Gary Busey to take 'power that Tulsa gave' into 'All-Star Celebrity Apprentice' starting Sunday
BY RITA SHERROW World Television Writer
Sunday, March 03, 2013
3/03/13 at 5:37 AM
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Gary Busey doesn't do email.
He doesn't say why, but he's quite adamant about it.
"No email," said the actor at the start of a phone interview about his appearance on "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice" starting Sunday on NBC.
Point taken. "Ask me anything you want because I have answers for everything."
"OK. So tell me something we don't know about Gary Busey."
"I don't wear underwear" is where the conversation started before it ricocheted off into him asking if I was wearing underwear.
Shows you that even when you think you're in control of an interview, there's a Gary Busey to prove you're not.
Busey is an enigma. It's no secret. Anyone who follows him in the media is aware he's a walking stream of consciousness hidden behind a toothy grin and a mind that is always working, thinking ahead.
It's a persona that works for him.
The Texan, who famously survived a near-fatal motorcycle crash and sinus cancer, is best known as an actor whose films include "The Buddy Holly Story," "Lethal Weapon," "The Firm," "Point Break" and "Predator 2." And his TV credits are pretty extensive, too.
But it's his personal, not professional, reputation that precedes him on the charity fundraising reality show.
He's called "Mr. Crazy Man." One person suggests he needs a shock collar. His shouting match with Meatloaf on "Celebrity Apprentice" two years ago is still fresh in the minds of viewers. But he's also called a "dear, sweet man" while the project manager goes into his team's first challenge with a plan "to keep him contained."
It is, after all, a reality TV show, albeit benefiting charity, so the more drama the better for ratings.
On the show, Busey says, "Everyone I see has a rainbow around them." Asked who is a star on his team, the Busey answer is, of course, "A star is nothing but a self-contained mass of gas that comes out at night. Everyone here is a star."
Turns out, he may be crazy like a fox.
Tuesday, he talked about being on the show, which has already been taped with the exception of the live finale.
"Sometimes I was ignored and left alone but I would sit and write what I was observing from the other people. It gave me the information that they're very insecure," said Busey, who was born in Goose Creek, Texas, but reared in Tulsa. He graduated from Nathan Hale High School and attended Oklahoma State University.
FYI: Can't give away anything, but the names T. Boone Pickens and OSU figure prominently in the premiere episode.
He said he doesn't have a strategy for the Donald Trump-hosted show. He just "flies under the radar."
"I do improv and spontaneity, and my thinking is quick and fast. Ever see squirrels go to a prom? That's me."
But he is also a 68-year-old father who is thrilled with his children.
"Luke was a gift from the spiritual realm of the supernatural," he said about his 3-year-old son with actress Steffanie Sampson Busey. "I have a 41-year-old son, Jake, who has just presented me with a granddaughter, and an 18-year-old daughter, Alectra, who does photography for rock 'n' roll bands ... And then there's Luke, and he does whatever he wants."
Luke was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease two years ago while his dad was busy being fired by Trump on "Celebrity Apprentice." It's because of his son that the actor/musician founded The Busey Foundation for Children's Kawasaki Disease ( tulsaworld.com/buseyfoundation), the charity that will benefit if the actor wins the TV show, or a team challenge as project manager.
"The foundation is to raise awareness of the disease, which has to be treated within five to 10 days or else there's a 25 percent chance of developing coronary artery aneurysms. ... Two years ago, he was treated at Cedar-Sinai Hospital, but the faith that I have and the spirituality that I carry in my heart and my spirit is so powerful no weapon used against me shall prosper. And that weapon - Kawasaki disease - did not prosper against my son Luke."
Wait. Stop the interview for a quick note.
"Hey, I would like to send my love to my brother David; his wife, Jan; and my nephew Sean Busey in Tulsa.
"I have so many great memories from the power that Tulsa gave me from the fourth grade to senior year," he said "I was in the second graduating class of Nathan Hale High School - 1962."
Busey cut his comedy teeth as the character Teddy Jack Eddy with Gailard Sartain on the late-night "Dr. Mazeppa Pompazoidi's Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting" on local Tulsa TV in the '70s.
The actor's next plan is to do a movie about Thomas Jefferson.
"The movie is going to happen because once I put my mind to it, it happens," he said. "That's the way it is with everyone. The same way it is in T-Town and Green Country - I love you so much, and you are just great. I love doing this interview with the newspaper so you can read my feelings and feel my feelings as you read them."
He agreed his honesty draws people to him.
"I'm unfiltered and authentic. There's no playing games, posing or prancing."
Time out for another message to Tulsa.
"I want to get back to see my brother and his family and my friends Eddy and Gretchen Spraker and Neil Moon. Say hi to them in this article and tell them I will be seeing them soon."
But first, he's going into the studio to record some previously unrecorded Buddy Holly songs that he will, later, sing in a film, he said.
Busey got a best actor Oscar nomination for his starring role in "The Buddy Holly Story," a 1978 film about the life and career of the early rock 'n' roll star.
But, in the next breath, he takes me back to Tulsa, a city he said he doesn't miss because it's "so much in my mind and heart."
"The memories of the past and the people I was there with were so much a part of my family within myself."
Things like how narrow 15th Street was and the lights on top of the old NBT building that used to signal by color the coming weather. And learning to swim at McClure Park and the Will Rogers Theater.
He also recalled working as a 13- or 14-year-old picking up window speakers ripped off their poles by patrons driving off from the Admiral Twin Drive-in and young lovers in the back row who didn't appreciate being disturbed.
"I don't miss those things because I still have them. Great memories. Nothing but a beautiful place. I have great fond memories of Tulsa," he said.
"And it's such a pleasure and a blessing to do an interview with you. ... Now answer me this question: What are you wearing?"
‘ALL-STAR CELEBRITY APPRENTICE’
When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: NBC, channel 2, cable 9
Original Print Headline: Busey takes 'power that Tulsa gave' into show
Rita Sherrow 918-581-8360
for his charity
2, cable 9.