They say good luck and good timing are two of the more important ingredients for success in show business.
Calgary actor and talk-show host David Oulton may have already used up his share of both and it’s still fairly early on in his career. This is not to suggest he has had an easy life, but he credits a serendipitous meeting on a plane when he was a teenager as a pivotal, life-changing moment that still has positive ramifications.
Born in England, Oulton grew up in Fort McMurray dreaming of superstardom. But they were tough years, which he now describes as being marred by family dysfunction and abuse.
At 16, he found himself flying to Los Angeles without much of a plan. On a connecting flight through Edmonton, Oulton ended up sitting next to actor Corbin Bernsen of L.A. Law fame. They struck up a conversation, in which Oulton outlined his ambitions but also his troubles at home. Bernsen told him to go to L.A. and have a vacation, but to look him up in Alberta when he returned because he was about to start shooting a low-budget, faith-based movie in Provost called Beyond the Heavens.
“He took me in and gave me a really nice job on this film set and the first person I met when I walked into the production office was Lisa (McGillivray), one of the executive producers on the film,” Oulton says. “Provost is a very small, very isolated town and this was the dead of winter, the middle of March and there were really frigid temperatures. We spent four weeks together as a film crew in the middle of nowhere in Alberta. On the last day of filming, Lisa came up to me and said ‘What is your plan?’ I said I didn’t know. So she said come with me and they took me in.”
Oulton was legally adopted by McGillivray. This unusual show-biz origins story didn’t exactly lead to immediate stardom for the actor. But he got an agent and eventually landed a few modest roles. He also stayed friends with Bernsen and other actors from the 2013 film, including veteran TV and film thespian Lawrence Pressman. Pressman was a guest on the first season of Face to Face with David, an online talk show that finds Oulton engaging in low-key, impromptu chats with various entertainers and key figures in the fashion and business worlds. Bernsen will appear in Season 2.
Face to Face with David premiered on Amazon Prime Video in mid-July in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. So far, it has not aired in Canada, although Oulton suspects that will change soon as he is in talks with various outfits about Canadian distribution. Season 2 has relocated from Oulton’s home to the elegant backdrop of downtown Calgary’s Fairmont Palliser Hotel. But the format is the same: Oulton, wearing a Versace housecoat and usually sipping a glass of wine, has a virtual chat with various celebs.
The idea sprang from boredom more than anything else in the spring. Like everyone, he was self-isolating. But he also knew that the COVID-19 pandemic had forced a lot of the major talk shows to go on sudden hiatus so he figured there would be an opening.
“I had done some TV shows, I’ve done some movies so I know enough people where I could probably pull this off,” he says. “I called my agent and said ‘I just want to let you know I’m going to do something on social media just to pass the time. If it goes horribly, I’m just giving you the heads up.'”
He called Pressman, known for roles in everything from Doogie Howser, M.D. to 1971’s Shaft, and started the ball rolling. Eventually, Oulton landed Queer Eye’s Carson Kressley, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, comedian Debra DiGiovanni and Master Chef April Lee Baker. Season 2, which has already been filmed at the Palliser and is set to air in the U.S. at the end of the month, will feature Vanessa Williams, Melissa Rivers, actress Natasha Henstridge and Bernsen, among others.
These virtual tete-a-tetes aren’t without deep thoughts. Oulton says Hilton, in particular, was surprisingly open in discussing his career regrets, while fellow Fort McMurray native Henstridge reportedly delves into #Metoo territory by discussing her experiences with disgraced movie exec Harvey Weinstein. But the show is meant to have a intimate, breezy vibe. The one topic that was was never discussed: COVID-19.
“I wanted to stay true to that initial concept and feel for the viewer,” he says. “When you’re watching the show, it’s not an in-depth Barbara Walters interview. I wanted it to feel like you are watching in on what essentially becomes a FaceTime for a Zoom call between two people having a very casual conversation.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020