Chapter One

It’s 3:40 on a Monday afternoon. It’s my day off. The Missus and I have had “tea and vanquishment”, our daily Earl Grey and card-play ritual. I’ve finished watching the penultimate episode of Billions and my daughter Nell is snapping pics of random samples of my life, grouped like little tossed salads—serving suggestions—and I am slowly coming to grips with the elusive purpose of this site.

I’ve owned the domain name since they started handing them out. Not that I thought anyone would scoop me and use michaelmckean.com as the flagship site for some international enterprise. I just didn’t really have a clear picture of what such a thing would or should be.

I certainly didn’t want to launch a fan-site per se; I have a pretty good (i.e. pretty realistic) level of self-esteem and don’t see any need to inflate same. Having a big ego is like having a big dog: you can’t count on other people to feed it for you. Or walk it, if you take my meaning.

I had no desire to create an online course on acting, even though I’ve been at it a long time and know some of the basics. I’ve studied with some great teachers and worked with some tremendous talents, but words like syllabus and curriculum fill me with dread, unless they are the names of planets in Star Wars fan-fic. Which I also dread.

I didn’t want to start a forum on comedy, whatever “comedy” is. Humor is so subjective, so devoid of a universal consensus on what’s funny, that analyzing it seems a zero-sum game. I have funny friends who find some of my favorite stuff too broad in some cases, and too stiff in others. (Interesting: humor can’t be literally “too broad” or “too stiff”: we’re already fudging it up with metaphors). And, love them as I do, my friends are sometimes full of crap.

So what the hell am I doing? Some of the above.

We have been in this house for seventeen years, since the day after our wedding. Annette and I married not only each other, but our fortunes and our clutter. Annette is a bit more realistic than I about storage and its limits and dangers (google “Collyer brothers”) but neither of us is a champ at throwing things away. And a certain percentage of this mess is hard to part with precisely because of its connection to past work. So?

Nell has forced my hand. She is a tremendously accomplished actor and writer (my newest collaborator! More on that later) but she has taken on this web-mistress gig with great zeal. And as I watched her work, assembling and contextualizing, she has helped me see just what I want to do here: avoid spring cleaning! It’s not a mess, it’s a memory bank! It’s not a jumble, it’s a jackpot! I’m not a hoarder, I’m a curator!

Well, not really. But the exclamation points almost sell it, don’t they?

Suffice to say, we’re going to have a look at, and a listen to, some odd relics of my time on planet show business. I’ve been acting professionally for forty-eight years, on TV and in film for forty or so. I have it on good authority that some of this work has found a home in your hearts, and this has made my heart very happy.

Along the way, I may jabber on if I have something to say. I have equipped our Nell with a special whistle: first sign of pomposity (too late?) and she’ll sound that thing and I’ll quit, recalling the ego-and-the-big-dog axiom above.

As I’ve said, I have worked with some very talented people. I may have to talk about them from time to time because they have touched me in some way. Not inappropriately, I hasten to add. No name-dropping here, and no undue adoration: just proper talent that I’ve been lucky enough to encounter along the way.

I’m going to get some of these boxes off the shelf and look through them. Nell, Mistress of the Web, will help me with the heavy cyber-lifting.

Nice to meet you. My name is Michael.