santa Rosa, CA, which is north of San Francisco... and as far south as San Diego. We do a lot of remote locations. We also shoot at Paramount Studios, on the lot.

Question: How did you enjoy shooting "The Untouchables" TV series on Chicago? Did the cold weather bother you, or did it remind you of Canada?

DavidJLive: I loved Chicago, and the cold weather was extremely brutal on occasions. It was colder than I had remembered Canada, but I miss Chicago a lot.

Question: What part of Canada are you from? Do you speak French?

DavidJLive: I don't speak French. I'm from Toronto.

Question: People recently voted you as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world (and rightly so). Who would you rank as the most beautiful person? :) (You can include yourself if you want).

DavidJLive: ::laughing:: I'd say my wife. 

Question: How excited are you that your wife is appearing on JAG?

DavidJLive: My wife...we're both thrilled. It's this Friday -- be sure to tune in!

Question: On last week's episode of JAG, Sarah (AKA Mac) called you "Stick Boy." Do you have to fight to keep your weight up all the time?

DavidJLive: No. I don't know WHERE that came from! I saw it on the script and I said "What's that about?" The stick boy part. :)

Question: Have you ever flown an actual jet and if so, did it make you want to hurl?

DavidJLive: I flew a Marchetti Jet, a trainer, they're used to train jet pilots. I don't really get sick in the air. That was the most terrifying, exhilarating experience of my life to date -- pre Blue Angels.

Question: Do you have a fan club? Or your own web page?

DavidJLive: No. Neither.

Question: Is it physically straining on you to do a show like "Jag?"

DavidJLive: Yes. Very much so.

Question: David, you are so sexy, how often do you work out? -- AM69AM69

DavidJLive: I try to work out to some extent every day. Some days I succeed, some days I don't. My schedule is very grueling and inhibits my desire to do so. Unfortunately, too often.

Question: From Nikki: Heard you were interested in music and were at one time in a band? Are you still thinking of pursuing a music career at some point?

DavidJLive: I still play music, I still play around a little. I don't know what the future has in store for me in that area. The doors are still open -- anything's possible.

Question: Do you find it ironic that you got so much publicity for a one-shot role as Elaine's pro-life boyfriend on "Seinfeld?"

DavidJLive: Do I find it ironic? I thought it was interesting.. I don't know if irony is the word I'd use. The reaction was strong, but Hollywood is a funny town. Many people lack imagination. :) "Seinfeld" -- the opportunity was a great one... and I had a great time. I had done a lot of comedy in theater before. It really was my first comic turn on film.

Question: How was it working with Courtney-Thorne Smith?

DavidJLive: Courtney Thorne-Smith... Very nice lady.

Question: What is the best/ worst part about the show?

DavidJLive: Worst... the grueling schedule. Best... having a grueling schedule to complain about. It's a fun show to do. It's hard work, but I believe the hard work is reflected on the screen. I'm happy to be a part of it.

Question: David...I love JAG and am wondering about the fate of the show...how many episodes did CBS pick it up for?

DavidJLive: Well, it's a good show. They ordered 13 initially... just a few weeks ago, they ordered 3 more. CBS is very behind the show... this Friday is our last 9:00 time slot. We will be pre-empted for 3 weeks. We'll be coming back at 8:00 on Friday nights on CBS.

Question: Do you like season 1 or 2 better?

DavidJLive: I'm liking this season. I liked the last season, too, but I like to live for the moment. I'm having the best time right now.

Question: Did you model prior to becoming an actor? Also, how old were you when you got your first paying acting role?

DavidJLive: I never modeled. I went to theater school. My first paid gig was in a production of "The Crucible." I was like 20 or 21 -- I made about $75/week. I had one line, but I stood around a lot.

Question: Hi David, This is Donna. Do you have plans to make anymore movies for TV or the big screen?

DavidJLive: I'm shooting for the big screen...right now no movies planned for TV. I've set my aspirations for feature films nowadays.

Question: Nicolette Sheridan, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Tracey Needham--you have worked with some of the most beautiful actresses in the biz. My one question to you sir: need a stand-in for the more difficult romantic scenes? :-)

DavidJLive: Come on down and line up!

Question: JAG has a core following of fans who are hoping it will be renewed next year. What shows are you a regular viewer of?

DavidJLive: I really don't have an opportunity to watch TV. My schedule inhibits television watching. I can't remember the last time I watched a TV show, other than "JAG." I like to watch movies.

Question: What kind of music do you listen to? Can you play any instruments?

DavidJLive: Yeah, I play guitars, harmonicas... I like jazz and blues. I like classical... pop, rock'n roll. If it's good, I like it. Very big Van Morrison fan.

Question: Is Don Bellisario a Navy man, by any chance? <g>

DavidJLive: Former Marine.

Question: Why were you unable to attend the benefit softball game in Scottsdale, Arizona a year ago? I was there to see you and was truly disappointed.

DavidJLive: Work got in the way. "JAG" has a habit of doing that to my schedule. My apologies.

Question: I believe you have two young daughters. Would you encourage them to pursue acting careers?

DavidJLive: I hope to be liberal in my thinking and encourage them in any way they choose to direct their efforts. My parents did the same thing, and I intend to follow in that regard. Only I don't have two, I have one. :)

Question: Who has been your favorite leading lady?

DavidJLive: Hmmmm.. They've all brought something to the game, and they've all segment? been interesting in their own ways. I guess if I had to pick a favorite, I'd have to say... my wife was the most fun to work with.

Question: Does CBS plan on showing any of the missed episodes from last season?

DavidJLive: No. NBC owns them. It's a crying shame, but NBC has their rights.

Question: You studied Shakespeare...What would be your FAVORITE play?

DavidJLive: As for Shakespeare..."Richard II"

Question: I heard you were actually afraid of flying, is this true?

DavidJLive: I'm not wild about it... it's sort of a love/hate thing for me. I love and hate it at the same time, but it doesn't stop me.

Question: Why did NBC cancel the show? And why was it so long before CBS picked it up?

DavidJLive: You'd have to ask NBC. But, we were immediately picked up by CBS. ABC wanted us, as well. We were picked up and given the opportunity to be mid- season so we could revamp the show and make the changes that Don wanted to make...and get a chance to show what we had. It takes about 2 weeks to make an episode, and only one week to show So you catch up to yourself pretty quickly. CBS picked us up very soon after NBC dropped us.

Question: I heard you're a writer. Have you or will you write a future JAG episode?

DavidJLive: Patrick Laborteaux and I came up with a pitch for Don... and he liked it, and wanted us to work with the writers on it. This was two months ago. We just haven't had time to all get together and work on it! I would say by next year. We have a few ideas -- we'll get it together soon, though.

Question: As a retired USAF officer who had a lot of experience with the JAG office, I really enjoy the program. Harm reminds me of someone I knew very well. Good job, David. How much research did you have to do to play the part so well?

DavidJLive: Thank you! My research is ongoing, as I said before. I keep reading, asking questions, talking to the real thing. We have some great technical advisers on the show who keep things squared away. I'm here in Washington right now. I spent the day with the real JAG corps.

Question: Did you get a hard time for having three first names?

DavidJLive: No. But if you'd like to start, you'd be the first.

Question: What role would you like to pursue next ?

DavidJLive: What type of role? Some comedy.

Question: David is it true that you like to run in marathons?

DavidJLive: I ran a marathon -- and I love to run. One day I'd like to run another marathon, but I'd definitely train for it. The first time I finished on sheer will. I hadn't trained for it. I won't make that mistake again.

AOLiveMC1: The show is nearing the end, so there's time for one final question for our guest.

Question: David, tell us about your brothers, do they act also, how often do you go home to Canada and see your family

DavidJLive: I was home for Christmas and saw them then. They're not actors, but they are musicians. Not by trade. :) My older brother is a writer of fiction. He teaches, as well.

AOLiveMC1: David, thank you so very much for taking time out of your day to appear tonight on AOL! Any final remarks for our lovely audience?

DavidJLive: I'm was thrilled to be a part of this new, exciting medium. I can't wait to get online more regularly... all of my fellow actors are tapping into the "JAG" web site. Don Bellasario is often putting his thoughts into the web page... if you wish to share your thoughts, your queries, just know... we're all listening. Thanks -- good night.

AOLiveMC1: David, thank you again... And a special thanks to our audience who
attended. Good night, everyone!

OnlineHost: Copyright 1997 America Online, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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More about this Event: 

02/24 "JAG" star David James Elliott (AOL Live)

Recently named as one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People, David James Elliott stars as military lawyer Lieutenant Harmon Rabb in the CBS/Paramount series JAG, which is produced by Emmy Award-winning producer Don 'Quantum Leap' Bellisario.

The classically trained actor was born in Toronto, Canada and graduated from the prestigious Ryerson Polytechnic Institute in 1983. Just prior to graduation, Elliott was accepted to the famed Stratford Shakespeare Festival where he remained for the next two years and where he received the coveted Jean Chalmers Award for most promising actor.

Elliott is best known to Canadian television viewers for his role as Nick Delgado in the CBS series "Street Legal," which aired from 1985-1988. Shortly after the successful run of his series made him a household name in his native Canada, the talented actor was signed to a development deal with Disney and in 1990 he moved to California.

He immediately began making television guest appearances on shows including "Doogie Howser, M.D.," "China Beach," and "The Hitchhiker." He appeared opposite Nicolette Sheridan on the final season of "Knots Landing" and starred as Paul Robbins on "The Untouchables." Television audiences began to take notice of David due to his one-time gig as Carl, The Moving Guy on "Seinfeld" and for his performance as Terry Parsons (Courtney Thorne-Smith's football player boyfriend from rehab) on "Melrose Place." He also gave a moving performance as Byron, the alcoholic second husband of Dottie West, opposite Michelle Lee in CBS' "The Dottie West Story."

David recently returned to his native Canada to shoot a four-hour NBC miniseries called "Degree of Guilt" in which he starred as an attorney who represents his own wife in a murder trial, gets her acquitted and is later accused of the crime himself. The miniseries was based on the best-selling Richard North Patterson books "Eyes of a Child" and "Degree of Guilt."

Elliott currently resides in Los Angeles where on his hiatus from JAG this summer, he shot the independent feature film "Clockwatchers" starring Parker Posey, Toni Collette and Lisa Kudrow.


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