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Unauthorized Story of 'Mork & Mindy'


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Diamantopoulos Uncovers His Inner 'Mork'

By Daniel Fienberg

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LOS ANGELES - The full title of NBC's upcoming telefilm is "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Mork & Mindy,'" but make no mistake, the project offers few scandalous details about Pam Dawber and has virtually no insight into the acting process that drove Conrad Janis. No, despite the "Mork & Mindy" name, "Behind the Camera" is all about the then-unknown star of the "Happy Days" spin-off, a certain Mr. Robin Williams.

Producers spent around a year developing the "Behind the Camera" script with former "Mork & Mindy" scribe David Misch. But even once the story was in place, NBC would offer only a cast contingent order, requiring the team to find the perfect actor to play Williams before making a full commitment. "After three weeks, we had seen some people who had come close, but we were mostly depressed because we hadn't seen anybody who we knew could nail it and could be Robin Williams in all of his glory," recalls executive producer Matt Dorff. "And then we put in this tape of this actor named Chris Diamantopoulos."

Unless you have a total recall of "American Dreams" guest stars or were somehow able to get your hands on the pilot for an ABC drama called "DeMarco Affairs," odds are good that you've never seen Chris Diamantopoulos before. "Having been raised Greek and learning how to speak Greek first and then English and traveling back and forth between Greece and Canada, I think I developed an ear for accents and regionalisms, and so I've always been quite good at being a chameleon -- at least vocally," Diamantopoulos says.

Although he looks only a little like the youthful Williams, viewers are likely to be stunned by just how good a mimic Diamantopoulos is. He captures not only Williams' natural cadences, but he pulls off the more complicated trick of doing countless impressions that don't sound like the people themselves, but like Robin Williams doing famous voices. Because of the usual legal reasons, "Behind the Camera" wasn't able to use any actual Williams material, but by pouring over resources ranging from Williams' scripted film and television roles to his talk show appearances over the years, Diamantopoulos was able to transcend what he calls an already strong script. "Because I had immersed myself in so much Robin Williams, I started thinking -- at least enough for this movie -- in sorta that non-linear way that Williams seems to think, especially in his comedy," he explains.

As suggested by the project's title, "Behind the Camera" attempts to speculate Williams' chaotic personal life as he rose from obscurity to fame, leaving Diamantopoulos with the chore of mastering both the larger-than-life Williams and speculating on the private man that fans of his comedy never got to see. "I figure if I went too much into the personal or into my interpretive idea of how Robin Williams was privately, then I might be alienating some of the people who are expecting to see the Williams that they know and love," says Diamantopoulos. "And I figured that if I went too much into the caricature and public persona of Robin Williams, then I wouldn't be adding a depth and arc to the character."

As difficult as it would be for any actor to capture Williams' manic (and drug-fueled) energy, Diamantopoulos had an equally large challenge doing topless scenes as the notoriously hirsute Oscar winner. Just as his Greek heritage helped him master voices, though, Diamantopoulos got a genetic assist with his chest weave. "The chest hair's all mine," he boasts. "I'm in a holding pattern, I think, for the back hair and the shoulder hair, but my father tells me not to worry, it's on its way."

"Behind the Camera: The airs Monday (April 4) night at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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Behind the Camera: Mork

A Review/ Hollywood Reporter

9-11 p.m. Monday, April 4

NBC

Next up on "Behind the Camera," a carnival mirror version of TV Land, is the assorted and sordid details of what really happened before and during production of "Mork & Mindy." It's mostly a movie for baby boomers in that even Chris Diamantopoulos, who plays Robin Williams better than anyone has a right to expect, is too young to recall the actual broadcast of the series, which ended nearly 23 years ago.

If there is one thread that runs through the "Behind the Camera" movies, it is that all network executives are morons. Writer David Misch, who wrote for "Mork & Mindy," has scene after scene in which the fictional ABC programming heads tinker with and screw up a show that was a hit right out of the box. That, Misch asserts, more than anything else

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Guest XandraSkye
A part of me wants to watch this movie tonight...the lame part. :P Especially since "Medium" isn't on tonight.
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Guest Anonymous

Watched the first bit of it -- but I just can't handle any more. Its the same story -- different celebrity isn't it? How many times can we take some nice guy actor falling into drugs and sex? Robin Williams is a good actor -- but this movie just isn't anything new.

My rating? Two thumbs down.

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Guest XandraSkye
I half watched it while I was online chatting. About the only good thing I could say is the guy who portrayed Robin Williams did a very good impression of him. He sounded just like him.
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Guest XandraSkye

What a coinky dink.

From what I understand we didn't miss much and we both probably had a better time chatting with whoever we were chatting with. :wink:

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