ALMOST FAMOUSFOUR YEARS AGO NOBODY KNEW HIS NAME AND NOW JASON GEORGE IS ...ALMOST FAMOUS
By Adam Kelley
Just the other day, Jason George’s (Scott, TITANS) life flashed before his eyes. "I’m a nostalgia freak, so I never throw anything away," he begins, "and I found this old tape of ACCESS HOLLYWOOD. They were following me and my best friend around Philadelphia on the day I left to start SUNSET BEACH in Los Angeles. So, I pop the tape in, and it’s hysterical. We were driving around in the producer’s convertible- we didn’t have a car’ we were grad students - saying tearful goodbyes to everyone. We go to my agent’s place to sign some paperwork and then it’s straight to the airport. And it was only four years ago, but... it seems like a million."
"I look at that tape and ... I knew nothing about the business back then, " marvels the actor, who won the role of Michael on BEACH via a talent contest that NBC held in shopping centers nationwide. "You hear the odds, how 95 percent or whatever it is of actors are out of work at any given time but I hadn’t gone out into the real world at that point. I was in school, studying drama and doing plays and training and hoping. My life was like an episode of FAME. And I went to this contest in the mall, thinking it was bogus, and suddenly I’ve got this job. So I knew in my head that this was a difficult business, but I didn’t know it in my heart because I hadn’t been beaten up by real life yet."
He’s still waiting for that beating - but even without it, George knows he’s a lucky man. "Please - I come to L.A. with a job, do three years on SUNSET BEACH, it goes off the air, I do a bunch of episodics, then I do a play that gets phenomenal reviews all over town and I get TITANS," he laughs, sounding incredulous. "I’ve had a pretty good run, and it’s only been four years since I got here. So am I aware of how blessed I am? Yes, I’m terribly aware. I mean, you have to be able to stop and recognize the humility in all of this. It all comes with blessing from above, with help from friends."
Topping the "friends" list - if not the "help from above" list - is Aaron Spelling, executive producer of both BEACH and TITANS, among other shows. "I could have gotten on any soap opera, then left it and been back in the fray, but it just so happened that the one I got on was Mr. Spelling’s" says the actor, who, like the most other Spelling actors, doesn’t call his boss by his first name. "I mean, if you’re going to pick a place to land, land here. He’s great. Mr. Spelling has been hugely instrumental in the career I’ve had so far. He goes out of his way to take care of his people."
That, of course, begs one question: What does Mr. Spelling see in George? "Well, there’s all the perfunctory things - a certain look, and I do believe I have talent," he muses. "But there are tons of talented actors with the right look out here who don’t work. So I have to think that attitude has a lot to do with it - treating people well, being the kind of person a producer would want around for a long period of time."
To illustrate, he mentions a personal appearance he did for BEACH fans in Philadelphia. "I’m there for four hours just signing autographs, and the line’s backing up around the corner, and I look down and see this older couple. They had walked to the front of the stage and were waving at me and I thought, ‘These people are obviously leaving, so I’ll just hold up the line for a second.’ I jumped down to say, ‘Hi,’ and they were like, ‘We think you’re great on the show, and we told our son, Jonathan, that we thought so.’ And I said, ‘Jonathan?’ because they made it sound like I should know him. And they go, ‘Yeah, Jonathan Levin,’ who, of course, is the president of Spelling Television. And I thought, ‘I am so thankful that I jumped down!’"
That good nature served George equally well on the BEACH set, where his character got a little bit dumber every day. "Michael had no a clue," he groans. "I had to laugh because you could see the gray matter dripping out of my ears." And never was that more true than during the show’s now-infamous rape-by-turkey-baster storyline. "We had this joke: Nobody on the set was allowed to say ‘turkey baster.’ Someone would be like, ‘Where’s the turk-’ and we’d all be like, ‘No! We do not speak of the object!’ It was one of those things where you had to throw up your hands and say, ‘Well, this is what they pay us for.’
""We still laugh about this all the time," he says of the tacky tale. "You should see the blooper reel 0 none of us could keep a straight face. The baster was, I think, worst for Dominique [Jennings, ex-Virginia] because she actually had to hold the darn thing. She’s the one who did the deed, whereas Sherri’s [Saum, ex-Vanessa] gripe was with the Martin’s Syndrome [story] and the spots. She’s still salty about the fact that I eventually gave myself Martin’s Syndrome in order to cure her, so I had the spots for like a day, and she had to wear them for two months. She was so mad about that. She’s like, ‘It’s not fair!’
Which is exactly what BEACH fans everywhere cried when the series was cancelled late in 1999. And while George had already decided to quit by then, the news hit him hard, as well. "It was a good show," he reflects. "I mean, it was what it was. I consider it the ALLY McBEAL of daytime with so many campy, over-the-top dream sequences and fun stuff. But really, I think the cancellation had less to do with the show itself than with the politics behind it. Ownership, time slots, that sort of thing. And I'm certain that there were reasons I’m completely unaware of. But it was unfortunate.
That said, he’s since moved on to greener pastures - like TITANS. "I really wanted this," he grins. ’On a scale of one to ten, I wanted it about a nine, because I love working for Mr. Spelling. When I walked into the room to audition, I felt like I was coming home. It was a very easy audition for me’ I had a blast." The next day, George got the part - and for now, at least, he’s happy where he is. "Have I accomplished everything I wanted to? Not even close," he smiles. "But I’m getting there."
THE MARRYING MANAfter almost a decade of dating, George and his college sweetheart, Vandana Khanna, finally tied the knot on July 10, 1999. "With SUNSET BEACH, I had a lot more time off than she did, so I actually did most of the planning." he says of the wedding, a half-Baptist, half-Hindu affair that took place in his native Virginia. "I even picked the bridesmaids’ dresses!" After a honeymoon in Italy, the couple returned to L.A. They have since bought their first house, are planning a trip to the dog pound - and maybe a trip to the maternity ward, as well. "I’ve been wanting to be a dad since I was 20," the actor enthuses. "Right now, she’s making a career shift and there’s some momentum in my career, so we’re kind of going full steam ahead with that. I guess we’re on the three-year plan. But if she turned to me tomorrow and said, ‘Guess what?’ I would be the happiest man on the planet."