Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT

Monday, November 18, 1996

Sugar Ray Leonard

Harris: Joining us now is Sugar Ray Leonard, one of our town's most beloved sports heroes over the years, even though he's moved out of town and lives in Los Angeles. He's back in town this morning because he is on a promotional tour for his comeback. He is out of retirement after five years of sitting on the sidelines, and he's going to box again in February against Hector "Macho" Camacho. Good morning, Ray!

Leonard: Good morning, Paul.

Harris: Great to have you back in town, and why? That's the first question that has to come to mind, why box again?

Leonard: First of all, I have said on numerous occasions, "This is it, this is the final one." Particularly my last fight, when I was soundly beaten by Terry Norris. I said, "Well, guys, this is it. This is an indication that I don't have it any more." But what has bothered me for some four or five years was the fact that the results were due to some circumstances which I never disclosed, mainly because I didn't want to be a whiner or a poor loser. But the fact is that I had sustained an injury to my ribs prior to the fight. So I wore pads on my chest and even the night of the fight I had to have four injections to get through the pain. I was going through a very emotional divorce with my wife, Juanita, and these things were contributing factors. So as time passed on I said, "You know what, Ray, let's go out one more time." And things have happened in a gradual progression.

Harris: But it's not like people out there, certainly in our area, are thinking you are a tainted champion. I mean, you've won how many different divisions? Five?

Leonard: It's five, yes.

Harris: And you are one of the greatest champions of all time, so it is not like people are thinking that. So this is a personal thing with you I think.

Leonard: Oh, yes. It's not the perspective of the outcome and how people feel. It's me, personally. And also, I'm an athlete, I'm a fighter. This is what I do. This is what I still enjoy. I think that one of the main issues here is the fact that being forty, people say, "You know, you are forty years old. You should be taking Prozac and playing golf."

Harris: Yeah.

Leonard: I think this is a whole new age and time. People are living longer. People are exercising. People are eating better. I think we need to re-define what old age is.

Harris: I think you are just going to make me look bad.

Leonard: (laughs)

Harris: I think also, Ray, deep down inside there you just want to beat the hell out of Camacho, don't you?

Leonard: Well, I didn't want to say that. Thanks for helping me. But also, Camacho is a pretty interesting character and we have a press conference today at Planet Hollywood. Although Hector may be the character and a flashy dresser, when he comes to fight, he comes to fight.

Harris: Let me tell you something, Ray. There is no flashier dresser or prettier guy in boxing. It's you and Muhammad Ali, and probably Ray Robinson. Guys like that who even after a fight, you come out of there and you shine that smile, and everybody loves you.

Leonard: Well, thank you. I actually designed each and every robe I would wear into the ring, and made sure that it was somewhat symbolic of the fight. Whether it was in Las Vegas, in Maryland, whatever the case may have been. It always symbolized where I was.

Harris: Well maybe this one could just say, "I'm forty and I can still do this!"

Leonard: Guys listen, I'm forty and I'm a grandfather also.

Harris: That's right!

Leonard: Well, I'm very happy, I've got a beautiful granddaughter, and...life goes on.

Harris: Can you tell us about your training, because I remember when you came out for that Hagler fight, you were still fairly old for a boxer and Mister Chisled Guy. Are you going to do that same kind of regimen, where you drink the eggs like "Rocky" did, or what?

Leonard: Nope. I can't digest those eggs now.

Harris: (laughs)

Leonard: Talk about age and I can't digest eggs! But, I've taken on the same training regimen I've had in the past. Nothing has really changed. I'm using weights now. I've incorporated weights into my training regimen.

Harris: Let me just compare my training regimen to yours. Do you eat a lot of Oreos and Chips Ahoy?

Leonard: I've passed on that.

Harris: I thought you might. Listen, let me turn you from boxer to boxing analyst, which has also been a big job for you over the years. We have got to talk about this Tyson/Holyfield fight of nine days ago. Were you as surprised as everybody else was?

Leonard: Not really.

Harris: No? Why not?

Leonard: First of all, Evander Holyfield has something that none of the guys have had that have faced Tyson recently. And that was he believed in himself and was not afraid. It's the mental aspect. Once you are into that ring, if you are petrified, the first punch you go down. Remember Bruce Seldon?

Harris: Yeah.

Leonard: This man, Evander, whether it was spiritual conviction, whatever, it pulled him through. He believed in himself. I mean the general consensus was no way, the guy has a bad heart, this and that. And I kind of felt the same way at one time. But, you know what? He believed so highly in himself, he was so confident, so determined guys that, if anything, it was going to be a good fight.

Harris: And it's got to make you feel good, because you and Evander are kind of in similar situations. Doctors told him at some point that he should never box again, and here he is boxing again and winning the championship. They said the same thing to you after the eye thing, and here you're trying to come back. Now, did the Holyfield/Tyson fight bring back some legitimacy to boxing after the circus atmosphere the last couple of years?

Leonard: You know, I think that fight did help boxing. It gave it a shot of adrenaline, it gave it a shot of credibility, it gave it a shot of class. Holyfield is nothing but class, and I think he's a breath of fresh air for the sport.

Harris: How much do you think they get for that rematch?

Leonard: Ummmm....we don't have enough time to calculate that total.

Harris: (laughs) That's going to be a big one. When is your fight? It's at the end of February, right?

Leonard: February 28th in the Atlantic City Convention Center. I'm getting closer and closer to home!

Harris: Well come back and fight here! We'll do one at the Armory or something!

Leonard: Okay, Paul.

Harris: We'll put on a card with, maybe Riddick or Tyson or Evander one of these days.

Leonard: I think I would do better with you.

Harris: (laughs) You mean you won't be going into that weight class? You won't be doing a DeNiro thing and putting on another 40 pounds to fight the heavyweights?

Leonard: That won't be one of my weight categories, no. (laughs).

Harris: (laughs) Sugar Ray Leonard and Hector Macho Camacho February 28th on Pay-Per-View and of course in Atlantic City. Ray, thanks for joining us this morning. Good luck to you.

Leonard: Thanks, Paul. Take care.

Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Rhyan Jones

Wednesday, November 13, 1996

Marilu Henner

Harris: We welcome to the guest line Marilu Henner, one of the all time great TV babes, who you know as Elaine Nardo on Taxi, and for many years on Evening Shade, and now one of the co-stars of The Titanic, a CBS-TV miniseries that's airing on Sunday and Tuesday. Good morning, Marilu.

Henner: Well, good morning!

Harris: Welcome to the show. I was looking over some of the publicity for this and I was thinking to myself, this is a movie I could never be in, because I get seasick.

Henner: Oh, well, the way they shoot these things, you're never really on water for very long. I mean, it's funny because my husband directed it, his name is Robert Lieberman, and he gets very seasick. We never go on any kind of boat whatsoever because of his seasickness.

Harris: So then, how can you take this particular job? It would seem like you'd go for the landlubber thing. Sounds like the mini-series should be called Dramamine, or something like that.

Henner: He took plenty of that, believe me. But do you know what the best remedy is for seasickness? I know you're going to laugh, but this really, really works. Do you know what an umeboshi plum is?

Harris: No, I have no idea.

Henner: An umeboshi plum is a little Japanese salt plum. You get it at a health food store. The best thing for motion sickness is to take one of these plums -- which is great for anything, for balancing, for hangovers, for any time you're feeling out of sorts, you take one of these plums and eat it -- but for seasickness, you actually tape it to your belly button.

Harris: [laughs]

Henner: I'm not kidding you! This really, really works.

Harris: And the idea being, if they see you with the plum taped to your belly button, they don't let you on the boat, and that way you can't get seasick?

Henner: No, it really works. If you're going to have motion sickness on an airplane or anything, just tape that old plum to your belly button.

Harris: What is it, that you're so concerned that you've got fruit stuck to your stomach that you just don't think about being seasick?

Henner: By the way, when you're going to get on a plane, that looks really good on the x-ray machine, walking through there with a Japanese plum.

Harris: [laughs]

Henner: No, it's really true.

Harris: What is it called? An uma... what?

Henner: An umeboshi plum. U-M-E-B-O-S-H-I.

Harris: I loved her in Pulp Fiction.

Harris: So, you're in the story of the Titanic, and you're on board there and you didn't actually shoot it at sea?

Henner: No, we did. We actually shot a lot of it on a boat. But, you know, these boats are so balanced now. The camera moves more than the boat.

Harris: That's what they said about the Titanic, Marilu. Didn't they bill it as the unsinkable ship?

Henner: The unsinkable ship. I play the unsinkable Molly Brown, which is where she got her name from, because she survived. But they built the ship, and they did everything they could possibly do right with the ship, and then of course, everything went wrong. I mean, they didn't do everything right, because they didn't have enough life boats for people. They only had the standard number, which at that point was only 1200. But there were 2200 people on board and they actually only got 705 people on the boats. So, 1500 people died.

Harris: Didn't they have lookouts in those days? Didn't they have guys who climbed up the mast and would look out for icebergs?

Henner: It's unbelievable. Not only did they have lookouts, but there was only one pair of binoculars and someone took them below.

Harris: Oh, good!

Henner: Everything that could have gone wrong on this ship went wrong.

Harris: Take the binoculars down to the galley where they'll be the most useful.

Henner: Yes. So, you see all of that in the movie, and it's like an old fashioned disaster movie.

Harris: Now Marilu, I understand you brought a clip this morning. Do we have to set this up? Do we know what this clip is that we're going to take a look at?

Henner: No, I have no idea.

Harris: All right, let's take a look. This is Marilu Henner and the cast of Titanic. Roll it.

[what follows is a clip from Taxi with Elaine Nardo and Jim Ignatowski]:
"What am I going to tell him? What am I going to do? This man wants a decision right this minute, and he's given me one minute to think about it. What am I going to tell him?"
"Tell him... you wet your bed."
"Jim, I'm not trying to get out of the Army. I'm trying to decide whether or not to take a desk job!"
"Tell him... you wet your desk."

Henner: [surprised laughter]

Harris: [laughs] I'm sorry. I just had to throw that in. Taxi is one of my all time favorites.

Henner: Oh, it's the best, isn't it? You know, one of the biggest thrills I have is when famous people recognize me from Taxi. When I was working with George C. Scott on The Titanic, he knew every episode! He would quote lines from it, and I was so flattered because I couldn't believe it was such a classic to him.

Harris: Well, it ran for so long, and now it's running again on Nick At Nite. It's one of those shows where, when you turn it on, you go, "Ooh! I know this one!", and you HAVE to watch it to the end.

Henner: You know, I think it really holds up, too. Except for maybe some of my wardrobe.

Harris: Oh, no, no, no... the wardrobe was an absolute highlight for me!

Henner: [laughs] Thanks. Actually that wardrobe is back again, so it doesn't look as dated. But there is something so classic about the show. It was not only of its time, but it really holds up.

Harris: Well, you guys were great actors, great chemistry, and the writing on that show was terrific.

Henner: Oh, we adored each other and we all still do. I talk to them all the time.

Harris: Do you stay in touch with those guys?

Henner: Oh gosh, all the time. I talk to at least one of them a week. I'm always in contact with them.

Harris: I think people would probably be surprised to find out that Christopher Lloyd, who was Reverend Jim, he's actually the most normal of you guys, isn't he?

Henner: Well I don't know if any of us were normal.

Harris: I mean, compared to Tony Danza.

Henner: Tony would come in and pick up a fire extinguisher and let that off and slide across the floor, and then jump on top of me for awhile, and clear the craft service table, and somebody would say, "Is Tony in yet?", because he was just a wild man.

Harris: It was a terrific show, and now I wish you the best of luck with Titanic.

Henner: Thank you so much.

Harris: Let me get the plug in here. By the way, I love that you got your husband, who is directing the movie, to hire you. Really good move!

Henner: Yeah, I had to sleep with him.

Harris: [laughs]

Henner: I keep telling everybody I had to bear him two sons, two little boys.

Harris: It's on Sunday and Tuesday on CBS-TV. Marilu, thanks for being on with us this morning.

Henner: Thank you.

Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Rhyan Jones.

Tuesday, October 22, 1996

Mark Harmon

Harris: We welcome to the guest line actor Mark Harmon, who you know from his work in movies like The Presidio with Sean Connery, and Stealing Home with Jodie Foster, and Summer School, a great Carl Reiner comedy and, of course, from his years on St. Elsewhere, and now on CBS TV's Chicago Hope, Monday nights at 10 o'clock as Dr. Jack McNeil. Good morning, Mark!

Harmon: Good morning, Paul!

Harris: Welcome to the show. How is it to be back on TV playing a doctor again?

Harmon: Well, it's more than that. For me, it's nice to be on a show as quality driven as Chicago Hope. I am enjoying playing this character a lot and I like this job a lot, so I feel like I'm a lucky guy.

Harris: This is two quality driven shows for you, because St. Elsewhere was certainly in that category. I guess from your perspective, working on it, it was also a great show.

Harmon: Well, you know, it's a lot easier to do good work when you have good words to say and work with good people. I have found that out over the years.

Harris: They throw an enormous amount of medical jargon at you guys, and the same thing with the guys on ER and all of these shows. Is that tough to learn? Do have to get a medical dictionary and study that?

Harmon: Yeah, absolutely. It's like a different language, but at Chicago Hope they have a technical staff that works real hard to make that comfortable. They will work as hard on the stuff we do in the O.R. or on the operating field as anything. There are actually rehearsals separated from the rest of the show to perform that and try and make that as realistic as possible.

Harris: Do you ever get to something in a script where you're going, "Orthrokorofssibm...can't we make this an appendectomy?"

Harmon: Absolutely. We actually have read-throughs of every script before every show. Usually at those read-throughs, no one has had the time to go back and break down what the terms are, so normally when we get to those in the read-through, everyone in the room is going, "Gabrobermaplasm...."

Harris: Have you ever had people come up to you and think you are a real doctor?

Harmon: I have. (laughs) Actually, I have this little out-patient clinic in the valley that I operate now.

Harris: (laughs) That's the problem with being a doctor on TV. People probably see you in an airport or something, "You know, I have this problem with my arm...."

Harmon: Yeah, and the frightening thing is, you start to think you can fix them, which is really a mistake.

Harris: (laughs)

Harmon: I guess it's a compliment. It means that people think what you are doing is real.

Harris: Right. Mark, I have a listener on the line here. Her name is Laurie and she has a question for you.

Laurie: Hi, Mark. You are a great addition to the show. In the spring, I won a prize to have a walk-on part on Chicago Hope.

Harmon: You did?! When are you going to do that?

Laurie: That's what I wanted to talk to you about, because we're trying to figure out a time to go. I pretty much have till next April.

Harmon: How did you win this?

Laurie: There was a launch for the Catalog For Giving, and Peter Berg, Noah Wyle, and Samuel L. Jackson were part of the group to help sponsor it. There were five different prizes and I won first prize, which was a walk-on part.

Harmon: That's great. So sometime in the spring, I'll meet you there.

Laurie: I would love to. I was going to say, you can do knee replacement, hip replacement, anything you want.

Harmon: Maybe because Peter was involved in this they will have you working with him.

Laurie: Who knows.

Harris: I think what she's saying, Mark, is that she would like to have you give her a full examination.

Laurie: Exactly! That would be very exciting, and I wanted to know if there was a certain time that would be good? Should we go in November, December?

Harmon: I don't know. Whatever they say, Laurie. I was going to say when I asked where you won this, it is tough to get on this set. People don't walk on and tours don't come through, and rarely are walk-ons given. So that's great. Good for you. Whenever they say it is good for you to come.

Laurie: They have said whenever I want to come.

Harmon: Then pick a nice time to come visit Los Angles when it's a little colder over here.

Laurie: Also, I'm pregnant and I am early on. Do you think it would be better to do it when it is early?

Harmon: Is this your first child?

Laurie: Second.

Harmon: Second. You know how you're going to be feeling in the months to come, so you figure it out.

Laurie: All right. Well, I'm very excited and I hope to get the chance to work with you. It's not a big part on the show, but it's very exciting.

Harris: "The chance to work with you." I love that, Laurie. Mark, I think you might be delivering that baby if that's what she wants. Okay, thanks Laurie and good luck with the walk-on. When it happens, you'll have to call us back and tell us how it went!

Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Rhyan Jones

Wednesday, October 16, 1996

Jake Johannsen

Harris: Welcome back to the guest microphone old pal, comedian Jake Johannsen. Good morning, Jake.

Johannsen: Good morning, Paul.

Harris: It's good to see you, it's been a while. Last time I saw you, you and I were backstage at some comedy club talking about you in L.A. and the whole TV community.

Johannsen: Yeah, I thought I was going to get to do a TV show. I'm on the Letterman show and the Tonight Show all the time, so not like that. I thought I was going to get my own show.

Harris: The "Jake Johannsen Show".

Johannsen: Wouldn't even have to be called that.

Harris: Could be "Jake!"

Johannsen: Could be "Hi, Chuck." I could have another name. I'm not one of those guys that has to have my name. In fact, I would rather obscure the issue and have another name on the show so that if it doesn't go, another guy gets blamed.

Harris: (laughs) So you don't have to be like Tony Danza, where on every show, "Hi, Tony!" is all he can handle.

Johannsen: Right. That is the problem with those shows. I like TV shows. Actually, I've been having so much confusion getting my own show, that I'm thinking now that the fastest way to show business is really the police academy, because then you can be on "Cops".

Harris: Oh, you don't mean the "Police Academy" movies, you mean the actual police academy.

Johannsen: Yeah, train to become a police officer and then really shine when the crew of "Cops" comes with you in your squad car. A lot of people bad-mouth "Cops" and first of all I think those people have not really tried "Cops". If you it try, you'll see. I love "Cops" because I personally have never gotten drunk, and taken off all of my clothes, to fight the police. That's the best thing about "Cops." In every episode there is a naked guy, hammered, who wants to wrestle one of them. That's a level of self confidence that I don't think I will ever attain.

Harris: (laughs) No.

Johannsen: Just think about it for a second. You're drunk, you're naked, you're outside... got it? You see two cops coming towards you and your first thought is, "All right. I can do this...", you know? What are you drinking to wash away, "Go in the house"? They never go in the house. It's always, "I'm glad you're here. She started it!" Trying to explain to the cops, you lose a lot of credibility with the police once you are naked. I don't know if you understand that whole concept. I was watching "Cops" one time, and it was a naked guy in a barber shop. Some kind of special, they were having naked haircuts or something. I don't know how you wind up with a naked guy in a barber shop.

Harris: And you do not want to know.

Johannsen: He just walks in, "Do I have to make an appointment or am I next?". But they've got him in the barber shop, and you don't see what happens ahead of time, you just see what happens once the police are there.

Harris: Right. There's no prelude. It's not a Quinn Martin episode. You just go right to the plot.

Johannsen: Usually it just starts with a guy on the radio taking a call. "Yeah, we'll be right there. We just have to drop off a glove." That's the L.A. cops. So they're at the barber shop and they have this guy cornered in a back room, and you can't tell he's naked at first because just his arm shows as he's waving the police off, "Get away!!" "Sir we need to talk to you, you need to come out." "I won't do it!" "Come on, you're naked. Just come on out of there." And finally they wear him down, but he says, "All right, but then we're going to wrestle!!"

Harris: (laughs)

Johannsen: So they make a semi-circle around him, and his first move when he comes out is to get in this squat with his arms spread out. Really squatted down, like he's going to wrestle them. I guess when you're naked and it's cops, "go low" is what he's been trained. Because they will try and pull a crab move on you and you don't want to give the cops a take down right off the bat.

Harris: No. You end up in a half-nelson, and who needs that.

Johannsen: And that is still legal. So they pin this guy on the ground in a second, and then they start squirming around. Then he starts screaming in the camera, "Put it in the paper, put it in the paper," like he doesn't even get he's on TV Forget the paper. That's not a newspaper machine they are aiming at your head right now. So then he tries to get up off the ground, which is probably the best part and it happens all the time. The guy is drunk, he's naked, he's on TV, and there are two cops on top of him... but he has a plan!

Harris: (laughs)

Johannsen: "I'm just gonna get up, get dressed, act normal. I am okay!"

Harris: Do you think "Cops" is one of our greatest crime fighting features in America?

Johannsen: It is up there with "America's Most Wanted".

Harris: But at least on "America's Most Wanted" I can see criminals actually getting caught, people joining in the crime fighting effort. On "Cops" you just watch for pure entertainment. I don't think there is any crime fighting being done.

Johannsen: Well they're catching those guys drinking and being naked.

Harris: Not exactly the FBI Most Wanted list. You never see their posters at the post office.

Johannsen: Yeah, they're not really the tough guy criminals who are wanted for life. You watch those shows and you worry about crime a lot. Do you have the LoJack thing out here where if it's stolen you call the police and they set off a thing in the car and they can find it?

Harris: Yes, right.

Johannsen: Now they have a thing in Los Angeles where you can have that in your dog. In case your dog is stolen, the police can turn on the LoJack and find right where your dog is, and a lot of times these dogs are being stripped for parts down in Mexico. So sometimes they get there and it's too late.

Harris: (laughs)

Johannsen: The LoJack for the dog is just catching on now.

Harris: Uh-huh.

Johannsen: I really think it's a great product.

Harris: That has got to make the cops really happy, "Oh, jeez, Fido's out again!? Tell you what, we're not sending out a helicopter. We'll send out a paper boy to look for him."

Johannsen: I have been reading all about crime. Did you know on death row in some states you are allowed to choose your form of execution? You can decide what you want.

Harris: What are the options?

Johannsen: That's what I was thinking. Are you allowed to make up your own? Because gas chamber, electric chair, firing squad... those are all pretty bad. I think I would choose to be tickled to death by supermodels.

Harris: (laughs) I don't think that's an option.

Johannsen: I don't know why everybody wouldn't choose that.

Harris: It's that or lethal injection... I don't know.

Johannsen: Yeah. I always say tickled to death by supermodels.

Harris: Do you know when they give you the lethal injection, they put alcohol on the spot on your arm before they give you the shot?

Johannsen: Yeah, they don't want an infection. That would be bad.

Harris: "It's getting all puffy, we can't do the killing now."

Johannsen: I'm not really a criminal. I can't remember the last crime I committed. Do remember any crimes you committed?

Harris: Probably when I was a kid I shoplifted candy or something.

Johannsen: I'm not very much of a crook. Here's a job that I heard about, "Daredevil." And I love the sound of "Daredevil" so much that right out of college I thought that I would become a Daredevil, but...it's really dangerous. I mean, they get you up there in that plane and you are supposed to jump out, head first, on fire! It just scares the hell out of me. It sounds so good, but a lot of the stuff they do, you could get hurt badly. So that is why I dropped out of the whole training program. It really is more than you think it is going to be.

Harris: You walked out, rather than dropped out, because that would be too dangerous.

Johannsen: But a lot of jobs out there are kind of bad. I have been looking for new businesses to get a little extra money. In San Francisco I was walking around and I saw a business that was a combination head shop, magazine stand and mail box place. You can have your mail delivered right to the head shop. I don't know about that. You don't want to come in for your mail and hear, "Oh...we smoked your mail." You don't want that.

Harris: "We don't get mail here... what are you talking about, man?" No, you probably want somebody more lucid then that.

Johannsen: A little more lucid than that. Have you been to Las Vegas?

Harris: I was there a couple years ago.

Johannsen: It has changed a lot. They are building all these new casinos. They are trying to make it appeal to kids.

Harris: It's the family fun place, Jake.

Johannsen: Now is that a little freaky to you?

Harris: Yes, totally.

Johannsen: I think they are actually working on ways that kids can gamble, where you could take your kids and they could accidentally lose all their candy or toys. They could bet their toys. "Timmy, what's the matter?" "I lost the Superman doll." "Aw, that's too bad." "I doubled down. I shouldn't have doubled down."

Harris: Well, why should parents be the only ones to experience the thrill of losing everything that's important to them.

Johannsen: That sensation of driving back in a van to the midwest, no puzzles, no coloring books, everything is gone. You're completely cleaned out.

Harris: "I hope you learned your lesson, young man."

Johannsen: "I'll never gamble again."

Harris: "O.K., now on that Reno trip you're going to have to be much better."

Johannsen: "I'll be good."

Harris: (laughs) So what are your hobbies there, Jake?

Johannsen: You know, I'm a man of many talents and interests. But I have a house with a very small yard, and so I had a gardening experience a couple of weeks ago. I was putting in some dirt in my back yard to level out around where the patio is. So I went and I bought this soil at the hardware store. I bought top soil.

Harris: Yeah I love this. You already had dirt, but you had to go buy soil.

Johannsen: I had to go buy soil. You know what the difference between soil and dirt is? About two bucks a bag. So I bought this top soil and I brought it home and I thought, "You know what, I have a plant in the house that could use a little more soil."

Harris: Right.

Johannsen: So I took some of this soil and I put it in the plant in the house. Now do you know what the difference between top soil and potting soil is?

Harris: Uh, no, I don't.

Johannsen: Top soil has steer manure in it. So when you take it in the house, it releases an aroma that is really... let's just put it this way, you wouldn't want a steer in the house. So it really wasn't a good experience and my Iowa background didn't really serve me well in the indoor farming department. My whole house filled up with that steer smell and it kind of spooked my cat a little bit. I didn't like it.

Harris: Do they tell you on the bag that it contains steer manure, because before I put my hand in the bag, I would like that vital information.

Johannsen: Well, it's all sterilized.

Harris: It is still manure, though. I want that information.

Johannsen: There are so many things these days you can put your hand in with out warning. You should always be on guard and steer manure is really the least of your worries. I would keep it off your cereal, and other than that it doesn't bother me too much. Although now that you bring it up, I did put my hand in the bag. But I wash up. I hose down in one of those panic showers out by the garden, like they have at the nuke plant. Guys show up and scrub me with a plastic brush.

Harris: You really liked the movie "Silkwood" a little too much.

Johannsen: I like it a lot.

Harris: Being from Iowa, I would think you would be more comfortable with steer, because I'm guessing that at some point in your life you went out cow tipping. Isn't that a big thing in Iowa?

Johannsen: Sure, I know about cow tipping. The cow sleeps standing up, so you run up to them and push them down while they're asleep.

Harris: It's a big sport in the midwest.

Johannsen: It hardly seems sporting to me. Then they get mad at you and run at you. I don't know. I think you have to be pretty drunk to enjoy cow tipping to its maximum.

Harris: Well, sure.

Johannsen: I guess it's the look on their face that you go for. They wake up and it's already too late but they haven't hit the ground. It's like, "Uh-oh!" I never went cow tipping. Cows are not the brightest animals. I think that's why we domesticated them, because it was no fun to hunt them. You could pretty much hunt them with a hammer. You could just go right at them. "Hey, Jake, what's the hammer for?" "Nothing...BONK!"

Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Rhyan Jones.

Wednesday, October 09, 1996

Dave Barry

Harris: We welcome to our guest line author and columnist Dave Barry, who has a new book out that is both Windows and Mac compatible. It's called Dave Barry in Cyberspace. Good morning, Dave.

Barry: Hi.

Harris: Great to have you back on the show, it's been a few years. Last time, you and a bunch of other writers were in town with your rock n' roll band and you were playing at The Bayou. You and Steven King, and who else was part of that group?

Barry: Amy Tan, Matt Groening from The Simpsons, and a whole bunch of people.

Harris: Does the band still exist? Are you still rocking?

Barry: Well, sort of. There's not a tremendous demand for this band because we're bad. We are really bad. One of the authors is Roy Blunt Jr., and he came up with the best description of our music. We play "hard listening music."

Harris: (laughs)

Barry: We try to play songs that are so familiar to the American people that even when WE play them, the audience recognizes them eventually. About the 3rd verse they'll go, "Oh! They're trying to play Louie Louie!" Although, one time Bruce Springsteen played with us.

Harris: You're kidding!

Barry: No, I'm serious. We were at an American Book Sellers Association convention in Los Angeles.

Harris: The last place I would expect Springsteen to show up.

Barry: I know, but he did because one of the guys in the band...his wife was Springsteen's agent or something. I don't know. I turn around, our last song is Gloria, which is a very simple song. Anybody that's ever been in a garage band knows that if you pick a guitar up and throw on the ground, it will all by itself play Gloria. It is not a complicated song. Anyway, I had to go over to Springsteen, who was strapping on a guitar, my guitar, and say, "Bruce...do you know Gloria?" (laughs)

Harris: (laughs)

Barry: So I am one of the few people in the world who can say that I sang lead and had Bruce Springsteen back me up.

Harris: That's great. If Bruce can't pick up Gloria, he shouldn't pick up the guitar.

Barry: He can handle it, and we would have let him be in the band, but he never wrote a book.

Harris: (laughs) Well, the new book is very funny, and you have actually been in cyberspace for a while.

Barry: Yeah.

Harris: What was the first computer you ever had?

Barry: I had a Radio Shack computer way back at the beginning. It was called a Model 3, and God knows what models 1 and 2 were. It looked kind of like a toaster oven, but it was actually less intelligent. You could do more data processing with a toaster oven than you could with this computer. Basically what I could do is turn it on, and then later on, I could turn it back off. That was the main kind of activity I performed with it. So it was well worth the $2000 it cost. And it's been a long string of that for me ever since.

Harris: Now, of course, you are probably upgraded to Windows 95.

Barry: I got Windows 95, so like most of the American public, I can now simultaneously play solitaire and another game while I'm supposed to be working. That's what we call multi-tasking, and it has really changed my life. I am able to waste time faster than ever before thanks to Windows 95.

Harris: That's great. Do you do a lot of internet surfing?

Barry: Yeah, I do get on the internet. One of the things I talk about in the book is the various bizarre web sites. Have you guys seen some of the stuff that's out there?

Harris: Sure, and we have our own homepage.

Barry: Of course you do. You and Bob Dole and everyone else in the human race.

Harris: By the way, our address is also www.BobDoleBobDoleBobDoleBobDole.com!

Barry: Dot ORG!(laughs)

Harris: Right.

Barry: You know, I wasn't sure whether Bob was giving his web address at that point or having some kind of seizure. "ORG!" Anyway, there are some incredible web sites. There's a web site devoted to The Captain and Tenille, did you know that?

Harris: No!

Barry: It's really good because it lists their personal appearances, which means that if you plan your life properly, you will be somewhere else when The Captain and Tenille perform.

Harris: You can surf the net and hit them, and then make sure you never run into them in real life.

Barry: I just don't want to be there when they do Muskrat Love. I guess you guys get a lot of requests for that, huh?

Harris: Yeah, it's #1 on our countdown every year.

Barry: And Having My Baby. (laughs)

Harris: Oh, God. What else have you found on the net?

Barry: There's another site that teaches you how to curse in Swedish. It's a complete course, and what's wonderful is not so much that the words sound pretty funny -- you can click on the words and hear them pronounced -- but you can also learn Swedish curses, with the English translations.

Harris: Get outta here.

Barry: This is my favorite Swedish curse...get ready now with the dump button..."Just wait till I get rid of the plaster!!"

Harris: (laughs)

Barry: It's an actual Swedish curse.

Harris: Wow! You really have pissed somebody off when you say that!

Barry: Can you imagine two Swedes ram their Volvos into each other and jump out with those words! Those are fightin' words over in Sweden.

Harris: That is the sort of stuff that would make Robbie Alomar spit! Oh, man. Do you have your own home page, Dave?

Barry: Actually I do, but I don't know where it is or what it is. Really, I'm serious. They made one in connection with this book, but I don't know the address. I have never quite understood what you are supposed to do when you get to a home page. There are billions of them, and I spend a lot of time clicking on them. You guys have a home page...what's there?

Harris: Archives of our show and transcripts of interviews. This one will probably end up on there.

Barry: So it would really be worth while going there, huh?

Harris: Well, I wouldn't go that far.

Barry: (laughs)

Harris: It's the sort of thing where if your golf game locks up on you and you need something to do, this would be a good place to go.

Barry: Yeah.

Harris: Well, as I said, your book is very funny. It's always a great pleasure having you on the show, Dave.

Barry: Well thanks for having me, Paul!

Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Rhyan Jones.

Wednesday, September 04, 1996

Chuck Norris

Harris: Welcome back to our guest line now Chuck Norris, the star of TV's Walker, Texas Ranger Saturday nights on CBS TV. Welcome back. Chuck.

Norris: Thanks, Paul...it's good to see you.

Harris: Great to have you back on here.

Norris: Thank you.

Harris: Congratulations on going into your fourth year now of Walker, Texas Ranger. I guess that means you make it through this year, and then it's the big syndication dollars, right?

Norris: Well, actually we're already syndicated...amazingly they've syndicated early and we syndicated Walker for the largest amount in the history of hour drama TV.

Harris: Is that right?

Norris: Yeah.

Harris: Congratulations.

Norris: It surprised everybody because ya'know, hour dramas have been very weak for the last ten years as far as syndication goes, and so this is kind of a break through for hour dramas.

Harris: And you'll probably get some good international syndication out of that, too, 'cause you've always been popular overseas as well.

Norris: Oh, yeah, we're in about eighty-five countries now. In fact I just got back from Greece off of a, you know, kind of a honeymoon. Even though I didn't have the wedding I had a honeymoon.

Harris: Nice way to go.

Norris: Yeah, so I was in Greece and Walker airs TWO nights a week over there.

Harris: Wow.

Norris: So it's pretty popular all over the world. Now since we postponed the wedding we're going to just have the immediate family.

Harris: And then have another quick honeymoon.

Norris: Yeah...and have another quick one.

Harris: Good move.

Norris: Yeah.

Harris: Listen, one of our listeners called a little while ago, his name's Tim Coppersmith and he knows a guy by the mane of Stan Wietz. Does that name ring a bell to you?

Norris: Yeah, sure, I know Stan.

Harris: According to Tim, Stan was a buddy of yours in the Navy when you two were stationed down in Beauford, South Carolina, right?

Norris: No, Stan was actually one of my students.

Harris: Oh, really.

Norris: Uh-huh...and he trained with me back years ago.

Harris: Oh. Because the story that Tim told us that he heard from Stan is that you two were in the Navy together and used to start bar fights.

Norris: (laughs) Naw...first of all I wasn't in the Navy, I was in the Air Force.

Harris: Oh, okay.

Norris: And I didn't start bar fights...(laughs).

Harris: (laughs)

Norris: ...in those days I wouldn't be able to finish them (laughs).

Harris: (laughs)

Norris: When I was in the Air Force if I had started a fight I wouldn't have finished it.

Harris: Do you, get that a lot though?

Norris: Well actually I don't. Amazingly, I've travelled all over the world, I don't have a bodyguard or anything and, I guess it's the image I project. I've always tried to project an image in movies and on television, not of a guy who's an antagonist, who's looking for trouble, but a guy that can deal with it if he has to and, I think that particular image doesn't antagonize guys or intimidate guys.

Harris: Yeah.

Norris: Anyway, I found it to be that way.

Harris: That's great. And I know in addition to being the movie and TV star and, what was it fifteen years you were the world champion in karate?

Norris: Well, I taught for fifteen years. I fought for fifteen years, I was the world champion from sixty-eight to seventy-four.

Harris: Well you mentioned teaching and I know one of the people you taught was Steve McQueen.

Norris: Mmm hmm.

Harris: ...and just this past week I had seen The Great Escape, one of my all time favorite movies...

Norris: Oh mine, too.

Harris: ...on TV and I loved it so much I actually went out and got the video tape and watched it all the way through again, because I thought that was just a terrific performance of his. What was McQueen like to work with? Was he easy, was he into the karate?

Norris: Oh yeah. You know, anything Steve gets into he goes 1,000%. The only problem I had with Steve was slowing him down because generally you don't start really sparring for four, five, six months, until you get the techniques down. About two months into training Steve said, "I wanna fight," you know, he said, "I wanna spar." I said, "Steve you don't have the techniques down well enough yet." He said, "I don't care. I wanna spar!" So I beat on him and beat on him (laughs). But he was tough, the guy was.

Harris: You mean you're doing live action, you're actually kicking him and he's going down?

Norris: Oh, I was knocking him all over the mat, yeah. I'd knock him down, he'd get back up. And he just loved it. He was a real fighter but...he was a real athletic guy anyway.

Harris: And was he giving you Hollywood advice in return?

Norris: No. He was the one who encouraged me to pursue an acting career. He just thought when I retired as world champion, he said, "You ought to pursue an acting career. I think you'd be good at it."

Harris: Right.

Norris: And I said, "Well I don't have any...I wouldn't know the first thing about acting." He said "Well, acting's more than going to class. You either have a presence or you don't have a presence and only the camera can determine that." So anyway, I finally decided to go for it and I'm glad I did.

Harris: Sure paid off for you in the long run, didn't it?

Norris: Yeah...yeah.

Harris: You taught a lot of stars over the years -- was there anybody that you taught where after a while you just said, "Look, this isn't really gonna work...karate's not for you."

Norris: No, no. Actually, you know Bob Barker's one of my students.

Harris: Bob Barker?!

Norris: Right. Well, I didn't see the movie, but I ran into Bob back in L.A. a few weeks ago and he said, "Did you see my movie, Happy Gilmore? And I said, "No, I didn't see it, Bob." And he says, "I'm doing...all these years you taught me...I used some of those techniques on the film." And I said, "No kidding." I'll tell you the guy's real good. I taught him for eight years and he got very good at it.

Harris: In addition to the show, are you going to do any movies any time soon?

Norris: I don't have the time, guys, you know I shoot Walker ten months of the year. I do twenty-six episodes. Walker is kind of a mini-feature so we spend a lot of time trying to make it look like a feature film and so we spend ten months of the year filming. I take August off and January off so, I only have four weeks off at a crack so, I don't have time to do a film.

Harris: All right, Chuck, then I'm going to cross you off the possible cast list for "Birdcage 2"!

Norris: I know, doggonnit, I was looking forward to that, too (laughs).

Harris: (laughs) Listen, congratulations on all the success. It's always great to have you on the show.

Norris: You bet, Paul. Nice talking to you!

Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Rhyan Jones.

Sunday, August 25, 1996

Mary Steenburgen

Harris: We welcome to our guest line actress Mary Steenburgen, whom you know from the new CBS television show Ink, and you also know from big time movies like Philadelphia, Parenthood, Back to the Future III, Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, the extremely underrated Time After Time, and of course the movie she got the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1980, Melvin and Howard. Good Morning, Mary!

Steenburgen: Hi! How are you doing?

Harris: I'm doing great. Welcome to the show. That's a pretty impressive list there, and I mentioned Time After Time, which you did with Malcolm MacDowell, which is one of my all time favorite movies.

Steenburgen: I love that film.

Harris: It really is wonderful and a great take on the old H.G. Wells novel The Time Machine. Just a really nice job.

Steenburgen: Thanks. The funny thing about that movie as you look back now is that it was done just before special effects got very sophisticated, but also it was done on a budget. So, the movie is fantastic, but the special effects are a little bit like a Tom & Jerry cartoon (laughs).

Harris: (laughs) That's why you and Malcolm had to carry it with your acting, and I think you did. Anyway, I know Washington is a town that you visit quite often because you have some pretty good friends here in town, don't you?

Steenburgen: I do.

Harris: Over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. You're from Little Rock, is it that you knew Bill Clinton growing up, or how did that friendship start?

Steenburgen: Actually, it started in his first month of his first term as Governor, which is now about 18 years ago. He actually met my dad first, and became friends with my dad, who was a freight train conductor.

Harris: How does that happen? How does the governor run into a freight train conductor?

Steenburgen: I'll tell you, he was speaking before a group of retired railroad workers, and he was talking to them about a sort of mentoring program of senior citizens with the youth. He was talking about the potential in our community for people, and he had just heard about this young woman who came from a real working class family in Arkansas who had been discovered by Jack Nicholson and cast in a film. He's telling this story and the importance of really being there for the young people, and he hears this sobbing in the audience. He keeps talking and realizes there's this real weeping going on, and he's thinking what a great job he's doing talking. After he finished his speech, he went down into the audience and went up to this man who's wiping tears from his eyes, and he said, "I see that my remarks have touched you and I wanted to meet you. My name is Bill Clinton." And he said, "Well, my name's Morris Steenburgen and if you're going to talk about my daughter, I think you ought to meet her!"(laughs). So Daddy introduced us. One of the only regrets I have in my whole life is that my dad did not live to see him become President. My dad died when I was making "Parenthood" in 1989, and Daddy really, really thought a lot of Bill. I would have made him very happy and it makes me sad that he didn't live to see it.

Harris: Now, when you and Ted Danson got married, didn't the President and the First Lady come to the wedding?

Steenburgen: Yeah, they did.

Harris: How does that work? Do you just send an invitation to the White House?

Steenburgen: (laughs) Well, I'll tell you what was great about it. The press, of course, was very curious about the wedding and tried everything they could to get out there. We actually did the same thing, in our own way, that JFK Junior just pulled off. There were absolutely no photographers and no press at our wedding. They were all over the island and down at the bottom of our driveway trying to get up there, but because of the Secret Service, they couldn't really get up.

Harris: Oh, sure! You pulled rank!

Steenburgen: (laughs) At one point, one poor shmuck who was silly enough to come up there popped up out of the bushes and about ten guys in fatigues popped up out of the bushes and he was gone in an instant. He never got his camera out.

Harris: That is not the right wedding to pop out of the bushes. When the Secret Service are there, you're not popping out of bushes.

Steenburgen: No, no. So, I told Bill that was the ultimate wedding gift, that we got to have our wedding in peace, which was great.

Harris: Yeah. Can we hear the Jack Nicholson story? Where did he discover you? How did that happen? I heard it wasn't a casting couch, but it was a casting office kind of thing.

Steenburgen: No, I managed to avoid the casting couch in my career, although I have some friends who have complained about it. I just met him when he was looking for a leading lady for a film called "Goin' South", and I was a young actress and a waitress in New York. I started reading for him, and he started cancelling all of his interviews. He started asking me where I had been and I said, "Well, I have been here for six years."

Harris: If you had only come in to the coffee shop, we could have done this earlier!

Steenburgen: Yeah.

Harris: And at what point does he tell you you're the one, and you say to yourself, "Homina homina homina....Jack Nicholson!"?

Steenburgen: It was a few days later I came out to Hollywood for a screen test, and so did a lot of other people. So, I really didn't think I would get it. I was definitely the one that was least likely to get it, because everyone else was an already established star. I was this person with this weird last name from New York that no one had ever heard of. But my screen test I guess, according to him, was the best. So I got the part, which was incredible.

Harris: That's a great story.

Steenburgen: He's a great friend.

Harris: You going to work with him again?

Steenburgen: I'd love to, but right now I'm busy working with my husband on Ink.

Harris: I know. You see, right there would be the stunt casting promotion of all time for February sweeps. You and Ted are in the newspaper office and all of a sudden, Nicholson comes in bitching about a subscription.

Steenburgen: Well, we have a few ideas for that kind of thing. We've got some pretty interesting people planned to come on. But the show is working so great now, with the cast that we have, which is wonderful.

Harris: I know you had some trouble, but you got off to a great start in the ratings. It's on Monday nights on channel 9 here in Washington, and all over the country on the CBS television network. Mary, we're out of time, but we'd love to have you back on sometime, maybe next time you're here in town visiting the President. Bring Ted along and play around with us in the studio!

Steenburgen: That sounds like fun.

Harris: There's not a chance in hell of it ever happening though, is there?

Steenburgen: Maybe. You have my number. We'll see, but right now we're too busy with the show.

Harris: Well, thanks for taking a few minutes to be on with us today on Harris In The Morning, Mary!

Steenburgen: Thanks a lot, Paul.

Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Rhyan Jones

Thursday, August 08, 1996

Jeff Cesario

Harris: Joining us now on our guest line is comedian Jeff Cesario, who is out in Los Angeles where he works on the Larry Sanders Show, used to work on Dennis Miller Live...has a pretty big connection there at HBO, I think you'd have to say. And tomorrow night he has his own HBO comedy half-hour. It'll be on at midnight tomorrow night. Good morning, Jeff.

Cesario: Hey man. I am SO glad that I got the Washington traffic, 'cause I'm actually driving there. This morning. And I'm going to be able to avoid the Beltway, and just completely scoot around 270.

Harris: Yeah. No problem coming in today, my friend.

Cesario: I am SO relieved. Because I've got the Bullet Car warming up, and if I would've gotten snagged somewhere out there...ugh.

Harris: Yeah. You better watch out for the Olympians when you do come to town. They were here yesterday, and we had them on the show, and they were over at the White House yesterday, and I think they're all scattering out today to go to some amusement park somewhere, so be very careful.

Cesario: Yeah, you know I figured they'd be going to an amusement park. I mean, I think that whole Kerri Strug thing is a big fake.

Harris: What do you mean?

Cesario: I think she's fine. You take a camera out to that amusement park, I bet she's all over that place. You're not going to see her limping or any of that crap. She's fine.

Harris: Just faked it to become America's sweetheart, huh?

Cesario: Now, was Michael Johnson with them?

Harris: No, he's not here.

Cesario: That was an amazing...I mean, he wins the 400, then he wins the 200 in a world record time, and I love that complete expression of ecstacy he had when he crossed the finish line in the 200, sets a new world record. Right there, if I were his trainer, I would've come out of the stands with a quart of Jim Beam and a chocolate pie.

[riotous laughter ensues]

Cesario: Just start him immediately. He should've been on the medal ceremony awards stand with just a big chocolate pie. He should be about 210 already.

Harris: Don't bother training anymore, you've set the unbreakable world record.

Cesario: Absolutely. Cigars, heroin, and chocolate pie. What does he care? It can't even possibly damage his image at this point.

Harris: That's right. You know, that's the thing I don't understand about a lot of these Olympians. You ask them "What are you gonna do now?" "Well, I have a meet next week." "What do you mean you have a meet next week?!?! You were just in the OLYMPICS!!! Relax for a second!"

Cesario: Yeah, take it off. Although there was the one night of the Olympics that was...there was definitely...it was definitely the Gay Olympics that night. Wow. You know, I tuned in and it was Rhythmic Gymnastics, Men's Floor Exercise Exhibition...

Harris: Right.

Cesario: ...Synchronized Swimming...and then I believe there was a hairstyling thing. I'm not sure. But, oh my goodness. They gotta change that. Maybe it's time to get one of those, like, the rollerskating on the halfpipe thing.

Harris: Uh huh.

Cesario: What do they call...? That's in the X Games. Get one of those in there.

Harris: Well they had the skateboarders and the incline skaters in the big closing ceremonies, that three and a half hour festival of boredom.

Cesario: Oh yeah! With those poor kids that they had those kangaroo outfits strapped to? How would you like to volunteer for Olympic Ceremony duty? "OK, you're going to be the 300 foot white spermatozoa man, and then YOU'RE gonna be a kangaroo." No! I don't wanna be a kangaroo!

Harris: Yeah, but in retrospect: kangaroo, spermatozoa man...I would go with kangaroo.

Cesario: Yeah, but which one do you remember? You remember the spermatozoa man.

Harris: That's true.

Cesario: That's huge.

Harris: Very true. Any thoughts on politics? Got the Republican Convention coming up next week. You been following the campaign?

Cesario: Boy, you know, that was one of the smoother transitions I've heard.

Harris: Well, thank you...I mean, how else am I going to go from Spermatozoa Man to Bob Dole?!?!

Cesario: Exactly. "He's out of Olympic material!" Boom, just a hard left.

Harris: That's it.

Cesario: Well, when do the Republicans start? They start this coming week in San Diego?

Harris: Right. Monday.

Cesario: Dole is...Dole is still taking money. He took money from, what was it, the tobacco people?

Harris: Yeah, tons of it.

Cesario: He doesn't care anymore. He'll just take money from anybody. I think the rap guys should get in on this, you know? Snoop Doggy Dogg should just drop Bob Dole about 500k. Dole would change his tune like that! "C'mon, this Snoop Doggy Dogg's fine. Don't nit-pick his lyrics, he's a good kid!"

[laughter]

Cesario: Dole would actually take money from the Democrats. Just amazing. And Clinton, he's just in bliss. Because he knows so long...I mean, how much worse could he step in it and still win this election?!?! It's just, he's got that look on his face...Bill Clinton is like the guy you pick to play right field in the softball game. He just doesn't care. He knows he's that bad, but he knows he has the lead on cheap beers! So we just keep electing him.

Harris: Yeah.

Cesario: He's amazing, man.

Harris: Let me get some plugs in here for you, Jeff. As always, we never have enough time for you on the Harris In The Morning show.

Cesario: Yeah, because we talk every, what, four years?

Harris: I know.

Cesario: And you know, the time goes by...

Harris: Jeff, if you just would come to town every once in a while...

Cesario: I gotta work D.C. I gotta work that one club...is it still above a strip place?

Harris: No, that place, the Comedy Cafe, closed down.

Cesario: Oh it did?

Harris: Yeah. And it was really disappointing to me, because it was the week after I was named "Mr. Tassels" downstairs.

Cesario: Oh really? They had a special...wow.

Harris: Yeah. The Improv is here, though. You should come play there.

Cesario: You moved up from "Mr. G-String," I believe.

Harris: Yes I did.

Cesario: From "Mr. Tassels."

Harris: Yeah. Well Jeff is very busy. Used to work on the Dennis Miller show. You know, Miller is here in town working on a movie with Wesley Snipes.

Cesario: Oh wow!

Harris: It's called "Murder at 1600."

Cesario: [snickering] Uh oh.

Harris: That's seriously what it's called.

Cesario: That sounds like Dennis wrote the title. Instead of "Murder at the White House," it would be "Yeah, Murder at 1600, Babe."

[laughter]

Cesario: He's something else, I tell you. I had a blast working for him, and now working for Garry Shandling over at "The Larry Sanders Show."

Harris: Greatest show on television.

Cesario: And you know what it's like? People always say "Do you get sick of writing jokes for other people?" Well, certainly not those two guys! It's like being a great side-man in jazz. It's like being Herbie Hancock and working for Miles Davis. And then when you get a shot to do your own album, you know? Herbie Hancock, I'm sure, when he got a chance to do a solo album, didn't say "Well all right. Let me hire Jerry Murad and the Harmonicats." No, he went out and he hired good people! So it's a ton of fun to work for both of those guys.

Harris: That's great. And when do we see the new Larry Sanders stuff?

Cesario: In early November it'll go on air, and we start shooting next week.

Harris: Terrific. Good luck with it, and tomorrow night the HBO Comedy Half-Hour, Jeff Cesario, friday night at midnight. Always great to have you on. And come by every once in a while. Once a decade if you can make it.

Cesario: Thanks. Actually, I think I have a gig there in 2001.

Harris: Well, good! We'll look forward to seeing you.

Cesario: And listen, I'm gonna call you and get the traffic.

Harris: Sounds good. You have my home number, call me there. I have it piped in. That's Jeff Cesario live from Los Angeles. Back after this.

Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Joel Begleiter.

Thursday, May 30, 1996

Jeff Foxworthy

Harris: Joining us now is our old pal, comedian Jeff Foxworthy. In all the years we've known Jeff and had him guest on our show, he's gone from being a stand-up comic to a million-selling author to the star of his own TV series on ABC. Now, good morning, Mister TV Star!

Foxworthy: I think you have the wrong number.

Harris: So, now that you've got your own show, what are you doing with all those TV dollars you're making?

Foxworthy: God, like a month ago I traded in my car and got a pickup truck and my wife is like, "you finally get your own TV show, you can have any kind of car you want and you get a darned truck." And I said, "I know, that's what I wanted." But the thing about it is, my brother and I have the same kind of truck now. Course, his doesn't stand out in Georgia. Mine stands out, out here.

Harris: Absolutely.

Foxworthy: Can't get parts for it, but it stands out.

Harris: You don't see a lot of trucks on lawns up on blocks out in LA, I'm guessing.

Foxworthy: The must put 'em in the backyard. You don't see hardly any in the front yard.

Harris: Since you're making TV money have you been treating the family nicely? Have you taken them on any big trips or anything?

Foxworthy: Well, you know what? We were just in Dallas, Texas. I was doing some shows there two weekends ago and for the first time ever taking the family on the road. We didn't go stay in the hotel. My in-laws have just moved there and so we went and stayed with them. Which on life's list of experiences ranks right below sitting in a tub full of scissors.

Harris: Why?

Foxworthy: Well for one thing, they're retired, and I have this job late at night, and these people, it's all they can do to stay awake through Wheel of Fortune. You feel like a hellraiser 'cause you're watching ER. But then my father-in-law gets up at 5 o'clock in the morning, every morning and watches the Discovery Channel. I don't know why there's this big rush to do this.

Harris: Well, first thing in the morning, he's gotta be close to nature, I guess.

Foxworthy: He watches at a volume that will rattle change on the dresser. And you're lying in bed, it's pitch black dark, the sun hasn't thought about coming up, and all you can hear is "like other predators of the jungle, the jaguar subdues its victims by slowly choking the life from its neck." And you're lying in bed going "you know what, that ain't a bad idea..." It's a weird sensation to be mad and learning at the same time.

Harris: You don't need that.

Foxworthy: NO.

Harris: How do your kids get along with your in-laws?

Foxworthy: Oh, they're doing great. I think they've started to realize that between my family and my wife's, genetically, there is no hope for themselves. It's hard to think of yourself as a loser at two years old. But you know, talking about kids, people told my wife "you're going to learn more from your kids then they'll learn from you." I think for one thing, kids are a lot smarter now then we ever were.

Harris: What do you mean?

Foxworthy: Well, kids now, they turn five years old and they've got a computer. We turned five, got that little wooden paddle with a rubber band on it and the red ball on the end of it. Was that a brain builder or what? One, two, three, four... You'd play with it about three times, the rubber band would break, the ball would fly across the room, break something, and you'd get a spanking with the paddle. No wonder we turned out like this.

Harris: But don't you realize Jeff, that was your first physics lesson! You were learning about inertia, momentum, and discipline.

Foxworthy: I wasn't paying attention, what was wrong with me?

Harris: And how old is your oldest now?

Foxworthy: She is four years old. And I've learned a lot from her, like I've learned little girls love dolls. They just don't love doll clothes.

Harris: What do you mean?

Foxworthy: We've got four thousand dolls and ain't one of them got a stitch of clothes on. I walk in her room the other night and there's six naked Barbies lying on the floor. I started having fantasies being G.I. Joe on a three day pass, "Hello ladies..."

Harris: So what's the story with the TV show these days?

Foxworthy: Well, we finished taping for the first year and now we're waiting on them to make up their minds on what they're going to do. and so I'm just trying to keep myself busy.

Harris: Have you tried to kiss up to them [ABC] and say "you know that slot after Home Improvement looks kind of empty..."?

Foxworthy: You send little subtle notes there. "If nobody wants to live right after Tim [Allen] on Tuesdays, that would be nice, instead of that wonderful Saturday night at 8 o'clock you gave us." Saturday night at 8. All twelve of the people watching did seem to enjoy the show.

Harris: "We would make the sacrifice." That's how you gotta build it up. "We don't want to but we would make the sacrifice for the network...that's how much we care."

Foxworthy: I would do that. I would give myself for the good of the team and go on right after Home Improvement. We're waiting on that and I've got two books coming out in the next week or so.

Harris: Two more books?

Foxworthy: But different books.

Harris: Well of course they're different books, Jeff, I didn't think you were re-releasing your old books.

Foxworthy: Yeah, right, it's the same book we released three years ago.

Harris: We just put a new cover on it...

Foxworthy: But as my dad put it, "You finally wrote a book for the library instead of the back of the toilet." I actually have a hard cover book coming out.

Harris: Really?

Foxworthy: It's Hyperion...the same people who did the Tim Allen book last year. And this one's called: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem. And it's kind of autobiographical. I went in and tried to tell stuff I haven't told before. And the other one is called: Those People and it's...all these years on the road, when you get to your third millionth frequent flyer mile I think something snaps in your brain. But all these years I've sat in airports and kind of drawn people and put like Far Side captions on them. So this book is just a collection of my drawings and I never really showed them to anybody but my wife and she always laughed at them and a year or so ago I was having lunch with a publisher and I reached in my bag to pull something out and he's like "what's that?" And I said oh, that's one of my sketch books. And he flipped over it, so that's what this book is.

Harris: And what kind of people are you running in to in airports? I mean, what kind of characters?

Foxworthy: People that make you feel better about your own family. It can be an airport, it can be a mall, the best is the state fair. I think if you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you'll be going, "You know, we're alright. We are dang near royalty!" I mean have you ever seen people so ugly that you have to get someone else to verify it?

Harris: What do you mean?

Foxworthy: When you're like "Come here, get out of line, you've got to see this man. No, get out of line, it's worth it. Over by the cotton candy. Don't look, don't look, don't look. IS THAT THE HAIRIEST BACK YOU'VE EVER SEEN? Looks like bigfoot in a tank top. Oh, God! It's a woman! Oh, and she's got kids! Somebody slept with that WOMAN!!! Oh no! It's Aunt Betty!!

Harris: Oh NO! Oh, man. And are people still coming up to you with redneck stuff? What are the latest ones you've been hit with?

Foxworthy: If you have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say "Kool Whip" on the side, you might be a redneck. If your working television sits on top of your non-working television, you might be a redneck.

Harris: Wait a second, Jeff! That's me, I've been there!

Foxworthy: That's what makes them funny.

Harris: Yeah.

Foxworthy: If you've ever used a toilet brush for a back scratcher. I had a lady tell me this in Dallas, and I said, you know what makes that funny to me, is I know that you didn't make this up. I know you walked in the bathroom and saw your husband and went, "What are you doing?" And he's like, "Nothin'."

Harris: Gimme another one.

Foxworthy: If you've ever slow danced in a Waffle House...

Harris: Noooo....

Foxworthy: SAW IT.

Harris: You saw it?

Foxworthy: Saw it. You know how like one in the morning, you ever eaten in a Waffle House? You have the people waiting for a booth to open -- and if you're waiting in line at a Waffle House you've had a toddy or two -- and the jukebox was playing and I guess this couple got bored and they started slow dancing and I said, "Hand me a napkin, I'm writing that down."

Harris: I love it.

Foxworthy: If your neighbors think you're a detective because a cop always brings you home, you might be a redneck. And probably my favorite one in the last month...If you understood everything Jodie Foster said in the movie Nell, you might be a redneck.

Harris: Oh that's a classic. Well, Jeff, it's always great to talk to you, and congratulations on all your success!

Foxworthy: Oh, thank you, Paul!

Harris: I hope ABC is smart enough to give you another year on the tube, but if not...

Foxworthy: If not, we'll just keep doing this other stupid stuff we're doing, if not life is good.

Harris: It's working, great. Always good to talk to you Jeff...

Foxworthy: You too, see you this weekend! Thank you so much.

[Note: About two weeks after this interview, "The Jeff Foxworthy Show" got picked up for a second season -- not by ABC, but by NBC, where it aired for another season before being cancelled.]

Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Joe Camarda.

Monday, May 20, 1996

Brian Regan

Harris: We welcome back to our guest microphone our old pal, comedian Brian Regan, who is in town this week to do a bunch of shows down at The Improv. Good morning, Brian.

Regan: Good morning. Thanks for having me back on.

Harris: Great to see you again. I saw you on the Letterman show Monday night, I didn't actually stay up and watch it, I taped it because I knew you were on and you did a nice job there.

Regan: Thank you. I actually was bumped three times from Letterman in a two month period.

Harris: Really?

Regan: Yeah, it's quite an experience.

Harris: Do they pay you every time you get bumped?

Regan: Yeah, they pay you but you know the money is, well you know, scale or whatever, and it's kinda hard to trade off..."Well you're not going to be on national TV but here's $300. Well, hey, life is good!"

Harris: But you did it, you went in there Monday night and you did a nice job.

Regan: Yeah, thanks man, it was kinda exciting.

Harris: What do you do after you're on TV, do you have a new TV attitude?

Regan: Well, what I did, I just pal-ed around with Dave all night, you know. He's like: "Hey, you wanna go out and have some cocktails?" "I always heard you were kinda quiet." "No, no, no, we'll go out, we'll hit the town." You know it's weird, everybody asked me that, what he's like, you know. And I have to say I have no idea. I never met him before or after, he just comes over and he shakes your hand, right after the set, and then he whispers something in your ear.

Harris: What did he whisper in your ear?

Regan: He comes over and he whispers in your ear, "Hey, thanks for wasting my time, the show's time, the network's time, what was that all about?"

Harris: So he is as nice as we've heard.

Regan: I was like wow, I couldn't believe it. "You're making me feel bad Mr. Letterman". Actually, I notice now that he just whispers, he always whispers, at every guest.

Harris: Something for every guest, yeah.

Regan: And I think it's just so it will look smoother when they go to commercial. Can you imagine if he and the guest sat there just looking straight ahead for that awkward four seconds. "And we'll be back!" And then just burrow your eyes right into the TV screen. So he leans over and goes "So I'm fakin' like I'm talking to you, so you'd better smile". Oh, okay. "Play along or you ain't ever gettin' on again".

Harris: It's like that same thing you see on local TV shows where they're going to a commercial and they've just had the wacky story from the "Wacky Reporter" and the anchors pretend to be talking to each other about the reporter, and they're actually thinking, "Gee, the lighting in here sucks, I look terrible tonight". It's that same kind of deal, I'm sure.

Regan: I like when you're watching the news and they try to make the transition from one news story into the next. How come they don't think you can handle a new story out of the blue? They gotta make a little lame segue, "Hey, that's a big lotto jackpot! Speaking of lotto, there was a lot o' crime in the city today." Oh, okay I'm right with ya! I'm right on your tail. Thanks for smoothing that out.

Harris: By the way, later we'll do a Harris Challenge and give some stuff away.

Regan: When you're giving things away do you do it like on a game show? Where you know at the beginning of game show when contestants tell about themselves, like a little 15 second bio? I notice sometimes that they actually have something kind of interesting to say, and the host never asks them a follow up question. It always kills me. "Contestant number one, tell us about yourself." "My name is Kirk Edwards. I'm very close to isolating a gene. If I'm successful, I'll be able to cure every disease known to man." "All right, that's great, you ready to spin the wheel? You know to look out for the Bonkers!"

Harris: [laughing] Look out for the "bonkers"!

Regan: "Number two, how 'bout you? "My name is Suzi Wilson, I'm part of a secret, clandestine, manned space mission to the planet Venus." Okay you don't want to hear this noise: "whompwow" Contestant number three? "My name is Toby and I got a dog." Oh really, what kind of dog do you have?"

Harris: Well, Wink...

Regan: You know Mike Wallace, the 60 Minutes guy, he started out years ago, as a game show host.

Harris: I knew he did some weird interview show and some commercials for weird stuff...

Regan: He did a game show, and I can only imagine how fun that was. He probably would grill the contestants, you know, "Contestant number one, tell us about yourself." "My name is Steve Wilson, I'm from Buffalo, and I like bowling." "Oh really? Well, we have documents that suggest that you've never been bowling!" "[in a scared voice] Well, I would like to go bowling." "But you've never been?" "No, no I haven't."

Harris: Oh God, that would be annoying, and at the end of the game show Andy Rooney comes out and gives you a couple of REALLY annoying minutes.

Regan: [in Andy Rooney's voice] "How come you get a prize, how come you don't give one? How come there are ten pins? Why not nine or twelve?"

Harris: So you moved out to LA a couple of years ago, don't they have ads in the newspapers out there, "Game Show Contestants Wanted" in the classifieds?

Regan: No, I didn't know, really?

Harris: Oh yeah, you look in the classifieds of like the LA Times...come down to, I don't know what studios, Burbank Studios or whatever it is, and be on a game show. I'm sure there are people who look through there every day and they're like..."Oh if only Rod Roddy would call out my name and I could come on down!"

Regan: Actually, some friends of mine, this is true, were on Family Feud. And I went with them to the audition and they held this big mass tryout in New York and believe it or not, there are a lot of families that are pretty lame. There were 15 families there and from this audition only two got picked for the show. All they want is enthusiasm, just jump up and down and be excited.

Harris: You don't have to know how to answer anything...

Regan: Some people would be smart and they would just stand there, you know, "Contestant number two, tell us about yourself, "My name is Bill." "What do you do Bill?" "Nothin' really." "Okay, all right, Bill."

Harris: You know what that is, on Family Feud you had to have five family members and I know that in some of those families they were stretchin' for that fifth guy. There were a lot of those guys. "What do mean your brother won't come? Cousin Bill? Oh, cousin Bill is an idiot! But bring him along anyway."

Regan: You're right, because a lot of times in the intro, the fifth one is so obscure, it's like "I'm John, this is my sister Suzi, this is my brother Fred, and this is my brother's uncle's cousin's nephew, Ralph."

Harris: Ralph is the one we had to coach ahead of time to do the good-answer thing. "Come on Ralph, it's good answer!" "Answer good?" "No Ralph, it's GOOD ANSWER!

Regan: "We just met him this morning."

Harris: "He cuts our lawn, he's not really in the family but we needed five." Now, Brian, you just flew into town yesterday?

Regan: Got back yesterday, yeah. You know, I noticed something. A lot of people make jokes about flight attendants but I truly admire what they do. They're there primarily for safety.

Harris: It sounds like you're reading out of the Flight Attendant manual there, "We're primarily here for your safety." We're not just waitresses here pushing carts, we're here for your SAFETY, damn it!

Regan: Well, it's true. And they gotta put up with a lot of garbage from people. Have you ever been sitting in your seat, you know, and you see somebody trying to fit something in the overhead rack that you know ain't going in there in a million years? You know, they're just trying to stuff this big giant thing. And you're sittin' there looking at them like, what kind of perception problem does this guy have? And the flight attendants are so nice they run up and act like it's close. They'll run up going, "Oh, gosh, I don't know if that's going to get up there. We can check it for you, you moron." That's what I would do. I would last nine seconds at that job, I would just run up, "Hey does that look like it's gonna fit? What the heck is the matter with you, you've got this much room, and you've got like a dead yak. Hey, hey, you don't see all these people standing behind you? Oh, oh this is your world, oh, it's all about YOU! I'm sorry. You let us know when you're all set." And the other people who I also feel bad for are the gate agents, because nobody listens to those people. It's like they aren't even talking. They try so hard to get that whole boarding thing to go smoothly.

Harris: It ain't gonna happen.

Regan: Right, it ain't gonna happen. They're on the microphone, "Ladies and Gentlemen we're about to begin boarding if we could ask for your cooperation please stay seated until you row has been called. Please stay seated until your row has been called." That's what they say but somehow, by the time it comes out of the speaker, it sounds like, "Everybody up and rush the door! Everybody up and try to squeeze your big fat butts in the small gate door area. Immediately! Hurry up, the plane's leaving! Moo!"

Harris: And would those of you with the largest luggage please come forward to block the way?

Regan: Well, you know what they gotta do? They need to deal with that differently. I don't believe in violence, but I believe in sacrifice for the greater good. They need to take care of it. "Ladies and Gentlemen, we're about to begin boarding. If we could ask for your cooperation please stay seated until your row has been called. BOOM! Oh, you might notice that we had to take this one person out. Everybody come check his boarding pass ladies and gentlemen. Look, his row had not yet been called." Everybody else goes, "Oh, gosh!" You know, backing off. You wouldn't have to do it a lot, you'd do it like three times and then the word gets out, "I hear if you don't listen, they shoot ya, and kill ya." "Yeah, they had to start doing that."

Harris: They would definitely remain seated. And I'll tell you another thing, no tray table would ever come down again if they treated them like that. The one I always felt sorry for were the ones who had to deal with those unruly drunk passengers -- usually members of the Kirk Douglas family -- like this guy who a couple of years ago defecated on the cart. Do you remember that story? A guy in first class got so drunk, and I don't remember his name, and he plea bargained his way out of it or something and he can never fly that airline again, which is a HUGE punishment.

Regan: What do you mean, on the cart?

Harris: He defecated on the beverage cart in first class. Now, have you ever flown first class?

Regan: I've walked through it. I have no interest in going in there if that's the kind of behavior they have up there.

Harris: That's exactly what I'm thinking. The words "first class," don't they mean anything anymore? Defecating on the beverage cart? You don't even deserve coach at that point, you should be in steerage or luggage at that point!

Regan: That's pretty horrible. I like sitting in the back of the plane but the one thing I hate about being in the back is all the good meals run out. You can hear them coming down the aisle with the meal cart, and by the way, I'm going to watch even more after your story, Paul. You can hear them, and they're going, "Okay we have steak, lobster, and a cold fish head." I'm going, "Oh NO! I wonder what I'm gonna get?"

Harris: Great stuff, Brian. Thanks for coming in today.

Regan: Thanks, Paul.

Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Joe Camarda.

Wednesday, May 15, 1996

Gene Siskel

Harris: The Siskel & Ebert Interviews special airs tonight at 8 on CBS, channel 9. We've had Ebert on the show many times over the years, and now, it's Siskel's turn. Good morning, Gene.

Siskel: Good morning, Paul!

Harris: I know that you must be in a good mood this morning, I know that you're a huge Bulls fan and they beat up on the Knicks big time last night.

Siskel: We finally got some distance on them, winning by 13 points. It was a great series, always a very physical series, a lot of personal animosity between the two sets of players. Now it's rest up, get our backs in shape. We have an old team, and they're hurting a little bit...Scottie Pippen's ankle, his back, Michael's back, Tony Kukoc's back, Dennis Rodman's finger. We get four days off and then it's Orlando.

Harris: Will you be traveling to the away games?

Siskel: That's part of the fun, going to the away games, because you feel under pressure yourself, see if you can get out of the auditorium without getting hit by a hot dog. I hope they can take'em for a few more games. Orlando has a fabulous starting five, they're not as deep as the Bulls, but their starting five is impressive.

Harris: And who do you see the Bulls playing after they beat up on the Magic?

Siskel:: I think it's gonna be Seattle. All Seattle had to do was win one series to give itself the confidence that they could win, and I think they'll be a strong team.

Harris: Listen, I want to ask you about a movie related thing, before we get to talking about the special tonight. I've wanted to ask you this for a long time. About 5 or 6 years ago, you and Roger were on the Tonight Show on the same night Chevy Chase was the lead guest and you guys came out and you panned Chevy's movie right in front of him.

Siskel:: Absolutely, that was a famous story.

Harris: What was the movie, I can't remember?

Siskel:: Three Amigos.

Harris: Which you were certainly right to pan.

Siskel:: In fact, backstage he told me he didn't even like it. But you know, really, if you think about it Roger and I and all critics really have one absolute essential part of our credentials and that is that you believe that that is actually what we think. The moment that you think we're faking it we're lost to you. Roger and I are now in our 20th year and I think people tune in because they know that for better or for worse, these are our opinions. We don't pretend to disagree. Shows will go for weeks where we agree 4 out of 5, 5 out of 5 times. And we're really there to try and express our enthusiasm for films. We'd rather see a picture that we liked then dump on one we didn't. We were on the Tonight Show and Johnny [Carson] said "I don't think I would have asked that question." It was embarrassing I suppose, but there was no other answer other than that we didn't like it.

Harris: Have you ever been in a situation where you didn't have somebody like Chevy who said the movie wasn't that good, somebody who thought they did a great job, and you slammed them and then you meet them?

Siskel:: Oh, absolutely, now this is kinda embarrassing to me. I wasn't a big fan of Silence of the Lambs. Most people liked it, but I thought it was way overdone, and the end of the picture was basically just Jodie Foster in the old horror house being chased around. At any rate, I'm in a vast minority, the world completely disagrees with me and I had to meet all of those people and they just sorta smiled at me, for not getting it.

Harris: Nobody ever took a swing at you?

Siskel:: The only actor who I think probably might have possibly taken a swing at me if he could have would be Burt Reynolds. He used to call Roger and me the Bruise Brothers, out of Chicago. Now I think he understands that he didn't live up to the promise of his career, but while he was fighting whatever demons he was fighting, he was not making good pictures. The guy who was so great in Deliverance and other films, just made a lot of dumb action pictures. He seemed to be very angry at us, very angry.

Harris: He didn't take the swing did he?

Siskel:: No, he didn't and now I'm rooting for him, I think he's in a picture...is he in Striptease?

Harris: I think so, yeah.

Siskel:: I'm rooting for him because he had so much potential and obviously America was interested in him for a while.

Harris: And then Smokey and Bandit II came out and that was pretty much it.

Siskel:: At that point you're really just lining your pockets. In fact, Cannonball Run II. I used to pick that as the worst movie ever made. I'm sure no one is listening that saw the picture, but they actually animated the race when they travel the country. In the film they had dots on a map because they didn't want to travel, they just wanted to stay in basically Los Angeles County and the San Diego area and not go across the country. It was such a cynical piece of film making. It was saying we've got this audience, this good old boy audience, car racing audience in our hip pocket and we don't have to try, we're gonna sucker 'em in anyway. That kind of attitude, and you see it sometimes with these remakes of old television shows like the Beverly Hillbillies, basically they just remade the pilot.

Harris: Right.

Siskel:: They know they got the TV ad, they know they got the name recognition, they know that they can do a tie in with McDonald's or some fast food outlet and the money is just gonna flow in. That's probably when I get the most angry at American movies, when they just so cynically manipulate the audience without even trying to give a good story.

Harris: It must be hard for you sitting through all these movies, you must go to a half dozen movies a week. When you get to the bad ones, have you ever walked out of a movie?

Siskel:: Well, I finally did, I just couldn't take it anymore. After 27 years, I walked out of my first one a few months ago. Black Sheep with Chris Farley. The guy...I can't take him. It's like I'm watching a guy on a treadmill to his own death or something. I knew John Belushi and he's no John Belushi. And it's just there's no subtlety there and I don't find anything funny. The history of big men who are funny in the movies is storied and wonderful and this guy is not a Belushi, he's not a Babe Hardy, he isn't John Goodman either for that matter. John Goodman is more that just a big guy, he's a wonderful actor.

Harris: Yeah.

Siskel:: But I'm just saying he's...

Harris: I guess he didn't find that one up to the standards of Tommy Boy....

Siskel:: Yeah right, Tommy Boy I sat all the way through, much to my regret. There's no writing in these films, when you're talking about Laurel and Hardy, you're talking about, you know, comic genius. This is Saturday Night Live junk.

Harris: Let's go from the sublime to the ridiculous, Chris Farley to Brad Pitt, who you sat down with. You and Brad Pitt in a bar in Manhattan for the interview right?

Siskel:: This is his first network television interview that you'll see tonight.

Harris: And were the women going nuts in the bar while you're doing this?

Siskel:: Well, actually we were alone in the bar with the crew. We cleared it out but I think the women probably would go nuts if they could have been there. He's very good looking and one of the things that I wanted to try and do in this interview because this is the first time people are really going to get to meet him tonight in a personal way. It had to be more than looks, because there are thousands of great looking men and women in New York and Los Angeles, and other big cities who cannot get work in the entertainment world, let alone get into a movie, let alone achieve stardom. And Brad appeared in all different kids of pictures from A River Runs Through It to Thelma and Louise to Kalifornia to 12 Monkeys to Legends of the Fall. The guy is not just a hunk by any means, so I try and get from him what does he think he has. And he comes up with sincerity as an answer. I think that's really true. You'll watch him struggle a little bit to come up with good answers to these questions, tell stories, tell what it's like to be good looking.

Harris: Do you make him cry like Barbara Walters?

Siskel:: No, and he doesn't make me cry and Roger doesn't cry in his interviews.

Harris: That's good. And the other one that you did was Meryl Streep?

Siskel:: I took Meryl to Yale University, our mutual alma mater. She went to the drama school, and I have her meet a bunch of the drama school students and she tells about her horror stories. You know she was actually emotionally driven to a psychiatrist there one time because she had teacher come on to her. She had tough criticism from teachers and other students because she was the star of her class and was cast in every production. And she said her acting career subsequently in Hollywood is easier than the days at Yale. She's just a glorious talent.

Harris: Didn't you two have this interview over pizza?

Siskel:: Yes, the best pizza in America too, Frank Pepe's in New Haven, Connecticut.

Harris: Pepe's and Sally's, the two big ones up there, are both great.

Siskel:: Yeah -- very good, Paul!

Harris: Well, I worked in Connecticut for a long time, so I know them both.

Siskel:: Oh...I'll tell you, the nice thing with the interview was I took home six slices to go!

Harris: No, that was Roger's order.

Siskel:: That would've been SIXTEEN slices.

Harris: Now, the last thing I wanna mention here is a movie that's out that we absolutely slammed when we went to a preview of it last week.

Siskel:: I know what you're going to say: Twister.

Harris: And you didn't like it either, right?

Siskel:: No, no, no. The special effects are fine, but the story....again, laughable. How can you be afraid of anything, or tense when you're laughing at the characters?

Harris: My problem with the movie was the villain. I don't think the villain was bad enough. Okay, he copied the guy who had instincts about the tornadoes.

Siskel:: [sarcastically] Oh, but they had black vans.

Harris: Yeah, and corporate backing!

Siskel:: The villain I suppose is the tornado. But you know, when they made this, they knew they were going to have great special effects from George Lucas' Industrial Light And Magic. So they got that in the bag. Why not write a story? Why not spend the extra month and write a story? That's what I don't get. In other words, again, that same cynicism which is "the special effects will bring'em in the house...actually, blow down the house."

Harris: Right. I'd love to see the box office drop off after last weekend, but I'm afraid it won't

Siskel:: No, because there's no other competition for it around. It's got an easy sell, it's the tornado movie, everybody knows it. Good name, Twister. They've got all the things going for it, once they get you in the tent. And little kids will say, "Yeah, I liked it. I wasn't afraid." So it's got the rollercoaster effect going for it. It's going to be a big hit. But you know what? I would say ignore that, and focus on the pictures that are really good, like I Shot Andy Warhol or The Truth About Cats And Dogs

Harris: That's a terrific movie.

Siskel:: Or Fargo. These are really fine, fine films. And on this special tonight on CBS, what we do is, we're not pushing any movies. Typically, when you see interviews with stars, it's because they've got a movie coming out Friday and it's their "best work ever." Neither Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, or Brad Pitt has a movie coming out this week that they're pushing. We're celebrating their talents by trying to do these interviews in an entertaining but serious fashion about their work. That's why we're interested in them in the first place. Spielberg talks about what he thinks ET is really about...his parents' divorce.

Harris: Really?

Siskel:: It's fascinating. He thinks that in a tough situation like that, little kids will somehow dream up imaginary characters, and imaginary friend. To me what he's really saying is that -- remember, the kid in ET is from a broken home -- this "ET, phone home" is really, "Daddy, come home" in a way.

Harris: That's very interesting. Listen, Gene, we're out of time. I'd love to talk to you more. We'll have to have you back on the show sometime.

Siskel:: Be my pleasure.

Harris: We'll all be watching tonight at 8 on channel 9, it's The Siskel & Ebert Interviews. Hopefully the first of many, right, Gene?

Siskel:: We hope so. Thanks, Paul!

Harris: Thanks, Gene!

Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Joe Camarda