Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Retire? Nah. Go act.

Jerald Amaya gained good memories on the set of "Front of the Class," which debuted Sunday on CBS.

The TV movie is based on Brad Cohen's autobiographical book, "Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had."

Amaya, of Greenwood, played a classroom observer toward the end.

"It gave me the opportunity to not only meet the original Brad Cohen, but it (also) gave us a chance to make a friendship," Amaya said.

The local actor was thrilled to be able to sit in a director's chair. Amaya was also a bit surprised when the movie's star, James Wolk, began talking to him about acting.

"It was almost the teacher asking the student for advice," Amaya said. "I have retired from GM, and this is new to me."

He worked at the Shreveport plant between 1992 and 2006. While retirement's nice and all, Amaya's wife encouraged him to try his hand at acting. "It was either sit home and watch reruns of 'The Blues Brothers' and 'Meet the Fockers,' or get out there and try this."

Don Logan, also a local actor, sent an email about his involvement in the project. Logan's a retired DJ (remember Dandy Don, anyone?) and continues to be an all-around music man.

For "Front of the Class," he worked as an extra (or background actor). Unfortunately, his scene was left on the cutting room floor.

"Hopefully in the DVD, they will use some extended cuts," Logan wrote. "OH WELL, as you guys say in SHOW BIZ, those are the breaks."

Like Amaya, Logan believes that getting older doesn't mean you have to drop out of the workforce.

"Remaining active is very important as you become older to stay the well-rounded person you are," Logan wrote. "There are some jobs I can't do. I can't even do all the things I did at 30. But, I can run, jog a little, stand on my feet for long hours and am in good physical health, so I am a background natural for any director wanting the 'grandfather' look."

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