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OnlineHost: For a guy who originally wanted to become a paleontologist and study the fossilized remains of
bones, it is ironic that Peter MacNicol eventually chose a career as vibrantly alive as acting. Nonetheless,
MacNicol has demonstrated an exceedingly wide range of talent in theater, television, and film.
OnlineHost: Currently, MacNicol can be seen starring on CBS' "Chicago Hope" as Alan Birch, the hospital's
embattled legal representative. In a drastic departure from his television role, MacNicol will be seen this
December starring as 'Renfield' in Mel Brooks' satirical film "Dracula: Dead and Loving It" for Castle Rock
OnlineHost: MacNicol's past work demonstrates the broad dramatic and comedic spectrum of his talent. On
film, he has appeared as the naive Southern writer who fell in love with Meryl Streep in "Sophie's Choice;"
the villainous museum curator in "Ghostbusters II;" and the summer camp director in "Addams' Family
Values." Other film credits include "Housesitter" and "American Blue Note."
OnlineHost: On television, he was a series regular as John Forsythe's press secretary on "The Powers That
Be." Guest starring credits incllude "Cheers" and "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd." Additionally, he was
featured in such telefilms as "Johnny Bull," "HBO's By The Dawn's Early Light," Faerie Tale Theater's "The Boy
Who Left Home" and "Roswell."
OnlineHost: MacNicol began his career studying at the University of Minnesota. While there, he performed in
two seasons at the Guthrie Theater. A New York talent agent spotted him and told him to make a move to
Manhattan. Shortly thereafter, he was cast in the off-Broadway play, "Crimes of the Heart." The production
eventually moved to Broadway, and MacNicol garnered the Theater World Award. It was also during this
production that a casting agent noticed him and called him in to read for his eventual role in "Sophie's
OnlineHost: Among his other stage credits is the Broadway production of "White Liars/Black Comedy,"
MacNicol also has further extensive classical repertory theater background, including the New York
Shakespeare Festival in which he played title roles in "Richard II" and "Romeo and Juliet," and appeared in
"Twelfth Nigh," "Rum and Coke" and "Found a Peanut."
OnlineHost: Born and raised in Texas, MacNicol was the youngest of five children. He currently resides in Los
Angeles with his wife of eight years, Marsue Cumming. And true to his tremendously multi-talented persona,
Peter MacNicol spends a great deal of his free time playing... the bagpipes! Welcome to Center Stage!
AOLiveMC5: Welcome, Peter!
PMacNicol: Apologies to you dwellers of cyberspace! It wasn't my fault! It was this incompetent production
AOLiveMC5: Are you ready for some audience questions? We've got lots of them!
PMacNicol: Yes, I'm ready. And a special greeting to all of you toads!
AOLiveMC5: Our first one is from JBecky: Question: Peter, when in the heck are you coming back to visit CH?
Us Mac fans miss you!
PMacNicol: I have no idea. We discussed the bare outlines of ways of bringing me back for a visit, but we
haven't dealt with it in a couple of weeks.
AOLiveMC5: Mope88 wants to know: Question: You were great in Ghostbusters. Any remembrances?
PMacNicol: Dan Akroyd eating an olive loaf sandwich at 7 o'clock in the morning. I remember how sweet Rick
Moranis was, and how very tall Sigourney Weaver was! Actually, that was one of the happiest work
experiences in my career. I spent hours out in my trailer inventing the language of Carpathia. Our National
flag, which was a snake stepping on a man, and our national product, which was those little barrels Saint
Bernards wear around their necks on rescue missions.
AOLiveMC5: CTola asks: Question: Why did they kill your character off in Chicago Hope? Was it your choice?
PMacNicol: Killing the character off was their choice. It was painful, I'm sure for everybody. But I would be
less than honest if I said that it was anyone else's idea but my own to leave the show in the first place, at
least as a series regular. A recurring status would have suited me really nicely.
AOLiveMC5: JessByl would like to know: Question: Hi Peter! What is/are the name of your upcoming projects
after "Dracula: Dead and Loving It" and what kind of character will you be playing?
PMacNicol: Hi Jess! Oh my God, I'm humiliated, I can't remember! It's the pressure of Cyberspace. I think it's
called Fugitive From Justice, but then again, the title is a fugitive from my brain at the moment.
AOLiveMC5: TCoxen asks: Question: Hi Peter, love your work. What are your feelings about leaving the
show? Have you talked to any of the cast members since leaving?
PMacNicol: I see many of the cast members on a continuing basis. I had Mexican food with Adam only last
week. Tom Gibson I talked on the phone with two days ago.
AOLiveMC5: Ellie2450 asks: Question: What type of a character do you enjoy playing in a movie or a TV
show? BTW, everyone from the channel "chicagohope" on IRC says that they loved your character in CH. I
love - "Why is my helmet fogging up? They've given me defective equipment...".
PMacNicol: That was a delicious episode, and originally I was supposed to be on my anniversary in Italy that
week and not in the episode at all. But I was written into it at the last minute. You CH trivia buffs will be
interested to know that David Kelly wrote that episode (Quarantine) in only 2 1/2 days.
AOLiveMC5: NoFear010 sends this question: Question: Hello Peter MacNichol. What acting schools did you
attend, what are your hobbies, and by the way dude, you were like really cool in the movie GhostBusters II.
PMacNicol: I'll go back to the previous first. I enjoy playing someone entirely different than the last person I
played. This next movie I'm going to be an off my rocker FBI agent. Brand new for me (not the off the rocker
part, just the law enforcement part). I do like characters with many dimensions, and certainly Alan Birch was
as rich a character as you will find outside of the Anton Checkov. Thanks for the Ghostbusters compliment!
I'm recognized more for that role than any other. My hobby is writing. I have a screenwriting program called
Final Draft and I can usually be found at my Mac working away at one of two screenplays.
AOLiveMC5: HABCO2 asks: Question: Are you related to Christy?
PMacNicol: No. She's Irish, I'm Scots. But she is a fine actress. I think she has one brother Jimmy.
AOLiveMC5: AntCab would like to know: Question: Do you ever think about how much your character was
beloved and its impact on the show?
PMacNicol: I was haunted by their decision to terminate him so much that I questioned my decision to leave
the show. It just didn't seem right killing him. It seemed cosmically wrong in some way. But David Kelly is a
brilliant writer and like a great writer before him. Arthur Conan Doyle, the temptation to kill off a beloved
character was too much to ignore. God knows it makes for powerful drama. Doyle killed off Holmes in a book
called His Last Bow, by the way.
AOLiveMC5: Here's a question from Rednail1: Question: Peter, tell us about the Mel Brooks movie.
PMacNicol: Working for Mel Brooks reminded me of when I was a child growing up in Texas and how on a
hot May afternoon I would try and stand in the center of one of those dust devils we used to get in our
backyard. He's a force, and one of the funniest men in this hemisphere. I'm playing an exotic creature called
Renfield, who like Janos in GB2, is another hapless soul who is less villain than victim. I'm pathetic really. I
travel to Transylvania to sell real estate and I wind up a mind slave who eats insects. It's sad really.
AOLiveMC5: Alex995 asks: Question: Hi Peter, what is your "dream role"?
PMacNicol: Alan Birch was pretty damn close. Andrew Aguecheek in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is another.
I played that some years back in Central Park and the memory is like some lovely pink dream. What do you
think I should play?
AOLiveMC5: MINIAPPLE asks: Question: Peter, how did you bear the Minnesota winters?
PMacNicol: I didn't. I lost the will to live almost everyday. I had to literally hypnotize myself to face the AM.
I's tell myself, "My, but it's sultry out today!", and that would work for about 5 seconds and then my nose
hairs would freeze and my eye moisture would turn to glare ice, and I'd look at my old copies of Islands
AOLiveMC5: VicDmizr asks: Question: Did you have any part in writing that great speech you gave on the
show the week before you left?
PMacNicol: No, that was one of David Kelly's glories, wasn't it? Funny thing but my two longest monologues
and in some ways most challenging, were not in classical theater, but in shows written by DEK.
AOLiveMC5: The next question is from Lisaloo: Question: What kind of reaction have you gotten from fans
since your character was killed off?
PMacNicol: Everyone has been stricken. And they look to me for answers, and some of the blame has to fall
to me because it was my decision to leave the show. But David's shoulders are broad enough to take some
of the hit. My mother's church group was the hardest hit. They've all gone into kind of a mournful huddle
since the killing, and there's really no bringing them out of it.
Go to AOL chat pt. 2 >