One of the more interesting parts of the interview has Ivana discussing her experience working on episodes of “Seinfeld” and “Friends.”
Well, as I say, “Seinfeld” was my first job, which is a really good first job to have, because…that was, I want to say, the second-to-last season of that show, and they were a tight-running ship. But they weren’t a tight-running ship like they were phoning it in. They were still, even at that point, constantly trying to keep the jokes fresh, even kicking them up a notch on the night you were shooting. They never got lazy. They never relaxed. Their work ethic was incredible, and it was really good to be a part of that, to see that. So all the shows I worked on after that, I was, like, “Oh, well, this show isn’t like ‘Seinfeld,’ so that’s why it isn’t as tight…or as good.’” [Laughs.]
The second runner up, though, would be “Friends.” They were also super-tight. Nothing like “Seinfeld,” but that’s because “Seinfeld” was its own crazy thing. So “Friends” was different, but it was still a really close second as far as how tight they were…and, y’know, look at the success of that show, too! You could be, “Ah, it’s comedy, it’s just a sitcom,” but you have no idea how hard people work on these things…and, believe me, I saw the difference between shows where they do work hard and shows where they don’t. So that was good. And, of course, it’s just amazing to have been on those iconic shows. I still make money from them…which is beautiful, because you know Mama needs a new pair of shoes.
Yeah, we know, there probably should’ve been some kind of lead-in before breaking news that big, but after spending the last 20 minutes trying to figure out which “Seinfeld” reference we wanted to work into the opening (“Should we say, ‘Now here’s something sponge-worthy’? Or maybe a Soup Nazi reference. Those are always comedy gold!”), we figured it was better to just go ahead and get the word out as quickly as possible.
So sayeth the press release:
“Seinfeld,” one of TV’s most successful comedies of all time, is coming to Crackle.com, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s online video network. Beginning Friday, April 1st, ten iconic episodes of the hit comedy series, including such classics as “The Soup Nazi,” “The Chinese Restaurant,” “The Puffy Shirt,” “The Bubble Boy,” “The Junior Mint” and “The Yada Yada,” will be made available with ten new episodes set to launch every month thereafter—with themes such as “Summer of George,” “Best Guest Appearances” and more! Join Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer online only on Crackle this spring. Don’t miss the opportunity to watch this crazy group FREE, ONLINE!
And with that out the way, let’s you and me settle in and watch “The Chinese Restaurant,” shall we?
The TCA Winter Press Tour is an event which never quite seems to live up to the TCA Summer Press Tour…but, then, that stands to reason, as the mid-season series rarely match the ones which hit the airwaves in the fall, right? Still, the experience never fails to be one which I enjoy, mostly because you never know what’s going to be around the corner, and Day 1 really set the stage for that: during the course of 12 hours, I interviewed Betty White, Henry Rollins, and Bruce Jenner, and, thanks to National Geographic, I wore a giant snake around my neck. Not a bad way to begin things…
It felt like there was more star power on hand than usual for a winter tour…but, then, having Oprah in your midst kind of skewers your perceptions on that sort of thing. I suppose it’s a testament to how many famous people I’ve met over the years, though, that one of the biggest reasons I look forward to the tour is not because of who I might interview but, rather, because I’ll get the chance to hang out with the friends I’ve made within the TCA. All told, it was another great time, but, as ever, when it was over, I was more than ready to get back home to my family and share my memories with them…and with you, too, of course.
Well, let’s get on with the reminiscing, shall we?
Oh, but one word of warning: if you followed my daily dispatches during the tour, then a couple of these stories will sound strikingly familiar, but please rest assured that the majority of the material has not been copied wholesale and is, in fact, 100% new. Swear to God.
Most entertaining panel by a broadcast network: “Made in Spain” (PBS)
Not being a foodie, I wouldn’t have known José Andrés prior to his kick-off of PBS’s first day at the TCA tour if he’d been standing next to me…and, even then, I wouldn’t have known that I was supposed to care who he was. After several minutes of clips from the first season of “Made in Spain,” however, I was already in love with the series, and when Andres himself took the stage, it was impossible not to be charmed by him. He’s a sweetheart of a guy for whom food truly is life, but he’s also a hoot.
Most entertaining panel by a cable network: “An Idiot Abroad” (Science Channel)
I was seriously bummed when I heard that no one from “An Idiot Abroad” was going to be in attendance for the show’s panel, but I figured, “Okay, at least they’ll be there via satellite.” In retrospect, there’s no way they could’ve been funnier if they’d actually been onsite. Naturally, just being in Karl Pilkington’s presence was enough to inspire Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant to dissolve into a fit of giggles, but they were utterly warranted this go-round.
Here, see for yourself:
Most annoying panel: “Platinum Hit” (Bravo)
Between Kara DioGuardi handling a question about “American Idol” about as poorly as she possibly could have – read more about that here – and Jewel dropping names like they were hot potatoes (“I was talking to Steven Spielberg…”), I’m hard pressed to think of any panel that left a worse taste in my mouth.
Panel which had the least need for an audience: “The Best of Laugh-In” (PBS)
It wasn’t entirely surprising that a panel consisting of Lily Tomlin, Jo Anne Worley, Ruth Buzzi, Gary Owens and George Schlatter would be able keep things moving along without any of the critics in attendance actually needing to ask a question, but they kept passing the conversational ball back and forth until someone in the crowd finally had to stand up and ask if it was okay to ask a question. Schlatter instantly shot back, “We’re trying to talk here!” Laughter ensued, as did plenty of questions about the history of “Laugh-In.” “Are you guys having fun?” Schlatter asked later. “Because we’re having a ball!” Must be what keeps them looking so young: you’d never in a million years believe that Worley – that’s her in the feathered boa, in case you hadn’t guessed – is 73 years old.
Funniest panel that you probably had to be there to appreciate: “Community” (NBC)
The only person not in attendance was Chevy Chase, who was described as being “very under the weather,’ but his co-stars more than made up for his absence. If I tried to tell you about it, though, you’d probably just stare blankly at me. Some of the funniness came from the giggling of the various panelists, some it involved one-liners which would require a lengthy amount of set-up for you to appreciate, some of it was totally visual, and…well, you get the idea. But it really was hilarious, I swear. The most easily-translatable moment is probably Donald Glover’s story about how they had to teach Betty White the lyrics to Toto’s “Africa” on the set. “I assumed she knew ‘Africa,’” he said. “I was, like, ‘Everybody knows that song!’ But, like, that song was out when she was already old. She was already 50-something.”
Greatest Moment of Complete Honesty During the Tour: When I approached Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”) to ask him a question, he agreed, but then he looked down at my recorder and said, “Oh, my! You’re not going to record this, are you? I’d rather you didn’t.” At this point, he performed a perfect mock aside, holding a hand to his mouth and whispering, “I’m a little bit tipsy!” So I turned off my recorder. Kudos to you, Mr. McBrayer. Would that more actors had that blend of good humor and common sense.
The TV Land Awards are not an “and the winner is…” kind of award show extravaganza. They’re more a series of honorary nods to the very popular shows of television’s illustrious, time-killing past with an emphasis on glitz. And so a bunch of us media types were invited to add to the hub-bub at the Sony Studios back lot on a breezy April, waiting on a red carpet for whichever celebrity was escorted to our assigned spots, with those from famed print and broadcast outlets obviously getting the first dibs. In the case of this lowly pixel stained wretch, I felt honored to chat with a few really terrific performers who, each in their own way, had made quite an impression on me personally.
That most definitely applies to Jane Leeves, the comedically gifted actress best known as Daphne, Niles Crane’s Manchester-born one-true-crush and eventual wife from “Frasier.” After confessing that I’d had a crush of my own on her since before her famed “Seinfeld” turn as “Marla, the Virgin” her response was typically blunt-yet-charming. “I’m not that old!”
“Neither am I!,” I blurted. (I later learned that Ms. Leeves birthday was the following day. My own birthday was two days prior. I guess age was on both of our minds.)
Aside from being no non-TV star herself, Ms. Leeves was there to promote her now show, coincidentally to be aired on TV Land in a rare foray into original programming, “Hot in Cleveland.” The show teams Leeves with Wendy Malick (“Just Shoot Me”) and Valerie Bertinelli (“One Day at a Time”). The three play “very L.A.” career women with show business-related backgrounds of various types. (Leeves plays an “eyebrow plucker to the stars.”) Feeling a bit aged out of the L.A. game, they attempt a trip to Paris, but instead find themselves marooned at the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They quickly realize that beautiful, middle-aged women who can refer to celebrities by their first name are actually in fairly short supply in the midwestern metropolis and they decide to stay and be big fish in a smaller glamor pond. Betty White costars as a neighbor, perhaps a wacky one. Cue the glib comparisons calling this a “younger ‘Golden Girls.’”
Nevertheless, fans of Ms. Leeves should rest assured that her character is no retread of Daphne Moon. “She’s focused her whole life on her career and has forgotten to have a life. She’s the sort of smart aleck, wise-ass of the group, so it’s very different.”
Then, perhaps feeling a bit star-struck, I went with the fallback question I frequently steal from our esteemed Will Harris. What project has she done that she doesn’t feel has gotten enough attention.
Last night “American Idol” on Fox moved to Atlanta, hometown of host Ryan Seacrest. Oh really, you say? Seacrest wasn’t created in some robot factory? Nope, guess not. Anyway, Mary J. Blige was the guest judge and as always they showed us the best and worst of the auditions. Here is your recap….
It’s pretty clear that nothing going on in movieland tonight is going to be able to compete with the sheer entertainment value of the NBC late night TV quagmire, but there’s definitely stuff to talk about.
* Peter Saarsgard of the very good “An Education” is a highly intriguing actor who I’ve been following for some time, especially since catching his work in the underrated “The Dying Gaul” at Sundance a few years back. No matter what kind of character he’s playing, he seems to have a real gift for moral ambiguity. If he’s cast as a villain, we think he must have a good side, and if he’s cast as someone more upright, we wonder if there isn’t something underhanded going on. Anyhow, Borys Kit reports that it looks like he might be playing the villain side of the street in the Green Lantern movie. Could be good.
* Simon Brew has some more on the upcoming “Spiderman” reboot announced yesterday. His list of possible new Spideys has two interesting entries that I can’t quite agree with. Daniel Radcliffe actually makes some sense, but we’ll have to see how his American accent is, though I’d personally advise the soon-to-be ex-Harry Potter to avoid overly franchisey roles for a while. Michael Cera would be interesting but, I fear, disastrous. He’d have to get muscular and we know what happens to funny young actors when they become too obviously physically fit. Just ask Anthony Michael Hall.
The trick with Peter Parker is that the actor has to be believable both as a vulnerable demi-nerd, and as the sinewy superhero. Tobey Maguire was actually a really outstanding choice.
Last night’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas” on Bravo featured the remaining seven chefs facing more and more pressure. Some would respond while others would start to wilt, and we’re almost to final four territory (just where has this season gone??).
We began with a quick fire challenge as host Padma Lakshmi introduced Italian chef Paul Bartolotta, who has an Italian restaurant in Las Vegas and is known as one of the best in the cuisine. But oddly, their quick fire was not Italian-oriented. Instead, they each had to create a “TV dinner” style dish based on a popular show, drawing knives to determine who would be representing which show.
Last night “American Idol’s” Final 4 performed, and it was rock week, and I do mean RAWK, with Slash as the mentor and the mentoring taking place at a club with Slash’s band. How cool for these contestants to have that opportunity? But there was a damper right from the start, as Ryan Seacrest told the world that there was an accident on the set yesterday and one of the giant glass props burst and started spewing shards of glass everywhere. No one was hurt, thankfully, and it’s quite a stroke of luck that this didn’t happen during a show…but the contestants did not get as much practice in as they would have liked.
The show went on though, and in addition to the four performances there would be two duets as well on which the contestants would be judged. Here is how it went down….
George Wallace has been doing stand-up comedy since the average Premium Hollywood reader was in elementary school…or possibly even longer than that. (You make the call: his first TV appearance as a stand-up was on “The Mike Douglas Show,” and it’s fair to suspect that he’d already been doing comedy for a few years before that.) Once in awhile, however, he takes time out of his residency at the Flamingo in Las Vegas to do a TV appearance or pop up in a movie. Wallace took a few minutes to talk to Premium Hollywood in connection with a guest spot on his buddy Byron Allen’s myNetworkTV series, “Comics Unleashed,” which airs tonight at 9 PM EST, and we asked him about his stand-up, his memorable appearance on “Seinfeld,” and several other topics of note. In return, he provided more than enough laughs to remind us why he placed in Comedy Central’s list of the Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.
The network is pretty tight lipped about the news, but the cast of “Seinfeld” will reunite during the upcoming season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
The network says that Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards will appear in several episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The HBO comedy stars Larry David, who helped create “Seinfeld.”