The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Dick Cavett

Dick Cavett steps out of the elevator, hangs a right, and strolls into the lobby of the Beverly Hilton, a man on a mission: to participate in the promotion of a PBS documentary which premieres on August 8 at 9 PM EST/PST: Dick Cavett’s Watergate, an examination of the Watergate scandal and its effects on Richard Nixon’s presidency that’s structured around archival clips from Cavett’s late night talk show.

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After introducing himself, Cavett can’t resist making an observation about the familiarity of his surroundings: “You know, this is the same lobby where I stood when I was out here for two weeks auditioning to be a writer on The Jack Paar Show.” As has been the case for Cavett on more than few occasions during the course of his half-century (and then some) in the TV business, this observation proves to be only the first sentence of an anecdote.

“I came into the hotel one night and I heard singing,” continued Cavett, glancing and vaguely gesturing at the entrance to a nearby ballroom. “I opened a big door, and Judy Garland was onstage. The lights came on, and there were George Burns, Jack Benny, Edward G. Robinson, Barbara Stanwyck, Kirk Douglas, and about a hundred more. It was a huge charity thing. You couldn’t see any face that you didn’t know!”

With this brief recollection, Cavett immediately confirms that at least one of his lines during his memorable appearance on The Simpsons was absolutely spot-on: he really does have some wonderful stories about famous people that involve him in some way.

Who came up with the idea of viewing the Watergate scandal through the prism of your show?

You know, I think (executive producer Robert S.) Bader did. I’m almost certain he did. Yeah, he’s the one who’s most up on tapes that I had and stuff like that, so I don’t think it could’ve been anyone else. He just went through the stuff. I think initially he looked at 350 Cavett shows to make the (Shout Factory) DVDs, and then he just finally had to stop looking at them and start making them! But I was stunned to find how much stuff we have. It’s going to be a strain to make it only an hour. There’s so much good stuff. That’s a luxury, because there are so many shows that are a strain to make even an hour.

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with James Brolin (‘Christmas with Tucker’)

James Brolin has been a star of TV and film since the ’60s, rarely disappearing from either for very long before popping back up somewhere or other, and tonight at 9 PM he can be found starring in “Christmas with Tucker,” the debut original movie from the Hallmark Movie Channel (which, just in case you aren’t aware, is a separate entity from the Hallmark Channel), playing a gruff but loveable grandfatherly type fella who gets to have a lot of scenes with a very cute dog. I was fortunate enough to chat with Brolin for a bit when he attended this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, and – as you’ll read below – I was even more fortunate to be able to continue the conversation a bit later.

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Bullz-Eye: So you’re in a dog movie, but are you a dog guy by nature?

James Brolin: Yeah, but guess what? I don’t have a dog right now. But I’m kind of shopping! The thing is, I’m not sure where I’m going to be next, and I kind of hate to go off and leave a dog once I have it. I’ve found that didn’t work well in the past. But I got my wife a dog. And the dog is… I can’t believe she’s had it 10 years now. And it sleeps right here. [Points to his head.] It likes the top of the couch or the head pillow. So usually, if you roll over it or around it, it gets out of your way and just goes down to the other end. Anyway, I’ve been moved to the back seat of the car now. [Laughs.] Those two run things.

BE: Yeah, we just got a dog a few months ago, so I know what you mean.

JB: Oh, yeah. If it ain’t a baby, it’s a dog. [Laughs.]

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BE: How was this dog, Tucker, to work with?

JB: Fine! Really good natured. He would do all the things, and then when you’d go to shoot, sometimes the dog would have a little brain fade or confusion, but it’s not unusual. You just keep going. You have the trainer keep going, you run the camera, and now with digital, you can just turn the camera on and let it run for two hours, and then you go in there, wade through it, and pick out just what you need. But that’s Filmmaking 101, in a way. If you have time for that, you do that. And if you’re doing a dog picture, you make time. And the kids… Anyone youthful who was involved was just right on. Gage (Munroe) is just like a honed pro, so that wasn’t an issue. Kids weren’t an issue. But animals are always an issue, and you just need to schedule the time to shoot and shoot and shoot a little bit.

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Drink of the Week: The Chicago Sour

The Chicago SourI’ve confessed here before to the fact that even a pretty well made classic whiskey sour is not exactly my favorite concoction. Still, I’m starting to think that maybe the fault is with the particular recipes I’ve been sampling and that it is possible to make an entirely delightful standard whiskey sour…or maybe you need a little something extra. That’s the approach of this really kind of beautiful creation crafted for the high end bourbon, Angel’s Envy, by noted bartender Freddie Sarkis of Chicago gastropub Sable Kitchen and Bar.

As I noted in an earlier post, Angel’s Envy is bourbon for serious bourbon lovers that is finished in port wine caskets, and the fact that they sent me a free bottle hardly influences my opinion at all! This creation, which uses just a bit of plain old red wine, instead of the port featured in other Angel’s Envy recipes, is also delicious enough to make me forget the fact that I took myself off red wine several years back. It’s really, really good.

The Chicago Sour

2 ounces Angel’s Envy bourbon
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
Red wine

Combine bourbon, lemon juice, egg white and simple syrup in cocktail shaker. Before adding ice, shake the contents vigorously to fully emulsify the egg white. Make sure your shaker is well sealed because egg tends to make plastic cocktail shakers want to pop open for some reason that a chemist or physicist could probably explain. Now add ice and shake again even more vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail/martini/champagne glass. “Float” — which I think means “lightly pour” — a very small amount of red table wine. Drink and toast Mr. Sarkis, who has come up with one mean cocktail.

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The Chicago Sour made with Angel's EnvyThe recipe as promoted by Angel’s Envy doesn’t specify the type of red wine or the size of the egg — I used the white of a medium egg because medium eggs were on sale at my local supermarket a few days before along with an extremely cheap Cabernet that’s probably slightly below the quality of ordinary two buck Chuck and and exactly the same price. The result, nevertheless, was pretty magnificent. (Please note the usual raw egg caveats apply — the risk of contamination is very low, but people with certain health issues should use pasteurized eggs.)

Regular readers will also note that I departed from my prior habit of using superfine sugar and water in preference to simple syrup because I’m feeling lazy and I found some for an acceptable price that was actually made with cane sugar. Still, I imagine you could substitute about a tablespoon of sugar and 1/2 an ounce of water and it would likely come out as tasty as anything else from our nation’s former second city, as saluted below by two Italian-American lounge singers of some note.

  

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