Beach Haven — Steve Rogers, a Southern Regional graduate who was, long ago, a Surflight Theatre actor for three summers and briefly a reporter for The SandPaper, is better know as a producer/director of TV documentaries.
His “Driving Jersey” show on NJTV first aired on Dec. 24, 2011 and quickly garnered a national Emmy Award nomination. In 2015 Rogers changed the name of the show to “Here’s the Story,” hoping to make it appear less Garden State-orientated as he tried to pursue syndication outside of the Northeast. Whatever the name, the show went on, which fits in nicely with his newest documentary, “The Show Must Go On … And On.”
Set to air on NJTV, New Jersey’s PBS outlet, on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m., the 30-minute documentary tells the story of Guil Fisher, artistic director at Surflight from 1990 to 1994.
Fisher, now 89, has had a long theatrical career, stretching all the way back to the 1950s when he was studying acting in New York City and happened to be the roommate of a guy named Steve McQueen. Yes, that Steve McQueen.
Indeed, Fisher’s showbiz career as an actor and director is so lengthy that Rogers couldn’t do it justice in just one 30-minute segment. The second half of the documentary is scheduled to air at a yet-undetermined date in December. The full one-hour film will be aired in January to celebrate Fisher’s 90th birthday.
“This is a remarkable life,” said Rogers of his subject. “There aren’t many people who are able to live their dream, particularly in the performing arts like Guil has done. The pressures of life or other people’s expectations, often direct you to choose an alternative, a ‘real’ or ‘regular’ job so-to-speak, but not Guil. That’s one of the reasons I find him so engaging.
“Guil gave me my first professional acting job,” Rogers continued, “which was a significant moment for me. I was a freshman in college and unsure what I wanted to pursue, but after spending a summer in that environment (the Surflight) and having Guil show his esteem and belief in me as an artist I shifted my focus and decided to follow that path. So, I always say, I either have Guil Fisher to thank or blame, depending on how you look at it.”
The documentary includes many of Fisher’s best stories from his long career, some live performance clips, and interviews with many who have been influenced by Fisher over the years.