A wonderful inside look at the life of a TV guest star, there are plenty of chuckles and a few laugh-out-louds in Maybe We’ll Have You Back: The Life of a Perennial TV Guest Star by Fred Stoller (@Fred_Stoller).
You may not know you know who Fred Stoller is, but trust me: if you’ve watched an American sitcom in the past twenty-plus years you’ve seen him. The author has been on Friends, Seinfeld, King of Queens, Everyone Loves Raymond, The Nanny … and many, many more. The life of a guest star can be lonely, like being the new kid at school over and over and over again.
This book should be required reading for anyone with stars in their eyes, hoping against hope to become the next big Hollywood success story. One telling vignette involved the author working on a short-run series called Vinnie & Bobby with a pre-Friends Matt LeBlanc. Although LeBlanc was a headliner in that sitcom, just months later he and Stoller were both auditioning for the same regional (not national) TV commercial.
Although the warts of a few famous names are brushed upon, this is no hatchet job (although one suspects the author could have gone that way, if it wasn’t totally against his nature). Instead, Mr. Stoller goes out of his way to mention the big names who helped him in the business or who made him feel comfortable on their sets: Ray Romano, Kevin James, Fran Drescher and Treat Williams, to name just a few.
There are plenty of behind the scenes peeks at some of TV’s biggest shows, including Friends, Murphy Brown and Seinfeld where Mr. Stoller was both a writer for one season and later a guest star. I found fascinating the impact that show had on the rest of the business, as the actors on other shows the author worked on seem to always want to know what was happening next with Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer.
For more on Mr. Stoller’s time as a staff writer for Seinfeld, I highly recommend My Seinfeld Year. (Note: some material is repeated in Maybe… but it is still worth checking out)
A lot of fun, I highly recommend Maybe We’ll Have You Back.