Tag Archives: David Letterman

Last Call for ‘Late Show’ with David Letterman Bud Tom Dreesen

dreesenComedian Tom Dreesen is feeling bittersweet about his last “Late Show” visit with old pal David Letterman, which is coming up Thursday (4/16). “We’ve known each other since 1975, and we were two young comics at the Comedy Store,” he says, referring to the famed L.A. nightery. Jay Leno was there, he remembers, and Robin Williams and Michael Keaton, “and the girl waiting tables was Debra Winger.”

Dreesen and Letterman “became fast friends — we played basketball, jogged together. The first time he hosted ‘The Tonight Show,’ I was his guest.”

Dreesen recalls Letterman being “funny and witty, but never comfortable” on the nightclub stage, but the first time he saw him do television, “I thought, ‘oh my God. He’s home. You know, he broke into TV in Indianapolis as a weatherman. In a studio, he was right at home.”

Network executives saw that as well, recalls Dreesen. “If a network sees something in somebody, they know right away.”

Don’t be surprised if Dreesen shows up with photos highlighting some of his early days with Dave — as part of the Comedy Store basketball team and such.

Starting with his and Tim Reid’s trailblazing Tim & Tom biracial comedy act, Dreesen’s made standup his metier throughout his career.

He spent 14 years touring with Frank Sinatra as the show business icon’s opening act. Now he’s touring with his “An Evening of Laughter & Memories of Sinatra” one-man show in this year, marking the centennial of Sinatra’s birth. He also spent years as a “Tonight Show” mainstay.  Tomorrow (4/15), however, Dreesen will be doing something entirely different from all that — serving as the keynote speaker at the 150th anniversary of the passing of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois. Dreesen’s topic will be Lincoln’s humor.

“He was a master of the art of storytelling,” notes the comic. “And he enjoyed having a laugh and giving a laugh. You know, he lost two sons during his presidency. His wife had emotional problems. And he went through the darkest times of the Civil War. If he hadn’t been able to find ways to laugh, he probably wouldn’t have made it.

“Laughter causes a chemical change in the body. When you’re laughing, you’re not thinking of your problems. Endorphins are released.” Dreesen points to research done at UCLA with the late Norman Cousins that showed a correlation between humor and healing. “Abe Lincoln didn’t know about that, of course, but he knew the value of humor.

 

Jay Thomas Talks Letterman, Levin and Life

jay thomas and david lettermanJay Thomas admits “there may be tears” when he does his annual Yuletide turn on “The Late Show with David Letterman” this year — knocking a meatball off the top of Dave’s tree and telling his Lone Ranger story again — because, with Dave retiring, this is going to be the last time for that oddball tradition.

“I don’t know what year it started — 1998 maybe?  Wow.  I guess the genius of it is that Letterman thought of doing it every year,” says Jay.  “It’s nerve wracking, there’s no doubt about it.  The damn thing looks pretty small up there.”

As a football devotee, he loves having a football-related claim to fame — but even more, he gets to be “the guy,” that recurring guest who always pumps up the crowd like Don Rickles or George Gobel  when Jay watched talk shows as a kid.

But although his Letterman finale may be bittersweet, Jay certainly has other irons in the fire to think about.  The veteran actor and radio talk show host is in his 10 year with Sirius Satellite, doing his daily talk show that runs 3-6 p.m. Eastern time.  And he has his recurring gig on “Ray Donovan” as a tabloid TV producer named Marty Grossman who bears more than a little resemblance to TMZ’s Harvey Levin.

“Harvey’s not interested in it,” Jay lets us know.

Or at least, whatever interest he may have had seems to have subsided.  “I was getting out of a car at a mall and there’s this TMZ guy there, and I said, ‘Oh, this is great.’  I made fun of the fact they were following me around.  Harvey doesn’t like that.  The kid was laughing and I was laughing, and I acted shocked and all that, and pretended I cared.  I don’t even know if they ever ran it or not, but you know, Harvey tends to take himself a little seriously,” Jay opines.

Jay had envisioned his character on the gritty series about a tough Hollywood fixer ending badly, “Ray Donovan” style:  “They’d have me having sex with a man and get killed with a baseball bat.”  However, Marty lives on.  “I was talking to one of the producers and asked if they’d thought about killig him off, and he said yeah.  I suggested that it would be interesting for Ray to need him.  I mean, he’s always doing stuff and Ray is always getting mad at him, but it looks like they know each other.  So the writer says, ‘I never thought of something like that,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, okay.  Just trying to keep my job, basically.’

“So I was in the second to last episode of the season, and in the last episode he hands this DVD to his assistant and says, ‘Get this to Marty,’ the name of my character.  My wife turns to me in bed and slaps me five and says, ‘Well, I guess you’re back.'”  I’m back.  Marty ran something for Ray and now he owes Marty something.”

He enjoys playing Marty, who tends to be surrounded by gay bodyguards.  “I have my muscle shirt on.  I worked out for it.  It’s gotten me into good shape, so it’s very good,” Jay notes.

He says he hasn’t acted as much as he would have liked to through the years, but what he has done has had focus.  He has a way of being memorable on memorable shows.  On “Cheers” he was Eddie LeBec, hockey player husband of Carla (Rhea Perlman).  On “Murphy Brown,” he was Murphy’s boyfriend, the Morton Downey-esque Jerry Gold — and won two Emmys for it.  He was the Easter Bunny in two “Santa Clause” movies and the football coach in “Mr. Holland’s Opus.”

Jay did an onstage turn recently that was particularly close to his heart — his son’s musical, Somewhere With You.  Country song writer JT Harding is Jay’s eldest son, “my biological son that I gave up for adoption many years ago.  And then about 20 years ago, he came back to us and I became friends with his mother and father. Sadly, they both passed away in the last few years.”

Jay was close enough to his son’s adoptive family to have flown to Grosse Pointe for his brother’s wedding.  Harding “is the big brother to my other sons,” he says.  Jay and his wife had everyone over for Thanksgiving.

The musical features Harding songs made famous by Kenny Chesney (as in the show’s title, the Number One song “Somewhere With You”), Uncle Kracker, Jake Owen and JTX.  Jay performed in it at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre in New York last summer.  It’s described as a “coming-of-age love story centered around a new generation of Southerners, confronted by the methamphetamine epidemic, the war in Iraq, and other post-9/11 challenges in the rural South.”

According to Jay, the producers are taking it “all over the country.  That’s what it takes to get these shows done — perseverance.”

He’s looking forward to more family time during the holidays.  But first, he has a meatball to topple.

 

How to Be as Sorry as a Celebrity

Jon Gosselin

by Stacy Jenel Smith

Jon Gosselin agrees with the rest of us:  he is a jerk.

The man whose former girlfriend Hailey Glassman was inspired by him to coin the term ‘mantrum,’ popped up at the West Side Jewish Center in New York last fall to issue his mea culpa to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach before a crowd of 150.

Humiliating his soon-to-be-ex-wife and the mother of his eight children, Kate Gosselin, by publicly carrying on relationships with three different women while they were still married, he said, ‘was a huge mistake, because if she would’ve done that to me, I would have been extremely pissed off.  Not because our relationship is over, it’s almost like a stab in the back.  And now that I think about it, it was a very wrong thing to do. I definitely regret it.’

Ha, now that he thinks about it.

The ‘Jon and Kate Plus 8’ baby daddy also said that ‘Half the stuff I’ve done, if I look at my moral compass, I shouldn’t have done.  I know that but I did it anyway.  It’s like fame canceled out conviction.’

He’s told his kids he’s sorry for not being there.  He wants to apologize to Kate in private.  And there it is — another celebrity apologia complete.

It’s practically become a new art form — or at least a public relations extension course possibility:  How to do the ‘I’m sorry’ circuit to make everything all better after screwing things up.  Learn to craft those heartfelt words that will get you or your client off the hook.   Here are 10 methods employed by the Sorry Celebrity pros:

David Letterman

1.  Deflect attacks by making self-deprecating remarks, especially if they’re funny.  David Letterman, who came clean about his sexual relationships with female staffers during his grand jury testimony about an alleged extortion attempt against him, acknowledged on his show that his behavior had hurt his wife ‘horribly.’   Then he added, ‘Right now, I would give anything to be hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  I got in the car this morning — and the navigation lady wasn’t speaking to me.’  Talking about the autumn weather, Letterman added that he’d spent the weekend ‘raking my hate mail….And it’s cold, too.  I mean chilly outside my house, chilly inside my house.’

Kanye West

2.  Get emotional.  Did you see Kanye West apologizing for disrupting Taylor Swift’s MTV Video Music Awards acceptance speech on the premiere installment of Jay Leno’s prime time show?   You ended up feeling sorry for HIM.  Kanye’s an enormously gifted man, but he’s making himself more widely known for these awards show outbursts than his performing.   ‘I feel like Ben Stiller in ‘Meet the Parents’ when he messed up everything and Robert De Niro asked him to leave,’ he wrote on his blog.  ‘That was Taylor’s moment and I had no right in any way to take it from her. I am truly sorry.’  (So he didn’t learn after pulling similar shenanigans over Gretchen Wilson’s American Music Awards win, or Justice vs Simian’s at the MTV Europe Music Awards?) When his written statements didn’t cut it, he went on with Leno, who got him all choked up by asking what his mom would have said.

3.  Join in with the crowd and say things about yourself that everyone else is saying.  ‘There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark.’  Yeah!  You tell ’em, Mel Gibson.  In the long written apology following his slur-infected diatribe upon being arrested on a DUI charge in 2006, the star also acknowledged, ‘I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.’  True, but despite the fact the incident was expunged from his record in October after Mel successfully completed the terms of his three-year probation, lots of people aren’t forgetting.

4.  Claim insanity.  Yes, you read above that Mel Gibson invoked the I-word as part of his good guy image reclamation efforts.  Others have rolled out the ol’ temporary insanity ploy as well.  Michael Richards, acting as if he was personally baffled over his hurling of the N-word during an onstage tirade at L.A.’s Laugh Factory in ’06, was quoted saying, ‘I’m not racist — that’s what’s so insane about this.’

5.  Blame the media.  This was part of Sharon Stone’s approach when she offended China by with her statement, on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, that maybe the deadly earthquake that had just taken place there was karma for the country’s ill treatment of Tibet.  ‘Yes, I misspoke,’ one of her statements acknowledged.  ‘I could not be more regretful of that mistake.  It was unintentional.  I apologize, those words were never meant to be hurtful to anyone, they were an accident of my distraction and a product of news sensationalism.’  Well, she’s just lucky she wasn’t dealing with the Chinese media.  The country’s official Xinhua News Agency’s response to her ‘accident’ was to declare Sharon the ‘public enemy of all mankind.’  They don’t kid around.

6.  Say it’s all about your art.  When Christian Bale went on the Kevin and Bean show on  L.A.’s KROQ FM radio station to apologize for his (recorded and widely replayed) profanity-laden tirade against a ‘Terminator’ crew member last year, he said his freak out was due to the intense nature of his craft.   He was in the midst of playing John Connor trying to save the world, okay?  Who wouldn’t be uptight if someone got into their @#!$ eye line?   Nevertheless, Bale (who made up with the crew guy) gets points for appealing self-effacement, saying, ‘Feel free to make fun of me at my expense. I deserve it completely.’

7.  Blame youthful inexperience.  When teen star Miley Cyrus showed up looking like a modern day Lolita in Vanity Fair in 2008, her Disney Channel reps were quick to issue a statement saying ‘that a situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines.’   ‘Course, Annie Liebovitz had nothing to do with those provocative pics Miley took of herself that got onto the internet around the same time.  Miley herself asked fans’ forgiveness, saying in a statement that she hoped they ‘understand that along the way I am going to make mistakes and I am not perfect.’

8.  Go into rehab or therapy.  It not only says, ‘I’m sorry,’ but also that it was, kind of not your fault, because of your addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling or what have you.  Gibson and Richards did it.  Kanye’s been talking about it.  And after it became public that David Duchovny was having his own real-life sex addiction problem that threatened his marriage, the ‘Californication’ star went into rehab for that.

10.  Call on God.  When serious trouble calls for serious remedies, you have to go all-out.   With fans reeling from reports that Chris Brown had been charged with two felonies — assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and making criminal threats — against then-girlfriend Rihanna last year, every base of showing remorse had to be covered, including religion.  In his public apology in August, the hip-hop star stated, ‘I have done a lot of soul searching over the past several months. I’ve talked with my minister and my mother and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand what happened and why… As many of you know, I grew up in a home where there was domestic violence. And I saw first-hand what uncontrolled rage can do. I’ve sought and continue to seek help to ensure that what occurred in February can never happen again…I can only ask and pray that you forgive me please.’

Beck/Smith Hollywood Tacky Taste Awards 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all and a big thank you to readers of this column who submitted candidates for this year’s Tacky Taste Awards.  From lofty heights to lowlifes, cheesy reality TV stars to the Nobel Prize Committee – 2009 marks possibly the most wide-ranging menu of celebrity bad taste we’ve seen in the history of this contest!   So let’s get to it:

Jon Gosselin

Jon Gosselin

1.  Jon & Kate Gosselin.  The couple who rose to fame as the parents of cute twins and sextuplets – and gained infamy with their bitter split, their affairs, their ugly accusations, oversized egos, etc. were deemed tackiest by a clear majority.  As longtime reader B.B. Richmond of Naples, Florida Fla. put it:  “There could not be a Tacky Taste Award without mentioning Jon and Kate, the All-American loonies. Where did Jon and Kate get the ‘great’ idea to pimp out their kids?  ACORN?  I can envision ACORN advising them. ‘Don’t call it “child abuse,” call it a “Reality TV Show.”’ Hopefully the kids will earn enough money to pay for the best mental help money can buy.” 

Kate Gosselin

Kate Gosselin

Other readers echoed her sentiments:  “The Gosselins should win in tandem,” said Carma, adding, “It’s like they had a tacky-thon to see who could embarrass themselves more.  At least Jon shows some regret for his behavior, she never apologizes for being a ‘B’ from hell!”  Diana wrote: “Kate Gosselin, for so very many things, but mostly for going on national TV and crying about how she can’t afford to feed her children in one breath, then in the next bragging about the diamond and ‘mother of pearl’ she’s going to buy (she clearly does not know what mother of pearl is).

joe-jackson2.  Joe Jackson.  “Joe Jackson is your walking definition of tackiness.  What could be tackier than trying to hype his new record label on the red carpet of an awards show right after Michael’s death?” asked Greg B. of Canoga Park, CA.  Savannah wrote that Jackson’s attitude seems to be: “Just because everyone knows I abused Michael doesn’t mean I’m not gonna contest the will!” 

Kanye West

Kanye West

3.  “Mr. Bad Attitude Kanye West, for spoiling Taylor Swift’s award moment,” as reader Margo P. put it, speaking of West jumping onstage and interrupting Swift’s acceptance speech to say that Beyonce deserved the award.  And from Jed:  “Kanye West deserves a big a** kicking for his VMA stunt.”

 

Carrie Prejean

Carrie Prejean

4.  Dethroned Miss California Carrie Prejean.  From Jeff:  “Carrie Prejean takes the cake!  Skanky hypocrite with her holier than thou attitude, her fake boobs and her sex tape of her masturbating. Now the religious right is cutting ties with her. No one else comes close to this tackiness.”  Morgan P. of Cleveland found the humor:  “What a hoot!  She’s ready to walk off Larry King’s show over ‘inappropriate’ questions?  Larry King, the scary hard-hitting inquisitor.”

David Lettermn

David Lettermn

5.  David Letterman.  “Ughhhh,” wrote Judy O.  “I can’t watch him anymore, thinking of him doing the dirty old man number with his female staff.” “What a nauseating man.  Never liked his mean humor, so I’m glad he’s now getting some turn-about from other comics,” said M.M.

 

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus

 

6.  Miley Cyrus and her daddy, Billy Ray:  “Look at her tacky clothes.  She’s turning up the skank quotient!” wrote D. Lewis of New York.  “Last year it was the bedroom magazine pic, this year pole dancing on the Teen Choice Awards” – Carol.  “…And then come the comments from her father that it’s really okay, people are reading things into that aren’t there.  Riiiiight” – J. Horwitz, Newark, N.J. 

Levi Johnston

Levi Johnston

7.  Levi Johnston, the spotlight-loving father of Sarah Palin’s grandson, and ex-boyfriend of Bristol Palin:  From Patty W.: “Levi Johnston deserves to be named Tackiest. Also Vanity Fair and Playgirl and all the media rushing to help him embarrass Sarah Palin for fun and profit.”

 

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese

 

8.  The Roman Polanski Defenders.  Contributor B.B. Richmond again summed up the feelings of others who expressed disgust toward those advocating in favor of director Roman Polanski’s release, more than three decades after being charged with rape and pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.  “It was treated like a ‘minor infraction’ by Hollywood beacons of morality Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, David Lynch, Jonathan Demme and Pedro Almodovar who signed a petition to demand Polanski’s release from jail on a morals crime.  Earth to those lights, so lofty that they are out of touch:  I will tell you the same thing that Sister Mary Ann taught in fifth grade, ‘Show me your friends and I will tell you what you are.’” 

Perez Hilton

Perez Hilton

9.  Perez Hilton.  The self-proclaimed most hated Hollywood blogger on the internet drew some hate from our readers, too, for several of his exploits this year, including his feud with the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am.  “I am voting for Perez Hilton (who’s famous for what again?) for saying he’d been attacked by Will.i.am when it was clearly his manager,” wrote Isaac. 

Michael Lohan

Michael Lohan

10.   Michael Lohan:  Lindsay’s father got Tacky Awards attention for releasing  embarrassing and damning tapes about his troubled daughter.  “This man has no conscience.” – L. Ramirez, Albuquerque, N.M.

 DISHONORABLE MENTIONS go to Sammy Sosa for “looking whiter and brighter” – M.P; Sarah Palin for reasons including “her endless whining” – Tracey W; Glenn Beck, for “fear-mongering that goes beyond tacky” – D.L.; and the Nobel Prize Committee, for giving President Obama the Nobel Peace Price “for doing nothing.  It sort of cheapens the prize they gave Yasser Arafat, don‘t you think?” – B.R.

That’s it for this year.  From now on, may all your turkeys be tasty ones

Jon Voight Blasts Letterman, Mulls Next Move

Jon Voight

Jon Voight

Count Jon Voight among the many who are appalled by David Letterman’s tacky sex jokes last week about former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s daughter.  “It’s disgusting…the lowest kind of behavior,” says Voight of the lines (including, “One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game — during the seventh inning stretch, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.”)

“David Letterman is an icon.  I thought he had a little higher ethical understanding, but he’s right there in the mud,” blasts Jon.

Letterman vs. Palin is just one of the matters that has the Oscar-winning actor feeling outrage these days – as those who heard or read his attack on President Obama as a “false prophet” at a Republican fund-raiser last week are aware.  He admits he’s had complaint calls about his statements.

However, he says, “I’ve received many more calls saying thank-you.  I feel we all have to wake up.  It’s no time to be thinking in a selfish vein.  Look, no one is firing weapons at me like our guys in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq have to contend with.  If I lose a job or two, it’s not like the millions of people losing jobs in this economy.”

Voight has thus far continued to stay busy before the cameras – in last season’s “24” for instance — despite his vociferously expressed views that run counter to the majority in Hollywood.  In fact, he blames Hollywood for “the vilification of George Bush that had so much to do with Obama’s success.”   Now, he figures, opponents will be trying “to paint me as a nut or find other ways to deflect me.”

Is he thinking of going into politics full-time?

“I’m still an actor and going to do my work as an actor, but I’m not going to be silent and I don’t want anybody else to be silent.  People are holding to a very extreme left wing agenda and putting their money into it.  The spending that’s going on — there’s almost no word for it.  We’re putting our grandchildren into a great burden of debt, and people are allowing [this administration] to make all their decisions for them.  These are very, very serious times for all Americans.”

Right now, “I don’ t know exactly what I’m going to do next,” he says.  “I’m taking a couple of days now to see.  I’m going to get some rest and exercise.  I have to make some decisions about work and stuff like that.”

MEANWHILE:  Between hurling and dodging brickbats, Voight is taking satisfaction in the fact that his “Lookin’ to Get Out” comedy of 1982 (which he co-wrote) is about to about to be re-released on DVD June 20 – in director Hal Ashby’s cut for the first time.  “This film was never seen the way it was supposed to be seen.  It was a crippled version of what it was supposed to be,” Voight says.  Referring to the filmmaker whose credits include such memorable fare as “Harold and Maude” “Being There” and “Bound For Glory,” he says, “Hal never had a chance to do this film his way.  He was working on three films at the same time back then, he had a lot of distractions.”  And when the studio insisted on 15 minutes of cuts at the last minute, “He walked away.”

Voight, who won his Oscar for Ashby’s “Coming Home,” found out decades after Ashby’s death in ’88 that he had completed his own cut of the film and given it to the UCLA archive.  It’s that version coming out this month.

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: Just because “a third of the country wouldn’t air it” and “Fox doesn’t want to be associated with what we want to represent” don’t count out “Osbournes: Reloaded.” That’s the word from Sharon Osbourne, who points out that even though banned far and wide for what some stations termed “inappropriate content and profanity,” the variety show “still got 10,200,000 viewers.  I would be worried if it hadn’t drawn so many people.  We’ve still got five great shows in the can… What one channel doesn’t want, another does,” she says.  So, where might “Osbournes: Reloaded” land?  Comedy Central?  “You’re very clever because that’s where we ant to go,” she says.   As they say, stay tuned.

CASTING CORNER: Casting forces for filmmaker Ed Zwick have been talking to candidates to play the father of Jake Gyllenhaal in Zwick’s “Love and Other Drugs” film also starring Anne Hathaway.  The ideal actor should be between 55 and 60 years old and it couldn’t hurt if he has gorgeous blue-green eyes with long lashes like Jake’s.  But anyway, the character is a doctor who disapproves of his son’s career as a pharmaceutical sales guy.  Also being cast for the flick, which rolls in September, are his younger bother and mom.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster