Nick Bakay Interview

Live AOL Chat - More about this Event

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Live AOL Chat with Nick Bakay - Voice of Salem

Online Host: Copyright 1997 America Online, Inc. All Rights Reserved

ABC Wendy: Welcome to ABC Kidzine Live!! We just finished talking with some of your favorite stars... And now we're talking LIVE with another favorite -- Nick Bakay, who does the voice of Salem on "Sabrina: The Teenage Witch"!! He's also a head writer for the show! Ask him your questions now!! We'll be starting in just a minute! First question coming up!

StarsAtABC: Hi there!

ABC Wendy: Draginwol want to know...
Question: is it fun being the voice for Salem
StarsAtABC: It's a lot of fun! The character is the funniest character on the show consistently and the writing is great. There's just something fun about playing a cat -- it's never been done like this before. I love doing it!

ABC Wendy: Brunhild1 asks how you got the idea for the show.
StarsAtABC: Nick Bakay: I'd love to take credit for coming up with the idea, but the characters all first appeared in Archie comic books. They've been around for a while. There are things on our show that's different but the basic idea is the same.

ABC Wendy: CrazyFool want to be sure if we can expect another great season!
StarsAtABC: Nick: Absolutely! It always gets better the second year. Once it works, things really take flight afterwards! We expect it to be an even better show.

ABC Wendy: TONE5 asks how Melissa Joan Hart was chosen as Sabrina.
StarsAtABC: Nick: Actually, Melissa's mom is the executive producer of the show. Her mom optioned the Sabrina comic book for TV with the idea that it would be great for her daughter! That's the best way to get a part! I doubt she had to audition!

ABC Wendy: Celed345 is putting you on the spot...
Question: hi I am a beginning actor and I was wondering if you got any parts open on Sabrina its my favorite show
StarsAtABC: Nick: We aren't even at the point of writing the new season so we have no idea who we'll need for casting! It's very hard to get work on a show if you're not in the L.A. area and you need to have an agent. The best thing to do is to train and get yourself to NY or LA. Good things will come if you persevere!

ABC Wendy: SIRWS wants to know where do you get your ideas?
StarsAtABC: Nick: The writers on the show all spend a lot of time coming up with ideas. Our shows are pretty packed. An average sitcom will have 10-12 scenes but Sabrina will have 35-40 scenes! With all that action, we need a lot of ideas! So it's a communal process where everyone throws around ideas.

ABC Wendy: Puppyluv3 wants to know what it's like to work with Melissa.
StarsAtABC: Nick: I have such a great time working with her! She's such a pro and her attitude is balanced beyond her years. She lights up the screen and she has magic chemistry. You write something, and Melissa doubles the idea on film. She makes the lines better!

ABC Wendy: Wet Negro asks if you have a favorite episode.
StarsAtABC: Nick: Good question! I have a couple. There's one coming up called the Troll Bride that I helped write. It's a really fun episode where Sabrina is kidnapped by a troll who wants to make her his bride! It turned out really well. Another favorite episode is when the kids go to Boston to see the Violent Femmes. I loved that episode as well!

ABC Wendy: THOMGSHAW has a good question too!
Question: How do you get Salem's mouth to move?
StarsAtABC: Nick: There are two ways we do Salem. We have a live cat for the action scenes whose mouth we can't do much with! But when you see his mouth move, it's a puppet. We have three puppeteers. One works the tail and eyes, one works the body and another works the mouth. When we shoot the mouth, I sit next to the guy who does the mouth and he matches the mouth to what I'm going to say. There are four of us hard at work trying to make it seem natural!

ABC Wendy: Leslie121 asks...
Question: Did you think that the show would be such a hit with TGIF viewing audiences?
StarsAtABC: Nick: Yes, I did! I thought it was the perfect place to put the show. We tried to create a family-friendly show. We try to make them smart and funny. Being on TGIF seemed like the perfect night for what we were trying to accomplish.

ABC Wendy: Welcome to ABC Kidzine Live!! We just finished talking with some of your favorite stars... And now we're talking LIVE with another favorite -- Nick Bakay, who does the voice of Salem on "Sabrina: The Teenage Witch"!! He's also a head writer for the show! Ask him your questions now!!

ABC Wendy: Cricket97 is curious...
Question: do you like writing for the show or being the voice of Salem better?
StarsAtABC: Nick: Tough question! I've always loved wearing both hats. What's nice is that I really get to stretch both muscles. They let me be a performer and a writer and I'm at my best when I'm doing both. It's like comparing apples and oranges. It's more playful as a performer. But as a writer, you get to create a world! They both have great things going for them!

ABC Wendy: MUNSTER asks if you like to portraying a cat?
StarsAtABC: Nick: I love portraying a cat! I have two cats that I've observed over the years. I like their mystery, attitude. They're gorgeous animals and it's fun trying to embody all those things!

ABC Wendy: LeaKityCa has a great one...
StarsAtABC: Nick: The reason Salem is a cat is because he's being punished. He was a witch like Aunt Hilda and Zelda. But he tried to take over the world and didn't' succeed. His punishment was to spend 100 years as a cat with no magical powers. For a guy with that kind of ambition it's punishing to sit by a window all day. If he could, he wouldn't be a cat! Not that I suggest world domination for you kids at home.... It's best left to pros!

ABC Wendy: ACID8508 wants to know when the 100 years is up?
StarsAtABC: Nick: We think he's been a cat for 25 years already, so about 75 are left. Unless he gets time off for good behavior!

Question: is it hard having both jobs?
StarsAtABC: Nick: It's hard in the sense that you have to change gears. I don't get as much time to be in the performance mode on the floor. I have to arrive and get right to it. So there are days that I'm more in the mood to one job. But bouncing back and forth keeps me fresh!

ABC Wendy: MBond555 asks...
Question: What are your favorite animals?
StarsAtABC: Nick: I love otters, dogs, cats. I have dogs and cats but no otters. I also like moles. They have a lot going for them.

ABC Wendy: SIRWS wants to know if you've acted before.
StarsAtABC: Nick: Yes I have. I used to do a lot of theater in New York. On TV, I was a series regular called "She-TV." I did a season on "In Living Color." I've also done "Coach," "Ellen," "Murphy Brown," "Grace Under Fire" and "Seinfeld."

ABC Wendy: Tweety141 is wondering...
Question: if you had a choice would you pick a different part or stay as Salem?
StarsAtABC: Nick: I've done so much on camera acting that there's part of me that wishes I could do more of that. On the other hand, being Salem is so unique and different and it's a great part to play. I love who he is, I love the way his part is written. When you have great stuff to work with, life is good.

ABC Wendy: Eileen86 want to be sure the cat is real!
StarsAtABC: Nick: It's both. We use a bunch of real cats and an animatronic cat (like a puppet). It's hard to get a live cat to act. And it's hard to have a puppet run!

ABC Wendy: KatPresle asks if you like Salem, the real animal.
StarsAtABC: Nick: I can think of 3 cats that all do the "live" Salem. My favorite though is named Elvis. He's mellow. He has the sweetest disposition. We all love Elvis.

ABC Wendy: Alison97 wonders...
Question: As a writer, why would you want to play a cat on the show?
StarsAtABC: Nick: As a writer, it's not that important to me. As an actor, I like doing it because doing voice-over acting is fun but hard. When you get good at it, you find it rewarding. It's a really funny part, too!

ABC Wendy: Frogpond7 asks where is Sabrina taped.
StarsAtABC: Nick: We tape in Los Angeles. Last year we shot at Universal Studios. But this year we're moving to Paramount Studios. We shoot it on film and a few different stages.

ABC Wendy: LPCass asks...
Question: How did you get started in show biz?
StarsAtABC: Nick: I did a lot of acting in high school and college. I went to Kenyon College in Ohio. I majored in theater and then got my masters in it at SMU in Dallas which has a good acting program. I worked hard and then went to New York and got an agent. At that point, I did theater and national tours of plays. I did some commercials. During that time I started writing for National Lampoon magazine. I started working at the Comedy Channel. From that point I've done both writing and performing. I realized I was better at comedy than more serious acting. It's been a really fun ride!

ABC Wendy: Anakin A1 wants to know if you do other voices.
StarsAtABC: Nick: I do. I'm a voice on the Angry Beavers that premiered last weekend on Nickelodeon. I am Norbert. I've done other voice overs, too, but mostly in commercials.

ABC Wendy: RussAPI want to know who you admire in show biz.
StarsAtABC: Nick: I admire Marlon Brando because he's fearless as a performer, talented and doesn't care what anybody thinks. I admire David Letterman and Johnny Carson because they're not only funny but they've found a way to project their personalities five nights a week. I also admire Fellini, the Italian film maker.

ABC Wendy: Hope you're ready for a more serious one...
Question: wet Negro asks if you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?
StarsAtABC: Nick: Poverty. It seems like most of the sad things in the world come from poverty. It's so hard on kids. I'd start there.

ABC Wendy: And now, back to Sabrina questions. Blondi118 asks...
Question: why did they change the looks of the cat on Sabrina?
StarsAtABC: Nick: Good question! In the early goings of the show, the network and some of the writers felt the original cat didn't look real enough. We felt could do a better job than the original version. The new cat looks more like our live cats. The old puppet-like cat, didn't really look them and you could tell.

ABC Wendy: ABR97 is into the magic...
Question: Is the spell book real? Are there real spells in it? How did you get the spell book?
StarsAtABC: Nick: No, there are no real spells. The spell book was built by our prop department. If you looked through it, it wouldn't make any sense. Realistically, if there were a spell book, we wouldn't put it on TV! Melissa presented the book to Planet Hollywood in New York!

ABC Wendy: Sheila331 is wondering...
Question: do you ever do actual appearances...or do you want to on the show
StarsAtABC: Nick: I would love to when the situation arises, like if Salem were to come back in his human form. Who knows what'll happen then. I have appeared on the show twice, though. I was on the Christmas episode when Salem gets lost. There's a scene when Sabrina's knocking on doors looking for Salem and at one door a guy is holding a mistletoe. That's me! I also appear in an upcoming scene with a lot of flashbacks in it. Salem has a flashback to trying to dominate the world. I'm playing Salem but the lighting is such that you can't quite make me out.

ABC Wendy: Cutie2u28 asks if it's hard for you to be a cat.
StarsAtABC: Nick: Yes and no. It's not hard because I love Salem's character and I have so much fun playing him. On the other hand, it's hard to do justice to such an incredible animal. And if you met me, you'd probably think I was more like a dog!

ABC Wendy: Babylov60 want to know... if you can tell us whats in store for Sabrina.
StarsAtABC: Nick: You know, I can't answer that because we haven't started figuring out what's ahead! You get bet that things will get more interesting and more complicated!

ABC Wendy: DethHawk9 has another magic q...
Question: Do you have any witch powers as a cat?
StarsAtABC: Nick: No. It's part of Salem's punishment. Even though it's kind of magical that he talks. I wish my cat talked!

ABC Wendy: Last one coming up! I'm looking for a good one! Alibali85 asks...
Question: What is your favorite part of your day on the set?
StarsAtABC: Nick: A great time is when you've done a couple of scenes and they're shooting a scene you're not in, and you get to hang with the cast and crew. It's great when I get to hang with Melissa, Nate, Jenna, etc. That's nice because the work is done for the moment but you get to chill out. I love that time!

ABC Wendy: Thanks so much, Nick! This has been awesome! Hey everyone -- don't forget to check the ABC Kidzine Live Chat Schedule regularly to keep up-to-date on our LIVE events!!
StarsAtABC: Nick: Thanks! It's been fun! I hope we do it again! Thanks for signing on!!

Online Host: Copyright 1997 America Online, Inc. All Rights Reserved

More about this Event:

04/24 "Sabrina" Writer Nick Bakay (CyberPlex)

Chat *LIVE* with Nick Bakay, the voice of Salem and head writer for the hit show "Sabrina: The Teenage Witch" this Thursday, April 24th at 4:45 PM ET!! Nick Bakay has had a long television career and has written and performed on many other hit shows, including "Coach," "Ellen," "Grace Under Fire," and "Seinfeld." Ask him all about his great career and what it's like to play a cat!! Just go to the main screen of ABC Kidzine (keyword: abckids) for a direct link to the chat!

Event Keyword: "Kidzine"