Kevin Eubanks laughs and says “I don’t have an answer for that” when asked whether he’d guest on Jimmy Kimmel’s or Conan O’Brien’s show once he finishes the last month of his 18-year stint with Jay Leno and “The Tonight Show.”
He acknowledges, “It’s going to be so different, not seeing each other and sharing a stage every day” with Jay. However, the man whose comedic takes have saved many a lame joke through the years, tells us he really doesn’t know whether their friendship will go on: “We’ll see. I hope so. You know how the business is, how people start to become isolated in whatever project they become involved in. It’s a stressful period in the country and people are busy.”
Eubanks admits the “Jay Leno Show” prime time failure took a toll “This might be weird to say, but the biggest challenge of that time, to me, was not having input into what the new show was. Now, having said that, I know it wasn’t my place to have any input, so I wasn’t asking or looking for it — should we do this, do that. But that was in my mind. When the show started unfolding, you’re wishing someone would listen to an idea. But it was like, ‘Everybody’s got an idea right now.’”
He adds, “You feel like you’ve been in a place so long, and part of that community so long – my opinion might be valid. I wish I’d had a little more say. But I held back – just focusing on my department, the music – and that was really difficult. It was so unexpected.”
Still, he says, “It seemed appropriate and proper to be there at 11:30 and do whatever I could to get the show back to where people remembered us,” before taking his leave.
Eubanks doesn’t know exactly what he’ll be doing next beyond his work as Artistic Director for the Thelonius Monk Institute’s Jazz in the Classroom program. An avid cook – vegetarian — he’s been approached with ideas including a reality show in which he’d be seen preparing dishes with some of his celebrity pals. Will there be a Kevin Eubanks tell-all book about the “Tonight” experience?
He laughs. “If there’s one of those, it won’t be from me.”
AND YOU THINK YOUR JOB IS HARD: Spike TV’s hit show “Deadliest Warrior” – the non-scripted series that pits history’s greatest warriors against one another – is back for a second season and Dr. Armand Dorian says it’s better than ever with all new warriors, bigger tests, deadlier weapons and more unprecedented matchups.
“The show is definitely amped up this season. When you look back historically, you have warriors who could have never been pit against one another and to be able to do that and bring in true trauma, it’s just fascinating,” notes the E.R. doctor, who is brought in to analyze the lethal potential of each attack on the human body. In fact, the show has made him somewhat of a rock star at home. “I am my nephews’ hero. When I go pick them up at school, the kids think I’m the coolest guy ever. They’ll come over to our house and ask, ‘Are you the guy on ‘Deadliest Warrior?’ It definitely has a huge following.”
Besides getting to explore his inner kid, Dorian says he also likes the fact that they are tapping into some of today’s best technology. “We’ve got so much technology that I’m able to apply real trauma knowledge to these match ups. I can tell you if it’s a cut, if it’s hitting a significant artery, and if this guy going to die in an hour or instantly,” he explains. “We also get to impart information to the audience and they’re learning without even realizing they’re learning. That’s one of the coolest parts of the job for me.”
THE LANCE SHOW: With Diane Lane set to play matriarch Pat Loud in Gavin Polone’s HBO movie that aims to show the behind-the-scenes drama of the making 1973’s “An American Family” documentary series, the production’s hot into casting of her son, the late gay icon and arguably the first reality TV star, Lance Loud. What a role.
You may recall that young Lance made his sexuality quite obvious, and caused a national stir, during the course of the documentary that saw him leave home and head for New York and the world of pen pal Andy Warhol. Critics were not kind, one describing him as “an evil flower.” His response, on Dick Cavett’s show: “That was the one that really hurt. But I took two aspirin and it went away.” He also complained about the way he’d been depicted and editing on the series that had cameras following his affluent Santa Barbara, California family for a year — as it fell apart before viewers’ eyes. Follow-up editions took the new wave rocker and music writer all the way through his death at 50, at his behest, in the 2003 “Lance Loud! A Death in An American Family.”
BENEFITS VS. BENEFITS: You had to wonder whether anyone was going to blink – what with filmmaker Ivan Reitman plotting his big screen “Friends With Benefits” even as Ron Howard and Brian Grazer and the folks at their Imagine Entertainment were readying a “Friends With Benefits” TV series pilot. And considering there’s already a “Friends With Benefits” independent movie. Oh, those trendy pop culture phrases involving sex with no strings! Well, now Reitman’s movie is officially untitled. They’re still planning a May production start with Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman and a cast including Kevin Kline and Olivia Thirlby.
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster