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Knocking on Hollywood’s door

Mar 31, 2003  •  Post A Comment

For all waiters with stars in their eyes: It can happen. Consider Bret Anthony, 31, who spent 11 of the past 12 years waiting tables. A few weeks ago he didn’t have an agent or a manager. His biggest role had been a few lines on Seinfeld in 1995. Then a pal in acting class suggested he audition to play John Ritter in a TV movie about the ’70s sitcom Three’s Company.
The MOW’s exec producer Stan Brooks said they had already seen over 500 Ritter wannabes at the point when Mr. Anthony auditioned. They were three days from production, hours from casting a New York actor. “We were resigned to hiring someone who was second choice,” recalled Mr. Brooks.
At the last minute, Mr. Anthony showed up. As he entered Mr. Brooks’ office he hit his head on the doorjamb and collapsed to the floor. Everyone rushed over. Mr. Anthony bounded up and told them it was a gag. “To suddenly find someone who could do physical comedy and act was fantastic,” said Mr. Brooks. “It’s difficult to cast these movies because you have to capture the essence of a person. He was the only one who did.”
A day later Mr. Anthony was on a flight to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. “All I took were socks, underwear and golf clubs,” he recalled. “I wore ’70s clothes [provided by wardrobe] the whole time.”
The real John Ritter was so impressed when he saw the movie that he invited Mr. Anthony to visit the set of his hit comedy 8 Simple Rules …, where he gave him a big hug. “He said it was a great movie to show his kids,” recalled Mr. Anthony, who now has a manager and an agent and no longer waits tables.
Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Three’s Company airs May 12 on NBC, told from the POV of Joyce DeWitt, who gets a producing credit. Those unhappy about the project appear to include Suzanne Somers and her producer husband Alan Hamel, who through a spokesperson declined comment.