You knew David Letterman would have some great guests help to send him off as he winds down a memorable career on late night. Not surprisingly, the great Norm Macdonald is hilarious in his final Letterman appearance, but it is a bit surprising to see crusty Norm get so emotional. This one is worth watching . . .
Last night at Manhattan’s posh Hotel on Rivington penthouse suite, HP and blogger Arjan Writes presented a special preview of “Halcyon,” the new album by British pop sensation Ellie Goulding. Best known in the United States for her monster hit, “Lights,” Goulding has gone on to great success stateside, appearing on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “Saturday Night Live,” as well as a special guest appearance at the White House last December, where she sang Christmas carols onstage with Barack Obama. For all of her enormous success in the last few years, though, Goulding is a very humble, down-to-earth and endearing personality.
The evening began with a bit of background on Goulding, who grew up in the small town of Hereford and got heavily into music early on. “My mum was cool with music,” she says. “She would buy every new thing that was out. We really had no money, but whatever we did have, she’d spend it on CDs and tapes.” Idolizing singers like Bjork, Joni Mitchell, Beyonce and Stevie Nicks, Goulding says she quit college because “something was pushing me into music.” Elaborating on what that something is, she also says, “Having people come together for the same cause is really important. The fact that I can do that with shows is really awesome.”
Delving into “Halcyon,” we heard samples of a few tracks, including the clearly Bjork-influenced “My Blood,” which shares thematic water imagery with other songs on the album. Goulding says, “I have a fascination with the ocean, being lost at sea. I kind of want to be a mermaid.” The title track, “Halcyon,” addresses another theme of the album in its plaintive chorus: “When it’s just us, you show me what it feels like to be lonely, you show me what it feels like to be lost.” “I write songs out of being alone,” Goulding says. “I’m around people all the time, but there’s a theme of loneliness on this album.”
That is not to say the album is relentlessly downbeat or somber, however, as Goulding is quick to point out that “I like making things that give people hope, I suppose, in the least cheesy way possible.” Ellie Goulding’s career certainly seems to show a lot of hope, with unreleased collaborations with the likes of Skrillex and Swedish House Mafia possibly on the way “in the next couple of years,” proving her mantra that anything could happen.
Is America ready for Howard Stern in prime time? “America’s Got Talent” kicks off a new season on May 14th with Howard as one of the new judges. I miss listening to him on the radio. I was hooked for years but I don’t drive any more in the mornings.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Howard will be a huge hit on this show, and it’s a great opportunity for him to be exposed again to a huge audience as his satellite radio show doesn’t have the reach of his syndicated radio show. Of course, he’ll still pocket $15 million per year even if he bombs, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
The video above is classic Howard, as he gets Letterman to discuss his feud with Jay Leno. Hopefully Howard can parley success with this new show into an interview show in the future. Nobody gets celebrities to open up more and address personal and hilarious topics like Howard.
Chris Elliott has comedy in his genes, courtesy of his father, Bob Elliott (of the legendary comedy team Bob & Ray), and he’s passed his abilities on to the next generation, as his daughter Abby Elliott proves week after week on “Saturday Night Live,” but, geez, enough about his dad and kid already. Surely it’s time to shine the spotlight solely on Chris Elliott himself, who first won our hearts with his decidedly unique characters on “Late Night with David Letterman,” completely blew the minds of a generation of moviegoers with his film “Cabin Boy,” and has since gone on to appear in everything from “Manhunter” to “Everybody Loves Raymond.” On April 12, his current endeavor – Adult Swim’s “Eagleheart” – returns for its second season, just over a week after the DVD release of Season One, which hit stores on Tuesday. Bullz-Eye chatted with him…okay, fine, we geeked out…about the more eccentric side of his comedy, including his seminal TV series “Get A Life,” which, as you may have read elsewhere first (although it came from this interview), is coming to DVD in a complete-series set at long last.
Bullz-Eye: First off, let me just tell you what a pleasure it is to talk to you. I’ve been a fan for many years.
Chris Elliott: Oh, well, thank you. I just don’t hear that enough. [Laughs.]
BE: In my case, it’s no exaggeration: when I was in high school, I sent off for tickets for “Late Night with David Letterman.” Granted, I had graduated by the time I actually got them, but, hey, at least I got them.
CE: Oh, my gosh. That’s pretty funny. So did you actually wait four years for tickets?
BE: No, but it was more than a year: I sent them off during my senior year, and it was well after graduation when they finally arrived.
CE: Wow, that’s pretty amazing. But it proves that you were a hardcore fan. Do you remember who was on the show when you went?
BE: Absolutely: it was Jane Pauley and Bruno Kirby. I also remember that they did Shoe Removal Races that night, with a podiatrist squaring off against a shoe salesman.
CE: Ah, yes, that was an excellent episode. [Laughs.]
BE: You were actually just on Letterman’s show a few nights ago. It sounded like you may have taken a bit of flour into your lungs.
CE: [Laughs.] I started to smell like cookies after I was under the lights for a little while. But I thought it came off all right. It’s always fun to go back there, and I hate coming back on there as myself in any form. This interview is okay because I can’t see you. [Laughs.] But I don’t like coming on and just talking as myself, so I always come on with something.
BE: The “Downton Abbey” thing was great, too.
CE: Yeah, I thought that came out great.
BE: So let’s talk “Eagleheart.” One of the most surprising things about the series, at least to me, is that you don’t actually get a writing credit on the show. Not that you don’t have some input, given that you’re a consulting producer, but…
CE: I’d say these guys have my voice down. I knew that when I met with them. They were huge fans of mine, and, honestly, I didn’t want the extra work. [Laughs.] And at the same time, y’know, they changed the pilot quite a bit to suit me, and what I do – and Adam Resnick does this, also – is sort of take a pass at the scripts when they’re done with them and change a couple of jokes here and there, and if something’s not quite in my voice, I just kind of paraphrase what I would be saying, and that sort of thing. I’m sort of at the point in my career where writers that are working in the business sort of grew up knowing about me. At least the ones that are fans of mine, anyway. And they’re really capable of writing for me. It wasn’t always that case. Early on in my career, it was pretty much Adam and me just trying to establish this voice.
BE: Of course, it makes me wonder if people sometimes come to you with something utterly off the wall, saying, “Well, ‘Cabin Boy’ was so nuts that I figured you’d be into this.’
CE: Yeah, I think I get that a lot. It’s interesting: some people put anything weird in the “weird” category and think, “Oh, Chris’ll do that because it’s so weird.” But you’re right. Certain people, like yourself, get why certain things are funny-weird as opposed to just being strange. That’s a different breed. I think I do get lumped in a lot with “he’s just off the wall, he’s crazy.”
Let us not mince words: Isabella Rossellini is one of the most beautiful actresses in the business. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows of her gene pool (she’s Ingrid Bergman’s daughter), but given that she seems to pop up all too infrequently in films and on television, perhaps a few more directors and directors need to be reminded. Fortunately for you and I, Rossellini can be found amongst the cast of the “The Phantom,” SyFy’s attempt to reinvigorate the franchise of the character often referred to as “The Ghost Who Walks,” which premieres on June 20th. This appearance was particularly fortunate for me, as it presented me with the opportunity to chat with Rossellini about her work not only in this production but also in “Blue Velvet,” “Friends,” “Alias,” “30 Rock,” and her infamous Sundance Channel short-film series, “Green Porno.”
Prepare for your heart to go pitter-pat as you read…
Isabella Rossellini: Hi!
Bullz-Eye: Hello! How are you?
IR: I’m fine, thanks. And you?
BE: I’m wonderful. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.
IR: It’s nice to talk to you. Thank you for interviewing me!
BE: (Laughs) Not a problem! Well, “The Phantom” is certainly not your first foray into the world of science fiction, but are you actually a fan of the genre?
IR: I’m not really a fan of the genre. You know, I do see some films, but I must say I don’t go see them religiously. I love working with the producer, Robert Halmi, with whom I’ve done several films, so when Halmi called me to play this small role in “The Phantom,” I had no hesitation. I’ve been with him for five or six productions in the last 25 years, among which are “Merlin,” “The Odyssey,” and “Don Quixote,” and they’ve always been wonderful. They’ve always been… (Hesitates) It’s been great to work with the group, he has a fantastic eye, and every time he hires a director, it’s always somebody young who…well, he just has an eye. He hires them, and they turn out to be fantastic and, a few years later, they’re top directors. That’s how it has been with Paulo (Barzman), the director of “The Phantom.” So the reason why I said “yes” to this small part was because of this history that I had with Bob Halmi, and…I was surprised, actually. I had a doubt. For me, the Phantom was so much that image that I had from the 1930s, and he kept on saying, “No, no, it has nothing to do with that. It’s not trying to be retro.” And that image of the original comic strip was so strong that I was amazed, actually, when I arrived and had seen how they had transformed it to be a contemporary, modern film.
BE: So what are the challenges of playing a part like this? Because I’d think it would be a challenge to play a live-action comic book character without taking it over the top.
IR: Well, actually, you know, to tell you the truth, there were no challenges. At the beginning, you search a little bit for the look, especially when you play a small part. Every beat counts, you know. Sometimes when you have the lead, if you think it, you maybe play a part too seriously. You think, “Maybe I should smile,” and you have other possibilities later in the film to add a smile or to add some softness to your character, for shading. But when you play a small role, in a way, you have to hit every note correctly, so I think that the way she looked also was very important. When I was told that they wanted me to be a blonde…because they told me on the phone: I live in New York, but the film was shot in Montreal…I said, “Oh, blonde, it wouldn’t work with me. I’ve tried it several times, but I can’t go with it. My hair is brown. I can become easily black-haired. I can even become red-haired. But blonde has never worked with me.” But when I arrived, inevitably, there were all these blonde wigs, so I said, “Okay, I’ll show you what I mean.” And, instead, it worked perfectly, because the character should be totally artificial. I had these metallic clothes that always tended to be on the silver side, so, actually, the look of this evil person was helped a lot…it helped me to imagine the character. But the challenge is not the words. It’s so much fun that I’m always amazed that I even get paid for it. (Laughs)