Cincy Native Chip Chinery's Big Week In Film And Television

Sep 21, 2017

What do TV's top-rated drama "NCIS," the new Billy Jean King-Bobby Riggs "Battle of the Sexes" movie, ABC's "Speechless" and Fox's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" have in common?

Chip Chinery.

The St. Xavier High School (1982) and Miami University (1986) graduate is enjoying his biggest fall of his Hollywood career.

Chip Chinery
Credit Chip Chinery

You can see him in the "Battle of the Sexes" in theaters starting Friday Sept. 22; and in the season premieres of "NCIS" Tuesday, Sept. 26, and ABC's "Speechless" on Wednesday, Sept. 27.

The Anderson Township native also has episodes in the can for FX's hit "American Horror Story" and Fox's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."

Why? In the past year, he sought more "co-star" parts, which only have a few lines, when work slowed down for TV commercials, voice-overs and TV "guest star" roles (more than one scene).

"A few months ago, I told my agent I was tired of sitting at home, and that I wanted to work," says Chinery, who was a cameraman for WCPO-TV in 1986-88  before taking his stand-up comedy act on the road. He moved to Los Angeles in 1994.

"I did more in (this) one year than a lot of people get to have in a career out here," he says.

Here's how to watch Chip:

Chinery as former ABC Sports executive Roone Arledge in "Battle of the Sexes"
Credit Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES: A year ago, he played legendary ABC Sports executive Roone Arledge in "Battle of the Sexes," about the 1973 tennis match between King (Emma Stone), then the women's world champ, and Riggs (Steve Carell), a former men's champ and hustler.   It opens Friday. After seeing himself twice in the "BOTS" trailer on the International Movie Data Base,  he tells me: "Damn, I look TV Sports Presidential!"

While chatting with Stone on the set, he discovered that her parents grew up in Columbus and also went to Miami. Turns out he knew her Aunt Karin there, who dated one of his friends.  Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming and Natalie Morales also are in the movie.

NCIS: When he shot the "NCIS" season opener in July, Mount Auburn native Rocky Carroll was wearing a Reds cap. Chinery had his old blue St. X duffel bag, as usual, to carry his laptop and reading materials to movie/TV/commercial shoots. They chatted about Cincinnati, and Rocky told him that Johnny Bench, a big "NCIS" fan, had sent him a birthday note.

On the 15th season opener, Chinery appears in one scene as NCIS Agent Rodney Spence with Agent Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham) and MI6 Officer Clayton Reeves (Duane Henry). Chinery, wearing glasses, plays "the weird phone call that I just got. The 'NCIS' writers tell me that this is the first time they show the person who calls Gibbs (Mark Harmon)." The show resolves the May cliff-hanger, when Gibbs and McGee (Sean Murray) were kidnapped in Paraguay.

Chinery's old St. Xavier High School gym bag on the door of his "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" dressing room
Credit Chip Chinery

SPEECHLESS: Chinery has just a quick scene as a neighbor to the DiMeo family (Minnie Driver, John Ross Bowie).

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: CULT: He can't say much except that "it's the sixth episode of this new season.  They are very secretive about the show so that is all I feel comfortable saying." Without interruption, episode six will air Tuesday, Oct. 10 (10 p.m., FX).

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE: Watch for Chip in the fifth episode this fall, which involves a poker game at an American Legion hall.  The fifth season premiere for the Andy Samberg sitcom will be Tuesday, Sept. 26 (9:30 p.m.). I'm not sure of the date for his show with the baseball playoffs and World Series interrupting Fox's October schedule.

"I know that I am fortunate having built up quite a nice resume," says Chinery, whose first sitcom credit was "3rd Rock From The Sun" 20 years ago. His credits include "Mom," "The Middle," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Seinfeld," "Friends," "Coyote Ugly" "Rules of Engagement," "Drew Carey," "That's '70's Show," "Whoopi," "Reba" "Becker,""Better Off Ted," "Last Comic Standing," "Evening At The Improv," "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle" and "Caroline's Comedy Hour."  He has a list and clips on his ChipChinery website. 

Credit Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

He's also done commercials for Bud Light, Capital One, Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, Volkswagen, CarMax, Comcast cable, Pier 1 Imports, Applebee's, Staples, Hertz, 7-11 and other companies. For Volkswagen, all he did was sneeze. What a way to make a living!

During his brief time at Channel 9, he witnessed TV history: "I was there for Al Schottlekotte’s final broadcast, Pat Minarcin breaking Donald Harvey’s serial murder story, and Carol Williams audition and subsequent hiring."

In Hollywood, he's "been able to work with giants in the biz like Clint Eastwood and Donald Sutherland. I have been able to be on shows that will probably be around for a very long time like 'Seinfeld' and 'Friends.' 

"I was on the third to the last 'Seinfeld.' It was the last one that they shot in the studio. I remember being thrilled that I was on it. It was like being on 'M*A*S*H.' Somewhere some kid is watching 'M*A*S*H' and saying, 'Hey, Grandpa's on-again!' I think 'Seinfeld' will run that long, and I will be able to see myself in reruns 20 years from now and be amazed at how nice and auburn-y my hair looked."

What a way to make a living.