BWW Interviews: Actor and QVC Host Rick Domeier
Anyone who watches the television shopping networks is familiar with QVC's Rick Domeier. The self-proclaimed "Captain Midnight" is usually on in the late night hours and has more energy than a classroom full of kindergartners. His staccato laugh can be likened to the tommy guns that are seen in gangster movies, only Domeier isn't shooting down thugs with his laugh; he's setting sales records-and winning the hearts of millions of women in the process. He jokes with people who call in to testify about their purchases, he trades quips with Joan Rivers as he sits beside her during jewelry shows, he dances his goofy dance steps to the delight of his viewers and he shows genuine compassion to a woman on the phone who breaks down in tears when talking about the recent demise of her pet dog. At all times he is what Business 2.0 Magazine calls "a whirlwind of energy."
It's hard to believe that Domeier is an actor with quite a background in Shakespeare and the classics. Well, maybe it's not that hard to believe, because it's not uncommon for him to make allusions to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams or even the Bard himself as he sells jewelry, home décor, clothing or garden equipment. After watching the man in action, one quickly realizes that he's quite intelligent, well-read and still has a penchant for the performing arts. Oh yes, he's very good-looking, too. His blond hair sets off his blue eyes and the whitest of white teeth. And that physique of his is amply displayed when he demonstrates workout equipment so that people on various message boards post comments that would normally be reserved for the likes of Brad Pitt or Jake Gyllenhaal.
Talking by phone from Pennsylvania, Domeier is quite a conversationalist. He's relaxed and enjoying the whole experience. The native of New Ulm, Minnesota has been giving more than his share of interviews lately as he's the author of a new book called "Can I Get a Do Over?" The book, co-authored by Max Davis, has been selling like hotcakes on Amazon.Com and receiving very favorable notices from critics. Actually, Rick Domeier's a fun guy to talk to.
An athlete in his high school years, Domeier played quarterback for Cathedral High School's football team. "For me to be Cathedral Greyhounds' star athlete wasn't all that huge an accomplishment. I don't want to underplay my school, but I don't want to over- embellish my athletic prowess, either. I was quite a party guy in high school, too!" He quickly adds, "I also played basketball and baseball in my freshman and sophomeore years. I guess you could say I played the classic sports."
Rarely do high school athletes find themselves in a position where they consider a career in the performing arts as Domeier did. "When I think about it," he reflects," It was all about Tom Sawyer. It was a middle school play for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. I was in eighth grade and we did an operetta version of Tom Sawyer. There was singing involved...there was bashful singing and I was Tom. That was everything. I'm sure that's a time when many performers get the sense that they're the performer and then there's the audience. There was that separation between the two. Of course there was the applause. That was good, too. I liked that. I really liked that. Looking back now, whether it was acting or speech class, sports, public speaking , dancing in front of a camera, acting on stage or QVC; to me they're all different versions of the same thing. I heard a great phrase one time; it was from the late David Viscount-- the first radio psychiatrist who had been parodied on "Saturday Night Live". He was an incredible guy and was known for the phrase that answers the question ‘What are your gifts?' If the purpose of life is to realize the gifts you've been given and the meaning comes from returning those gifts, then ‘What are your gifts?' That's pretty much what I've been searching for. What are the gifts I'm giving back? I guess there's some sense of wanting to express in some way. I think that's manifested itself through the years. It's manifested itself in performing in sports, performing in plays, learning, performing and acting in films." The show host continues, "When I was knocking in LA, looking at how I could continue to do that and maybe make a buck doing it, is where QVC came into play. That was 17 years ago."
During his time in Los Angeles, Domeier appeared in such plays PICNIC, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, MACBETH, LUANN RAFFERTY OBERLANDER, SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN CHICAGO, THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES, CLOTHES FOR A SUMMER'S NIGHT, and STREAMERS, as well as several obscure regional plays like HYDROPHOBIA. "The last one was a metaphorical play for homophobia that was written by a gay playwright and its plot still doesn't make any sense to me," he comments.
Looking back on his stage work, Domeier says, "It was incredible fun and a great learning opportunity. When I was with the Genesis Company, we did everything from pounding nails and putting up the sets to starring the plays. We even put out fliers-it was in the days before e-mails-we'd put fliers on car windshields and literally told friends to spread the word about our shows."
Reflecting on his stage work, Domeier feels he's proudest of his performance as Hal Carter in William Inge's PICNIC. "It's a tough role. He's kind of a dope in a way, he's not the big hero. Well, he's not really that much of a dope. Looking back on it, I had a hard time getting a handle on the role. He's sort of half boy/half man. You know? He's unsure of himself and has to work to find his way. It was a real challenge to play that part. It's deceptively challenging. If you play him as just as a big brute, you're missing the mark."
He's also proud of his work as Danny Shapiro in SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN CHICAGO. "It's not the showy role, that's the other character; the guy who actually gets the girl. If you know the play, you know the language is quite strong and I had my parents come to see it. Unbeknownst to me, they weren't that shocked. They had heard it all before!" he laughs.
"I had this scholarship from South Coast Rep, which is a Tony Award-winning reparatory theater. It was wonderful and they had a group called "Will and Company" which specialized in young peoples' theater. We played to high schools and that was an absolute blast because I was young enough to remember my high school days and do those plays; chatting with the kids in the schools afterwards. It served as inspiration. It was there that I did what I set out to do and that was to make my transition and give my gifts back. However, there was always a side of me that was very practical and I wanted to make a buck doing this. I saw actors in my theater company who were 45 and older and they were living like college kids and couldn't pay their rent. I saw all sides of that. I had nothing against it; in fact I thought it was awesome because I was a wild and crazy vagabond. Everybody was broke, so it was no big deal. However, there was that practical side of me that realized I hadn't come to Hollywood just to do theater. I knew I wanted more. I met someone through South Coast Rep who knew of a way to get my name on a call sheet to cast me in a movie. By casting me in this never-released movie, I was able to get into SAG (The Screen Actor's Guild). That was a major transition. That was also how I got my first agent, Dick Lovell of Lovell and Associates"
Branching out into television, Domeier recollects his time on "The Days of Our Lives": "I had one line, where I was a cop. It was an ensemble scene and both Roman Brady and Deirdre Hall were there. I missed my cue. I missed my one line. The director was up in a booth, he wasn't out on the floor and people had to leave because they had to catch planes for their next jobs. Jed Allen said, ‘We can do without the line' and then Roman took one look at me and saw the devastation on my face and he said to the director, ‘Hey, I don't like what I did, can we do it one more time?' and the director agreed. Roman winked at me and we did the scene. My line was in and my parents got to see me on "Days of Our Lives" doing that one line. That was a big deal. It was a big moment for me and my family." The actor also appeared in the soap opera "Santa Barbara" and the movie TEEN WOLF. Additionally, he had a brief role in Lindsay Wagner's forgotten TV series called "Jessie". I was on a lot of those forgotten series. It seemed that if I had a line on a show, you'd know that the series was going to be cancelled! That was my thing!" he laughs.
"TEEN WOLF was wonderful," continues Domeier," because that was the one where I was on the actual movie set. I saw a lot. First of all, because I had a line or two, I got the good food. I had a trailer, I had a key to go with that trailer. I went into makeup, I had wardrobe and I got the hot lunch. In TEEN WOLF's party scene, there were about 400 extras, they were all kids. They all got bag lunches along with 35 bucks a day. By having that line, I got something like $400 a day and got to sit next to Michael J. Fox at lunchtime. That was a nice little moment for me. I also got to see what fame was really like because across the street there were about fifteen girls who were just trying to get an eye on him."
Shortly after TEEN WOLF, Domeier was sent out on another audition. It was a sequel to a film called EVIL DEAD and was to be directed by Sam Raimi. The actor had never heard of the original film, or the director Sam Raimi who was also directing the follow- up. "I got a callback for that and they loved-absolutely loved-when I turned into the freakin' monster! They just loved that! They have that audition on tape somewhere and I know that someday it'll pop up on YouTube. Anyhow, I got the job and that was a big thing for me because I got four weeks' work. That meant flying first class to Waynesboro, North Carolina and being put up in a hotel. I also got a chance to see the movie-making process. You know: the makeup test, the long 16 hour days, and the camera work. If you've seen the film, RAISING ARIZONA you'll remember the camera work in it. That rolling camera work was taken from EVIL DEAD 2 because the Coen brothers were editors on the two EVIL DEAD movies. These were the days before SteadyCam, so all the camera shots were done with a camera man sitting in a blanket (I'm not kidding, we called it the "BlanketCam") with four guys -one guy on each corner-and they carried him forward for the shot. It's fantastic. If you look at the movie, you'll see that when they move to the cabin, they move through the entire house literally without cutting. It was done by a guy on a blanket. It's phenomenal." When Domeier finished the film, he took the money and traveled to Europe. "I blew it all," he remarks.
There have been rumors that when Sam Raimi saw EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL at the New World Stages, he decided he wanted to re-do the film as a musical and hire the same actors he used in EVIL DEAD 2. Would Rick Domeier be interested in reprising his role of Evil Eddie Gately as a song and dance man? The actor impishly replies, "I'll have to consider it." He pauses for a beat and continues, "Okay, I've considered it: Of course!"He also is mindful that the movie was released in 1987 and the actors "would have to be brought in in wheelchairs these days!" He punctuates that comment with that famous machine gun laugh. In any event, a theatre in Pennsylvania will be doing EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL very shortly and Domeier has will be attending the opening night.
Yes, Rick Domeier is a singer; a pretty good one, at that. Several years ago, QVC produced a Christmas CD with their various show hosts and staff members performing. Domeier's contributions to the effort were outstanding renditions of "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer". The latter was done in a doo wop arrangement that was particularly effective. In fact, it could have sold very well had it been released as a single. "Feel free to share that," he adds, "The album sold a hundred thousand copies. It's unbelievable! For ‘Rudolph' the producer brought in four guys who do that for a living and they were off-the-charts! It was one of the many highlights of my career at QVC."
How did someone who had a movie career that was certainly on the rise, decide to abandon it in favor of a gig on a television shopping channel? Domeier takes a prolonged pause before responding. "Well, it was very real. Within three weeks, my girlfriend had dumped me, my agent became extremely ill, and I was unemployed. I've always been an extraordinarily positive person and found myself saying, ‘Okay, what's in my power now to do?' I just made a vow that I was going to get a job on the box [television]. Having seen QVC on my cable system, I literally said, ‘I can do that!'
The story of how Domeier was hired by QVC is all about a person named Ron Rosenberg. "I needed someone to represent me, so this manager Ron Rosenberg started making calls," Domeier explains. "Not just to QVC, but he started making calls period. He was telling people that they've gotta see this Domeier guy and that he was talented .
He was good. He told people they had to give me a shot. He started booking auditions. I started getting commercials. Things like Jack-in-the-Box commercials, and Izusu commercials, I got a Pontiac commercial....bang, bang, bang. I got a pilot to host a show. I made what I call ‘the two inch transition'. The two inch transition is when you're doing a scene, the camera is right there and you're not looking at it. However, if you take two inches and look over, BANG, you're looking into the camera. That changes everything. It changes who you are. Those two inches transform you from an actor to a host. Now you're speaking right to the people."
Ron Rosenberg eventually called QVC and told them they had to see Domeier. "They flew me to West Chester, Pennsylvania and said they don't work a lot with agents (but now they do). They called me back and offered me the job for six months. It was kind of a training program. So to that little chapter of my life I owe a lot to Ron Rosenberg. But the Paul Harvey now-you-know-the-rest-of-the-story is that the entire time, Ron Rosenberg was me."
Domeier continues, "I wanted to get the job. It was a ballsy thing to do but it worked. It was at that point I realized I could sell. I felt that sales might not be a bad avenue. I thought I'd be with QVC for six months where I'd make a couple of dollars and I'd be back. I thought I'd get some tape of myself hosting and I'd be back in LA doing what I do. However, once I walked into the building and looked around; feeling the energy of the entrepreneurs and seeing the celebrities walk by, to say nothing about being on live TV and getting the buzz of 10,000 people dialing in, well, I experienced an adrenalin rush. I soon understood it was a pretty phenomenal place filled with positive entrepreneurial people and eventually began to think that a little more than 6 months might not be a bad idea" Rick Domeier has now been with QVC for 17 years.
QVC began sending Domeier all over the country to do live broadcasts in places like Niagra Falls, Boise, Idaho, Denver, South Carolina and eventually to Dresden, Germany . "I began to wonder if they were kidding me," he says. "They were paying me for this and it was all too cool. I was there in a reAl Golden period for QVC. Don't get me wrong, QVC is now better than ever, but in '95-'96, that was really a golden time. We were just growing in business, as well as in the number of homes we were been seen in."
In his years at QVC, Rick Domeier has met more than his share of celebrities and Joan Rivers is just one of them. According to the show host, he's worked with Dan Marino, Dale Ernhart Sr, Dan Ernhart Jr, Cal Ripkin, John Elway, Dick Clark, David Crosby, Merle Haggard, Charlton Heston, Cliff Robertson, Ed McMahon, Patti La Belle,Victoria Principal, Harvey Korman, Heide Klume, Liza Minnelli....and the list goes on. "Everybody now comes to QVC when they have something to sell," exclaims Domeier.
As a host of one of the world's most prestigious shopping channels, Domeier is well versed in how to use the products he's selling. He speaks authoritatively about tools, jewelry, cleaning products, hand woven rugs, home décor and gardening equipment. "OVC sends us on factory tours," Domeier explains. "I've been to about ten different jewelry-making facilities in Italy, as well as to Hong Kong and China. I've seen oriental rungs being made, I've climbed the Great Wall of China. I've seen glass being blown in Germany. I've been to the Craftsman Tools factory here in the United States. I've even witnessed the art of cuckoo clock making in the Black Forest of Germany. I'm not kidding, it's really cool!"
While QVC has provided great travel experiences for Domeier, it has also been the source of one incredible practical joke via Jimmy Fallon. "I had just done a normal show," he explains, "and Jimmy Fallon's staff took a segment of it and dubbed over someone's voice in place of the telephone caller. It was done in post production and shown on Fallon's show." The result was that a viewer's phone call about the computer Domeier was demonstrating became a talk about how that viewer was able to store his collection of pornography on it. Domeier's comments remained unchanged, though, and the results were pretty funny. "Like so many things in this day and age," Domeier remarks, "it's alive and well and living on YouTube. They've immortalized me not only with this but with other episodes from QVC, clips from my movies and bloopers. It's all great because it means I'm doing what I should be doing; which is expressing myself in some way. I guess that I'm not sure what that is yet, but I do know that the expression of giving back those gifts is coming from a positive place. It's not coming from a negative place. It's coming from positive energy and that's what I want to leave behind for my two sons. I want them to realize that their father had a lot of positive energy. I want them to realize I wanted to lift them up, not pull them down. In fact, that was the inspiration behind the book."
That inspiration behind Domeier's "Can I Get a Do Over?" was a small voice saying "Don't give up," according to its author. It also said, "Keep giving what you've got and keep putting it out there. Whenever you get knocked down, get back up again. I wanted to put that out in some form. I took the idea to a legitimate agent (not Ron Rosenberg this time!) and who ran it up the flagpole with a bunch of publishers who turned it down because it was a bad time to get books published. Finally this past May, I took it to a Book Expo in New York City and I pitched it myself. I sat down with the publisher of "Chicken Soup For The Soul" and he aid, "Okay, when can you give us the manuscript? It was a handshake deal. So I got to work. It's real, it's out there and it's selling well."
It should be said that "Can I Get a Do Over?" is a smoothly written book that grips the reader from the start and is a collection of stories about people who got knocked down in life for one reason or another and started over; getting a "do over". Although it's enormously readable, it's also touching and thought-provoking. Who knew that so many people who are seen as successful in life have had serious misfortunes and have risen from the ashes? The book contains stories about Helen Keller, Joy Mangano, Larry Koenig, Jeanne Bice, George Stella, Tessa Simmons, Bob Whelen and others. Each story is engrossing in its own right and Domeier's "voice" is easily identified throughout. One is also impressed by the spiritual thread that is found throughout.
That spiritual aspect of the project will be reflected on April 12th, which the author has dubbed Do Over Day. "All the proceeds from anyone shopping for the book on Amazon.Com on April 12th will go to Japan's Tsunami Relief Fund. I think it's an opportunity that plays forward for people. It's a day of inspiration, donation and personalization because anyone buying the book that day will find a special link where they can put their addresses in and I'll send them a personalized limited edition, autographed bookplate. Hopefully it'll be a Win/Win situation."
Also on April 12th, Domeier will be appearing live on television's 700 Club to discuss the inspirational facets of the book: especially the segment that is devoted to his father. There are end notes in "Can I Get a Do Over?" in which Domeier recounts some actual experiences with him. "Dad was 85 and lying in his bed going through his entire life. His memory came back and the people at the 700 Club liked that. My father was one of five brothers who fought in World War II. Out of five brothers, three came back so there's the analogy to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN which is real," comments Domeier. "I feel that when you become a father and lose a father, that's when you need a father." Truer words have never been spoken.
There's no doubt that Rick Domeier is extremely contented with his position at QVC. He brims over with enthusiasm when he talks about it. However, would he ever consider taking a short leave of absence from the Q and headlining a Broadway show for a limited engagement? The long-running revival of CHICAGO has made it a policy of bringing in headliners for ten weeks or so. Certainly Domeier's charm, good looks and superb singing skills would make him a choice candidate to play the slick lawyer Billy Flynn. Additionally, the legion of women and gay men in America who constitute his fan base would bring long lines to the Ambassador Theatre's box office. "Wow!" Domeier exclaims. "That would be a dream come true! Wow!" Similarly, he feels that the role of Harold Hill in The MUSIC MAN would be a perfect fit for his talents. After all, Harold Hill is a salesman and playing that character wouldn't be any stretch at all for the guy who gets the switchboards lighting up every time he appears on QVC. There's no doubt that the man has the talent and personality to fill a Broadway theater and surely there would have to be extra barricades set up outside the stage door after performances to deal with the throngs he would surely attract.
Who knows? Starring in a Broadway musical could be Rick Domeier's latest "do over" and one gets the impression that whatever Domeier sets his mind to, he will accomplish-with or without the help of one Mr. Ron Rosenberg.
To visit Rick Domeier's website, go to http://rickdomeier.com/index.html
To order copies of "Can I Get a Do Over?" on April 12th, go to http://www.amazon.com/