Monthly Archives: January 2011

Larry the Cable Guy Wants to Show Off Good Americans

Larry the Cable Guy History Channel photo

Larry the Cable Guy understands that he isn’t an obvious fit for his latest television home.  In fact, declares the Blue Collar Comedy stalwart, “When I tell people I’m going to be on The History Channel, it’s like Charlie Sheen saying he’s doing commercials for eHarmony.com.”

Well, it’s not THAT bad a fit.  Larry’s “Only in America,” debuting Feb. 8, has him traversing the nation, lending his comedic presence to an exploration of the history behind assorted Americana.  (E.g.: What government action led to NASCAR?  Prohibition.)  Along the way, he found himself jumping a frog in Calaveras Country, being pulled behind a boat in a lawn chair mounted on water skis, and being rolled around inside a barrel by a bull in a rodeo ring.

Larry tells us he wanted to do more than discover the history behind some of our all-American stuff and nonsense, however.  He recounts that when he met with History Channel brass about the prospective show, he told them, “I want to show the people themselves — the good Americans out there.”  In his act, he talks about feeling great since he quit watching the news, which “only covers the bad aspects of daily life.  It makes you think kids are all bad, people are all bad.  The great majority of Americans are just trying to get along, working together, eating together — red, black, yellow, green, it doesn’t matter.  We’re a melting pot.  That’s what makes this such a great culture.  So that’s what I did, showed as many people as I could in big towns and small towns.”

Not to mention the USS Nimitz and the Marines doing a storm-the-beach exercise.  “It was really cool.  When you think of all these people who are doing things like that, who are in charge of keeping us safe — they’re all 18, 19 years old and they’re so good at what they do and so disciplined.  It restores your faith in youth to see these young men and women.”

MEANWHILE:  Larry is in the middle of a long string of concert dates with cohorts Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall.  And he has Pixar’s “Cars 2” coming out this June, with his popular rusty tow truck, Mater, in a much-expanded role from the first movie.

“It is a big part for him.  ‘Cars 2′ is an action movie — a 180 degree turnaround from the other one,” says the man whose children refer to the character as Daddy Mater.  “I just saw a three-minute clip the other day and it had four or five good belly laughs in it.  I just couldn’t stop laughing.  It’s really cool that Mater is the focal point.”

As for his feelings about this great run of work?  “I’ve got mixed feelings about it,” he admits.  “I love doing it all these projects, but on the other hand, I wish I had a week at home now and then to hang with the kids.  And while I’m on the road, I do get tired.”

But there’s no rest stop in sight for ol’ Mater.

“Tomorrow I have voiceovers to do, the next day promotions.  The day after Super Bowl Sunday, I head to Orlando, Florida to start shooting ‘Tooth Fairy 2.’  At least I’ll be in one spot for awhile.”

Upbeat Times for British Pop Star Cum Vegas Headliner Matt Goss

Matt Goss, Caesar's Palace photo

English pop star cum Las Vegas headliner Matt Goss is getting ready to record the follow-up to his popular “Gossy” album, and plans to have it out before year’s end.

His 2009 record was “emotional and melancholy,” to use his description.  “It was made after I came out of a long relationship — 10 years.  Someone told me, ‘Never waste good agony.’  You can usually transform it into some positive energy.”  Now, he says, “I do want to something more upbeat, sexy and swinging.  I want to make a really commercial recording.  I’m enjoying going back to writing.  It feels good to start feeling the sun on your face again, you know?”

The amiable Brit says that after a year and a half of residency at Caesar’s Palace, he’s found “There’s a real community here.  I don’t think people are aware of this feeling of community in Vegas.  People here have been so nice to me.  Performing in the Gossy room has taught me so much — there’s no margin for error.  Some people know me, some don’t,” adds the former Bros boy band member.  “You can’t rely on old hits.  It’s all about the performance, really.

“The good thing about singing is, when I go onstage, every night I sing from my heart and I think that’s why people keep coming back.  It’s never the same from one night to another.  And I love singing for Americans.  It’s an incredible country.  I’ve had stars like Kenny Ortega and Natasha Bedingfield come by, and soldiers and marines as well.  I’ve connected with some of  those guys on Twitter.  It’s an incredible thing to connect with people that way,” he notes.

The down side is, Goss has to contend with cigarette smoke and extremely dry desert air.  “You’ve heard about the infamous ‘Vegas throat’?  It sounds like some sexual connotation, but no, it actually does exist,” he says.

“It’s like drinking a little bit of sand.  You really have to stay hydrated to combat it, and do throat-strengthening exercises.  I have humidifiers all over the room.”

He’ll be ready for his next return to the U.K., it sounds like.  Having recently returned to his homeland to perform at the Royal Albert Hall, he looks forward to doing that again.  “It’s one of the most beautiful venues in the world.

There’s something about walking into that master suite, the main dressing room, and knowing that everyone from McCartney and Clapton to Sinatra has been in that suite — it’s amazing to know the company that’s been in there.”

‘Ghost Hunters International’s’ Kris Williams Compares Foreign and Domestic Haunts

Kris Williams Syfy photo

As the newest member of Syfy’s  “Ghost Hunters International” team, Kris Williams is among the few paranormal investigators qualified to answer the question of whether stories of hauntings are alike or different in North America and other parts of the world.

She says, “There is a difference in that there is so much history overseas.”  With the domestic version of “Ghost Hunters,” “The 1700s seemed old.  But, well, for example we walked into a castle in Germany and asked how old it was, and they very matter-of-factly said it was built in 1190.  Also, you hear more stories of torture.”  Ew.

Williams says the team has been exploring stories of hauntings that date back to World War II and World War I as well.  Next Wednesday’s (2/2) show has the team “at a fort in Serbia that dates back to the late 1600s, but there was a settlement at the same location that goes back thousands of years.  There were some battles.  There was an execution wall where they’d line up prisoners.  It was creepy.  People felt like they were being watched.  There were lights and apparitions.”

The pretty 29-year-old admits, “If you’d have told me six or seven years ago that I would be traveling around the world looking for ghosts for a living, I’d never have believed it.  It’s a lot of fun.  I’ve always been a history nerd, so this touches my interests in history, travel and the paranormal.”

But, doesn’t she get — you know — scared?  Williams laughs.  “I grew up in a house that was active, and it wasn’t unusual to have conversations about it at the dinner table when I was young.  I grew up a bit of a tomboy.  I’m not that easy to shake.”

Her first ghostly encounter was when she was four, she tells us.  “My mother told me the story of how I came downstairs and told them I was talking to my great-grandmother, who I was close to, and that she was smiling.  And I asked, ‘Why is she saying goodbye?’ That was how they found out she had died.”

Luke Perry Would Like to Get Back into Series Action

Luke Perry Hallmark Movie Channel photo

Don’t be surprised if Luke Perry returns to the series scene.  The actor, who remains indelibly etched in the minds of many as “90210’s” Dylan McKay, tells us he’d love to get back into weekly TV action again.  “My kids are a little older now; my life has changed that way.  A series would suit me now better than in years,” he says.  “I love television, and there’s nothing better than doing a series when you have one you really like.”

Perry reunited with his one-time “90210” co-hunk, Jason Priestley, for the Hallmark Movie Channel’s “Goodnight for Justice,” premiering tomorrow night (1/29).  Preistley served as director on the Western in which Perry plays a 19th Century Wyoming Territory circuit judge with a revenge agenda of his own — an idea created and produced Perry himself.  Although Preistley isn’t seen in the movie, Perry smiles at the thought of devising a part for him should there be a sequel.  And there is already talk of continuing Perry’s John Goodnight character in another Hallmark Movie Channel film or two.

“I’d like to do it.  I’d like to find another good story to tell with this character,” notes Luke.  “As far as Jason acting in it, well, it would have to be the right thing and then it would be up to Jason.  I don’t know if we could afford him,” he says with a laugh.

“Goodnight for Justice” is full of fightin’, fallin’ and other action, and Luke admits, “My back isn’t getting any younger.  I kind of tweaked it a couple of times.  We knew it was going to be very difficult to do that kind of action and stuff in the short amount of time we had.  It’s very much a credit to Jason that he was able to pull that off.”

‘Mike & Molly’ Success = New Life for Billy Gardell

“Mike & Molly” star Billy Gardell shows off his standup chops with his own Comedy Central special Feb. 5, a show he tells us was 20 years in the making.  That’s 20 years as in acquiring skills, 20 years of being out on the road, 20 years of collecting tales of comedy calamities.

“I’ve been chased in my car a couple of times.  Police asked me to leave the county a couple of times.  I’ve done my act when nobody was there, and when people were there and didn’t listen,” he recalls.  “And then are the nights when you kill it.”

Gardell is still doing standup, but his gigs are far different with the  success of his CBS series.  “The same jokes are now $10 more,” he dead pans.   “It’s a beautiful thing when you do standup all those years, to have a monster show.  It puts you in front of a whole new audience.”

The personable funny man has been gratified, he says, to find fellow comics first to cheer him on.  “We live in a world where if you win a contest you can be a celebrity.  People are very supportive when they see a guy who has actually done the time out there making it.  I’ve really felt that support from the  standup community,” he tells us.

Most important, he now has a whole different kind of homelife — being able to remain in town with wife Patty, and their two-year-old son, Will.  “I think my wife is regretting it, but the kid’s happy,” he jokes.

“No, we’re doing great.  It’s nice, you know, to go to work and then be able to come home to my family.  The boy loves it.  We play army men and Legos, watch cartoons, go out to the car and check the oil — do things a dad and son should do.”

He’d love his TV alter ego to have such familial bliss — but not for at least a couple of years.  “I would like to see it work out for Mike and Molly eventually, for them to have a big wedding and a baby.  But first I want to see them struggle, because that’s where the real comedy is,” says Gardell.

The rotund comic, who last fall stood up to a magazine blogger who declared her aversion to watching fat people in love on TV, believes that “Mike & Molly’s” strength lies in its character’s flaws.  “There’s not a bunch of beautiful people running around having things work out on our show,” he says, adding that such an everyday people’s sitcom hasn’t been around for awhile.  “Not since ‘Roseanne.’  And it’s not just me and Melissa (McCarthy).  Yeah, these are people who met at Overeaters Anonymous, and they have their issues, but there’s also the sister who is a hot mess (Katie Mixon), the best friend who gives bad advice (Reno Wilson) and the mother (Swoosie Kurtz), who has her own problems.”

Gardell says he is so happy, “I skip to work.  I think that’s the difference between getting [success] in your 40s and your twenties.  At my age, it’s like, ‘Wow!  I got a job and free coffee, too!’  I’m so proud of the show.  We’ve got three people who are over 40 with kids and spouses, and the attitude on the set is, ‘Hey, let’s be humble and thankful and work really hard.  I try remind everybody, eventually this is all going to come to an end, so make the most of it while it’s here.”