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 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