Past Articles

What's New on the Rialto

John O'Hurley

John O'Hurley
Award-winning actor John O'Hurley dances his way back to Broadway for a limited six-week engagement, taking on the lead role of lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago, now through August 29th. O'Hurley made his Broadway debut as Billy Flynn back in 2006 and then went on to join the U.S. tour of Chicago. O'Hurley also starred as King Arthur in Monty Python's Spamalot in Las Vegas, and recently wrapped a cross-country tour of the show. He hosted the popular game show "Family Feud" for four years, and fans will always remember his portrayal of J. Peterman on "Seinfeld," for which he won a SAG Award. O'Hurley has also written two books: his New York Times Bestseller "It's OK to Miss the Bed on the First Jump: And Other Life Lessons Learned from Dogs," and "Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework, First You Have To Do It."

Nick Orlando recently had a chance to speak with O'Hurley about Chicago, his charity work and his career.

Nick Orlando:  You are the busiest man in show business—actor, musician, author, host ... the list goes on and on. I interviewed you backstage at the Ambassador Theater in 2006 when you were making your Broadway debut in Chicago. Did you think you would be coming back to the Broadway production four years later?

John O'Hurley:  It has been a while, hasn't it? I knew I would. I was out on tour with Chicago and wanted to come back.

NO:  When we last spoke, I asked what the casting process was like and I remember you telling me that you called Barry Weissler [the show's producer], and he said meet me for a glass of wine and you landed the role. Did you have another glass of wine with Barry?

JO:  It's done with Chardonnay. This time, I called Barry and said I had some time in the summer and he said fine, come on back. I'm also looking at some other shows while I am in New York.

NO:  Anything you can speak about?

JO:  Not yet. It would be replacement parts and a new show.

NO:  You also joined the national tour of Chicago. What is the biggest challenge when it comes to touring?

JO:  The minor inconvenience is traveling. I like that the show is brand new every two to three weeks. You have an opening and a closing. I love seeing other cities and traveling through towns I have never seen before. I love that aspect. But, like I said, the minor inconvenience is the traveling—packing and unpacking. The tour audiences are very receptive.

NO:  How does the tour audience differ from the Broadway audience?

JO:  On Broadway, you have a lot of foreign audiences—tourists are coming to New York and they might not fully understand the plot, etc. I never had such a good response as I had in Denver, Colorado. They love live theatre and are incredibly welcoming. I am using Chicago and Spamalot as the barometer.

NO:  What interested you in your character?

JO:  I love his sophistication, his slickness. He doesn't have all of the answers and he may not be the best lawyer, but he can think on his feet. He doesn't make any apologies.

NO:  Besides singing, you taught yourself to play the piano. How did that come about?

JO:  When I was in college, I was a theatre kid. I had the keys to the theatre. I would go down and teach myself the keyboard. I always had a sense of music and studied music. I already played the guitar, so it was applying the guitar to the keyboard.

NO:  You started off doing opera in New York. When did you learn that you had such a good voice?

JO:  First, thank you for that. I started doing opera in 1981 back in New York. I also did a lot of theatre back then. I was scared to death to sing. Honestly. At 12 years old, someone told me I had the worst voice. I shut my mouth for the next six years. In college, I had someone tell me I could work on my voice, so that's what I did. I have studied every day since. I still do concerts.

NO:  Have you performed any concerts recently?

JO:  Yes, I just got back from China. Michael Bolton and I did a concert. I have more dates to come.

John O'Hurley and Son
NO:  I read about your extensive charity work—Golfers Against Cancer, the Epilepsy Foundation and the American Red Cross.

JO:  Golfers Against Cancer is the most unique fundraising tool. The mission is to raise funds for cancer research. We have raised over $20 million since 1999. We've started a lot of projects—each project costs $50,000 to $100,000. It fills the unique void in cancer research. With the Epilepsy Foundation, we fund a summer camp in San Diego every year for the kids.

NO:  Any chance you will be back hosting "Family Feud"?

JO:  Nope. It was time to hang it up. They are changing the show and moving it to Orlando. I didn't have much time; in addition to acting, I am an investor and one of my companies is taking off.

NO:  When did you buy into the J. Peterman Company?

JO:  I bought into the company back in 1999.

NO:  What other ventures are you part of?

JO:  I own a software company called Politeview. I used to own an airline in Alaska and recently sold it. I also have restaurants and am a partner in an energy company called Energy-Inc. We are taking any form of waste and turning it into energy. It zeros out our landfills.

NO:  What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?

JO:  Make sure you are well enough capitalized and always consider the Internet aspects of your business.

NO:  Getting back to your acting career, which has been your favorite gig?

JO:  My favorite job was hosting "To Tell The Truth." It was like a talk show you can play along with. The four panelists always kept me in stitches. We were shooting on Saturday and Sunday. It was a great way to spend the weekend. Also, "Seinfeld" because you knew you were part of television history.

NO:  I can't believe it has been five years since your stint on "Dancing with the Stars." Have you kept up with ballroom dancing?

JO:  I have! It has been a huge fundraising tool. Charities would have an auction for a dance at the end and people would raise their hands and pay $10,000 for a 90-second waltz. I have done about two dozen of them, so just think about the amount of money we raised.

NO:  You have two books out. Would you consider writing a third?

JO:  Yes, it will be called "The Peterman Guide to the Extraordinary Life."

NO:  So, you are sticking with the long book titles?

JO:  I don't think we get anywhere would single word titles. I think lyrically.

NO:  Where do you hang out while in New York?

JO:  We have dinner every night after the show at La Masseria on 48th Street & 8th Avenue. Also, I am traveling with my wife and son, so we will be spending time in Central Park. I also like the restaurant at Barney's.

NO:  What are your plans for the next six weeks?

JO:  Yes, I'm here for a limited engagement. That's how a guy doesn't commit! My plans will be to sit and enjoy New York. I want to give my wife the opportunity to have her New York experience. I'll kick some balls around in the park with my son. It's all about my wife and son.

For more information on Chicago or to purchase tickets, visit or

-- Nick Orlando

About the author: Nick Orlando, a top performing sales and marketing representative, has more than nine years experience in the healthcare and media industries. Within the media industry, Nick has worked for WE TV, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, WCBS-TV, Cox Radio, "Saturday Night Live," and "Live with Regis and Kelly." Drawing on his diversified experience in radio and television, which ranges from programming to production to reporting, Nick formed NICO Productions in 2006, providing news and reviewer content on various entertainment, Broadway, music, film, and television topics.

Nick was born in Brooklyn and raised in Staten Island, NY, where he completed his studies. He received his B.S. in communications and marketing from St. John's University in 2005, where he was also inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society and Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Nick considers traveling, theater, music and working out his favorite leisure activities. Nick currently devotes some of his personal time to volunteering with One Brick and God's Love We Deliver.

Past Rialto Columns

Search What's New on the Rialto

Privacy Policy