Now that I’m back from the January 2012 TCA Press Tour, I’m very, very tired…and, trust me, if you knew how much work I’d done during the course of the tour – January 3 – 15 – then you’d understand why I’m so very, very tired. I tried to attend as many of the panel coverage of the next six months of television as I possibly, but given that I was bouncing between one-on-one interviews throughout the day and trying to round up a few more every night, I’m not going to pretend that I was able to attend them all. I attended enough of them, however, that it doesn’t take a great deal of effort to produce a collection of my favorites quotes of the tour. That’s not to say this is all of them, mostly because some of the panels (like, say, “Archer”) were very much of the you-had-to-be-there variety, but it’s enough to give you an idea just how entertaining the last two weeks have been.
Tiring as hell, but definitely entertaining.
“When (Johnny Carson and I) talked, after 12 years of writing him, in 2002 he finally actually called me, and I thought it was a joke when on the PA it said “Peter, Johnny Carson on 601.” And he said, “Peter, it’s Johnny Carson. I want to tell you, you write a damn fine letter, but I’m not going to participate in anything on my life because, you know what? I don’t give a shit.” He said, “One day something may get done, and you know what? You’re probably the guy to do it. But it will never happen while I’m alive. I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do. I’ve said anything I want to say. There is nothing more.” – director Peter Jones on trying to secure an interview with Johnny Carson for the long-gestating “American Masters: Johnny Carson”
“To be honest, it’s one of two minutes in a 90 minute episode, and it’s pre the 9 o’clock BBC watershed. There is nothing that you see. It’s very suggestive. It’s very clever camerawork, and it’s just a character device. It’s not about nudity being displayed in ‘Sherlock.’ She’s a dominatrix. Nudity is nothing to her, but it was no mean feat for me to shoot it being naked for eight hours in just a pair of Louboutin shoes. (It) was a challenge…and one I’ve never met before.” – Laura Pulver on her nude scene in “Sherlock II”
“One of the things that is amazing is to look back at a song that is so inevitable, like ‘Over The Rainbow.’ That’s like a folk tune. We all know it so well. And I discovered that (songwriter) Yip Harburg was having trouble coming up with an idea for the words that proceeded ‘rainbow.’ ‘Somewhere beyond the rainbow.’ ‘Somewhere near to the rainbow.’ It just didn’t feel right. And then he came up with ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ because, as a lyricist, he realized that the ‘o’ sound sang well, and it was a pleasing for a singer. And, technically, it worked right, and it gave him the right setting for the word ‘rainbow.’ ‘Somewhere over the rainbow.’ And then I discovered that, the end of that song, they were having trouble with it.
“Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen, Arlen being the composer and Harburg being a lyricist, they were having trouble with the last line of the song. And they were working at Ira Gershwin’s house, and they couldn’t come up with the idea to end the whole thing. They’d gone through the whole song, and they couldn’t come up with the end. And they were working for hours at Ira Gershwin’s house, and he was tired, and he wanted to go to bed. So he said, ‘What about ‘Birds fly over the rainbow. So why can’t I?’ And they said, ‘Hey!’ And he gave him the idea, the whole end of it, and then he came up with this: ‘If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh, why can’t I?’ And when Mr. Gershwin was alive, I said, ‘Ira, why did you meddle in somebody else’s songwriting?’ He said, ‘Because it was late and I wanted to get to bed.’” – Michael Feinstein on “American Songbook II”
“I had great Italian American family that were in the grocery business. And it was during the Depression, and we were all very, very poor. The whole country, the majority of the country was really, really poor, a lot worse than it is today. And so my father died when I was ten and my brother and sister and I would entertain my family because my family all my uncles and nephews and aunts and relatives they all would come over on a Sunday and make a circle around my brother, sister, and I. And they were so knocked out with trying to make my mom feel good because she had to work on a penny a dress to raise three children, and the whole family felt so much for her, but they wanted to show her how much they loved her children. And they treated me and my brother and my sister with so much love, and they I remember at a very early age, they said to me, ‘Look at the way he makes us feel good, you know, and he’s so happy, and he’s always doing something to make us feel good, and look at the way he paints flowers and all that.’ I remember very clearly saying, ‘This is who I am. My family is telling me that I sing and I paint,’ and they created a tremendous gift in my life to continue that, and each year it’s become stronger and stronger. I will never retire, and, you know, if my voice goes, I’m still going to paint. I just want to keep improving as I go on, and it’s just taught me what a beautiful life it is to be possessed with. It’s not that I want to do it. I have to do it. And it will always be that way. I will never retire.” – Tony Bennett on the secret to his longevity
“They’re all saying, ‘Oh, my goodness! You’re 90!’ And I keep trying to explain, ‘Don’t give me any credit. I didn’t do anything to get to be 90. It just happened. I didn’t accomplish anything. It just came up on me.’ But I’m blessed with good health for which I’m deeply grateful, so for that reason, I feel so good. I’m just gonna have fun like, you know, always. Everybody else is far more excited about the 90 than I am.” – Betty White on her upcoming birthday
“We just thought ‘Are You There, Chelsea?’ is a really kind of play on ‘Am I there? What am I thinking?’ There was all these little, you know, kind of different meanings to it. So we thought it was a funner play, you know. Not everybody is into alcohol as much as I am, so this is it’s not cable. It’s network. We wanted to have a broader appeal and make people feel like they could be interested in watching the show, whether or not they have as big of a drinking problem as I do.” – Chelsea Handler on changing the name of her show from “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.”
“I don’t know if there are, like, any ‘Community’ fans, but…oh, this is a roomful of critics, so you are the ‘Community’ fans.” – Kyle Killen
“Well, I think with Cloris (Leachman), we’ve just learned that she’ll do anything we want her to do; she’s a gamer. If it’s funny, she will do it. And just on Friday it was: we had a tarantula crawl over her face while she was sleeping, and she didn’t budge. I mean, she’s sleeping, and the thing crawls over her face. And just like a pro, she kind of turns towards the lens so we know we can get more spider on the thing. So she’s great. The kids the babies hate the tarantulas. We put them all over them. They’re both a couple of pussies, really, when it comes down to the spiders. No, with the kids, I don’t know. We’re learning every day what we can do with them because, as they get older, just as, you know, with your own kids, it’s like one second they’ll sit and sit still, and another second, they won’t. So that’s just a constant kind of keeping an eye on the kids and seeing what we can ask them to do. And we ask their parents, “What are they doing that’s cute?” And then we try to write that in.” – executive producer Greg Garcia on the cast of “Raising Hope”
“I was super grateful, super thrilled, and I really was extraordinarily passionate about it. I was incredibly surprised. I think I described the feeling last year because I’d done a few shows before, I kind of felt like Goldilocks, you know, trying on different outfits and different places, like NBC was just a little too this, and ABC was just a little too that, and FOX felt just right, and it was all going along great. Now I’ve kind of determined that I’m a little bit more like Tinkerbell. It’s like when Tinkerbell was dying and Peter Pan was like saying, ‘Do you believe in fairies? Do you believe in fairies?’ And everybody in the audience was like, ‘Yes, I do believe. I do believe.’ And that’s sort of how I feel about the show.” – Christian Slater on the resurrection of “Breaking In”
“I’ve always wanted to get in her pants, and every now and then she lets me.” – Steven Tyler’s comments on Jennifer Lopez’s wardrobe, which are fantastic when taken out of context
“I did, like, a web series just out of school, but I had never had a proper professional television job, and I went to the pre read with the casting directors and felt like I did okay. And then I got a callback, and I met April and Gavin there, and I felt like it went well. And then I didn’t hear anything for, like, two weeks, and I, when I was in school, produced a feature length documentary that is still in postproduction but almost done, and I write. So I was, like, I’ll create my own work. And I was in a cafe working on a script that I was writing, and I got a phone call that was I testing for the show. And I had never tested for anything before, and so I was very excited, and to be kind to the other patrons, I decided to step out of the cafe instead of yelling. As I stepped out of the cafe, there was a step into the parking lot, and I fell and broke my ankle. ‘Oh, my gosh. I’m so excited. My ankle really hurts.’ And, you know, it started swelling, and I thought it was just a sprain, and I had a doctor like put me in this big sort of robo-boot, and I went to the test and hopped around in the boot and fortunately got cast and then found out it was broken and didn’t get recast, thank God.” – Erica Dasher on getting the lead in “Jane by Design”
“I auditioned against six other James Van Der Beeks for this role. I was lucky that four of them were not actors, and two of them didn’t speak English so by default, it was me. It’s this has been the most fun I think I’ve ever had doing anything. We came up with this character. By Episode 3, I thought it bore, you know, less and less resemblance to me, which just made it even more fun.I said to Natch and David at the beginning, I said don’t ever be afraid of offending me; let’s just always go for what’s funniest, and we’ll see where it takes us.” – James Van Der Beek on playing a caricature of himself
“I’m not going to admit everything, but there are some things that I do know that there’s that will not be offensive like, say, in Mexico, but it might be offensive in like Nicaragua or Spain or something. That’s true. There are some words that aren’t swear words for the Mexican culture, but definitely in the Dominican Republic, that’s a bad word. So for me, it’s just been kind of sitting back and going, ‘Okay. I think we’re okay.’ But we’ve been pretty what we don’t want to do is go out of our way to be offensive. I think we want to do a show that everybody can laugh at and enjoy and not, you know, find out that the Dominican ambassador is calling, you know, CBS.” – Rob Schneider
“I remember when I was, I suppose, about 29 or 30, I was having a cup of coffee with John Hurt, a great chap that some of you might be aware of, and we were bemoaning the fact that there were an awful lot of good, young actors beginning to appear, sort of 19 , 20 , 21 year olds. And I said, ‘Yes, I know, John.’ And we were aware that we were suddenly beginning to develop lines. We were getting you know, we were now no longer the young, bright new comers. And he said I said, ‘Yes, I have noticed that.’ He said, ‘Do you know what I’d do to them?’ He said, ‘If I meet one, I’d say, ‘You know, you have a wonderful voice. Have you ever listened to it?”And you know from then on they are fucked.” – Jeremy Irons
“We’re still promoting ‘Bridesmaids.’ When the fog clears, we will see if there’s an idea that’s worthy of doing (a sequel). We don’t want to be people who make something just to make it. It would be nice to have an idea. People like to set up projects without thoughts. But usually it’s way better to have a great idea, then have passion not about it. Not just, like, ‘Do you know how much money we could make if we did another one?’ That usually leads to ‘Jaws 3 D.'” – Judd Apatow
“I met Anthony Hopkins many, many years ago, and we were talking about, you know, what do you do when you’re not getting along with the director. And he says, ‘Never raise your voice. Never have a fight. On a sound stage make sure or wherever you’re shooting, make sure you’re shooting on the ground floor. When it gets to that point, you say, ‘Excuse me. I have to go to the bathroom.’ You’ve checked the bathroom out before. It has a window. You go in the bathroom. You lock the door. You climb out the window. You go home. You come back the next day. There’s no argument anymore.'” – Dustin Hoffman
“My father grew up in Salt Lake, Utah with the other 12 black people. And my mother was from a little town in Northern Illinois, and they met in Detroit. That was rough for my dad because it’s just the blackest city in the world, so that’s my background. It’s longer than that. I’m adopted, so it’s different, but it’s the same thing. My mom was white. My dad was black. They gave me up for adoption, and I was adopted by a couple where the man was black and the woman was white. I was a special needs child. It was like, ‘Here’s a kid with no arm. Here’s a blind kid. Here is a biracial kid. Let’s take the blind one.’ So because I’m high yellow, I’m special needs, which means I would dominate at the Special Olympics. I would win every award, lapping. ‘Come on, guys! Come on, Jimmy!’” – Keegan Michael Key
“The beautiful thing about Walter (Flanagan) and Brian (Johnson), they have no interest in this. They’re not here because they didn’t want to do the fucking TV show (‘Comic Book Men’). I called up Walter, and I was like, ‘Dude, you’re never going to believe this, but we might have a reality show on AMC.’ And he goes, ‘I don’t want to do it.’ I said, ‘Why?’ And he goes, ‘Because I don’t want to be fucking Snooki.’ I said, ‘You’re out of your mind. Everyone wants to be Snooki, at least for five minutes.’ He goes, ‘Not me.’ And I said, ‘Well, this could work as a really cool commercial for the store.’ And Walter always likes to see people coming through the door because he knows more people coming through the door, he still has his dream job working at the store. So he’s like, ‘All right. If it works like a commercial for the store, I’m in.’ And Johnson didn’t want to do it, but he needs knee surgery, so I said, ‘Dude, if you do the show, you’ll have enough money for knee surgery.’ He was like, ‘All right. I’ll fucking do it.’ So two dudes who have no interest in being famous will now have people coming in and taking pictures of them. And they’re going to act like the unprotected tribes and shit.” – Kevin Smith
“26-27 years I’ve been doing stand-up, and I’ve had two great years, probably five good years. So I had 20 years of just kind of uncertainty and suffering and ego destruction and poverty; all these things. So, that’ll always outweigh. There’s no way I’m ever going to catch up to the misery years with the good ones. It’s impossible, no matter how good it is. And also, of course there’s going to be a decline coming. It’s not like I’m just going to keep doing well. That’s not even — that’s not in the cards. I would guess I’ve got — if I’m not stupid, if I don’t do anything dumb or I don’t get a disease or something, then I’ve got like five to eight years, I think, where it will really be great, and then it’ll start to degenerate, like uranium, you know. So, no matter what, most of my years have been very hard. But I don’t regret any of them. I’m very grateful for all of those years.” – Louis C.K.
“’Pootie Tang,’ yeah, I don’t know. It was a tragedy to me. It was a very huge mistake. Never should have been made. I’m glad people enjoy it. I’m glad for them that they’re enjoying it. But it’s a little — I got a little scar tissue still from that experience. It was very painful. I got kicked off the movie. I didn’t do a good job to begin with. I would feel really good if I had been making a great movie and then they kicked me off. But I was sucking at making the movie, and they rightfully fired me. And then it came out with my name on it, so. But it was a great learning experience. That was a good example of being in a very bad place and enjoying it. I was sitting in a chair, much like this one, in John Goldwin’s office in Paramount, and he was screaming at me. His face was really red, and I was sitting there going, wow, I’m really a movie guy now. In show business, being yelled at by a studio head. It was a thrill.
“I think that failing at ‘Pootie Tang’ is why this show is good. It’s one of the reasons. It’s that and a huge — just an army of failures that have wrecked my life, made me good at this. Because they didn’t wreck it. Because here’s the thing. You do something, and that was the worst thing that could have happened to me. I got to make a movie finally, which was my dream, and it was terrible, and then it got made even more terrible, and then it came out, and I was just hated. I mean, the first time I was known by a lot of people was because I made a bad movie. And I remember watching Roger Ebert say – I grew up watching Roger Ebert doing movie criticism, and he said, ‘I can’t even say this is a bad movie, because it’s not even complete. It’s incomplete. It’s not even a movie.’ It was the worst.” I think it’s probably the worst review he ever gave to a movie. And I’m sitting there reeling. And the pain you feel from an experience like that is profound. But the great thing is that after maybe a week, it just goes away, and all you’re left with is the forensic evidence of all the mistakes you made and all of the rocks that you’ve kind of crashed into, and you’re left with this beautiful map of where all the dangers are, and you repair all the holes, and then you’re so much better. And so, I’ve had a ton of experiences like that. ‘Lucky Louie.’ That’s a show that came and then fucking died a miserable death. But I produced a series of television that was on TV for a whole season and then was hated and then cancelled. And the information that you gain from a thing like that is unbelievably valuable.” – Louis C.K.
“I can’t objectively compare myself to another human being. I don’t know. I don’t know what it’s like to be somebody else. All I know is that my standup comedy is what my goal is, is to acknowledge that within each of us is a divine and beautiful light through truth and authenticity. And being funny, we can connect this light and change, I believe, the tenure and frequency of our consciousness. That may seem like a noble objective on FX, but we’ll give it a whirl. Rupert Murdoch is right behind us in this revolution. That man is sick of capitalism…” – Russell Brand
“This is what I know about that Mitt Romney, I know that he is so rich that even the 1 percent to him would seem like peasants. That he’s in the not point not, not, not, 1 percent. Like other billionaires must sicken him with their depravity. But other billionaires to him would seem like Dickensian street urchins eating gruel with fingerless gloves. And he’s a Mormon, isn’t he? I got nothing against religions. I like metaphorical systems for understanding mortality. I think it’s a good idea. Death is confusing. It’s good to have some infrastructure.
“I like that Mitt Romney got told off, like people are angry, Newt Gringrich which is a ludicrously amphibious bizarre name for anyone to have. He attacked Mitt Romney because he talked some French, like that’s really amazing. Like he said that makes him elitist and like a bit of a whoopsie. Like he was sort of speaking French in a boudoir, in a homoerotic fashion. It’s like it’s all right that there are other languages, and people say different stuff. This is so extraordinary to me that someone would be criticized for that. I love it. Just for using a different lexicon. It’s more important what someone says rather than the language they say it in, isn’t it? Like it’s so easy to whoop up hoopla over nothing, over nothing. That’s what I mean. It’s vacuous. It’s nonsense. It’s as sort of a pink gas being fired into our eyes out it’s like I consider contemporary culture to be like a sort of a pink pony trotting through the world shitting glitter into our minds.
Glitter affects the synaptic firing of our brains because there’s glitter shit all in the middle of our neurons. We can’t think. They’re filling our minds with shit glitter. A glitterating thought. So we talk about that nonsense, that rhubarb. And also them say like of course it’s bad for like I’ve spent some time with the marines at Camp Pendleton. I trained with them for a couple of days. They were fucking lovely. And the sense of fraternity among them was beautiful, and I liked it. I didn’t really do very well as a marine. The obstacle course is fucking difficult. You have to climb a rope. It’s really, really, really hard. So I’ve got a lot of respect for the marines.
Like but the end of this, I think where they peed on some dead bodies, huh? That was was that the marines? Because remember I’m a naive person, so I may make mistakes. So please don’t judge me. But you will judge me. That’s just the way that your binary minds function. I’m not criticizing you. I have a binary mind as well. It’s just the way we are. So it’s bad to wee on a dead body, right? But like it’s worse to kill someone. So it’s like why are we more shocked by people pissing on a dead body than killing a live body? Like say me, I’m alive at the moment, right? If someone said, “I’m either going to piss on you or kill you,” like if there’s some people, the pissing on me, I would be sort of into. I’d rather they did that than didn’t do it. But killing, you sort of think, “Well, I don’t know how my narrative will continue after dead.” That’s really troubling. After the termination of your life force, after this biological spaceship has deceased, might as well piss on me, do as you like. Go nuts. Have a ball. It’s the killing that’s the problem. That bit we won’t broadcast in case he goes into trouble. We do that and then Troy will go, ‘Nah, it’s too much. It seems like you’re endorsing it.’ Also very near the top, you implied strongly that you’re into golden showers. That makes you an unsympathetic protagonist for a mainstream show. A lot of people consider the old golden shower elitist. Imagine what Newt Gingrich would make of it. ‘He’s speaking in French. He’s getting pissed on. He shouldn’t be president.’ Or should he?” – Russell Brand
Tags: American Idol, American Masters: Johnny Carson, American Songbook II, Betty White, Brian Johnson, Chelsea Handler, Christian Slater, Comic Book Men, Dustin Hoffman, Erica Dasher, Greg Garcia, James Van Der Beek, Jane By Design, January 2012 TCA Press Tour, Jennifer Lopez, Jeremy Irons, Johnny Carson, Judd Apatow, Keegan Michael Key, Kevin Smtih, Kyle Killen, Laura Pulver, Louie, Louis C.K., Luck, Michael Feinstein, Peter Jones, Rob Schneider, Russell Brand, Sherlock, Snooki, Steven Tyler, TCA Press Tour, The Borgias, The Light from the TV Shows, Tony Bennett, Walt Flanagan, Will Harris