Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen Raising Money to Fund Archaeology Chair

Who knew!  Actor Ted Danson's father is an archaeologist.

From The Arizona Daily Sun (online edition)

Q and A: Danson, Steenburgen interview
Posted: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 9:00 am

Eric Betz: Can you tell me a bit about tonight's events?

Ted Danson: Its kind of the family kitchen sink tonight. We're raising money for an archaeology chair at the Museum of Northern Arizona. It would fund an archaeologist always to be present doing the work that the museum's been doing for years and it would be in my father's name.
EB: I just finished reading your nephew Eric Haury's book about your father and your family and in it he writes about your frequent picnics in the peaks and road trips to the canyon. What's it like for you to come back to this area?

TD: It's always overwhelming for about a day as all the emotions come slamming back into my head. I was surrounded by love growing up. My parents loved me well. My sister is one of the most loving people I know. So, to come back in is like being bathed in this wonderful memory. I don't come to Flagstaff that often, so this always brings back a whole bunch of wonderful memories.

EB: Mary, I'm also curious, how does this area resonate with you? Has Ted taken you to the Peaks or the South Rim or the Hopi Reservation?

Mary Steenburgen: I have not yet been to the Hopi. Every time we plan it, one of us gets a job. He's going back to CSI and I'm going to 30 Rock. I have been here before and he's always pointed out the Orpheum to me and I've never actually seen the inside of it I've just seen the outside of it. So, this is really fun for me. I've spent a lot of time in Sedona where his sister and before that his parents lived in the last years of their life and I've fallen in love with the people and the whole kind of casual and accepting, cool-vibe here is very nice, nothing up tight about it. It's very nice.
EB: Haury also writes that you didn't have a TV in the house growing up. How'd you end up getting into acting then?
TD: Don't starve your kids from pop culture or they will immerse themselves in it. We lived far enough out of town that it would have cost a fortune to bring the cable out because it was all cable back then …
MS: Oh, I never thought about it. That's why you didn't have TV.
TD: …and then my mom was anti-TV. She didn't buy a TV until Cheers and then she put a tapestry over it. Really I wanted to play basketball. I went to Stanford and got nowhere there and tried out for a play just out of nowhere, a Bertolt Brecht play, and it just was like the light bulb went off. Life made sense. I literally moved my station wagon with the mattress in the back behind the studio theatre. I literally didn't leave. And then they said 'if you're that serious, you should go back east, but I couldn't get into her school …
MS: … plus you smell bad (laughs).
TD: … and please stop stalking the theatre (laughs).
MS: What do you mean you couldn't get into my school?
TD: The Neighborhood Playhouse (a renowned acting school) had just finished its first round of auditions.
MS: Oh I didn't ever know you tried. Now I feel even more superior (laughs).
TD: Yeah, you should. It's that whole Oscar thing, don't get her started.

EB: So, did you ever consider following your dad's track into the sciences?
TD: Not even in the foggiest. … My father being an archaeologist, I think I got that sense of 'there's a lot that's come before us and there's a lot that will come after us'. This is not about us. It's about our stewardship of this time. I must have absorbed that. … I've been on the board of directors of Oceana and I think part of that, a huge part of that, came from being surrounded by the science that my father was doing.
EB: You've got all these other conservation efforts that you're a part of and yet you're coming back for the Museum of Northern Arizona. There's a lot of other ways you could be of service. What drives you to work with the museum?
TD: It's such a family affair right now. Eric wrote this book -my nephew. My sister and her husband have been putting this event together for the last year. My cousin Pam, you know, wrote the book Mary and I are reading together tonight. It's become this family affair. And you know what? The museum is a jewel, an absolute jewel. Not only does it reflect the natural history of this area, which is one of the most beautiful areas in the world, I mean look at all the people that come through here, but it also, one of its mandates is to nurture and cultivate the Hopi and Navajo Indian's pueblo cultures and they have done that so successfully so collaboratively with the Hopi and the Navajo. It is something that this area should be so proud of. It's an amazing jewel of a museum. So I'm thrilled to do anything for it.
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