Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.
Today, we welcome Peter Jacobson.
You know the face. Everyone has seen it. As expressive as it is distinctive, it has been a foul-mouthed wheeler-dealer on Ray Donovan, a philandering plastic surgeon on House, an angry ex-husband on The Starter Wife and a Defense Attorney on Law and Order. Peter Jacobson is the man behind the face, a Chicago native living in New York, soon to appear on Mysteries of Laura with Debra Messing, and shooting a new pilot, Colony, from the creators of Lost. Jacobson is talented, funny, self-deprecating and BUSY, working and commuting from coast to coast. The OverHead Compartment can’t wait to hear about all his travels, or his answer to the age-old dispute: who has the better pizza, Chicago or New York?
The Overhead Compartment with Peter Jacobson starts now……
OC: When you were playing Dr. Chris Taub on House for five seasons, you commuted from your home in NY to LA….What is the key to passing time when you spend so many hours on a plane?
PJ: My mother-in-law once observed that I fly across the country like I’m taking the cross town bus. And I guess she’s right. For some strange reason, long flights on a regular basis don’t seem to bother me. I’d even call them a talent of mine. When I was working in Australia, I flew back and forth to New York four times. While other cast members would take days to recover, I felt little or no impact. No jet lag, just strangely ravenously hungry for 48 hours afterwards. Maybe part of the reason it’s easy for me is that I’m quite short, and even if the seat in front of me literally reclines on to my face, my legs still fit rather nicely. I also kind of enjoy the feeling that I’m trapped for hours with only a few things to do. There are so few options, and even fewer distractions. I guess I find that comforting. And since I only like movies on a big screen, I’m all about reading. I look forward to actually holding a newspaper in my hands. And with almost six hours to kill, I always have more than enough time to read from cover to cover. Literally. Articles I would never read, from The New York Times Dining Section to the mini news blurbs from all fifty states in USA Today. When I find myself skimming the airline magazine, I know it’s nap time. Then a good (long) book usually takes me to landing. So my flights are busy and comfortable because I’ll read anything, and I’m short.
OC: LAGUARDIA OR JFK?
PJ: NY- LA route is always JFK for me. Even if an airline paid me to go to LGA, I’d still have to think twice about it. That airport should be ashamed of itself. Terminal delays, terminals that are barely wider than a subway platform. It sucks. I read somewhere that pilots refer to it as ‘LaGarbage’.
OC: What’s the best meal you ever had in an airport?
PJ: I know a lot of people who share the phenomenon that when you’re at an airport you’re willing, even eager, to eat things you would never eat when you’re not at an airport. And since most people spend almost all of their lives not at an airport, eating at the airport can feel weirdly exciting and special. For me, it’s like a magical culinary bubble where my usual eating rules don’t apply. It means that my usual health and quality judgements go guiltlessly out the window. So, as I recall, my two best meals at an airport might just be a fast food taco joint (can’t remember the name) in Albuquerque International, and the Big Mac, large fries and (yes) apple pie at the JFK American Terminal McDonald’s. Special mention goes to the Dominoes takeout ‘Veggie Lovers Personal Size’ in the San Juan airport.
OC: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you during a commute?
PJ: Tie between when the woman next to me who couldn’t get to sleep decided it was ok to stretch out and nap in the aisle, and the man who recognized me from ‘House’ and asked for actual medical advice about his son’s separated shoulder.
OC: When you had time off, what would you during the day/night in LA?
PJ: I love the weather, outdoor life and amazing food in LA. I also have many friends who live there. So my favorite down time activities are walking or running on the beach, and eating out with people. Obviously no reading.
OC: Where are you just coming back from?
PJ: LA. I’ve been shooting a pilot for USA Network called ‘Colony’. It’s from the creator of ‘Lost’, and it’s about survival after an alien invasion of Los Angeles. It’s amazing.
OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?
PJ: Call down to ask for a room with a better view, and then check to make sure there’s a soft pillow.
OC: Biggest pet peeve about hotels?
PJ: Bad views and hard pillows.
OC: Top three hotels any where in the world?
PJ: I haven’t done a whole lot of leisurely travel, but so far I would say Little Dix Bay Virgin Gorda, Four Seasons Maui at Wailea, and the Venice Beach House.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without ________.
PJ: A plastic baggie for my toothbrush.
OC: Worst travel experience?
PJ: Preparing for an emergency landing on an old ‘People’s Express’ flight to Newark because the pilot was, “not sure if the brakes were working.” That’s what you got back then for flying an airline where you could pay for your ticket on the plane, with cash.
OC: Best travel experience?
PJ: I can’t really think of one moment. So I’ll go with my endless fascination and excitement flying over the Grand Canyon. Every single time my face is peeled to the window, and I’m hypnotized. Unless it’s cloudy.
OC: Please put in order, favorite way to travel….Car, Plane or Boat?
Boat. (I like to ‘go out’ on a boat, but I don’t like to ‘travel’ on a boat, meaning going from point A to a far away point B.)
OC: Top three favorite restaurants any where in the world?
PJ: I’m not such a worldly traveler, so I will look to my NY-LA axis.
Gramercy Tavern (NY). Lucques (LA). Barney Greengrass (NY)
OC: Travel secret/habit about you that no one knew until now, _____________________
PJ: Every time I take off I do a little ritualistic prayer/begging for my life thingy. Silently.
OC: How does all the traveling you do inform your acting?
PJ: If I fly in to LA late the night before I work, and I have an early start time the next day, then the travel sometimes informs my ability to remember my lines. I once shot a commercial in which I played a passenger on a plane. That was an easy job. But mostly, one of the real joys of traveling for me is all the great people watching. So maybe the more I travel, the more I expand my repertoire of characters. A lot of different sounds and styles and behavior.
OC: You’re originally from Chicago, what is one place no first time visitor to the Windy City should miss?
PJ: I would say take a drive south on Lake Shore Drive from Fullerton Avenue all the way to Soldier Field (not during rush hour), and see what has to be considered the most spectacular urban waterfront on the planet.
OC: Now you’re a New Yorker, what is one place no first time visitor to the Big Apple should miss?
PJ: This is tough because New York is just so immense on so many levels. Can’t decide between Top of the Rock (best view in Manhattan), Central Park (just walk all day), and the Greek and Roman galleries at The Met.
OC: New York Pizza vs. Chicago Pizza: Discuss….
PJ: The pizza question is huge. It continues to threaten some of my friendships, and my marriage. But as Shakespeare wrote, “The truth will out.” And I guess I must be a vehicle for that truth.
I’ll put it in sports terms.
Chicago pizza (thick or thin) is Michael Jordan – terrifying in it’s utter dominance, a thing of beauty, and unquestionably the best ever.
New York pizza is Charles Smith in game 3 of the 1993 Knicks/Bulls Eastern Conference Finals – almost there, trying over and over again to get there. Decent, but ultimately too soft.
New York pizza is, unfortunately, all about the slice. The slice you grab while in transition. It must be reheated, degreased, and then consumed as you go. I believe this minimizes the amount of care and pride taken in producing it. It fits the New York lifestyle, but it doesn’t fit the criteria for great pizza. The three most common joints on a Manhattan block are a Starbucks, a Duane Reade, and a pizza place. And that’s not good. Plus New York crust is almost always soft and chewy. Unacceptable.
Ask a Chicagoan where to find the nearest slice, and you will receive a very blank stare. Chicago pizza is about the establishment and the experience. Sitting down with friends and family to enjoy the specific taste and style that you made a conscious decision about. Deep or thin, crunchy crust that might even crumble in your hand, Chicago pizza is as complex, exuberant and proud as the city itself.
Peter Jacobson, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful Day!