Tag Archives: NBC

Why ‘Sean Saves the World’ is Bringing Linda Lavin Back to TV

sean saves the worldLinda Lavin offers a very simple explanation for her return to series TV in NBC’s forthcoming “Sean Saves the World” with Sean Hayes:  “I go where the material is best,” says the Tony winner and American Theatre Hall of Famer.

The actress who ruled the airwaves as title star of the classic sitcom “Alice”’ from 1976-1985 plays Hayes’ sometimes contentious, often pushy mother in the October 3-debuting show.

She tells us she’s been offered other roles of mothers.  However, “This is the first best mother I’ve read in television in a very long time — because she’s not a joke, or the butt of a joke.  She’s not a simplification.  She’s a full-blown human being, and I choose to do women who are looking for their own identity beyond being someone’s mother,” adds Lavin, true to her consciousness of female equality that “Alice” fans no doubt recall. 

She goes on, “Who she is, is an evolving, opinionated, alive, lively, sensible and attractive woman who wants to have a full life with her son, with her grandchild and for herself.  I think she’s extremely identifiable with this generation of women who have adult children and grandchildren and are saying to the world, I’m also somebody – not just your mother, not just your grandmother.  My identity, and her identity is very respected by the writer, Victor Fresco, and that means a lot to me.”

“Sean Saves the World” is getting much attention for bringing the gifted Hayes back to the tube, of course – in the role of a divorced gay dad who is attempting to balance his demanding job, his teenaged daughter and, yes, his mom, who is such a woman to be reckoned with.  Lavin says she and Hayes hit it off like long-time friends right away.

She looks younger than her septuagenarian status.  But she shrugs off compliments.   “I know I’m aging, and I know my body is changing and my face has changed, but I’m happy with being here and being accepted and being alive and being well and working.  I think a lot of that is why I have the energy I do.”

As for returning to the situation comedy game itself, it sounds as if Lavin finds it like riding a bike.  “The process is the same.  There’s a script, there’s a sit-down at a table, there’s rewriting, there’s rehearsal, there’s an audience.  It’s not a whole different world.”

EATING SPORTS FOR BREAKFAST:  With NBC’s Sunday Night Football ready for its new season – launching with its Thursday night (9/5) NFL Kickoff show with the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Denver Broncos – Al Michaels seems to be loaded with vitality.  How does he account for that at age 68?

“I eat no vegetables,” he answers.  “The guys I work with will tell you.  I eat a lot of steaks and chops, fish and all that stuff.”  Yikes!  “No,  I don’t know what it is.  I’m just lucky.  I married the right woman, so that has a lot to do with it.  I’m just lucky – very, very blessed.  I’ve had a lot of good things that have happened.” 



Al Roker, Mannheim Steamroller’s Chip Davis Talk Turkey Day

Al Roker will be all over NBC’s holiday programming again this year – starting with today’s 86th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It’s a job the “Today Show” weather man took on with relish.

 “My father always loved the holidays.  He used to take us to see the Macy’s Parade and the lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and we’d watch the Rose Parade on TV — but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would do any of these events, let alone all of them,” Roker let us know.

In fact, he told us that the holidays mean more to him every year — especially since his beloved dad passed away. “It was an odd, poignant holiday, the first one where he wasn’t there.  That becomes a reason to appreciate the occasion and the family and friends you’re celebrating with that much more,” noted Al.  “Those times you think, ‘Oh, maybe I won’t go home this year,’ you have to remember, you never know who might be missing.  Not to be macabre, but maybe you’ll be the one who isn’t around next year.”

SOUNDS OF THE SEASON:  Holiday time is hectic time for Mannheim Steamroller’s Chip Davis, starting today with the Macy’s Parade — his third appearance at the event in three years.  Davis himself is being seen with one of his performance groups on a float — even as two more Mannheim Steamroller companies are embarking on two Christmas tours that will cover  some 94 cities.

He’ll hit QVC Sunday, then go down to Universal Studios in Orlando, where “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” — a 20-minute outdoor symphonic version — is playing ’til the end of the year, with Chip conducting. “They built a venue to try it, and 25,000 people showed up to the first concert.  Then they tried eight concerts, and 25,000 people showed up for each one,” he tells us.  And thus began a new holiday tradition.

Davis has just come from Las Vegas, where he oversaw the launch of a new Mannheim Steamroller holiday show at the Venetian Hotel.

That’s five Mannheim Steamroller groups performing — the most composer-arranger-producer-musician Davis has had going at once.

It’s quite a feat for someone who recalls being “pretty much an outcast” when he was trying to get started in the recording business back in the ’70s.  None of the big record companies knew what to do with him, so Davis did something revolutionary then, common practice now — he started his own label.

“It turned out to be the greatest asset I had,” he says brightly.  “Everyone said, ‘That will never work.'”  In 1984, when Mannheim Steamroller’s first holiday album was released, “the traditional view was that artists turned to making Christmas records when they were out of ideas.”  Now, Mannheim Steamroller is synonymous with the festive time of year, and Davis has sold more than 40 million albums.

He hasn’t toured since the 2008 automobile accident and subsequent surgery that left him with limited feeling and mobility in his right arm, but keeps up a ferocious schedule this time of year nonetheless. As for what he’s most thankful for, Davis says he savors the time he spends with his three children, ages 21, 16 and 13.

SPEAKING OF THANKS:  As friends and families gather to celebrate this Thanksgiving, here are some extra notes of thanks gathered from celebrities over the last few years — in answer to our question of who they’d like to thank besides their families:
John Stamos — “I’d like to be able thank some of the older guys like Don Rickles and the Rat Pack for being such great mentors to me. Don Rickles is one of my best friends, one of the great living geniuses, a legend.  I learned so much from him and the other guys in show business who gave so much to the audience.  Not like today when comics come on and get off fast.”
Swoosie Kurtz – “I’m thankful for all the amazing people in this world who give time and energy helping children who are abused and neglected to feel loved and wanted.  I salute them and I thank them.”
Holland Taylor– I could speak of a lot of people on the personal level, but outside of that, it didn’t take much thinking to answer this. I thought of who has changed my life and changed the quality of life in our country – and that is Oprah Winfrey. In 20 years the world will be different because of her.  She knows education is how the world will change, not politics.”
Ellen Burstyn — “I’ll always thank Lee Strasberg.  He was such an incredible, probably the most important, influence on my life.”
Genie Francis  — “Barbara Bass — she was my studio teacher when I was a young woman, a nice Jewish mother. I spent three hours a day with her. She was one of the only people who was capable of not losing sight of who I was.  Just about everybody else seemed to let that slip by in the midst of the fame.  She had an ability to separate me from that, to see just me, to take care of me as if I was her own daughter.  She was there for all the trials and tribulations.  Without her loving guidance, I don’t what I would have done.  I thought I lived to make money and be a celebrity.  She opened my mind to the possibility that I was worthwhile for myself.  I was damn lucky to have her.”
Nikki Blonsky — “I’d like to thank God for another year with my wonderful family.”
Hear, hear!

Bill Cobbs’ Talks About His ‘Go On’ Blind Inspiration

            Will Matthew Perry’s new “Go On” be a hit show for the former “Friends” star at long last?  Bill Cobbs tells us that NBC is “giving us the feeling that, hey, we love you and we want to see you do well and make this a good show.”

Cobbs plays George, the blind member of Perry’s “life transitions” therapy group in the tragi-comedy, premiering in its regular timeslot tonight (9/11), in which Perry’s a hotshot sports radio show host whose wife recently died.  The beloved 78-year-old actor of “Night at the Museum” and “The Muppets” fame has a string of movies on the way, including “Oz, the Great and Powerful.”  But he’s happy to be focusing on “Go On” and his recurring role, “given the great cast and the way they’re writing this.  It’s quite different, quite a different thing, which is great.”

The series also happens to mark the third time Cobbs has played a blind character.  He drew inspiration from writer James Stovall, who penned the best-selling The Ultimate Gift, which was made into a film with Abigail Breslin, Drew Fuller, James Garner and Cobbs among the cast.  Stovall “is blind, but when you meet him, you have no idea that he is blind.  He looks right at you.  And you can sit and talk to him for awhile before your realize he is blind,” Cobbs relates.  “He has a marvelous spirit and great take on humanity.  I thought about that in terms of George, and I was very touched that the writers paid attention to what I had to say about that.  They have been really great about incorporating ideas that you bring and talking about things.  We have this great cast, and I think it’s the same way with all of us.”

Viewers will find out a lot more about George and the other group characters as the show, created by former “Friends” executive producer Scott Silveri, continues on, says Cobbs.  “In the beginning, it seems like just a single joke, but now the characters are really developing along the lines of what the writers envisioned.”