Cliff comes to Picayune

Published 5:08 pm Thursday, October 11, 2007

“John Ratzenberger’s Made in America” was in Picayune at the American Crescent Elevator factory on Wednesday.

The show, which airs on the Travel Channel, features Ratzenberger traveling across the country to factories and small-town businesses, which Ratzenberger calls the backbone of America.

“Hollywood could disappear tomorrow, but if we lose manufacturing plants in America,… we could turn into a third-world country within ten years,” Ratzenberger said.

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Ratzenberger has roots in an industrial town, and knows the importance of keeping America’s factories open. He says he developed the show as a tribute to the industrial workers.

“I grew up in a factory town. I saw the town dismantled and sent overseas. I wanted to honor those who actually make things. They are the important people,” he said. “If manufacturing is destroyed in the U.S., we will become a third-world country. Everyone would be affected; not just the workers…. Manufacturing is the basis of everything.”

When asked about the illegal immigration problem in the United States, Ratzenberger blamed the government for the problem.

“There are over 38 million illegal immigrants today in our country of over 248 million…. By definition, these illegal immigrants are here against the law. They are breaking the law. Those laws should be enforced. Trade laws should be enforced. It’s almost as if Washington is purposely trying to find a way to destroy the manufacturing base,” Ratzenberger said.

Ratzenberger also said Americans are partly to blame.

“How many paper boys do you see making paper routes these days? That used to be a common thing…. But we have taught our children not to work. Now parents don’t let children work, because the neighbor might think they’re poor if the kids have to work. Instead, kids are sitting on the sofa playing video games. And the kids who are playing video games on the sofa at 12 years old will be sitting on that same sofa playing that same video game when they are 35,” Ratzenberger said.

Ratzenberger first became famous as the character of “Cliff Clavin” from the popular 1980’s and 1990’s television show, “Cheers”. He also competed on “Dancing With the Stars”, and has voiced characters in every Pixar animated film since “Toy Story”.

Ratzenberger said of his experience with Pixar, “I enjoy making (Pixar) films. The beauty of them is, the whole family can watch them without their intelligence and morals being insulted. They’re entertaining, and I’m here to entertain.”

Shannon Catoire, office manager at American Crescent Elevator, said having Ratzenberger’s crew come to the factory was a new and exciting experience.

“The crew came early and interviewed workers and got a history of the company. Mr. Ratzenberger actually helped with putting something together. It was very casual. There’s no script,” Catoire said.

Between filming sessions, Ratzenberger said he rode his bicycle around Picayune.

“I went over to Mickle’s Pickles, but I didn’t get anything yet,” he said during Wednesday’s interview. “I might have to go back later and get a pickle.”

American Crescent Elevator was the result of a 1976 merger between American Elevator and Crescent City Elevator. In 1985, the Catoires opened the manufacturing plant in Picayune. The company now sends elevators all over the country, and even a few out of the country.

Program director Recio Young said Ratzenberger had also visited the French Quarter in New Orleans, La., and would be visiting the Twin Span Bridge and the Old State Capitol building in Louisiana. Young said the episode featuring American Crescent would appear sometime in February, 2008. More information about the upcoming episode and “John Ratzenberger’s Made in America” can be found at