Happy Thanksgiving to one and all and a big thank you to readers of this column who submitted candidates for Beck/Smith Hollywood’s 35th Annual Tacky Taste Awards! Yes, we received votes for both President Barack Obama and former governor Mitt Romney this election year — but our tackiest Top Ten drew more. There are so many celebrity turkeys this year, we’d better get started before indigestion sets in:
It’s sad, but it could be that the late “Jackass” star Ryan Dunn’s greatest legacy might be as an anti-role model. The daredevil, whose Porsche is said to have been traveling between 132 and 140 miles per hour when it crashed, killing Dunn and passenger Zachary Hartwell last week, had a stunning blood alcohol content of .196, according to a preliminary toxicology report. With an estimated 11 drinks in him before he got behind the wheel, he automatically becomes the poster celebrity for what can happen to you when you drink and drive.
Indeed, Roger Ebert’s notorious tweet — “Friends don’t let Jackasses drink and drive” — over a photo of the horrific remains of that car could serve as an effective public service billboard.
Recent years have, unfortunately, brought us an phalanx of
anti-role model celebrities — who teach us by example what NOT to do.
Two years after Michael Jackson’s death of acute propofol intoxication, his doctor, Conrad Murray, is due to go to trial in September on involuntary manslaughter charges. But certainly, details of Jackson’s gargantuan prescription drug usage that set the stage for the overdose have given people pause.
The same is true of Heath Ledger, who seemed destined to become one of the greatest film actors of our time, until his life was cut short by what the New York City coroner’s office determined was an accidental overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs: oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine.
Look out, because, as the late Jeff Conaway pointed out, getting addicted to pain pills can creep up on you.
Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen are just two among the current crop of celebrities who have all but destroyed their careers with wild and sometimes violent behavior — behavior that’s landed each of them behind bars more than once. Lohan and Sheen have each demonstrated how even the most prodigious talents can be thrown away. Let us hope not their lives.
Their poster would have to say something along the lines of “Here’s what excessive partying can do to you, kids.”
Anti-role model celebrities show us so many things — how NOT to divorce (e.g. Madonna and Guy Ritchie), how NOT to parent (Britney Spears), and how NOT to utilize cosmetic surgery (Joan Rivers). The idea of actually looking up to stars sometimes seems positively quaint.
Melissa Rivers reports “There’s going to be a second season” of “Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?” reality show for the WE Channel. Her feeling about that: “Oh, Lord. We haven’t even finished the last one.”
The younger part of the mother-daughter TV team, who’s also an executive producer on the show, says she’d like to get into production on Season 2 while her 10-year-old son Cooper is still in school. “Seeing my mom trying to do math homework with him the other night was really funny,” she adds.
”Joan Knows Best,” for the uninitiated, takes viewers into the household shared by Melissa, her boyfriend Jason Zimmerman, and Cooper — now that the 77-year-old comedy icon is “staying” with them in a regular way. Joan’s luxurious $25 million New York City apartment is famously on the market, but of course, whether she actually gives it up remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, reports Melissa, “In her mind she’s just staying with me, but she’s here full-time when she’s not on the road. I love having my mom around. She and Jason get along really well. No one feels they have to entertain the other, or be ‘on’ or be someone they’re not.”
Cooper’s relationship with his grandmother is “the best part of the whole thing,” Melissa goes on. “My mom freaked out a little at first when she’d come back from a club date and he’d sort of look up and ‘Hello, Grandma’ — when she was used to a level of excitement like, ‘Oh my God! Grandma’s here!’ I told her ‘This shows you’re part of the fabric of his life, as you should be.’
”Me, on the other hand, I don’t think of her as an ordinary part of things. Everyone else seems to be completely content with this situation.”
Not only is Melissa’s home more crowded these days, she’s found that using it for the production is full of challenges.
“It caught me by surprise that I couldn’t actually run my house at the same time. We would wrap at 10 c’clock at night, and afterwards I’d try to catch up on everything and prep another show, then get ready to go to bed and there would be one damp towel. You couldn’t run the washer or have the vaccuum or dishwasher going because it interfered with the audio. I didn’t factor all that in when thinking about people working in the house.”
She managed with some extra household help, and such ploys as sending laundry out to the laundromat. A retaining wall next to her swimming pool came down during production, but construction work to repair it had to wait until Season 1 shooting wrapped at summer’s end.
”The other problem we encountered was, when the cameras were up, they’d use up all the wireless monitors and it shut down our internet,” she says. Jason, who works in finance, “spent a lot of time at Starbucks. Luckily, he has an office he can go in to.”
Her own commitment was such that when Melissa got sick “They captured it for the show,” she lets us know. ” They followed me to the bathroom. I was down, I was green.”
But even with all the long hours and soldiering on through difficulty and stress, Melissa says, “I feel like a slacker compared to my mother.”
‘My career has been up and down and up and down and up and down. And I’m in an up period at the moment and, trust me, I’m enjoying it, but I also know that this moment will pass as the others have, and you just better enjoy it while it’s there,’ she says.
Rivers is the midst of a spate of highly-visible work’from her ‘How’d You Get So Rich?’ TV Land show to her ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ and ‘Miss USA’ appearances, her December-debuting ‘Mother Knows Best?’ program. And, come June 11, the limited release of ‘Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.’
The documentary by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg has already drawn excellent response at the Sundance Film Festival and elsewhere. It has cameras following Rivers around even during unflattering moments, such as when she confronts an empty work calendar.
‘I’ve been fired a lot. I’ve had full books and I’ve had years where I’ve had empty books, and when one day your find you’re slightly older and you have an empty book, that’s really, really scary,’ she says. ‘You just have to keep on moving and keep on trying and keep on pushing.’
The one thing that she asked to have removed from the documentary was a portion referencing her husband, Edgar Rosenberg’s, suicide. ‘I was talking about how angry I still am at him. You know, I’ll walk by his picture and still say, ‘—- you.’ And Melissa got very upset with that,’ she says, referring to her daughter. ‘She asked if you could please ask them to take that out. Everything else stayed. The deal was that I would give them free access. My view was, ‘Let’s tell the truth or why bother?”
Rivers’ work ethic is in evidence on ‘How’d You Get So Rich?’– which launched its second season earlier this month, featuring her chatting with billionaires from Trump to the man who grew rich from inventing The Clapper. Visiting their often lavish digs and hearing their rags to riches stories, does she get inspired?
Rivers replies, ‘I find that when I go home, where I thought I lived well, I now spit on it. It’s shabby.’
Ernest Borgnine may be 92 years old, but he’s keeping up a pace that could scare a man half his age.
The “Marty” Oscar winner just wrapped up work on “The Genesis Code” big screen drama with Louise Fletcher and Fred Thompson in Michigan, and he leaves next week for New Orleans to start work on the comedy “Snatched” — his 202nd picture.
He’s also been busy this summer with book signings for his recently-launched “Ernie, the Autobiography.” “I love being out meeting the people!” he enthuses.
He helped launch “Another Harvest Moon,” his ensemble drama with Anne Meara and Cybill Shepherd, at this month’s Rhode Island International Film Festival — where Lifetime Achievement Honors were bestowed upon him. And he squeezed in a visit to Naval Station Newport, where he went through boot camp some 74 years ago.
“This time, they were saying, ‘What can we get for you, Mr. Borgnine?’ None of the finger-pointing and ‘Hey you’s!’ I remember from before,” says the Navy veteran of 10 years, including WWII.
With all that going on, he’s barely had time to celebrate his Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama. He tells us he and wife Tova will definitely be on hand to see whether he’ll win the honor for his portrayal, on the final episode of “ER,” of a man whose wife of many years is dying. He played it with such honest simplicity, it was a four hankie job, for sure.
“It was hard in the sense that it never happened to me and to make it look like it was real, I had to really dig into my heart and my head,” he says. “It turned out fine.”
So fine, he got nominated — while returning stars George Clooney, Eriq LaSalle and Noah Wyle did not.
“I know,” he says and smiles. “I shouldn’t gloat, believe me.”
Nevertheless, Ernie’s competition is fierce – Michael J. Fox on “Rescue Me,” Ted Danson on “Damages,” Jimmy Smits on “Dexter,” and Edward Asner on “CSI: NY.”
He assures, “I’m just glad I was nominated. I was also nominated for the Golden Globe and I missed out on that one. People were saying they were sorry, but I said, ‘Hey, man – I won the nomination! Are you kidding?’”
BAD BOY: Moviegoers who remember Daryl Sabara as Juni, the cute younger brother of Robert Rodriguez’ “Spy Kids” movies, are in for a paradigm shift of perception if they see him in “World’s Greatest Dad” starring Robin Williams, opening tomorrow (8/21). Sabara plays the teenage son you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, a profane and mean-spirited kid whose departure from this earth could only improve it. So how did writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait come to know that the 17-year-old actor had this ability to play rotten?
“Daryl is a funny guy. He came in and lied, saying he wanted to play Andrew, the sweet kid in the movie” – when in fact, he had his sites set on terrible Kyle instead. Bobcat let him read for the latter, and found “he was such a convincing creep – a teenage Gary Oldman, you know? I had him come in again just to meet with him. I needed to know he wasn’t really a jerk.”
Goldthwait also tells us there was a surprise when it came to casting Robin Williams as the beleaguered, bereaved title parent in the truly twisted black comedy that was a Sundance Festival hit. According to Goldthwait, Robin recently confessed, “he thought he was going to help me out and do a cameo. But then he read the script and said, ‘I’d like to be the guy.’ It really changed everything.”
These days, Goldthwait does stand-up if he needs to support his efforts as an auteur filmmaker. Admits the show business veteran once thought of as a way-too-out-of-control comic, “The early part of my career, I had the kind of career you usually have when your career is ending. Having a new career now at 47, I have much more appreciation.”
READ NO EVIL: Joan Rivers, the queen of jabs, tells us she has one big secret to her success. If you’ve written something about her, she wants no part of it. “I don’t read it. I absolutely don’t read it. I don’t read good reviews and I don’t read bad reviews,” admits Rivers. “Obviously I’m told about good reviews,” she adds. “I know when it’s been a good show and I know when it’s been a bad show. I don’t need an outsider to tell me. I can come off stage and tell you how it was and what went wrong a lot faster than somebody else can say it. I’m sure they say terrible things about it. I don’t need it. I don’t need to look at it.” So, there!
Rivers currently can be seen enjoying the high life with some fellow hard workers in the TV Land series “How’d You Get So Rich?” “We go to their houses and we see all of their toys. It’s fascinating how differently they spend their money. One man made all this money so he bought himself a Lamborghini for every day of the week,” she says. “I think it’s very uplifting that in this day in age you can do it if you’ve got the right attitude and the right product. But it teaches you a good lesson that you’ve got to work for it or win the lottery.”
A WEIGHTING GAME: Angie Dickinson was one of those perpetually perfectly lean ladies in her heyday on small and big screen, but now the still-beautiful septuagenarian complains that she’s 20 pounds overweight. “If I lost 20 pounds I’d be more viable. I’m serious about that,” she says. “I watch ‘The Biggest Loser’ and I am so enamored of those incredible people, how they shame themselves and go through whatever it takes to get in shape. I could no longer get out there in a little top and shorts. They expose their worst sides and I admire them beyond belief – but I still don’t lose the weight.”
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster
”If you sign up for a roast, you’re going to be roasted,” she notes. “You’d be an idiot to think that they’re not going to go for the jugular. Can you imagine someone going up there and saying, ‘You shouldn’t say that!’” While Rivers admits she wasn’t thrilled with the idea at first, the list of presenters helped change her mind. “I thought, ‘If we get a good panel together then it could be a lot of fun.’ We’ll have Suzanne Somers, I think we’re getting Liza, we have Brad Garrett, we may have Jon Lovitz, and Kathy Griffin is the toastmistress,” she says of her good pal Griffin, who is often compared to her.
”We both talk about people so I guess that could be the comparison. She tells stories, and I really rant and rave much more, but I don’t watch her act at all anymore because I don’t want to have anything spill over, if that makes any sense. I never look at what anybody else is doing. I’m so busy doing what I’m doing.”
Rivers certainly doesn’t expect anyone to hold back in this show or any other one for that matter. “Comedy is very rough now. Life is very rough. When the whole nation goes into mourning when a pedophile dies, you’re in a very strong time,” she says. ”Look at what our society is doing. This is insane. When people are stealing 62 billion dollars. I think society is so out of control and the comedy just brings it to a place where at least it’s funny.”
Next up for Rivers is the Aug. 5 premiere of her TV Land show “How’d You Get So Rich?” The Mark Burnett-produced show follows Rivers as she explores the lifestyles of the rich and lucky. “The millionaires were very nervous in the beginning because it was me. After five minutes they realized I’m not going to make asses of them. The show is funny but it’s not funny at their expense.”