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Oh, that face

As an actor, Sarasota native Greg Pitts' claim to fame is a bit part in the cult film Office Space. But that could change if ABC's Sons & Daughters becomes a hit.

By CHASE SQUIRES
Published March 28, 2006


 
[Publicity photo]
Greg Pitts didn’t plan to become an actor. He dabbled in theater during his senior year in high school but studied business at USF in 1992. After graduating, he joined a traveling comedy troupe, hoping for a break.

The name Greg Pitts might not mean much to most people.

The 1992 University of South Florida grad hasn't reached the household-name level of stardom. But plenty of people know his face. A bit part in a quirky cult movie seven years ago cemented Pitts in pop culture as one of Hollywood's memorable louts.

Pitts is the "Oh Face Guy" from the 1999 Mike Judge comedy Office Space. Remember? The office loudmouth with the shock of yellow hair, bragging about his sexual conquests

and delivering a stream of innuendo?

His famous line: "I'm thinking I'm gonna take that new chick from logistics. I might be showing her my 'Oh face' . . . Oh! Oh! Oh!"

Use your imagination.

It's nice to be remembered, Pitts said in a phone interview from Santa Monica, Calif., but that was a long time ago. He's hoping there's more to his career.

His next big chance - as a different kind of lout - is playing out now on television in ABC's offbeat comedy Sons & Daughters. Pitts, a 36-year-old Sarasota County native, plays Whitey, a dumb lug with a soft spot for his son.

As an onscreen lout with no self-awareness, Pitts seems at home. He just fits that role. Big, blond head. Big, goofy grin.

His new sitcom, about a wacky extended family, is scheduled to run until April 18. If it survives, Pitts has a chance to become one of television's memorable loudmouths.

But for now, every week is a test. Filming is completed for the episodes ABC ordered, so Pitts says he's unemployed at the moment.

It's a tense time. He can't be sure the show will find a permanent place on the network schedule, but casting directors for new shows are hesitant to deal with him because they can't be sure he'll be available to them.

Pitts said it's a tough place to be. But it beats any other line of work.

Pitts didn't set out to become an actor. He found the stage during his senior year in high school, but he went to USF as a business major. He made the decision to go pro during an accounting class, and after graduating in 1992 he joined a traveling comedy troupe, hoping for a break.

He credits his father, Lauden, with making him take a real shot.

"He said one day, 'You know what, Greg? Stop talking about it, go get a (Los Angeles) newspaper, find a room to rent, commit to it,' '' Pitts recalled.

"That's exactly what I did. I was scared out of my mind."

He drove to L.A. in his Toyota Tercel with his brother, Hansel.

While living in Los Angeles and pursuing the dream since 1994, Pitts has done something countless other aspiring actors have not: made a living. He was a central character in Normal, Ohio, a short-lived sitcom starring John Goodman. He appeared on CSI and Grey's Anatomy, and in a stream of commercials. He played a waiter in the movie Coyote Ugly. And he said he has made plenty of pilots, trial episodes for new shows that never found a home.

For now, Pitts' future is in the hands of ABC, and ultimately the viewers.

Sons & Daughters is good. Well-received by critics, different from anything on TV, it could be the role that propels him.

"The career as an actor for me has been very hit-and-miss,'' Pitts said. "I've done a couple of series where it's okay, but nobody was passionate about what we were doing. (Sons & Daughters) is one of those things where we are, everyone is very passionate about it."

So passionate, actors are appealing directly to viewers on their personal Web spaces. Pitts' Web site is www.gregpitts.com.

"Needless to say, American Idol clobbered us! Bad!" Pitts wrote on his blog after Sons & Daughters went up against the reality show monster. "We need a major word-of-mouth push."

Creator and star Fred Goss, a relative newcomer to network television, frets online in his blog on the ABC Web site, worrying that the premiere's 8.5-million viewers might not be enough to guarantee a renewal.

"Please spread the word," he urged fans. "It's a tough business, this network TV thing."

ABC, rich in dramas and reality shows but starved for a sitcom, isn't expected to announce Sons & Daughters' fate until May. So for now, Pitts' major claim to fame remains Oh Face Guy.

"I don't want to be remembered solely for that," Pitts said. "I was eager to see what was going to be the next thing that transcended the Oh Face Guy."

He doesn't see himself on the front of celebrity magazines. He just wants to work.

"I'm not an artist. I'm an actor," Pitts said. "I like to goof around and clown for people. It's a fun job. But I don't feel that I'm creating something that's going to have a profound effect on the world. It's fun."

Chase Squires can be reached at (727) 893-8739 or squires@sptimes.com. His blog is www.sptimes.com/blogs/tv.

 

[Last modified March 28, 2006, 13:09:37]


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