Tag Archives: Edward 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.”




‘Too Big to Fall’ Has Asner, Buffett in Mutually Admiring Mode

Edward Asner, Warren Buffett

The assignment of playing Warren Buffett in HBO’s forthcoming “Too Big to Fail” movie has left Edward Asner “very impressed” with the Bershire Hathaway billionaire.

“He seems to be, from all I’ve ever read about him, a square shooter.  He makes his money about as honestly as you can when you’re working in billions, and that’s quite an achievement.  Unfortunately, there aren’t that many who imitate him,” complains the esteemed, seven-time Emmy-winning actor and former Screen Actors Guild president.

Asner has learned through mutual acquaintances that Buffett is happy with his casting in the saga about the 2009 bank bailouts.  “I was pleased to hear that,” he says.

Asked whether he’d like to meet his real-life alter ego, he replies, “I’d love to.  I hear it’s quite possible, too.  Funny, I know of a rich entrepreneur who called him and said he’d like to meet with him.  Buffett said, ‘Sure, how about tomorrow at 4 o’clock?’  That surprised him and he said, ‘Well, I was thinking, I’ll be in town in June and I wondered if we could meet then?’  And Buffett replied, ‘Oh, I never know where I[m going to be that far in advance.'”

Chockablock with stars (William Hurt, Paul Giamatti, Matthew Modine, Bill Pullman, Billy Crudup, Topher Grace, Cynthia Nixon, Michael O’Keefe, Tony Shalhoub and James Woods), the event presentation, directed by Curtis Hanson, is coming our way May 23.  Asner says he’ll be flying to New York for the May 16 premiere.

“Mine is not a big role, but it gave me a chance to work with Curtis Hanson,” he notes.  “I liked it a lot.  He’s a very calm fellow who strikes only when he needs to.”

Among the challenges that faced Hanson and company, of course, was keeping the drama from downing in the myriad complexities of the threatened financial melt-down.  Does it?

“It better,” is Asner’s response.  “The book (Andrew Ross Sorkin’s best-seller, on which the film is based) was so successful in pinpointing the high crimes and misdemeanors of the period, if the movie doesn’t achieve that, it would be a surprise.”

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.”

Borgnine Keeping a Pace That Could Scare Guys Half His Age

Ernest Borgnine on "ER"

Ernest Borgnine on "ER"

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