Patti LaBelle is stalking Andy Hallett.
She follows him. She really does. Everytime he opens his mouth to sing, there's a little bit of Patti in the melody, because he learned some of his voice technique from watching Patti LaBelle tapes. And he got over his shyness about public performance when she pulled him onstage at a concert, not once, but twice! They hit it off so well the first time, that when she saw him in the front row at another venue, she beckoned him onstage for a repeat performance.
With Patti's encouragement, Andy decided that singing could be more than a dream.
She also hangs out at his grocery store.
"Patti LaBelle keeps popping into my life. She was at my supermarket. I was pulling into the parking lot and I noticed a black limousine, and I was like, um, who brought a Iimo to the supermarket? And I turned to park and who should walk out the door but Patti LaBelle. She put her groceries in the trunk and popped in the back seat. I was like -- Oh. My. God. I thought I should follow her. But if I did, I'd be waiting outside her building everyday. So I was like, no, I can't know where she lives or I'd be camping out."
And, of course, Patti LaBelle got Andy Hallett his first job in showbiz, as The Host of the demon karaoke bar Caritas on Angel.
Andy has been a friend of Joss Whedon's sister-in-law since high school, and has known Joss and his wife for about three years, so one day early in 2000, Andy Hallett invited them to a showcase he was doing at B.B. King's Blues Bar in Universal City. (Universal City is in "The Valley" section of Los Angeles.)
The Whedons accepted and came to watch Andy sing Patti LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade" and Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way."
"Apparently, while I was up there singing, Joss developed this crazy idea for this new character. Several months went by before he ever mentioned it. And then he said we've thought about this character, we're not sure if it's going to be recurring or what, but we think you should audition for it."
Hallett had never taken a singing or acting lesson in his life, but he tried out anyway.
"It was totally nerve-wracking. The shock value alone -- that I was in a major audition. But you would never have known that I knew Joss from outside of there. It made me feel good because it wasn't like he was handing me the role. I had to work for it."
After three auditions for the casting directors, Joss, David Greenwalt and Michael Lange, the director of "Judgment," Hallett got the part -- his first professional acting job.
"It's all Patti LaBelle's fault! Damn her!" says Hallett.