Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Strange Career Path Of Eric Lutes

So I'm watching a Frasier rerun recently and let me immediately sidetrack myself by complaining about how dreck like That 70's Show or King Of Queens is shown around the clock while Frasier (in the running for best sitcom ever) rarely pops up in syndication. But whatever, I'm watching a Frasier rerun and it's the episode where Frasier invites his new boss at the radio station over for dinner with the intent on fixing him up with Daphne, whereas the station boss (who's gay) is under the impression that Frasier is actually asking him out. Classic, wacky, Frasier zaniness.

Anyway, we go to commercial and it's a Viagra ad starring none other than the guy who's playing Frasier's boss in this episode. He's a little older and grayer, but it's definitely the same dude. Did someone at TVtropolis notice this and intentionally schedule this commercial to run during this specific episode? Or am I giving their programmers too much credit? After all, this is the same channel that considers 'Wipeout' to be prime-time programming.

This piqued my interest so after a short Google search, I found this actor's name is Eric Lutes. He's popped up on scads of TV series over the years, played a dad in an Olsen Twins movie and basically is your typical working actor. Arguably his best-known role was on the old "Caroline In The City" show, where he was actually one of the regular characters. So in 15 years, going from an NBC Must-See-TV sitcom to a Viagra ad. Unfortunate. (Okay, I realize that 'Caroline In The City' was to the Must-See-TV lineup as the Charlotte Bobcats are to the NBA, but even still, that show somehow lasted four seasons. Surely someone must've watched it.)

I've always been curious about the actors in ads for products like Viagra or Levitra. You figure their thought process is a gig's a gig, and hey, if the middle-aged need some help in getting it up, what the hell, more power to them. But still, I'm sure these actors hear some flack from their buddies over the ads. It's different from taking a role on a lousy show since your exposure there is limited just to the audience of said crappy show; if you're on a vaguely embarrassing commercial, it can air any time and anyone can see it. You know that Lutes has heard about this ad not just from his pals, but from his grandma, his mailman, his minister, etc. Hopefully he has a sense of humour about it --- or, hell, maybe he actually uses Viagra and is totally, eerily, gung-ho about it.

Mailman: Hey there Mr. Lutes, I saw your Viagra ad. Looks like I'm the only one that's regularly delivering around here, eh? Heh heh.

Eric: Ha ha, good one, Bill! But seriously, have you tried this stuff? It's awesome! I went from a sad-sack to harder than algebra! I've got seven extra cases in my garage right now if you're interested.

Mailman: Seven cases? Wow...uh, I think I'll pass. I haven't consulted with my doctor about....

Eric: C'mon, don't be a wuss! All the cool kids take Viagra!

Mailman: For god's sake Lutes, keep it together. Just sign for this package...oh no, this is more Viagra, isn't it?

Eric: YEP

Then he tears the package open and starts popping the Viagra like candy, while the mailman looks on in horror. If you thought this scene was terrifying, just imagine the one with Lutes and his minister.


Anonymous said...

"Caroline in the City" was NOT a crappy show. It was a very witty sitcom. "Frasier" was extremely fine in the genre, but please don't cast aspersions on "Caroline." I remember it with great fondness.

--John H

Anonymous said...

Who are you to disparage EL? Do you know him ? Why would you write such nasty stuff about someone who you've never met or at the very least interviewed.

Acting is just a job like any other - you take what you can get, if the pay is decent. Actors play characters which have no bearing on real life. That is way it is - an art and we can't all do it. The fact that he offended you BY being able to portray two characters in a span of minutes only means you are an Idiot who thinks that the characters must be real - Movies and TV are made up stories - wake up!!

D said...

I know a "working"actor whose easily recognizable voice is on the commericals for another product similar to Viagra, he's made a fortune from it and it allows him to pursue less lucrative acting gigs, as well as spending time with his family and pursuing other endeavors. I bet Eric Lutes is doing just fine.

Allie Wi said...

Caroline in the City is a great show and Eric Lutes is really funny on it.