In MEAN DOG BLUES, “Paul Ramsey” (Gregg Henry) is a musician traveling home to his loving wife “Linda” (Kay Lenz). When his car breaks down, he's picked up by a rich couple (Tina Louise and William Windom), but soon regrets his luck when a hit and run accident occurs, and the couple railroad their new hitchhiking buddy. Soon Paul is serving time in a hellish desert prison camp run by tough “Captain Kinsman” (George Kennedy) and his even tougher subordinate, former jarhead “Sergeant Wacker” (James Wainwright). Paul maintains an almost Zen-like calm and a dry sense of humor that disarms gay inmate “Jesus Gonzalez” (Gregory Sierra), and soon earns him “trustee” status when “Mudcat” (Scatman Crothers) loses his job--serving as training bait for the prison's hunting dogs.
Mel Stuart directed this 1978 release, which has an unreleased score by Fred Karlin. The film had a small release for small money--$1.2 million at the U.S. box office.
Gregory Sierra got his chance to have the lead role in a television series with the sitcom “A.E.S. Hudson Street”. The show concerned itself with the antics of the employees of an underfunded, understaffed and overworked New York City Adult Emergency Service hospital. The series pilot aired July 21, 1977, with F. Murray Abraham starring as “Dr. Tony Menzies.” When the series episodes were filmed, only Bob Dishy and Ray Stewart remained from the original cast. All of the other characters were either dropped or re-cast. The lead role of Dr. Menzies was recast with Gregory Sierra.
ABC gave the series a try-out in the spring of 1978, when it premiered it on Thursday, March 16th at 9:30 PM. Even though the series followed “Barney Miller,” the #17 show on television that season, “A.E.S. Hudson Street” did not generate the ratings the network was looking for and was cancelled after five episodes.
Anthony Hope's classic tale THE PRISONER OF ZENDA got a decidedly comedic treatment at the hands of Peter Sellers in this 1979 release. Following the story somewhat, friends of the soon-to-be “King Rudolph of Ruritania” (Sellers) fear for his life, and switch him with a look-a-like London cabby, “Syd Frewin” (also Sellers). Nevertheless, the real prince is kidnapped by the agents of his half-brother “Duke Michael” (Jeremy Kemp). Michael plans to seize the throne himself when the prince fails to turn up at his coronation. The cast also includes Lynne Frederick as “Princess Flavia” and Gregory Sierra and Elke Sommer as the Count and Countess Montparnasse.
Lead actors Peter Sellers and Lynne Frederick were married at the time that this movie was made and released. This picture is the only film they made together as actors, and it was Frederick’s last film. It was also the final credited film as a director for Richard Quine. Henry Mancini’s score was released by La-La Land in 2018. The $10 million production broke even at the U.S. box office, with a $12.9 million take.
In the fourth season of the sitcom “Soap” (1980-81), Gregory Sierra had a recurring role as “Carlos 'El Puerco' Valdez”, an anti-communist revolutionary who initially kidnaps “Jessica” (Katherine Helmond), but later falls in love with her. (The character’s name translates to "The Pig".) Sierra appeared in 12 episodes of the series.
Katherine Helmomd, Gregory Sierra, and Robert Mandan in “Soap”
In 1983, Gregory Sierra had a recurring role on “Hill Street Blues”, in which he appeared in four episodes as “ADA Alvarez.” He also co-starred on “Zorro and Son”, a CBS sitcom in which he played “Commandante Paco Pico.” Like Sierra’s “A.E.S. Hudson Street”, “Zorro and Son” was given a Spring tryout and only lasted five episodes before it was cancelled. ----------------------------------------------- With the success of the Kenny Rogers made-for-television film THE GAMBLER, a sequel was a given, and it arrived in the form of THE GAMBLER: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES, again starring Kenny Rogers and Bruce Boxleitner. In the film, “Brady Hawkes” (Rogers), “Billy Montana” (Boxleitner), and “Jeremiah Hawkes” (Charles Fields) are on a train bound for a huge gambling event when the train is taken over by a gang of vicious killers in search of money. As ransom, the gang takes young Jeremiah hostage. Brady and Billy embark on a quest to rescue him and form a small gang of their own along the way.
Linda Evans, a western veteran from her four seasons on the series “The Big Valley,” was added to the primary cast for this sequel, as was Gregory Sierra in the role of “Silvera.” Dick Lowry directed the made-for-television film, which aired on CBS on 28 November 1983. Larry Cansler provided the unreleased score.
One thing raises LET'S GET HARRY above the run-of-the-mill, mid-1980s action film--the presence of Robert Duvall in the cast. Mark Harmon is "Harry," an engineer / plumber from the Midwest who gets kidnapped by a version of the Colombian Cartel. His brother, played by Michael Schoeffling, leads a group of his plumber buddies (Tom Wilson, Glenn Frey, Rick Rossovich) into Colombia to rescue Harmon, who was employed as a pipeline worker. Also held captive by the guerrilla drug dealers is the U.S. Ambassador (Bruce Gray). Gregory Sierra is “Alphonso,” one of the guerrilla group. Gary Busey is a fast-talking, trigger-happy, coke fiend--a car dealer who bankrolls the rescue mission and insists on going along. Since these guys are all amateurs, they need some help. They hire gung-ho veteran mercenary "Norman Shrike" (Robert Duvall), the only one who knows how to take down the guerrillas.
The 1986 film was written by Charles Robert Carner, from a story by Samuel Fuller and Mark Feldberg. Fuller was originally slated to direct, but opted-out to direct the ill-fated WHITE DOG. Stuart Rosenberg directed, but he was not satisfied with the film and had his name removed from the credits. The studio asked him to do re-shoots with greater screen time for Mark Harmon, who became a TV star on the "St. Elsewhere" series while the film was being shot. Even so, Harmon's role is limited.
Despite these behind-the-scenes issues, the film is competently made, the action is plentiful and not cheap-looking, and Robert Duvall makes everyone in the cast seem a little better. Brad Fiedel's score was released on LP by Varese Sarabande, who re-issued it on CD in 2015 as part of their LP-to-CD subscription series. LET'S GET HARRY barely had a release, taking in only $141,000 at the box office.
SOMETHING IS OUT THERE was a monster-from-outer-space thriller that had streetwise undercover cop “Jack Breslin” (Joe Cortese) joining forces with beautiful British-accented intergalactic woman “Ta’Ra” (Maryam d’Abo) when his city is being terrorized by an escaped being from another world. When the creature becomes aware that the two know of its plan to take over the Earth, it begins stalking them.
Gregory Sierra played Jack’s superior officer, “Captain Victor Maldonado” in the film. Richard A. Colla directed the 2-part, 4-hour miniseries, which aired on NBC on May 8 & 9, 1988. Sylvester Levay provided the unreleased score.
The mini-series was a massive ratings hit, and NBC commissioned a “Something Is Out There” weekly series to debut that Fall - less than five months away. Cortese, d’Abo, and Sierra reprised their roles from the miniseries. Producers John Ashley and Frank Lupo decided to alter the program's concept to cope with the comparatively smaller budget of the weekly series.
"Things definitely change fast when a miniseries or movie becomes a weekly series," said Ashley. "It's great when you've got four hours, $7.5 million and the talents of Rick Baker and John Dykstra to play around with. [Baker and Dykstra had done the special effects for the miniseries.] But what happens when you're suddenly cut to a million per episode budget, don't have the talents of Baker or Dykstra and have to take the miniseries concept to the next level while turning out an hour a week? What happens is that you make changes."
The mini-series had ended with Ta'Ra stranded on Earth. The premise of the weekly series had her sharing Jack's apartment, posing as his cousin, and aiding him in investigating strange and unusual crimes. Victor, who knew about Ta'Ra's true origins, had agreed to keep the secret. He turned a blind eye to Ta'Ra's unofficial assistance to Jack, and actually assigned Breslin cases where he thought Ta'Ra's alien knowledge and abilities (such as superhuman agility and being able to read minds) would come in useful.
NBC debuted the series on Friday, 21 October 1988. It was opposite the ABC comedy series “Mr. Belvedere” and “Just the Ten of Us.” But it was also on against CBS’s “Dallas.” Although “Dallas” was in its tenth season, it still had enough rating punch to reach the #29 position for the season. And since sci-fi buffs were turned off by the series’ switch from aliens to crime, “Something Is Out There” couldn’t find an audience and was cancelled after six episodes, with two more remaining unaired.
In DEEP COVER, “Russell Stevens, Jr.” (Laurence Fishburne) is a police officer whose traumatic childhood experiences have made him vow never to touch drugs and alcohol. However, he receives a proposal from a DEA agent named “Gerald Carver” (Charles Martin Smith), who offers him the chance to assume a new identity as “John Q. Hull” and go deep undercover for a major sting operation that will bring down some of the biggest drug suppliers in America. As Hull, Stevens completely disappears into his new life as a drug dealer and eventually builds up so much street cred that he winds up coming into contact with an attorney named “David Jason” (Jeff Goldblum), who also happens to be the drug trafficker for a major drug kingpin named “Felix Barbosa” (Gregory Sierra).
Bill Duke directed this 1992 crime drama. Only one track from Michel Colombier’s score appeared on the Epic Records song-track CD. DEEP COVER was produced for $7 million and New Line Cinema spent another $5 million on marketing. The film was mildly profitable, with a $16.6 million domestic gross.
In HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS, inventor “Wayne Szalinski” (Rick Moranis) developed a machine that could shrink matter, and he accidentally shrunk his older children, Amy and Nick. Fortunately, he was able to reverse the problem. HONEY, I BLEW UP THE KID takes place a few years later, when “Clifford Sterling” (Lloyd Bridges), owner of Sterling Laboratories, hires Wayne to develop a machine to enlarge matter. Wayne and his wife, “Diane” (Marcia Strassman), move their family, which now includes two-year-old-toddler, Adam, to Vista Del Mar, Nevada, where Wayne works under the supervision of “Dr. Hendrickson” (John Shea), who has little use for the inventor. When Wayne comes up with a potential solution for enlargement, he telephones Hendrickson, who refuses to listen and tells Wayne to have a good weekend. Hendrickson hangs up, and turns back to meet with a company board member, “Terence Wheeler” (Gregory Sierra), as they scheme to wrest control of the company from Clifford Sterling.
Randal Kleiser directed the 1992 film. Bruce Broughton’s score was released by Intrada, who also released an expanded edition in 2017. The picture cost $32 million to make, with a quarter of that amount being spent on the special effects. The film finished in the top 25 at the box office, with a U.S. gross of $58.7 million.
HOT SHOTS! PART DEUX begins when, in a covert government mission to rescue hostages from Operation Desert Storm, a group of U.S. soldiers fail to assassinate Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and are captured by Iraqi forces. The mission has failed twice before, so the President (Lloyd Bridges) decides to send in retired Navy war hero "Lieutenant Sean 'Topper' Harley" (Charlie Sheen). Upon his arrival in Iraq, Harley assumes control of the operation from "Commander Arvid Harbinger" (Miguel Ferrer), the sole escapee of the second failed raid. Gregory Sierra has a small role as an Iraqi Captain in the film.
Jim Abrahams directed this 1993 comic adventure. Basil Poledouris' score was released by Varese Sarabande. The film was #40 at the U.S. box office with a gross of $38.9 million. But it did much better overseas, adding an additional $94.8 million to its take.
In the action comedy A LOW DOWN DIRTY SHAME, ex-cop “Andre Shame” (Keenen Ivory Wayans), now a private detective, takes on the search for the millions stolen by drug lord “Mendoza” (Andrew Divoff). Gregory Sierra has a supporting role as “Captain Nunez.”
In addition to starring, Keenen Ivory Wayans both wrote and directed the 1994 film. None of Marcus Miller’s score appeared on the hip-hop soundtrack CD released by Jive Electro Records, but Miller included four cues on a composer promo disc. The film made it into the top 50 films of the year with a $29.4 million U.S. gross.
The unrelentingly sunny musical fantasy THE WONDERFUL ICE CREAM SUIT marks the unlikely but moderately successful collaboration of writer Ray Bradbury, RE-ANIMATOR director Stuart Gordon, and Walt Disney’s producing brother Roy. Updated from its mid-1950’s origins, Bradbury’s story of honest longing is set in contemporary South Central Los Angeles and concerns the efforts of conman “Gomez” (Joe Mantegna) to persuade three of his friends and an enthusiastic bum to contribute twenty dollars towards the purchase of a glowing white suit which each man can share. Sure enough, the clothes have an immediate effect on the men, as each gets to wear the ensemble for an hour. The musician “Dominguez” (Esai Morales) attracts a huge crowd in the street; poet “Villanazul” (Gregory Sierra) finds that people actually listen to his work; “Martinez” (Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez) finally gets the attention of the woman of his dreams; and even filthy “Vamanos” (Edward James Olmos) finds adventure in a local club. Among the cameo players are Sid Caesar, along with his old pal Howard Morris from "Your Show of Shows."
Stuart Gordon directed the 1998 film. Touchstone, which produced the picture, ultimately decided against a theatrical release and sent it directly to video. Mader (Thierry Schollhammer) provided the unreleased score.
In John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES, recovering from an ambush that killed his entire team, a vengeful vampire slayer (James Woods) must retrieve an ancient Catholic relic that, should it be acquired by vampires, will allow them to walk in sunlight. Gregory Sierra played “Father Giovanni” in the film.
Thomas Ian Griffith and Gregory Sierra in John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES
John Carpenter scored as well as directed the 1998 film. Milan released the soundtrack CD. The $20 million production took in an equivalent amount at the U.S. box office, relying upon foreign receipts to push it into the black.
Gregory Sierra had a small role in the comedy MAFIA!, as “Bonifacio.” The film was a takeoff on THE GODFATHER with the son (Jay Mohr) of a mafia king (Lloyd Bridges) taking over for his dying father. Jim Abrahams directed the 1998 film, which had an unreleased score by John Frizzell.
MAFIA! was Gregory Sierra’s last feature film appearance for 20 years. In 2018, he returned to the screen as part of the ensemble cast in the reconstructed and finally finished last film of Orson Welles, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. The film is a pseudo-documentary using multiple cameras centered on veteran director “Jack Hannaford” (John Huston), at an all-night party where people are coming and going. The film consists of a jump-cut patchwork of color and mostly black-and-white footage. The guests include an uptight critic played by Susan Strasberg; Mercury Theater's JOURNEY INTO FEAR director Norman Foster with actor Paul Stewart providing color commentary; and Gregory Sierra as “Jack Simon,” a high-strung mainstream filmmaker. Sierra had done his work on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND back in the 1970s.
Michel Legrand’s score was released by La-La Land in 2019.
As Hollywood is wont to do, Gregory Sierra was often typecast as the Latino heavy or cop in films. But he had a range far beyond that, in both drama and comedy. His performances will be fondly remembered. Farewell, Gregory.