Saturday, September 21, 2013

Actor Spotlight with James Edward Thomas

As the only  actor to play a recurring character to date in the Horror Hotel web series, James Edward Thomas is not only entertaining on screen as "Al Sharko", but off screen as well. His war chest of famous people and interviews of them as an entertainment reporter was nothing short of tantalizing. Here is a behind the scenes look at this versatile Atlanta actor we are proud to call a regular guest at the Horror Hotel.

    Recently you were listed among the top 25 active actors in Atlanta I believe. You are gaining more recognition locally for sure, but many people may not know that you have quite a resume of accomplishments and roles from a number of well known tv shows, including a stint as a long time CNN anchorman. Can you give us a little history on all that?

   I graduated from the University of Georgia with a major in Journalism and a minor in Drama & Theater. Shortly after graduation I was hired at WAGA channel 5 in Atlanta as a news producer, reporter and weekend anchor. Deborah Norville and I were coworkers and occasionally co anchored together.

From there I was hired by KTTV in Los Angeles to host a primetime news magazine for Southern California. That led to a job as News Anchor at KNBC and then to CNN where I reported for “ ShowBiz Today.” At that point I met a theatrical manager who offered to help me use my notoriety in Los Angeles to transition into acting in Film and Television. I started out with small roles in soap operas such as “Santa Barbara” on NBC, then moved on to “Young and the Restless” on CBS and into a regular role playing a character named “Greg Jaworski” on ABC’s”General Hospital.” Before long I was cast in nighttime episodics such as “Dallas”, “The New Mike Hammer”, “The New Twilight Zone”, and other popular shows of that era. My first starring role came as swindler Jerry Whittington, on “America’s Most Wanted.”


    You were always fascinating us on the set of Horror Hotel telling us about all the famous and memorable people you had meet while working at CNN. Who were some of the more impressionable people you were able to interview?

  Working on CNN’s “ShowBiz Today” put me in a position to meet and interview celebrities that I’d grown up watching like Charleton Heston, Rock Hudson, Burt Reynolds, Fred McMurray, Bob Hope, Jane Fonda, Bruce Dern, Michael Landon, Dyan Cannon, Cary Grant….the list goes on and on…. One of my favorite stories involves paying a visit to the Bel air home of Robert Stack, who was famous for playing “Elliot Ness’ in an old series called “The Untouchables” and later as the host of “Unsolved Mysteries”.
He inherited the home from his mother who bought it in the 30’s. When Stack was a child living in the home, Howard Hughes crashed an airplane into their back yard. Stack took me out back and showed me the area of the yard where his parents and neighbors helped pull Hughes from the wreckage. The scene is depicted in the Film “The Aviator” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

You were on hiatus from acting for a few years operating a highly successful private business. Have you found it difficult to get back into the swing of things again?

Being away from acting for over ten years required a lot of study and practice to get my myself back into a state where I am comfortable auditioning and performing again. I credit Bob Harter and Della Cole with helping me get back in the groove. They operate a very fine acting school in Atlanta called YOURACT.  I also did some training with another great acting teacher named Rob Mello.

You are to date, the only recurring character in the Horror Hotel web series as Al Sharko, the crafty fence that all the guests at the hotel associated with crime, seem to know. He appeared in episode "Houdini's Hand: and was a feature character in episode "Guillotine". Did you enjoy playing that character and did you take your inspiration from anyone in particular?

Al Sharko is one of the most fun characters I've ever played. The guy is blackhearted.....anything for a buck. I've known guys like him and I draw from that. Hopefully I'll get to play him again in future episodes of Horror Hotel. 

You also played the sci-fi writer, Rodney Silvers in "Invader", a throw back, black and white episode. Can you give us a little insight into that character?

Rodney was a complete departure for me. He's a Dweeb who probably sites around all day eating pizza and drinking beer while he sits at his typewriter writing episodes of "The Dimension Beyond." I can tell you that thanks to diet and exercise regimen, he won't have such a huge gut if he ever appears onscreen again. lol

You have worked in tv and major film. How is working on a web series different for you and what is the advantage  of working on a web series?

As far as I'm concerned, there was no difference in working on the Horror Hotel web series compared to other television production I've done. Bigger studios maybe. But Horror Hotel is a very professional operation. Scripts are fantastic, as are the Directors, Producers, sets, makeup and effects. The Hess family is super creative and just does things right. Actors are taken care of so they can run free creatively. 

Actors are taken care of so they can run free creatively. Any actor would be lucky to be part of anything the Hess's produce. 

What are some of the projects you are currently and have recently worked on?

Besides Horror Hotel, in 2013 I have had the privilege of working with Benny Demus and AKON on their gripping webseries "Eeazy" playing a nefarious Atlanta attorney by the name of "Rosenberg".  It's due to be released very shortly. I also just completed a role in the film "Curveball" from Atlanta's SUPREMACY FILMS as the father of one of the main characters. It's due to be released in 2014. Right now, I am shooting a fantastic character named "Big Harold Jenkins" in "Buried Cain" from SPIRIT WORLD productions which is slated for release in summer 2014. Jenkins is an alcoholic, womanizing small town preacher. What more could an actor ask for in a role? Fun, Fun, Fun. 

Also checking my phone messages regularly hoping that "Al Sharko" will be making more appearances in the second season of "Horror Hotel". 

Well, we can't imagine Horror Hotel without our favorite fence, Al Sharko, so stay tuned Jim!
You can see all the episodes at the World Premiere, Thursday, Sept. 26th, 8pm. Porter Sanford Community Arts Center, 3181 Rainbow Drive, Decatur, GA 30034. 

Hope to see you there!!!!!


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