Best Quotes of the Century

December 24, 2009

The first decade of the 21st Century was a dynamic, traumatic time of cultural, political and social change. The year 2000 approached amid fears of massive computer meltdowns and Armageddon.

The world however, did not come to an end, and not only did computers continue to function, they continued to transform our lives. But in times of great change, new and creative uses of language seem to flourish. 

From pop culture to politics, memorable quotes were uttered and new phrases were coined, from the ironic to the iconic. So here, in no particular order, are some of the best quotes of the 21st Century, many of which sprang from worlds of film and television.

“Yer a wizard, Harry!” — Hagrid to Harry Potter

“I wish I knew how to quit you.” — Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Brokeback Mountain

“My precioussss…” — Gollum in Lord of the Rings

“He’s just not that into you.” — Jack Berger (Ron Livingston) on Sex and the City

“They’re called boobs, Ed.” — Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich

I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly… stupid.” — Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in Pirates of the Caribbean

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow

Do I really look like a guy with a plan?” — The Joker (Heath Ledger) in The Dark Knight

“Are you not entertained?” — Maximus (Russell Crowe) in Gladiator

“French people eat French food every day!”  — Julia Child (Meryl Streep) in Julie & Julia

“Sweet!” — Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite

Reality bites

The new Century was not good to those who once wrote for scripted television shows, as the reality TV craze swept through the industry like a Malibu wildfire. The characters are allegedly “real people,” and the dialogue is supposedly “un-scripted,” but reality TV seems to be driven by the lust to create the next water cooler catch-phrase.

“This… is American Idol!” — Ryan Seacrest of American Idol

“Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it’s tuna, but it says ‘Chicken by the Sea.’” — Jessica Simpson on Newlyweds

“Fierce!” — Christian Siriano of Project Runway

“Prostitution whore!” — Teresa Giudice in the table-flipping finale of The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Teresa Guidice flips a table

Some reality show stars are veritable catch-phrase machines:

Whitney Houston of Being Bobby Brown:

“Crack is whack.” 

“Hell to the no!” 

“Bobbbaaaayyy!” 

Rachel Zoe of The Rachel Zoe Project:

“I die!”

“That is bananas!”

“You are shutting it down!”

The phrases you least want to hear as a reality show contestant:

“The tribe has spoken.” — Jeff Probst on Survivor

“You’re out.” — Heidi Klum on Project Runway

“You’re fired.” — Donald Trump on The Apprentice

“It’s time to lip-synch for your life!” — RuPaul on RuPaul’s Drag Race

“You are the Weakest Link. Goodbye.” — Anne Robinson on The Weakest Link

The phrase you least want to see online:

“You have been tagged in a photo.” — Facebook

“Oh no you di’uhn!”

In the era of cell phones, Twitter and YouTube, no comment is off the record.

“You said something I didn’t say. Now shove it.” — Teresa Heinz Kerry, to a reporter she claimed misquoted her.

“We’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” — Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks on the eve of the Iraq War,  triggering protests and boycotts of the group’s music.

“Shut the f**k up!” — Barbra Streisand to a pro-Bush concert heckler.

Barbra tells 'em off

“Go f**k yourself.” — Vice President Dick Cheney to Sen. Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor.

“He’s a jackass.” — Barack Obama on Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance of her VMA Award.

Beauty queen wisdom

The one great pitfall of beauty pageants is that they occasionally let the contestants speak:

“We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman.”  — Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean

Miss Teen USA contestant Aimee Teegarden of South Carolina was asked: “Recent polls have shown that a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think that is?” Her reply:

“I personally believe, that U.S. Americans, are unable to do so, because uh, some, people out there, in our nation don’t have maps. and uh… I believe that our education like such as in South Africa, and the Iraq, everywhere like such as… and, I believe they should uh, our education over here, in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa, and should help the Iraq and Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.” 

Foreign policy expert Miss South Carolina

Even former beauty contestants had trouble expressing themselves:

“They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan.” — Sarah Palin

“As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.” — Sarah Palin, explaining why Alaska’s proximity to Russia gives her foreign policy experience

“I can see Russia from my house!” — Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live

Political theatre

The lines between politics, news and entertainment didn’t blur this decade, they disappeared.

“Just tell them that their wildest dreams will come true if they vote for you.” — Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynamite

“Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America. Right now, you’re helping the politicians and the corporations. You’re part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks.” — John Stewart to Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala on Crossfire.

“I have a wide stance.” — Sen. Larry Craig, after being arrested for soliciting an undercover policeman in a men’s bathroom stall.

“My Social Security number is 8.” — John McCain

“Stand up, Chuck, let ’em see ya.” — Joe Biden, to Missouri state Sen. Chuck Graham, who is in a wheelchair.

“Yes we can!” — Barack Obama

Most dubious phrases of the Century:

“Hanging chads” 

“Weapons of mass destruction”

“Shock and awe”

“Mission accomplished” 

“Patriot Act” 

“Swiftboating”

“Teabaggers”

“Stimulus package”

George W. Bush contributed so many memorable quotes to the new Century that they inspired a new word — “Bushisms:”

Dubya

“I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.”

“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.”

“Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” 

“They misunderestimated me.”

“Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?”

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

“Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

Pop goes the culture

Some song titles and lyrics simply said it all:

“Oops!…I Did It Again” — Britney Spears

“They try to make me go to rehab and I say ‘no, no, no…!’” — Amy Winehouse

“Don’tcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” — Pussycat Dolls

“I kissed a girl and I liked it.” — Katy Perry

“The Internet is For Porn” — Broadway’s puppet musical Avenue Q

Best catch-phrases — and new words — of the Century:

“Wardrobe malfunction” (Justin Timberlake’s description of Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl boob-flash)

Janet and Justin

“That’s hot” — Paris Hilton

“D-List” (noun or adjective: thank you Kathy Griffin)

“Hot mess” (Someone or something that is such a mess that it’s beyond pathetic)

“I’m just sayin…”

“Hella”  (is the new “Super”)

“Ginormous” (gigantic meets enormous)

“Ridonkulous” (beyond ridiculous)

“Bromance” (a non-sexual love affair between two straight males)

“Texting” (you must know this one by now)

“Sexting” (texting of a sexual nature)

“Fist bump” (the new high five; do not attempt while running for President)

Obama fist bump

“Cougar” (an older woman on the prowl for a much younger man)

“Staycation” (we don’t have enough money to take a real vacation)

And one of my own:

“Verbing:” The art of transforming what was formerly a noun, such as the word party (a festive gathering) into a verb (“I party,” “She parties,” “Let’s party!”). Several nouns have already been verbed this Century, including:

“Google” (former noun) A popular online search engine; (now a verb) To investigate a person, place or thing by using Google: “I Googled you.”

“Twitter” (former noun) A social networking website; (now a verb) To send messages of either an urgent or trivial nature to thousands of people: “I Twittered that I was having my car washed” (see “Tweet”)

“Friend” (former noun) A person for whom one feels affection; (now a verb) To add someone whom you either know, or don’t know, as a social contact on Facebook: “I just friended an 18 year old girl from Malaysia.”

Although it’s technically been just a decade, I’m sure that I’ve left out some of the best quotes and phrases of the Century. What were some of your favorites?

Insults of the Theatre

August 25, 2009

Everyone enjoys a clever put-down now and then, but for insults that are truly biting, witty and devastating, you must turn to people of the theatre.

Playwrights, actors, and theater critics use words and language as their stock in trade, so their vocabularies tend to be pretty good, and they’ve been insulting each other for more than 2,000 years.

Actors on actors:

“Richard Burton is so discriminating that he won’t go to see a play with anybody in it but himself.” — Elizabeth Taylor

“Elizabeth Taylor has an incipient double chin, her legs are too short and she has a slight pot belly.” — Richard Burton

Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton

Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton

“An actor is a guy who, if you ain’t talking about him, ain’t listening,” — Marlon Brando

“Carol Channing never just enters a room. Even when she comes out of the bathroom, her husband applauds.” — George Burns

Advice to actors:

“You are too stupid to be much of an actress, but it will keep you out of mischief.” — The mother of the great actress Sarah Bernhardt

“If you really want to help the American theater, darling, be an audience.” — Tallulah Bankhead (to a young actress)

Tallulah Bankhead

Tallulah Bankhead

And the critics rave:

“Marion Davies has two expressions — joy and indigestion.” — Dorothy Parker

“I saw the play at a disadvantage — the curtain was up.” — George S. Kaufman

“The best play I ever slept through.” — Oscar Wilde

“I’ve seen more excitement at the opening of an umbrella.” — Earl Wilson

Critiquing the critics:

“Critics never worry me unless they are right — but that does not often occur.” — Noel Coward

“The critic is often an unsuccessful author, almost always an inferior one.” — Leigh Hunt

“A drama critic is a man who knows the way but can’t drive the car.” — Kenneth Tynan

Noel Coward

Noel Coward

On directors:

“In the theatre the director is God — but unfortunately the actors are atheists.” — Zero Petan

“The only time the director is of any use to me is if I’ve left my script in the car, and he volunteers to fetch it.” — actor Wilfred Hyde White

On playwrights:

“There are no dull subjects, only dull playwrights.” — Robert Anderson

“An actor without a playwright is like a hole without a doughnut.” — George Jean Nathan

“Darling, they’ve absolutely ruined your perfectly dreadful play.” — Tallulah Bankhead to Tennessee Williams (after seeing the film Orpheus Descending)

Shakespearean slurs

When it comes to vigorously venomous verbiage, you simply can’t touch “the Sweet Swan of Avon,” whose insults include:

 Eloquent abuse:

“How foul and loathsome is thine image!” — Taming of the Shrew

“Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!” — Timon of Athens.

“(You are) duller than a great thaw.” — Much Ado About Nothing

Name calling:

“Thou drone, thou snail, thou slug, thou sot!” — Comedy of Errors

“Wretched, bloody and usurping boar!” — Richard III

“… you starveling, you eel-skin, you dried neat’s tongue, you bull’s puzzle, you stockfish …” — Henry IV, Part One

“You witch, you rag, you baggage, you polecat, you runion!” — Merry Wives of Windsor

Shakespeare

Shakespeare

“Thou art a boil, a plague-sore, or embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood.” — King Lear

“You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!” —Julius Caesar

“Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens!” — As You Like It

“The son and heir of a mongrel bitch.” — King Lear

And one insult that sounds curiously modern:

“Eat my leek.” — Henry V

 

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Listen to “Happy Hour” 7 days a week!

August 20, 2009

Happy Hour

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So happy it's Happy Hour

He’s a queer one, Leslie Jordan

August 15, 2009

Leslie Jordan

If Leslie Jordan did not exist, John Waters would have invented him. The 4’11” actor, with a Southern drawl like Huckleberry Hound’s gay brother, defies all traditional casting types, so Hollywood writers simply create roles for him.

On “Will & Grace” he played Karen Walker’s arch enemy Beverley Leslie. On “Boston Legal” he was the mousy Bernard Ferrion, who conked his aged mother to death with a frying pan only to suffer the same fate at the hands of Betty White.

“You finally get a wonderful gig with the best writer in town [David E. Kelley], and then they whack you,” he says. Jordan explains that Betty White (who’s still going strong at 87) was at first concerned about hurting him when they filmed the scene. “It was a rubber frying pan and there was a rubber mat on the floor, but she walloped me so hard I splattered across the mat!”

With film credits that include “Sissy Frenchfry,” “Farm Sluts” and “Frankenstein General Hospital,” Jordan’s resume will never be mistaken for that of Sir Ian McKellen. His film oeuvre does beg the question of if he’s ever said, “No, that role’s just not dignified enough for me.”

“Never,” he says. “On my last ‘Will & Grace’ they had me wearing stretch Wranglers with a rhinestone cowgirl shirt and a ten gallon hat like Deputy Dawg. Megan Mullally said to me, ‘Is this the lowest you’ve gone?’ and I said, ‘Oh honey, no.’”Leslie Jordan Will & Grace

“Now that I’ve got a little money I’ll turn down some TV, but you never know with film. I did a lot of A.F.I. student films. I played Ed Asner’s gay lover in one of them. Ed said you should always do A.F.I. films because you never know who’s going to be the next Spielberg.”

On the street, Jordan is often recognized for his roles on “Will and Grace” and “Boston Legal,” but his most ardent fans revere him for his role as Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram, who thinks he’s Tammy Wynette, in the film and TV series “Sordid Lives.”

“If they know that film they are rabid!” he exclaims. “When I go to Palm Springs you’d think I was Madonna!”

Jordan has written the memoir My Trip Down the Pink Carpet and he tours the country with his one-man shows “Like a Dog on Linoleum” and “Full of Gin and Regret.”

He attributes part of his current success to timing. “It’s a great time to be gay,” he says. “We’re on the cusp of the greatest civil rights movement since the ‘60s. And in entertainment? I’m a 54 year old queen and all of a sudden they want me for everything!”

Leslie Jordan in "Sordid Lives"

Leslie Jordan in "Sordid Lives"

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Without Sandra Bernhard We’re Nothing

July 31, 2009

 

Adam Sandel & Sandra Bernhard

Adam Sandel & Sandra Bernhard

Who doesn’t have a question or two for Sandra Bernhard? I told a handful of friends that I was going to interview the iconoclastic comedian and I was deluged with questions that enquiring minds want to know, mostly about her decade-ago relationship with a certain pop diva.

But there’s much more to know about the multi-talented Bernhard, whose career has spanned sold-out concerts; memorable TV stints including The L Word, Will and Grace and Roseanne (not to mention posing for Playboy) since she first hit it big opposite Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s 1983 film The King of Comedy.

Her new CD Whatever It Takes, co-written and produced by Ted Mason of Modern English, drops on August 25 and all things Sandra Bernhard can be found at http://www.sandrabernhard.com.

When she calls me from her New York home, I’m eating a cookie. “I just ate lots of cookies and they were delicious,” she tells me. Before my first question, we’ve already bonded.

Bernhard recently returned from a 10-day concert tour in London. San Francisco audiences have enjoyed her annual New Year’s Eve concerts, and we met when she judged the Miss Trannyshack Pageant. “I’ve been notorious for being part of the avant-garde gay scene for years,” she says. “I’ve used drag queens in my act and I was doing drag shows in L.A. when I was 19.” 

As she stated in her show Without You I’m Nothing: “My father was a proctologist and my mother was an abstract artist, so that’s how I view the world”.

Sandra and Cicely

She stops to take another incoming call which she cuts short with, “Okay, bye sweetie, have fun.” It was her 11 year-old daughter Cicely asking if she could go to a friend’s house. Has being a mother had an impact on Bernhard’s hard-edged comedy? 

“It’s had an amazingly positive impact on who I am as a person, but my actual performing hasn’t changed that much,” she says. “But it has made me more vulnerable and more real.”

Although she’s an actress, comedian, singer and writer, Bernhard ultimately sees herself as an entertainer. Her early idols and influences reflect her diverse talents. “I loved Carol Channing, Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore, and in later years Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Tina Turner, Joni Mitchell, Dusty Springfield, Mick Jagger… it’s a wide swath of performers.”

Which of her many film projects is she most proud of? “It’s a toss-up between The King of Comedy and Without You I’m Nothing,” she says. “Even Hudson Hawk had its moments.” But if given the chance to burn all copies of anything she’s appeared in, she wouldn’t do it. “I’m never ashamed or embarrassed of anything I’ve ever done. It’s all part of your evolution as an artist.”

After 25 years in the public eye, the role that Bernhard is most recognized for is the bisexual Nancy Bartlett, who leaves Tom Arnold for Morgan Fairchild, on Roseanne. “It was fun to be spicy and crazy like Roseanne, and the show is still on two or three times a day, so people feel like I’m an old friend.”

How does one broach a personal question to a woman who’s been so gracious and friendly? By asking if there’s one question that she’s asked most often. “Just the things we’ve been talking about, my influences and background,” she says. Isn’t there one personal question that she’s really tired of getting? “Well yeah,” she says. “But I would never bring it up on my own – so I’m glad you didn’t.”

 Sandra Bernhard

 

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Bruce Vilanch weighs in

July 24, 2009

 

Bruce Vilanch

Bruce Vilanch

Bruce Vilanch recently dropped 85 pounds, but he’s still as funny as ever. The legendary comic recently graced San Francisco stages with a stand-up appearance at the Rrazz Room, judging Dancing With the Drag Queen Stars, and interviewing Patty Duke at the Castro Theatre tribute Sparkle, Patty Sparkle!

Having interviewed Vilanch in both print and on my radio show Happy Hour (and counting him among my Facebook friends), he’s become a great source of wisdom in trying times. When Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died on the same day, Vilanch pronounced, “If any of us die today, it will be in very small print.”

I’m also among the theatre fans who still relish Vilanch’s turn as Edna Turnblad in the musical Hairspray, which he performed for the year-long national tour and for a year on Broadway.

What does he miss about performing in Hairspray? “Everything but the pantyhose.”

His nightly transformation into the Baltimore matron initially took an hour and a half, “but we got it down to an hour, with a makeup artist, a wig master and a dresser helping me into the fat suit and pantyhose. I had five wigs and seven costume changes, so every time I left the stage I was besieged by ‘the squad.’”

 

As Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray"

As Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray"

Edna was first played by drag queen Divine in the 1988 film, and Vilanch explains the gay subtext beneath John Waters’ insistence that the role of Tracy’s mom be played by a man. “The movie is about acceptance, of other races and body types, and in the course of the evening, the audience accepts the Turnblads as a loving married couple. It’s very subversive, insightful idea.”

Bette, Oscar and Chewbacca

Vilanch initially came to show biz prominence as a ghost writer to comics, and like Barry Manilow, Melissa Manchester, Katie Sagal and many others, his career began while working with Bette Midler.

“Bette was the first person I ever wrote for and I’ve been working with her ever since.” He collaborated with Midler on her Las Vegas extravaganza The Showgirl Must Go On which is currently packing them in at Caesar’s Palace.

Vilanch’s skill for putting funny words into other people’s mouths landed him the gig of writing the annual Oscar show which he’s done for the past 20 years. “The hard part is writing for actors who are used to playing characters, but have no persona of their own. Who is Keanu Reeves when he comes out and talks? I once wrote something for him to do in his Bill and Ted character. It didn’t work.”

“The biggest challenge of writing the Oscars is keeping it afloat for three and a half hours. Keeping the people at the ceremony amused gets harder as the show goes on. As they give out more and more awards, the room fills up with losers who just want to go home and start firing people.”

 

Adam Sandel, Connie Champagne & Bruce Vilanch

Adam Sandel, Connie Champagne & Bruce Vilanch

Early in his career, Vilanch had the distinction of being one of five writers on the most notoriously ill-conceived program in television history: The Star Wars Holiday Special. The 1978 musical extravaganza has long been the bane of Star Wars fans’ existence, but in the internet age of YouTube, it’s everywhere. “Had I known 30 years ago that it would be so famous, I would’ve done a better job – but at the time we were all chemically altered.”

The fiasco featured the Star Wars cast plus Art Carney, Harvey Korman, Diahann Carroll, Jefferson Starship and Bea Arthur – as the bartender of an alien cantina. “The highlight for me was Bea singing a very Brechtian number with all the creatures.”

The plot centers on Chewbacca’s attempt to get home for his planet’s Life Day celebration. “The problem was that wookies don’t speak, so all the dialogue was like, ‘Eeeeee-ooohhhh.’ Since they couldn’t speak, there was a lot of pantomime but you can’t move very well in wookie suits. Six Star Wars movies and 30 years later, George Lucas has much less sense of humor about it than the rest of us.”

To enjoy more of the wit and wisdom of Bruce Vilanch, Netflix the documentary film Get Bruce! — a star-studded tribute to his comedic prowess.

Listen to “Happy Hour with Adam Sandel” 7 days a week!

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Hear more of Adam Sandel’s interview with Bruce Vilanch – or download and hear all “Happy Hour” episodes at:

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Gentlemen Prefer Jane Russell

July 17, 2009

Jane Russell

“Tall…. Terrific…. and Trouble!” screamed the ad line for “The Outlaw,” the 1943 film that introduced the world to Jane Russell – and her spectacular cleavage.

Millionaire Howard Hughes produced and directed the film specifically to challenge Hollywood censors and the notorious Hayes Code. After an extensive talent hunt, he discovered Russell working in his dentist’s office and cast her as “Rio,” the love interest for Billy the Kid played by Jack Buetel.

Russell, who is now 88, tells me that the most memorable part of her film debut was, “the fact that a picture that should’ve taken eight weeks to make took nine months. Howard had never directed a film before and we thought he should never do another.” He never did.

“He was a nice guy and very polite, but he made us do take after take after take,” she says. “Jack and I didn’t know any better because we had never done a film before, but Thomas Mitchell finally flipped his wig. He screamed at Howard, stormed up and down, threw his hat on the floor and stomped on it. Howard looked up and said, ‘Tom, did you say something?’ Jack and I were in hysterics.”

Hughes also designed a bra for Russell to wear in the film, or as she puts it: “He tried. I threw it under the cot in the dressing room and never wore it. He was trying to make a smooth bra without seams, which they now have. He really was a brilliant man.”

 

Jane Russell & Adam Sandel

Jane Russell & Adam Sandel

“The picture that couldn’t be stopped!” had its premiere in San Francisco. “It was jam-packed because people wanted to see this ‘naughty’ picture,” says Russell. “But there was only one scene with some bosom in it – when I had to lean over Jack. It’s rated PG today. Now you get cleavage from the back and the front!”

For the premiere engagement, Hughes planned for the stars to perform a live scene on stage before the film. “They had this big beautiful curtain with leaves on it and as it was going up, the curtain got stuck at about Jack’s knees and that was it,” she says.

“As we went back to the hotel, Howard was hanging off the cable car and he felt so bad because we never got to see the picture because it was so packed. We finally got in and sat on the steps in the balcony,” she says. “The ushers tried to kick us out but we said, ‘We’re Jane and Jack and we haven’t seen the picture yet’ so they let us stay.”

When Hughes’ life was immortalized in Martin Scorsese’s 2004 film “The Aviator,” to research his role as Hughes, Leonardo DiCaprio paid Russell a visit in her Santa Barbara home. “Leo wanted to know what Howard was like. He asked me about his mannerisms and he was very dear.”

A Girl’s Best Friend

One of Russell’s most memorable films was “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” the 1953 musical in which she starred with Marilyn Monroe.

 

"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"

"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"

“It was Marilyn’s first starring role but I’d been doing it for years,” says Russell. “She was like my little sister. She was always nervous about going out on the set so I’d go to her dressing room and take her out with me.”

“She was constantly reading and working with her acting coach every night,” says Russell. “After each take she would look to her acting coach, not at the director Howard Hawks. Directors don’t like that so Hawks had her acting coach taken off the set.”

Russell recalls that Monroe was painfully insecure throughout the shooting of the film. “After she did a love scene with Tommy Noonan, somebody asked him what it was like to kiss Marilyn Monroe and he said, ‘It was like being eaten alive.’ When Marilyn heard that she burst into tears and ran into her dressing room. She was just very vulnerable.”

Having worked with many Hollywood legends, Russell says it’s hard to choose her most memorable co-star. “Robert Mitchum, Clark Gable, Richard Egan… I had a ball with all of them.”

Or as Howard Hughes reportedly said of Jane Russell’s success: “There are two good reasons why men go to see her. Those are enough.”

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Jai Rodriguez – Reality bites

July 16, 2009

Jai RodriguezJai Rodriguez may not have won the Super Bowl — but he’s going to Disneyland. As we chat on the phone, the man who gained fame as Queer Eye’s cultural savant is on his way to the Happiest Place on Earth.

It’s the kind of spontaneous day that the native New Yorker enjoys, having moved to L.A. three years ago. “In New York, you feel the speed of the city, but L.A. is much slower and more relaxed. When you have more down time you can appreciate things more and have a richer, fuller life.”

Part of Rodriguez’ new life has been hosting Animal Planet’s pet groomer competition show Groomer Has It — with his dog Nemo.

But as a non-white gay man, the 30 year old singer-dancer-reality show host has found drawbacks to gay life in L.A. “While New York is very ethnic and more rough around the edges, the L.A. gay aesthetic is all pretty, white and Abercrombie and Fitch, which I don’t fit. I felt hot in New York, but I got to L.A. and thought, ‘I’m ugly here.’”

“The gay parties in L.A. are very segregated and all of my friends of color feel the same way. I’m half Italian and half Puerto Rican but in L.A. everyone says, ‘Are you Mexican?’ I never realized the negative connotation that people in L.A. have for Latinos.”

It’s not the first time that Rodriguez’ identity has been thrown for a loop. After a five-year stint on Broadway in Rent, he created the musical cabaret show Twisted Cabaret Mondays which ran for two years at New York’s Club XL. Television producers caught his act and called him in to audition for a new reality show.

“I said I’m 23, they said ‘you’re 27.’ I said I’ve had some college, they said, ‘you graduated.’ They re-wrote my whole bio. Then they put me in a room with a blond guy and a guy who looked like a gay Buddy Holly and they made fun of everything I said. I thought they were humiliating me, so I just gave it right back to them.”

“I told my agent to never send me out for a job like that again and I got the job. The guys were Carson and Ted and they were testing me for the Queer Eye repartee.”

The Queer Eye Fab Five

The Queer Eye Fab Five

But the transition from actor-singer to etiquette and cultural savant proved a steep learning curve for the fifth member of the Fab Five. “The other guys were in their element but I wasn’t,” he says. “We had two weeks to prep for each episode so I had to learn everything.”

Ninety-six episodes, an Emmy Award and a best-selling book later, Rodriguez has learned a whole lot about culture and etiquette, but he now has the problem of re-introducing himself to the public as the actor-singer-dancer he set out to be.

His debut album may change all that. The pop ballad and video Broken is already available on iTunes and at www.myspace.com/jairodriguezmusic — along with photos of Rodriguez — with and without his shirt.

He’s not concerned about being pigeonholed as a gay performer since his biggest fans are straight. “The people who’ve been most supportive are the Oprah and The View crowd. I get stopped a lot by straight fans with fanny packs. The gays are more likely to say, ‘I saw you last week at the Abbey.’”

 

... and his little dog too!

... and his little dog too!

For more of Adam Sandel’s “Happy Hour” celebrity interviews on Energy Talk Radio, go to:

http://www.energytalkradio.com/programsshows.html&program=10

Roseanne in bloom

July 11, 2009

 

Adam Sandel and Roseanne Barr

Adam Sandel and Roseanne Barr

After a long absence from television and standup comedy, Roseanne Barr is back — and blogging. The outspoken comic who shot to fame in the hit sitcom Roseanne has never been at a loss for words, or controversy. She brings both to her website and blog Roseanne World: www.roseanneworld.com.

When she brought her stand-up act to San Francisco — which aired as the HBO special Blonde and Bitchin’ — I had a chance to chat with the infamous star.

Who pisses Roseanne off these days? “Everyone,” she says. “The whole world. God, Satan, Bush, my children, my boyfriend, my neighbors… being pissed off has brought me to great enlightenment. You’re always looking through a pissed-off prism.”

But the former queen of the small screen watches almost no television today. “I do enjoy shows about Hitler and serial killers and stuff. They’re just so hideous that it scares me and keeps me in the house buying stuff on the Internet. I spend a lot of time on the Internet, where you can learn so much more than on TV.”

A notoriously memorable moment in Barr’s career was her screeching rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a 1990 San Diego Padres baseball game, after which she responded to the booing crowd by grabbing her crotch. President George Bush called it “disgusting” and “a disgrace” and the brief event triggered a firestorm.

"Oh, say can you see...!"

"Oh, say can you see...!"

“I was scared to death after that,” she says. “I was getting threats, I had 24-hour armed guards at my house and following my kids. It was the day before Desert Storm, and I was a lightning rod. Right-wing radio was just starting, they were bashing ‘femi-Nazis,’ and I was the first one. I was the original Dixie Chick. I’m Jewish, so a lot of anti-Semitic stuff came up; the Veterans of Foreign Wars were pressuring ABC to cancel my show. It still comes back to me. I feel like I’ve kind of been blacklisted since that.”

Barr’s philosophy towards Judaism is also unorthodox. “I think it’s good for Jews to intermarry and mix up the gene pool,” she says. “I tried to mix it up as much as I could. I’ve added some Irish, some Scottish, and my little boy is Finnish. It helps to make us less crazy and paranoid. And it creates much less craving of carbohydrates.”

Raising her 13-year-old son Buck is what keeps Barr busy these days. “Mostly yelling at him and making him wait on me,” she says. “He’s a real delight. He loves watching my show and saying things like, ‘Hey Mom, did you know you were that fat?'”

 

The cast of "Roseanne"

The cast of "Roseanne"

Of her recent return to standup comedy after 14 years, Barr says, “I had stage fright after the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ thing, but after 9/11, I figured I’m not gonna’ let fear silence me. My whole show is about standing up to fear. You empower yourself when you mock power. Comedy is about afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.”

And occasionally grabbing your crotch.

Listen to “Happy Hour with Adam Sandel” 7 days a week!

Noon-1:00 Pacific Time, 3-4:00 pm Eastern.

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Or download and hear all “Happy Hour” episodes at:

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Viva Ann-Margret!

July 10, 2009

ann_margret

She skyrocketed to fame as a teenage girl smitten with an Elvis-like rock star in “Bye Bye Birdie” – then seduced The King himself in “Viva Las Vegas.” She wreaked havoc as a bad, bad girl in “Kitten With a Whip” – and was immortalized as “Ann-Margrock” on “The Flintsones.”

She went from powerhouse Las Vegas nightclub star to Oscar-nominated dramatic actress. Her forty year career has spanned every conceivable style of performance from low kitsch to high comedy, nightclub dazzle to serious drama, acid rock surrealism to Tennessee Williams.

Anyone who loves film has a favorite image of Ann-Margret: as the pathetically needy sexpot in “Carnal Knowledge,” or writhing in a sea of soap suds, baked beans and chocolate pudding in the rock opera “Tommy.”

The 68 year-old, flame-haired Ann-Margret is still wowing audiences in live performances in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Miami, and Lake Tahoe.

For this film fan, the sight of the voluptuous, desire-crazed teenage girl singing “Bye Bye Birdie” against a bright blue background, the wind whipping through her flame red hair and skin tight pink dress, was a turning point in my life. In that moment, I fell in love with movies, musicals, the color blue and Ann-Margret.

“That scene almost wasn’t in the movie,” the star told me during a recent interview. “The studio didn’t want it but (director) George Sidney wanted to shoot that prologue and closing for the movie so much that he put up his own money to film it.” When the studio brass saw the finished sequence, they liked it – and reimbursed Sidney.

with Elvis in "Viva Las Vegas"

with Elvis in "Viva Las Vegas"

 

Ann-Margret claims that the jump from playing a girl obsessed with the Elvis-esque Conrad Birdie to starring opposite Elvis himself was not as strange as one might expect.

“I had never seen Elvis perform or met him until I did ‘Viva Las Vegas,'” she said. “But he had seen ‘Bye Bye Birdie,'” she added with a smile. “He liked it.”

“Bye Bye Birdie” was the first of many turning points in Ann-Margret’s fabled career, followed by the 1967 debut of her Las Vegas nightclub act. Her Oscar-nominated role in Mike Nichols’ “Carnal Knowledge” established her as a serious actress.

The actress recalls her Emmy-nominated performance in the true story “Who Will Love My Children” as another turning point in her acting career, playing the terminally ill mother of ten who must find homes for her children.

“I had three stepchildren who were three, six and seven at the time. I couldn’t imagine being the mother of ten and having to give them away,” she said. “That film was a very rewarding experience.”

But her most challenging role was Blanche du Bois in the 1984 television version of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” “I’m such an emotional actress I can’t just turn it on and turn it off,” she says of the Tennessee Williams heroine who descends into madness.

“We filmed it in sequence but by the third to the last day I was really out there,” she says. “(Director) John Erman came to my trailer and said, ‘you have to remember, this is not real, it’s just a movie.'”

The ageless redhead, who is surprisingly shy in person, claims that she will go on working for the rest of her life. “I can’t work a computer, I can’t sew, I can’t cook, but this is what I do and I love doing it. It’s my passion.”

ann-margrock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to “Happy Hour with Adam Sandel” 7 days a week!

Noon-1:00 Pacific Time, 3-4:00 pm Eastern.

Go to: http://www.EnergyTalkRadio.com and “Click to Listen” on MAC, Windows or iPhone!

Or download and hear all “Happy Hour” episodes at:

www.energytalkradio.com/programsshows.html&program=10