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PMP Network Presents...

David James Elliott Podcast ...


In Ecuador Scoundrels Dad's Home

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David speaks with Mark Snyder from PMP Network about his family's recent trip to Ecuador, his new ABC Show Scoundrels, and his Hallmark Movie Dad's Home.


DJE  =  David James Elliott
MS  =  Mark Snyder

MS:    And joining us right now at PMP Network -- you knew him and loved him as CDR Harmon Rabb, Jr. for 10 years on "JAG", and now you can see him on "Scoundrels" on ABC, and in the Hallmark Channel original movie, "Dad's Home", which premieres Saturday, June 19th, on the Hallmark Channel.  Welcome to the program, David.  I'm so sorry we gave you so much trouble getting through to the lines, because we do have that extra security here.

DJE:    I just didn't want to miss you, you know.  Thank you.  Thanks, Mark.

MS:    You know, we have that JAG security here that prevents all these calls coming through.

DJE:    Yeah.  Yeah, I think it might be even a little tighter than our national security is (Mark/Laughs), the Mark Snyder Show security.

MS:    How are you?

DJE:    I'm excellent.  Thank you.   How you doing?

MS:    Good!.  I got to ask you right off the bat here (David/Okay) about this Ecuadorian trip you did (David/Right).  You brought the family on a trip to an Ecuadorian Amazon to live in a hut with a warrior tribe.  Is this the.....(David/Yeah, yeah).  Yeah, just your everyday kind of trip.  Tell us a little bit about that--why you went, and.....

DJE:    Well, you know it was an opportunity of a lifetime, and I've always been fascinated with the Amazon.  And through a number of incidents, we wound up having this opportunity land in our lap.  And so, you know, we were a little tentative about taking the kids into such a dangerous environment.  But we looked at the risks, and we decided that, you know, life is about taking some calculated risks.  So that's what we did, we went.  I wanted my children a) to understand the Amazon, and b) to understand other cultures, and realize that LosAngeles is not the world.  And so we did it.  We took a leap of faith, and we went down there, and it was pretty eye opening.  An amazing trip.

MS:    What kind of things, David, did you eat while you were there?

DJE:    I had one of the world's largest rodents--what the heck is it called--it was a giant rat, smoked--I had some of that. (Mark/Sounds delicious).  It was interesting.  I wouldn't say it was good, but I've had smoked rat, have you?

MS:    No I haven't, and now I'll have to run to the Amazon with my family to....

DJE:    Well, if you get that opportunity.  We also had.....they drink a beverage from the moment they wake up till the moment they fall asleep, which is basically fermented saliva (Mark/Laughs).  They call it Chi-Cha.  I think every tribe has a version of it.  But theirs was some kind of a root that the women chew and spit back into a big pot, and then it ferments, because the saliva I guess increases the fermentation process. And they did that all day.

MS:    Boy, that sounds delicious. (David/Hmmm, nice)  Yeah.  So your kids were appreciative--they said, O gee, thanks, Dad?

DJE:    Yeah.  And you know, one of them, I think, actually--well she got sick.  We don't know if it was from that.  They suspect she may have had meningitis.  But she got over it, and she's okay now.  It was a little nasty, and touch-and-go for a while (Mark/Oooo).  And possibly it was something that she picked up there, though none of the others of us got sick.  It was just an amazing, amazing trip, and we're talking about going back (Mark/Hmm) and exploring further.

MS:    Didn't you actually get sick elsewhere, at some point?  Didn't you get dengue fever in Guatemala?

DJE:    Yeah, I had dengue fever years ago on a trip to Guatemala when I was in my 20's.  And they had dengue where we were, too.  So I was a little concerned that I might get it again, because when I talked to the exotic disease experts, they said that the second time with dengue could actually take you out. (Mark/I believe it)  So I wore a lot of bug repellent.  I was pretty religious about it.  There is some pretty amazing bug repellent.  Because when I had this heavy Deet stuff--I'm sure it's not good for you--but when I had it on, and I treated my clothes as well with this stuff that you spray on, and your clothes become repellent, I didn't get bit by anything--nothing!  And believe me, there's like--what?--400 strains of mosquitoes in the Amazon, something crazy like that (Mark/Hmm)--they're not short on mosquitoes.

MS:    We should mention that you really went there for a good purpose, and that was not only to educate your family, but I guess the people in that area have been trying to fend off attempts by US based oil companies....

DJE:    Well I think businesses--they have these things--the biggest threat to the Amazon are mega projects--roads, hydroelectric, oil and gas exploration--any of these mega projects that go on in these countries, basically third and fourth world countries where it's easy for these giant companies to act with impunity, and they go down there and basically do whatever they want, leave their trash and their crap and their detritus behind and move on.  And these people who've been living in this environment for thousands of years--they're at one with the environment.  Really, it's a very sympatric relationship, you know.  And their water is being polluted, they're dying of horrible diseases and cancers and ailments.  I mean, it's just really quite horrific (Mark/Hmm).  The Amazon is disappearing at the rate of 7 football fields a minute.  So by the end of this century, it will be gone.  And it provides 20% of the earth's oxygen.  They call it the lungs of the world.  (Mark/Hmm)  And it'll be gone, and I guess we'll probably, if we're not gone with it, we'll be gone shortly thereafter, if we don't do something to stop--I mean people need to know.  I was ignorant of if, but the road gets narrower, I guess.  The more you know, the less you can deny. 

MS:    That's true.  And, of course, we're watching our oceans being destroyed by the oil companies. 

DJE:    Our oceans, my God!  Really, oil--our love affair with oil--is going to be the end of us if we don't stop.  We've got to stop.

MS:    It's horrid what it's doing.  The environment is an ecological disaster.

DJE:    It's amazing how quickly--suddenly it seems like it was an overnight thing.  I don't know.  Maybe it's human nature to wait until the last possible minute, and sometimes we wait too long.  I hope that's not the case now (Mark/Hmm).

MS:    Well, you started in Toronto, and I guess that you got a big break doing a show called "Street Legal", which became huge in Canada.  We all know you from "JAG".  It's hard to believe that that show was on for 10 years.

DJE:    Not to me, it's not hard to believe, Mark! (Both Laugh)  I was there every morning.

MS:    But you know, most shows that have a guy like yourself that stars in it for 10 years, the guy would be, you know, a lot more famous than you are, I guess.  I mean, are you recognized all the time for "JAG"?

DJE:    Quite often, yeah.  We were not necessarily the media darling, but clearly we had a very large audience.'s the thing about shows that the media celebrate endlessly--they don't tend to last long.  That which burns brightest, burns quickest.  And probably to our benefit, that the media in those days--and I don't know what it's like anymore--but for the longest time, everybody tended to look down on the military, you know. (Mark/UhHuh)  Especially when we started the show, it was during the Clinton era when they were downsizing.  You know, people looked askance at the military like it was a thing of the past, and we didn't need it, but really.....

MS:    You did get some recognition though.  2000 TV Guide Award for Favorite Actor in a Dramatic Series.

DJE:    I got a little, got a little.  But we were not--we didn't beat anybody over the head with our press.  So thankfully, we were under the radar for 10 years, and the show went a very long time.

MS:    I was a big fan of "Melrose Place".  You were on that show?

DJE:    Yeah.  Well, I did a 5-story arc.  Played a sex-addicted professional football player, before sex addiction was fashionable.

MS:    I actually remember that episode.  That's interesting.  That was a....  Yeah, that's interesting.  You played a baseball player on "Knots Landing" as well, I remember.

DJE:    Yes.  He wasn't sex addicted, though. (Mark/Laughs)  He dated Nicolette Sheridan on the show.

MS:    Now, I also notice--I'm looking at your resume here before we get to talk about the 2 things that are coming up.  (David/Okay)  You were also on "Seinfeld".  I have to find out what you did on "Seinfeld".  I love that show.

DJE:    Carl, The Moving Guy.  Poppy peed on Jerry's couch, and he needed a new couch. And I show up to deliver the couch, and Elaine and I hit it off, we start dating, and.....

MS:    Oh, and then she asks you about abortion, was that it?

DJE:    Yeah.  And Jerry kind of prods her in that direction (Both Laugh) because he knows.....

MS:    All these episodes--I remember directly that episode.  And I would assume you get recognized a lot from being on a show like that.

DJE:    Not so much from that one, really.  I mean.....hard to say....."JAG" kind of, you know, took over.....

MS:    Now you're going to be recognized for "Scoundrels", where you're going to be starring.  Virginia Madsen's in that as well.  (David/That's right) Sounds like a pretty interesting show.  Tell us a little bit about it.

DJE:    It's based on a hit show in New Zealand called "Outrageous Fortune".  And it's about a family of criminals, really.  And the husband, who I play, who is kind of the lead criminal element to the family--I wind up going to jail.  And my wife, Cheryl, played by Virginia Madsen, decides that she's taking the family legit, much to my chagrin.  So therein lies our initial conflict.  And it's just a cast of wacky characters.   It's just a really well-written wild ride.

MS:    Yeah, I understand..... I saw some of the clips, and it looked like a pretty funny show, actually.  So you're spending you time in the jail cell.  Is that where you're, uh.....

DJE:    Well. that's where I am for a little while, yeah.  I get out occasionally (Mark/Laughs), but you know, I don't want to give anything away...  But it doesn't .....I mean I'm still in the show.

MS:    So I understand that Carlos Bernard, one of my favorites from "24", is also on the show playing Sergeant Mack.

DJE:    Carlos Bernard, Patrick Flueger, Leven Rambin, and Vanessa Marano.

MS:    And you have guests like Jason Priestly coming on for a little while, too.

DJE:    Jason came on--he's on at the moment.  We're still shooting, so..... (Mark/Wow)  Yeah.  It's just a great cast.  It's a gas.  I'm having more fun on this than anything I've ever done.

MS:    Well, "Scoundrels" premieres June 20th on ABC TV.  And then talking about fun....I love the Hallmark Channel.  It's a great channel to sit and watch with the family, and always have great family shows, and this is no exception.  "Dad's Home", which premieres Saturday June 19th on the Hallmark Channel.  Tell us a little bit about the movie.

DJE:    You know, it's a slice of life kind of film.   It's about a guy--probably a story that a lot of us can relate to.  He hits some hard times.  He experiences a death in the family.  He loses his job.  He has some children to support.  And it really, you know, helps him to see the important things in life.  And the stuff that he had thought was important, he realizes ultimately that life and ambition had taken him down a road that was leading nowhere.  So often things happen in our lives, and if we're open to the lessons, we walk away a better person because of it.  So that's what kind of story it is really.

MS:    The guy's a workaholic, a widower, he has all these people working for him, and then life changes, he ends up having.....

DJE:    Yeah, some horrible changes come his way, and he's forced to take a hard look at his situation through a series of events, and in the end he makes the right decision.

MS:    Right.  He's raising 2 kids, 12 and 8.  Isn't that about the same age as yours?

DJE:    Yeah, yeah.  And they were both..... I gotta tell you, similar in a lot of ways. (Mark/Hmm)  So that part of it, there wasn't a lot of..... I didn't have to dig too deep to know what relationship would be like with a young boy and a teenage girl, because I have one of each.  And the director is my long-time pal, Bradford May, and you know, he has 2 kids, similar ages.  He directed 50 "JAG's", so he and I are very---we work well together. 

MS:    Almost like being home then, huh?  (David/Yeah, really)  "Dad's Home" (Mark/Laughs) How ironic.  Now I was going to ask you, is there going to be any JAG reunion planned.  But I understand you have JAG reunions daily wth Nanci Chambers.

DJE:    Yeah, my wife, you know, so...... whenever... I talked with Patrick Labyorteaux the other day.  I don't know about.....  Oh, I bumped into somebody at the ABC Upfront thing, who is on Army Wives, who told me Catherine Bell is pregnant again.  But none of the others have I heard from.  I tried contacting John Jackson a few times, but.....

MS:    Would that be anything that would be of interest to you -- maybe a JAG reunion movie?

DJE:    Well, never say never.  But I'd have to see it and read it.  But, hey, you never know, man.  It was certainly.....

MS:    So the only dirt I heard about the "Dad's Home" set regarding you was your penchant for cigars.

DJE:    (Laughs) You know, I can smoke an occasional cigar--keeps you away from the Kraft service table.  (Mark/Laughs)  Somebody gave me away....  They gave me a special chair, far off from everyone else, where I could sit over there and not pollute anyone's environment but my own.  So....

MS:    You get to be like a leper on your own there.

DJE:    That's okay.  I was fine with it, though, you know.  Because it kept all the inane conversation away, and I just sat over there, smoked my cigars, read my books, or did my writing or whatever it is I was into that day, and had a nice day.

MS:    Talking with David James Elliott.  And again, if you want to see "Scoundrels", it premieres on June 20th on ABC TV, and "Dad's Home" premiere's Saturday June 19th on the Hallmark Channel.  David, it was a pleasure talking to you (David/Thank you, Mark.  You too) and good luck in the future.

DJE:   Thank you very much, Sir (Mark/Take care) Take care.  (Mark/Bye, bye)  Bye, bye.  

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