Eric Bogosian is riding a big wave called "Talk Radio," a wave he's been on for several years now.
With it has come fame and success far greater than he's ever known. But Bogosian isn't one to sit on his laurels - he's anxious for the next project.A celebrated monologist/performance artist from New York, Bogosian is working on another one-man show that will have its premiere off-Broadway in the spring.
"It's another solo, which has pretty much been my bread and butter the past six or seven years," Bogosian said in a telephone interview last week. "And I'm working on a new screenplay for myself."
"Talk Radio" also began as an off-Broadway one-man show that Bogosian wrote and starred in, and which garnered critical success and several awards.
Now "Talk Radio" is a movie directed by Oliver Stone, who also helped shape Bogosian's play into a screenplay.
So how did he feel about Stone, the Oscar-winning
writer/director of "Platoon," coming in with changes on a project Bogosian had worked so hard on for several years?
"I really had no problem with it," he explained. "The play is the play and the film is the film. I took what I thought was important about the play and would like to see in the movie and held on to it, which is basically the character of Barry Champlain, a very conflicted character. And I held on to that and anything that would support that."
Champlain is a "shock radio" talk show host whose program is about to go network, and Champlain himself is, as one of the other characters in the movie says, about to "go down in flames." It's a tour de force show and Bogosian gives a tour de force performance.
An intense actor, Bogosian has been seen in the thriller "Special Effects," in Robert Altman's TV version of "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial" and episodes of "Miami Vice" and "Twilight Zone," among other shows.
But it is his own stage work that means the most to him, writing and performing - and even then he gets itchy to move on.
"The play (`Talk Radio') ran for six months, but I left after four months. I don't really stick with live theater shows."
He's also confident about his work. "When it got good reviews I knew a film would come out of it."
As for his inspiration for "Talk Radio," it would appear at first glance simply to be a variation on the life of Alan Berg, the Denver radio talk show host who was assassinated. But not so says Bogosian.
"When I was writing the play I was not very aware of Berg. It was only after the play was written that I saw how much like him it was.
"I put a lot of hard work into that play and I didn't want to end up in some kind of lawsuit, so I bought the book (Stephen Singular's `Talked to Death: The Life and Murder of Alan Berg') to protect myself."
And it wasn't until the screenplay was developed that portions of Berg's actual story began to creep into fictional Champlain's story. "There are similarities of course, but I wasn't as interested in him as the callers. I liked all those voices in the night, I liked the way they triggered my imagination. Then later I became more and more interested in Barry himself."
Working with Oliver Stone, Bogosian says, was a real education in filmmaking. "Talk Radio" had a mere $5 million budget and was shot in a very quick 25 days. "Oliver worked a very activated camera, using a lot of tricky camera shots, which I think he used to keep the image rolling.
"He's really excellent. He watches you very carefully. He pushes you very hard. He wants the best, nothing less would suffice."
And is Bogosian afraid Hollywood producers will now typecast him as a wild-eyed, over-the-edge maniac?
"If they could find 20 more Barry Champlains they probably would. But I do not play slimeballs right now, thank you. Otherwise I could be the Jack Klugman of the Nineties." - Christopher Hicks