Tag Archives: Ed Asner

Edward Asner Anticipates Grace Controversy

Edward Asner, in his second week of rehearsals for Broadway’s forthcoming Grace with Paul Rudd, Michael Shannon and Kate Arrington, doesn’t doubt that the Craig Wright play will elicit some controversy.  “I think there will be some people who hate it.  We deal with the God question quite a bit.  We question God within the play, but,” he adds, “I think that godly people will be able to find that it is a godly presentation.  I think it will create a lot of different discussions.”

Asner’s character is an exterminator who comes to rid two apartments of vermin.  One apartment belongs to a born-again Christian couple, the other to a NASA scientist scarred by a devastating automobile accident in which his girlfriend died.  “It’s serio-comedic – more serio than comedic, but the laughs are there,” says Asner, who points out that the play won awards during its L.A. run.  “I for one deny the existence of God, but I change my mind later in the show.  Not that I accept God, but that there is something out there.  The born-again couple have difficulty retaining the intensity of their faith, and the NASA scientist, who is bitter and ironic, is neither for nor against, by falling in love within the piece, I think he would agree that there is something out there, that is designed to take away our bitterness and make more acceptance of life.”

Grace starts previews mid-September with an October 4th opening planned.  We caught up with Ed while he was enjoying a celebratory post-rehearsal Jameson’s with Arrington and Wright.  When we note that the rigors of doing a Broadway show might have been too much for the 82-year-old seven-time Emmy winner back in 2010, before his hip replacement surgery, he replies that there might be some doctors who say he couldn’t do it now.  “But they’re full of crap.  I feel fine.  I work out every day…push-ups, sit-ups, elliptical or track. And I walk. And I look for sex wherever I go,” he adds mischievously.  “It’s harder to find these days, though.”

Asner’s in the midst of a work blitz that also includes an upcoming episode of “Hawaii 5-O,” the independent film “Let Go,” and the 2013 Hallmark Channel original movie “Two In” with Alison Sweeney.  “I finish this run at the end of January, and at the end of January I will resume touring with my one-man FDR show.”  So he has to stay in shape.

“As long as I get work, I’ve got to be able to fulfill it.”




‘Black and Jewish’ Success Surprised Rising Multi-Talent Kali Hawk

Kali Hawk

“Bridesmaids” actress Kali Hawk says she was taken by surprise by the instantaneous success of her hilarious “Black and Jewish” video with “Vampire Diaries'” Katerina Graham this past summer.  “It got a hundred thousand views the first hour it was up on FunnyorDie.  I think a lot of people responded to it for reasons we didn’t expect, and there are a lot more people of this mixed ancestry than we realized,” she says. 

The hit, a takeoff on “Black and Yellow” came naturally to Hawk, whose roots are African American, Native American and German Jewish.  “It was a pleasant surprise.  I got to bring out my Yiddish, go on radio stations and perform Yiddish rap.  My grandmother always spoke Yiddish in the house, which had this great Jewish vibe omnipresent, but I didn’t even realize it.  I didn’t know these words, like, ‘Move your tookis,’ weren’t spoken everywhere.”

 The internet was a vital force early on in her career, too — in a whole different way.  She was working on her music career in New York City, and, impatient with a slow spell, decided to try acting one day because she couldn’t stand inactivity.  She found a casting ad on Craig’s List, answered it and wound up landing a part in Todd Bridges’ 2004 movie, “Issues.”  Craig’s List!  Her Craig’s List movie also brought her to Hollywood, and “before too long, I was thinking, ‘I can do this,'” she recalls.  Of course, her background as a drama major at SUNY Purchase (before she was 16) didn’t hurt.

Now, Hawk has the indie comedy “Let Go” with Ed Asner and David Denman on the festival circuit.  She recently wrapped work on Tyler Perry’s “We The Peeples” with Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson.  And, come Dec. 2, she’ll be seen starring opposite Dane Cook, Julie Benz, Elizabeth Mitchell, Zach Gilford and Barbara Hershey in the thriller “Answers to Nothing.”

“It’s really different for me — a drama after doing comedy after comedy.  My character is a writer who’s struggling with some deeper issues,” she says.  “The stories are intertwined.  It’s a lot like life; it’s never who you think it’s going to be that gives you the lightbulb of truth.  It’s part of the magic of people, how each person is kind of a mirror of us, our outlook and our perspective on things.”

Everybody Wants Ed Asner, Feeling ‘Better Than in Years’ After Hip Surgery

Edward Asner

Ed Asner has two weeks of shooting to go on Paul Ben-Victor’s big-screen “Should’ve Been Romeo,” then he’ll take four days off, then get back into character as Franklin Delano Roosevelt for the one-man show he’s been taking around the country.    It’s now slated to open at the Pasadena Playhouse Oct. 12 for previews and run 4-5 weeks.  He’ll keep doing the show into March.  He also has several other films in the can.

Not bad for an 80-year-old actor who had hip surgery in late July.

“Ever since ‘Up’ came out I’ve had a revivification that I never expected,” says Ed, referring to the instant classic 2009 Pixar film for which he provided the voice of the main character, widower Carl Fredricksen.  “It was a breath of fresh air, and I’m very proud of it.  So I want to seize that energy and run with it for as long as I can.”

He tells us, “I feel better now than I have in years.  I need to drop some more weight though.”

We caught up with the seven-time Emmy Award-winning actor just after he left his doctor’s office and “got a clean bill of health…I have very high hopes of being pain free when walking, which I certainly haven’t been for a few years now,” he admits.

For FDR, of course, he performs while seated in a wheelchair or “ambulating using two canes.”  It’s strenuous, he says, “but worth it.”  The one-man show was written by Dore Schary, who also penned the landmark play, “Sunrise at Campobello.”  Asner, a devotee of the 32nd President, performed it on a Theater at Sea cruise and subsequently decided to tour with it.  Response “has been excellent,” he says.

In particular, notes Asner, FDR’s battling of the Great Depression resonates today, “his instituting of many reforms and programs.  He bulldozed his way through.  I think nobody else could have saved us as he did.  We would have bumbled along like we are now.”  He adds, “Granted, he was a chameleon.  He had his bad spots, but overall I think the achievements – well, he belongs on Mt. Rushmore more than anybody.”  Asner is hoping that with FDR, “maybe the word and the influence will eventually get out.”

MEANWHILE:  Asner plays the grandfather in “Should’ve Been Romeo,” a drama with comedy involving family and race relations.  Nastasha Henstridge, Kelly Osbourne, Carol Kane and Renee Taylor are also in the cast.  He’s an ex-con in the recently-wrapped “Get Low” and yucks it up in the forthcoming indie comedy “Not Another B Movie.”  What compels him to keep up such a pace?  “I do it,” says Asner, “to keep prodding myself — I must be alive, I must be alive.”

Expect gloves-off treatment of Sinatra in Scorsese pic

Frank Sinatra and daughter Nancy.

Frank Sinatra and daughter Nancy.

Just because Nancy Sinatra is producing Martin Scorsese‘s planned movie biography of her father, Frank, don’t expect the picture to shy away from the controversial, less flattering aspects of the show business legend’s life.

At least, it won’t if the film — for which Leonardo DiCaprio is already being mentioned — follows the tell-all pattern set out by Nancy’s sister, Tina Sinatra, back in 2000. Tina’s “My Father’s Daughter” disclosures about her dad getting the Mafia to help deliver the union vote to elect John F. Kennedy as president and his doing secret work for the CIA got her play on “60 Minutes.” Her exposure of family strife and discord — in particular with Sinatra’s fourth wife, Barbara Marx — got her in hot water with some Sinatra friends who felt those stories should never have been made public. Though the tome clearly showed how much Tina adored her father, she did, as she put it, “cover the good and the bad.”

Which is, of course, by far more interesting than a mere love letter about the entertainment great’s vocal prowess, enormous charm, loyalty and generosity to friends and charities. The dichotomy between the Sinatra loved by pals and fans and the Sinatra loathed by his many enemies were both real. His infidelities, grudges, temper and other negative behavior was depicted in CBS’ five-hour miniseries of the ’90s — which was produced by the family as well.

With more than 10 years having passed since his death and all the perspective that time brings, and with the talent of Martin Scorsese going into it, the Sinatra big-screen biopic just might capture lightning in a bottle.

STEP BY STEP: “Psych” star Dule Hill, who is a longtime tap dancer, tells us he’s trying to find a way to bring the dance back to the forefront. “I would love for the opportunity to bring dance to television in terms of dramatic scripted television. I’d also love to do tap on film and tap back on stage,” says Hill, whom many know from his days on “The West Wing.”

Gregory Hines was the one carrying that banner, so with his passing you lose some of that. Hopefully we can get back to it,” adds Hill. “We’ll see what comes next after ‘Psych,’ but first I’d like to do an episode on the show where we can do some tapping.” The cast and the crew of the USA network series certainly get to see Hill in action in between takes. “I do it on the set all the time. I have a piece of wood that I’m always dancing on in my trailer. I dance in my garage back home. I dance with friends and young students. I love tap dancing. I’m a tap dancer at heart.”

BY ANY OTHER NAME: Nine-year-old cutie Jadagrace Berry of “Terminator Salvation” tells us she loved doing scenes with Christian Bale in the flick, opening tomorrow (5/21). “He was so nice. He was always helping me, but he’d only answer to John,” she notes, referring to Bale’s character, savior of humanity John Connor. So did John — er, Christian — have any words of wisdom for this young co-star? “He told me to just stay in the moment and try to react,” she says. The pint-sized actress was among the young-uns at the premiere of Disney-Pixar’s “Up,” where she told us her burning desire for her next job: “I really want to be on the Disney Channel.”

AND: The audience was charmed by “Up,” another gem of a film from Pixar, a fanciful adventure about an old guy (Ed Asner) who travels to South America via a multitude of balloons from which his house hangs suspended. The poignant and funny modern fable is due on screens May 29. Producer Jonas Rivera told us, “For this one, we went back a little bit; we wanted to make an old-fashioned Disney movie. Computer animation tends to make things look very photo real, like in ‘Wall-E.’ For this, we went back and looked at ‘Peter Pan, “Sleeping Beauty,” ‘Snow White’ — we wanted it to have a little bit more of a painterly feel. That’s harder, technically,” he says. “A character drawing is a distillation. How does a Hirschfeld drawing of Lucille Ball look more like her than a photograph? There’s no computer that does that. This was a case of computer science and art colliding.”

JUDGING THE JUDGES: Season 8 of “American Idol” goes down as The Season of Judges’ Conflicts — in the view of “Access Hollywood’s” self-described “reality chick,” Laura Saltman, and who wouldn’t agree? Saltman spends January-to-May giving “Idol” her full attention, chatting with contestants, hanging out on set, etc. She points out, “Paula (Abdul) and Simon (Cowell) have grown closer this season because of their mutual feelings about Kara (DioGuardi). They mimic her … ” she notes. “They, of course, downplayed it, but things were pretty tense at first. It’s gotten better. They’ve kind of found a groove,” she says.

“I like Kara,” she adds. “I really do. She really says something, where Randy (Jackson) is just pretty much saying, ‘Dog. Dog, you’re great, Dog.’ And Paula you can’t always understand.” Still, “I don’t think the four-judge format works because it takes too long to get through the comments. I think they should go back to three.” So, who would she vote off? “Kara. You know, it’s a last one in, first one out kind of a thing.”

Laura says she’s not losing any enthusiasm for her “Idol” gig, though she’s covered all eight seasons. She’ll not only be at tonight’s (5/20) finale for the naming of either Adam Lambert or Kris Allen as the new American Idol, she’ll be up at 3 a.m. to be back on the job at 4 a.m., “spending the day with the winner and showing what he does. Who wouldn’t want to do that?” she asks.

With reports by Emily Feimster.