Friday, April 25, 1997

Brian Regan

Harris: We welcome back to our guest microphone comedian Brian Regan, who we last saw in November, when he was in town as one of the performers for The Paul Harris Comedy Concert For Children's Hospital. Brian is back to do two weeks at The Improv. Good morning, Brian.

Regan: Good morning! How are you guys?

Harris: Fine, great to see you again. You're looking like a very healthy specimen this morning.

Regan: Well, that's very kind of you. I have to start watching what I eat and all that sort of thing.

Harris: Why is that?

Regan: Well, cholesterenarol...cholesterol and all that. I can't even say the word I'm so flustered.. chlem-blah-blah-aaah

Harris: Couldn't get that cholesterenarol...

Regan: See, cholesterol is one thing. Cholesterenarol, that's a whole other problem. Those readings are off the chart for me. That's what scared me - you're cholesterol is fine, it's the chelesta-na- na.

Harris: Did you go to a doctor and get a physical, and then things started going downhill?

Regan: Well, actually, you know, it had been about five years and then I went back. And the cholesterol has gone up so...I don't know about you, but that's the only time I ever feel like a kid, when I go to the doctor's. The only time, as an adult, I feel like a kid, because he's like, "You didn't do what I told you, did you?" "No, I didn't." "And you should have." "I know I should've, but I wasn't listening!" "What should you have done?" "I should have paid attention to you when you were talking but I wasn't." "And you will from now on?" "Yes, I will."

Harris: And that lasts until you walk out of the doctor's office. "What the hell did he tell me? Oh, who cares?"

Regan: And you're thinking, don't I pay him? Wait a second! But he's right, so, I have to read...he wants me to read food labels. Well, he wants me to do more than that, he wants me to eat the good stuff.

Harris: That would be the greatest diet ever! I just read the labels and lose weight!

Regan: Eat all the donuts you want, but just read healthy food labels while you're doing it.

Harris: So what did he put you on? What kind of stuff did he recommend?

Regan: He just wants the low fat, the low calorie and all that sort of thing. I have no idea what you can eat and what you can't eat. I have no idea. And I've always liked Fig Newtons, and is that a health thing or is that not a health thing? So I'm in the store, looking at Fig Newtons, and I'm reading everything and everything looked like, wow, I can eat this! Then I looked at the serving size: two cookies. I mean, come on, who eats two cookies? I eat Fig Newtons by the sleeve!

Harris: Yeah, me too.

Regan: Two sleeves is a serving size. I open them both and eat them like a tree chipper. [makes tree chipper noises] All right, they're gone, now what?

Harris: And the thing about Fig Newtons is that you look at it and think, "Well, it's got fruit in it and fruit is good for me!"

Regan: Exactly! The fruit, the fiber, whatever. You've just got to keep it down to two. I've always eaten poorly. The Chef Boyardee stuff, you know, they've got it in the can there for you, nice and convenient. I've always gone for it. I'll eat the Chef Boyardee. They've got the spaghetti and they've got the lasagna, they've got the ravioli. But some of the stuff I haven't seen in the real Italian food world. I've never been in a nice Italian restaurant and said, "How you doing? Let's start with a nice bottle of Chianti, maybe a couple of Caesar salads, and um...I think I'm going to have the Beef-a-roni. Maybe some Spaghetti-Os for the lady."

Harris: Spaghetti-Os!

Regan: Slice up the franks, nice, and make a little happy face for her.

Harris: That is good eating. So, you've got to watch what you're eating?

Regan: I've been travelling a lot, so it's not that easy. One thing that I have noticed is that people refer to food differently across the country. When I started college, I grew up in Miami, Florida, I went to college in Ohio. My roommate freshman year was from New Jersey. I'd never met the guy. First night in the dorm -- this is the absolute truth -- he goes, "Hey, you wanna go halves on a pie?" And he meant pizza, but I'd never ever heard that put like that. I thought that he wanted to get a pie. And I'm like, "I don't know, you want to get a pie?" "Yeah, yeah, I figured we'd go halves on a pie to celebrate. Get a pie." "Well, hey, I hadn't really thought about that. I hadn't really thought about getting a pie. What are you, Little Jack Horner?" So I wanted to be open minded, it was my first day in college. "Okay, let's go halves on a pie." So we got half pepperoni and half blueberry. I wasn't sure what this guy...

Harris: I don't know, that deep dish blueberry is awfully good.

Regan: They do do something like that, don't they? I don't know. I just like sticking with donuts, man. You know what? You go into these donut places and I feel so bad for the ladies because people can't make up their minds. I don't know what it is about buying donuts, but people freak out. They go in there, "Okay...okay...I need a dozen donuts...all right...oh man...you have a lot of donuts...I'm gonna start with four chocolate, I want two twisty-goos, I want a lemon twitter, I want a honey whirl...NO! Two honey whirls, I want a raspberry double puff...NO! I want a half twitter and a raspberry curl and I want two chocolate...NO! NO! One! One! Put it back! I want a Bavarian apple crunch. I want a crunch! Get the ladder!" Hey, hey, why don't you go outside and think it over, huh? It's a big decision. You can't blow donut day.

Harris: I love going into any food store where they have to use a ladder to get my products. That's gonna be good eatin'.

Regan: Well, you know what? They get back at you. What they do is they do the subtraction for you in front of all the other customers and make you look stupid. "Yeah, I'd like, um, a dozen donuts. I'm going to start off with seven chocolate." "You have five left." "Ooooh...all right, if I order one more, then how many will I have left? How many would I have left then, donut lady? That's what I need to know!" I don't know how she does it.

Harris: With that quick math she's like HAL behind that counter.

Regan: I think that's how she does it.

Harris: Since the last time he was here, Brian has done...what, were you on the Conan O'Brien show in January and the Letterman show in February?

Regan: Yeah, yeah, things are going okay. I'm actually trying to branch out into different things besides standup. You guys watch CNN, right?

Harris: Sure.

Regan: You know right when it starts and you hear that "This is CNN"?

Harris: Mmm-hmm.

Regan: That's James Earl Jones. Some people know that, some people don't. But he did a real good job. I was up for that.

Harris: Were you?

Regan: Yeah, I'm trying to do voiceover work. And it came down to he and I. We were the last two in the final callback. And I remember, we were both sitting out in the waiting room, and I was really nervous, you know. And I'm like, oh man, I hope I get it. And he was like, "I hope I get it." And then I'm like, you know, it's like 50-50. So then they come out, and they said, "James, come on in." And you're not supposed to hear the other people do their audition, you know. But I could hear, and I could hear his, and I could hear him going, "This...is CNN." And I'm like, oh man, that was really good. That was a really good take on it because I hadn't really seen it that way. So he walks out, and I'm like, "Hey, good luck!" But of course you don't want him to get it.

Harris: You were just being nice.

Regan: Right. So I go in and they're like, "Go when you're ready" and I wasn't that familiar with the copy, and I'm looking at it and I'm nervous because James had done a really good job, and I'm like, "Okay, um, this is...this is...this is C...this is C...N...and then there's another N. This is C and two N's. There's two N's and then a C. There's a C and then the two N's. The C and then the N's. That's what it is. That's what it is."

Harris: I see what you mean by a different take on the copy, a different read.

Regan: And I walked out and I had my fingers crossed, and I was like, "At least I did what I wanted to do." That's all you can do. You do what you want to do and then it's up to them. And, it ended up, I guess they gave him the nod.

Harris: Yeah, well you gave it a shot and that's what's important. You can always tell people that you were this close.

Regan: That's right. I tried, I tried.

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Danny Guzman.

Friday, April 18, 1997

Tom Wilson, Back To The Future

Harris: Today we welcome to our guest microphone comedian Tom Wilson, who you may remember as Biff in the Back To The Future movies. But I promised him we would not talk about that this morning because at this point, you've got to be tired of the whole Biff thing.

Wilson: We ended the last Back To The Future movie in 1989.

Harris: Yeah.

Wilson: It's now 1997.

Harris: I know.

Wilson: Get over it!

Harris: I know, that's why we're not going to talk about it this morning.

Wilson: It's a movie! I have people coming up to me and they're like Star Trek fans! People dressed as Marty McFly!

Harris: You're kidding me!

Wilson: Oh, no kidding, no kidding. I'm serious. It's like a Star Trek thing: The Back To The Future fan club is actually growing in membership. These people are going crazy.

Harris: You don't have people coming up and going, "You know, I thought Biff was good but Griff was better."

Wilson: Yeah, so I'm in that position. I'm just sitting at a table autographing pictures with Scotty. I'm just out there..."What happened?!?"

Harris: The next table over is Skippy from Family Ties.

Wilson: It's just a movie!

Harris: All right, so we'll talk about other things this morning, like your ever expanding family. I understand that you have a new son, right?

Wilson: I have a new son, nine-months old. Well, yeah I have four kids. I'm very fertile. Sperm motility is not a problem.

Harris: I'll stand back a little bit then.

Wilson: Yeah, don't sit on a love seat with me, really, because something might happen. I have three daughters, though. All of them have hair of gold, like their mother, the youngest one in curls.

Harris: Perfect.

Wilson: I have three girls, I've got a nine-month old son. Our house, with the girls, looks like Laura Ashley exploded in it. I live in Malibu Barbie's dream house. I've got 37 Barbies in body parts alone, in a drawer. So, okay, me and my nine-month old son, we just huddle in a corner covered in steer blood, chanting ritualistic male things. Beating a drum and moaning about "dada" or something. And the girls just do their thing.

Harris: Were you so happy when the fourth one turned out to be a boy? "Finally, some of my own hormones have paid off!"

Wilson: That was just really it. It wasn't the "my boy Bill" thing, it was just like, "Oh, someone! Someone so maybe I can throw a football once in my life with a child. Honey, I love the ballet shows, but Daddy occasionally wants to play cowboy."

Harris: You know what's going to happen know. Your son's going to grow up, "My personal hero: Mikhail Barishnikov!"

Wilson: That's right, that's right.

Harris: Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Wilson: I didn't mean that in a bad way, that my son could be traipsing around like a little...well...

Harris: I understand...I understand...three tutus in the house is plenty. Four, counting yours.

Wilson: No, he's a good boy and we've taped a football to his hand because he's going to be a biggun'. So we want him to get out there, Daddy's your manager, and we go out for big money.

Harris: You're using Tiger Woods' dad as your example. Start him young, train him, get him in there.

Wilson: Wow, that is weird, isn't it? I mean, to do that. I'm like Mr. California Dad, Mr. Peace Sign, brother. You do what you want. You express yourself, my son. Don't work for The Man.

Harris: Unless, of course, The Man is the guy from Nike with a $60,000,000 contract.

Wilson: Then, you just kiss The Man's butt. You just take The Man's money. That's right. No, we don't do that sort of thing. No, actually, he doesn't have an identity. He actually is a small me. He actually is me. Just everything I've been a loser at in my life, I'm just going to whip him until he does it and succeeds. It's the American way!

Harris: This is your chance to remake your own image.

Wilson: That's right.

Harris: Just like everybody thought they could do with cloning. Oh, I'll go and fix all my own mistakes.

Wilson: Like so many dads, I'll see you out on the little league field. "You loser! Get back in that batter's box right now!" "Daddy, he hit me with the pitch!" "If you cry...don't get in my car if you cry!"

Harris: You are a great dad, let me say that right now. I wish you were mine. Several years back -- I don't know how many years ago it was, maybe five years ago -- I was watching the Carson show and you came out, you and your tuba and did five, six, seven, eight minutes there and just blew me away because you were the first comedian I'd ever seen perform with a tuba.

Wilson: I think I was actually the first person to ever perform on The Tonight Show with a tuba. It's kind of a weird thing to be.

Harris: Do you still travel at all with the tuba?

Wilson: I travel with it as a good luck charm. I don't play it anymore, but I'm surprised you didn't see it on the chain around my neck. It's kind of a lucky piece, sometimes I use it to keep track of my keys.

Harris: Some people just put them on the desk in the entrance way.

Wilson: And you should see the looks you get from the valet parking guys when you hand him a tuba connected to a couple of keys.

Harris: It's like the men's room key at the gas station.

Wilson: That's right!

Harris: I have to carry this to use the key?!?

Wilson: That's right, that's right. Yeah, I played the tuba in the band when I was in school. I was a total geek. I was not an athlete. Now, were you an athlete? Because you cut quite a swarthy figure!

Harris: Well, thank you. Does the word Yahtzee mean anything to you, my friend?

Wilson: Oh, you were on the Yahtzee team!

Harris: 1974 champion, okay! Step back, everybody!

Wilson: That's a great yearbook shot, you know. You've got the football players in their positions, in their triumphant positions. Then you've got the Yahtzee team players, with the surprised look looking at dice. Talk about scoring with the cheerleaders!

Harris: That's it, absolutely!

Wilson: Yeah, those Yahtzee guys.

Harris: Well, we had our own trading cards and that's what really brought the chicks in.

Wilson: And the Yahtzee cheers are really good.

Harris: "Gimme a Y!"

Wilson: "Gimme an A! Gimme an H!" "H"??? The whole crowd stops, has to mumble among themselves..."H"? Yahtzee? "H"?

Harris: And at the end you could never get them to give you the exclamation point.

Wilson: Exactly, exactly. "What's that spell?" "H"?? They don't get over that.

Harris: And so you were in the marching band? I'm guessing with a tuba you've got to be in the marching band.

Wilson: Yeah, of course, I was in the marching band with the tuba, the huge instrument. The giant bell, they call it. Big hole that everyone makes toilet jokes about as you walk into the stadium. And then all the rest of the band, they get to sit down in the front of the stands. They get to watch the game, talk to their friends, whatever, put down the instrument. The tubas are way up in the top of the stands, swinging back and forth going da-da-da-da-da...the entire game...da-da-da-da...Can we stop yet?...da-da-da-da...just swinging back and forth with those things trying to dodge all the garbage people are trying to throw into them.

Harris: And you can't sit up front because people say, "Put that thing down! We're trying to watch the game!"

Wilson: That's what I mean, you can't win. You're basically an egg target. By the end of a football game, you've got sixty bucks of Jujubes on the inside of it. People are just emptying Jujube boxes into it.

Harris: Every time I see a marching band at a football game, it's always the tuba guy who has to go off and make the little...

Wilson: That's Ohio State.

Harris: ...the little exclamation point or the dot in the "i".

Wilson: At Ohio State, what's very famous is that the tuba player, the senior tuba player, will march out and dot the "i". Which is the thrill of his geeky life. "Mom! Dad! Watch the game! I'm dotting the i!" "Oh, fun, son. I wish you were playing quarterback or something."

Harris: And of course Mom and Dad are watching on TV and halftime is not televised.

Wilson: "You know, I'd prefer if you sold hot dogs at the game. Great, everybody tune in! My kid's dotting the i!"

Harris: When you were in high school, did you think to yourself, "Maybe I'll go to Ohio State and be the tuba player who makes the i dot?

Wilson: [pauses for one beat] No.

Harris: No, I didn't think so.

Wilson: I never thought that.

Harris: Okay, fine.

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Danny Guzman.

Wednesday, April 16, 1997

Maury Povich

Harris: We welcome back the star of the Maury Povich Show, live from New York, our old friend Maury Povich. Good morning, Maury.

Povich: Hi Paul, how are you?

Harris: I'm doing just fine.

Povich: How's the weather? This is important.

Harris: It is a beautiful day here today. Good golf day.

Povich: Everybody at Woodmont Country Club, watch out, I'm coming!

Harris: Are you coming here today?

Povich: I'm coming down today to help a friend of mine, Herb Brubaker, who has some big news anchor seminar at the University of Maryland tomorrow. So I'm going to come down and help.

Harris: That's one of the things we want to talk to you about, but golf is the other one. When was it you were the champion at Woodmont?

Povich: I'm the defending champion. For two straight years.

Harris: What is the best you've ever shot?

Povich: I'll tell you, I had a match last year in the 36-hole final with a great young player named Jason Eig. I won one up after 36 holes and I was one-over-par for the entire 36. It was a grueling match. I'm to the point where I'm about to retire. [laughs]

Harris: A lot of people don't know that Tiger Woods drives the ball, I think he averages 323 yards. Maury's still shooting for that, he only drives 305 yards.

Povich: Oh yeah, sure. I played with Tiger a couple of months ago at the AT&T, at a practice round.

Harris: What's that like?

Povich: Well, you just have to eat your ego. You have to understand. Good professional players will out-drive me 30 to 40 yards and Tiger out-drove me -- I stepped it off -- on the fly, 75 yards.

Harris: Man, oh, man.

Povich: 75 yards! On one par 3, which is about 210 yards, he hit a five iron and I hit my five WOOD! [laughs] I said, "Well, at least I hit the same number!"

Harris: What was your reaction when you watched him play in the Masters?

Povich: So thrilled! I think everybody was, both those who play golf and those who don't play golf. I was mesmerized by it. I don't think there was a person in the house who didn't have a teary eyed face after Tiger hugged his father at the end. My wife, who doesn't play golf -- but has to watch me watch golf -- she was in tears.

Harris: It really was a moving moment. What do you think this means for the future of the sport?

Povich: I think it's going to be great. It's going to bring more people into the sport and it's going to bring people into the sport the right way. I think golf had a bad rap, although somewhat justifiable, in that it has always been a game of the leisure class. I don't think that's the case anymore. Just to see these little features on newscasts all over the country about going into the inner city, seeing kids now beginning to putt and chip and learn about golf. I think it's great.

Harris: Look, temper your excitement, if just a little bit, for me, the guy who plays on the public golf course. Because I was out there the other day and all these kids were out, and it's great that they're getting into it, but could they learn a little bit how to hit the ball?

Povich: Oh, they will.

Harris: When you're on the putting green and you get hit in the shins, Maury?

Povich: Oh, I understand. But they will, it will happen.

Harris: Let's talk about this thing you've got going tomorrow. An all day seminar to teach people how to break into TV news?

Povich: Boy, is that going to be strange for me to be doing this. I've had more fights with management and news departments around the country over the last 20 years. Now, I'm supposed to be able to teach somebody how to handle it!?! [laughs]

Harris: The one thing people ask me is, "How do you get into the business?" The first thing I tell them is, "Get used to going into meetings, and you're not going to walk out happy!"

Povich: [laughs] Exactly. The one thing that I found here when I talk to young people who want to get into news -- some time ago I was at a place and I said what do you wanna do? And they said "I wanna be an anchor." Well, good, I said, do you know what direction you want to take? You know you have to be a writer and a reporter and a gatherer of news and work your way up that way. And they said "No, No, No, I just wanna be an anchor." Oh yeah, right. [laughs]

Harris: Oh yeah, that's the entry level job.

Povich: It's like you there, Paul, I don't wanna sit there in a radio station, right, and work my way up from sweeping the broom and everything. I just wanna go on and spin the records and be a talk-meister.

Harris: That's right. [laughs] Now will you be giving any of this advice to your son? Is he two yet?

Povich: He's almost two. In fact he's on his way to the studio right now, because we're taping a show this morning with -- believe it or not he already has a favorite guest -- Jack Hanna and his animals.

Harris: Oh, really.

Povich: So, Matthew will be down here today taking a look at the animals, getting scared, crying, then running away.

Harris: What will you and Connie do when Matthew says, "I want to do what you do, Mommy and Daddy! I want to go in to TV??"

Povich: We'll move out of the country. [laughs]

Harris: How is the lovely Connie doing?

Povich: She's doing great. She's a fellow up at Harvard. Here's a University of Maryland graduate, and all of a sudden she gets a fellowship at Harvard. I don't understand.

Harris: Very nice.

Povich: I mean I was rejected at Harvard. I don't get it. Here she's been out of work and she gets invited to study at Harvard for a semester. So she's up there a couple of days a week and she's taking care of Matthew and we're getting ready to do this show next year, a year from the fall, fall of '98. As my parents say -- who are marvelous and alert and are great, and in fact my father was here in New York for the Jackie Robinson festivities yesterday -- he says, "Will you get this show on the air soon? I don't know how much time we have left!" [laughs]

Harris: Since you mentioned that, I've got to ask you about your dad, Shirley Povich, the legendary sportswriter, who still writes great stuff for the Post once in awhile.

Povich: I think the guys at the Post are happy to have him. He's still writing great stuff. He wrote a terrific piece on Jackie Robinson a week or so ago and a great piece on Tony Zeale recently.

Harris: What has he told you personally about Jackie Robinson?

Povich: Well, I was 8 years old when Jackie broke in, and my father had written an award-winning 12-part series called No More Shut Outs for the Washington Post, which was back in the late forties. How the color line was so steadfast against blacks. He told me that Jackie Robinson was the most competitive athlete he had ever seen. And this guy, only Jackie Robinson, he tells a great story about when Branch Rickey said to Robinson, "Make the deal, and for two years you can't say anything, you can't do anything, against all the epithets that everyone is going to throw to you. You have to turn the other cheek." And Robinson turned to Rickey and said, "Well, Mr. Rickey, I have two cheeks!"

Harris: Uh-huh. Great, great.

Povich: Well, it was all right.

Harris: What's on your show today, do you know?

Povich: [to his staff] What's on the show today, gang? [pause] Does anybody know what's airing on our show today? [pause] Oh, I know what it was...very important subject..."Lured Away By The Internet." All this stuff on the internet, trying to get these young girls to meet these losers on the internet and the next thing you know some of them are actually kidnapped and taken away.

Harris: Hey, Maury, it's just my hobby. Don't press me!

Povich: There you go. [laughs]

Harris: Listen, say hello to Connie for us.

Povich: I sure will, Paul. Thanks so much!

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Nicci Murphy.

Tuesday, April 15, 1997

Brit Hume

Harris: Joining us now is Brit Hume, who for years was ABC News White House Correspondent. He left there to become Chief Washington Correspondent and Managing Editor of Fox News here in D.C. Good morning, Brit.

Hume: Good morning Paul.

Harris: So do you miss being out there on the White House lawn?

Hume: Not in the least.

Harris: How many years was it?

Hume: I was there eight years. And it's a great beat and the ultimate Washington assignment, but it is not a pleasant place physically to work as a journalist. If you work for a TV network they want you there all the time because the habits of coverage are such that they may want you to go live -- they think at any time -- though that hasn't happened very often in recent years. So you are over there all day long and man, it gets old.

Harris: People would think that being in the White House would be a cool thing, but I guess when it's the place you go every single day...

Hume: Well, you know the facility that they reserve for the press over there is quite small, and it's this little warren of cubicles plus a briefing room that looks rather grand on television, but the tourists who come and see it gasp because it's so shabby.

Harris: You guys ask some hard questions all the time. What do expect, The Taj Mahal?

Hume: Well, the truth is if we allowed them to move us across the street to the Executive Office Building, I'm sure that they would give us very nice facilities in return for that, but the old timers over there don't want to be any further away. We are physically quite close to the Oval Office. That doesn't mean you can go walking in there, but everybody wants to be physically close and that's what it's all about. It used to be the swimming pool, you know.

Harris: Is that right?

Hume: It used to be an indoor swimming pool, so they just turned it into sort of a two story office facility. You can imagine you've got all the press that regularly covers the White House in a facility that small it's a little cramped and a little shabby.

Harris: Please tell me you never saw Helen Thomas in a bikini.

Hume: Uh...I can...I can't tell you that.

Harris: Just the thought of some of the people in that press pool and a swimming pool, ooh, the hair on the back of my neck just stood up. Anyway, now you're in these new digs that Rupert built for you here in Washington, and you're still covering stuff here in town. I know you're in touch with what's going on at the White House. How are they going to be affected by this Jim MacDougal thing yesterday?

Hume: It probably sends a few shivers up the spines there because MacDougal was thought to be a witness whose value to the prosecution was pretty well damaged or played out. He told one story and then another, he's been convicted of crimes, he's on his way to jail, his credibility is limited. However, when the prosecutors came out of the courthouse yesterday having asked for leniency, and gotten it, they said that he had provided a lot of helpful testimony including new and previously unknown information, which they had been able to verify by virtue of documentary or other physical evidence that he pointed them to. Which suggests that whatever story he is now telling them there's support for. That could change the equation. We don't know what it is, so we don't know how important or damaging it might be, but it indicates that the prosecution at least feels that whatever he has told them, they can backup. That's potentially dangerous.

Harris: Do you think there are beads of sweat on Clinton's forehead over this?

Hume: I can't imagine he is very happy about it. The worry they have to have is that if this ever develops a certain level of momentum, then a lot of people may decide that people have not been necessarily cooperative so far. People like Web Hubbell for example. MacDougal's ex-wife Susan, who is cooling her heels in the slammer because she decided she doesn't want to talk, might decide "Gee, I better cut my best deal here before there are no more deals to be had." And suddenly you have everybody talking, and whatever there is -- if there is anything criminal -- would then come out.

Harris: They've been waiting for this thing to gather momentum for awhile and maybe this is the stick that pushes the rock downhill.

Hume: That has to be what you're worried about if you are one of the President's top advisers or if you are the President himself.

Harris: And meanwhile the other big political thing in town is that Janet Reno won't name a prosecutor and the Republicans are going to investigate her now.

Hume: The Republicans are furious about it. You talk to some of these Republican leaders privately, they basically think that what happened here is that Mr. Clinton sat down in the year following his loss of the congressional election in 1994 and looked at the bank statements for the party and considered himself grossly under-funded, wanted to conduct a great big advertising campaign and said, "Folks, we are going to do whatever it takes. If it means breaking the law so be it, to get whatever money we need to be competitive and to try to win this presidency." Now I don't know whether that happened or not, but that's what a lot of Republicans think, and they think that basically it was a concerted effort and the law be damned. Their view is that an independent counsel must be named, and they're saying that if Janet Reno doesn't do it they'll loose the dogs on her. My sense is that her decision is not final, she could change her mind at any time and surely the pressure on her is going to mount after this decision.

Harris: Don't you think the Republicans are thinking to themselves that maybe they could come out of this smelling a little bit better if they say, "Okay, investigate us, too, because we really didn't do anything wrong?" Or do you think they won't do that because they're thinking, "Wait a minute, we did do a couple a things wrong. Don't investigate us?"

Hume: What you hear them say is this...look you have your normal run of fundraising excesses. Both parties engage in that, but over and above what you have every couple of years, you have this potential involvement of a foreign government. You have this wholesale operation where the White House grounds, Air Force One, overnights in the Lincoln Bedroom, were used in a way that has never been used before. We have things here that have never happened before that ought to be the focus. And it goes far beyond the normal stuff that both parties do. That may constitute violation of one kind, sort of around the edges. They're trying very hard to resist this idea that everybody does it.

Harris: Do you think there's a chance if a lot of stuff does come out that Clinton will say, "Well, a lot of this stuff is true, but would you really harass a man on crutches?"

Hume: Well, the way he is going on those crutches, I mean, you see him. He is really getting good at that.

Harris: Is he?

Hume: You know Clinton is a pretty heavy set guy and he's lost weight since he has been on crutches. It tells you that he is getting some real exercise moving his body around using his arms and I'd imagine that before long he is going to look like Superman. He'll be busting his buttons from moving around on those crutches. I did that once after a skiing accident. You do get strong in your upper body. I think it may reach the point where nobody wants to mess with him.

Harris: As long as it doesn't get to that Incredible Hulk/Lou Ferrigno thing, where he is having a press conference and all of a sudden he gets mad.

Hume: He starts to turn green and his shirt explodes off of him.

Harris: Yeah, we don't need that!

Harris: Absolutely. All right, Brit, thank you for joining me this morning. I appreciate it. And say hello to your lovely wife for us. My wife and I both worked for Brit's wife, Kim Hume, when she was running the weekend edition of USA Today -- The Television Show, or as we called it for awhile USA Today -- The TV Guide Listing.

Hume: She sends her regards to you both and I'll pass it along.

Harris: Great. Talk to you soon!

Hume: Thank you, Paul.

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Craig Glenn.

Friday, April 04, 1997

Bruce Hornsby

Harris: Joining us live from Williamsburg, VA, is Bruce Hornsby. Good morning, Bruce.

Hornsby: Well, good morning, Paul.

Harris: Welcome to the show. As I was listening to that last song, I was thinking about the movie That Thing You Do that came out last year, which I just watched again on video. There is a great scene in there where they're sitting around and trying to come up with a name for the band. Before they end up being The Wonders, they say how about The Herdsmen, how about The Tempos, how about those sort of things. So, what were some of the other names before you decided on Bruce Hornsby And The Range?

Hornsby: Oh man that stuff is hard to remember, cause that's been a while ago. I was just going to hide behind a name cause I didn't wanna be Bruce Hornsby or any of that. I kind of liked what Mark Knopfler did with Dire Straits. If you knew the band you knew it was really Mark Knopfler's and their name was Dire Straits. Originally we were just the Range. But the record company kind of badgered me about. They wanted it to be just Bruce Hornsby. So we decided to go with Bruce Hornsby And The Range. I sort of compromised there. But as far as other names that we had, oh I can't remember.

Harris: But there must have been band meetings where you sat around just shooting them back and forth.

Hornsby: Well, not so much. The band never got too involved with that sort of naming thing. They're just into playing the music. Usually band naming sessions generate into frivolity. At least they always have with us. It always turns into silliness, coming up with funny stuff. Last year as a matter of fact we had a different name every night. We were part of this Further Festival, sort of a post-Grateful Dead festival that travelled around the country. For instance, we played the Nissan Pavilion up there. The Flying Karamazov Brothers were the emcees, a bunch of crazy circus guys, great guys, and they were introducing every band and I didn't like the style very much cause it felt too much like Vegas to me. "Ladies and gentlemen Bruce Hornsby...." And I wasn't so into this so I told the guys that we would come up with a different name every day and we'll be that. So one day we would be Spankula...

Harris: [laughs] See, that's a great band name right there!

Hornsby: And the next day we would be Bludgeon, the sort of death-metal type of name. The next day we were The Sons of Schenectady. It was just all total frivolity, the next day we were Pantload. [laughs] So you know that's the kind of names I would come up with when left to my own, with too much time on my hands.

Harris: Those are good. And I know there is another band name from your past from way, way back -- not a band that you were in but one that influenced you a lot. A band called Bobby Hi-Test And The Octane Kids.

Hornsby: No, I was in that band.

Harris: You were? Wasn't that your brother's band?

Hornsby: Yeah, it was my brother's band. but I was in the band. My brother was at the University of Virginia and I was at Richmond. One year I went there, I went to music school. I would travel up 64, across 64 to Charlottesville every weekend and play with my brother's Grateful Dead cover band and that was Bobby Hi-Test And The Octane Kids. And then we became known as just The Octane Kids. We played grain alcohol parties [laughs] around U-VA, frat parties and various occasions like that. So that was a band I was in. Obviously that's pretty much a frivolous name.

Harris: Now how weird is it going from a Grateful Dead cover band when you're a college kid, to actually playing as a member of the Grateful Dead for a couple of years?

Hornsby: Yeah, that was quite amazing for all of the people who hung around with that band, friends and students and all of our cronies at the time. It was all amazing for all of them when I started playing with them at Madison Square Garden in September of 1990. I just sort of came walking off the street and started winging it with them with no rehearsal. I think the first or second night I played with them, most of the old guys came up from various parts that they had moved to, from Pennsylvania to Atlanta. And it was an amazing time, an amazing experience. That's a rare moment in life when you paint yourself into the mural. It was a great time, I wouldn't trade my time with those guys for anything, I used to play with them a lot at RFK, actually.

Harris: I know that you keep the Dead connection alive. I know at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert a couple of years ago didn't you do I Know You Rider?

Hornsby: That's right. The Dead had asked me -- Garcia had just passed away about a month before this -- Phil and those guys asked me if I would do this as a tribute to Garcia for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert. And it was a really special night and we were really proud to be a part of that night and proud to do something in memory of Garcia. He was a great person, and a great friend of mine and I really miss the guy. I talked to him four days before he died and we just sat on the phone and laughed for an hour, and just gave each other crap like we always did.

Harris: Mm-hmm.

Hornsby: I mean he was just a beautiful cat, and I just miss him a lot and it was special to be part of that. I inducted the Dead into the Hall of Fame maybe three years ago which was very funny. Garcia was never much for this sort of ceremonial aspect, but everyone else in the band showed up and they were all in their tuxedos and they brought a lifesize cardboard cut out of Garcia to represent him on stage. It was the picture of him in Rolling Stone which was very funny.

Harris: Did the album ever come out of that concert?

Hornsby: Yeah, absolutely it did. There was not a lot of promotion about it but there was a really great review in Rolling Stone magazine last year.

Harris: I never saw it.

Hornsby: You can find it, you can play our version of I Know You Rider on there. It's on this album along with lots of great cuts from Dylan, Springsteen, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Lou Reed, and Chrissie Hynde. It's quite a record.

Harris: We're talking with Bruce Hornsby live from his home in Williamsburg, VA, the town he was born in and moved back to a few years ago after living in LA for what, ten years, wasn't it, Bruce?

Hornsby: Ten years, from a very neat period of 1980 to 1990 -- the decade of the 80's, which we'll call the me decade I guess.

Harris: What brought you back to your home town?

Hornsby: We were some of the fortunate ones, we got what we went there for. It took me awhile. I tried to get a record deal for seven years. Finally, in 1985, I did do that with RCA, then you know our first record went so far so fast, like I said we got what we went there for. And I never really liked living there. We would call it Hell-A. So we decided to move back, my wife and I, we're both from here. We wanted to have a family, we were lucky enough to have twin boys five years ago and we wanted to raise them here. So we moved back here and I just sort of kept my thing going from here which has been very nice. But we haven't really talked about why were on the phone today!

Harris: That's what I was going to get to next, because your connection to Virginia also connects you to the Virginia Special Olympics.

Hornsby: That's right, a couple of years ago I did a benefit for the Special Olympics, which was actually my first solo piano concert. The last couple of years I recommitted myself to the study of piano. As opposed to most singer-songwriters, I have a real interest in the virtuoso aspect of piano. I'm really interested in playing it at a high level and the last couple years I have got more into the solo thing, something I love doing. So I started developing that to an intense degree. So when I do this concert three weeks from now, it's really special to me because it's something I feel like I'm getting good at. It's something I really have been working at actually.

Harris: Let me give the details here since I'll be hosting that night and I'm really looking forward to it. Bruce is going to be doing that solo show at the George Mason University Center For The Performing Arts, an absolutely beautiful place, Bruce, by the way...

Hornsby: Yeah, it's great!

Harris: You can get your tickets through Protix 703-218-6500 tickets are $25 and $32.50 and we also have special VIP circle tickets where you come to a private reception before hand, before the concert, about 6pm or so, and you get to meet Bruce and talk to him and ask him questions or what ever you want. We'll have food and drink there, too.

Hornsby: Also I'll tell them funny stories about Spankula.

Harris: Spankula and Pantload, yeah. [laughs] Those tickets are $50 and the reason were doing this is to raise money for Virginia Special Olympics, and I hope you'll come and join us.

Hornsby: I'll make it worth their while. I'll play for a long time.

Harris: You see? Right there -- what kind of guarantee do you get from performers anymore, ladies and gentlemen? Here's a man who's willing to put it on the line.

Hornsby: I'll probably take requests at the concert, too.

Harris: Cool.

Hornsby: I have done that for years.

Harris: A man with a guarantee who takes requests.

Hornsby: I never had a set list for years. I was definitely influenced by the Dead. I guess I really wasn't doing this before I played with the Dead. Our shows are very loose and pretty spontaneous, I think, and the solo thing is perfect for that. Because it's just me and I can kind of go anywhere I want. So I'll take requests from the audience, if they just write them down and throw them up on stage.

Harris: Now let's talk about the fact that you left LA, but you went back to LA last year to work on a big time movie. You worked with Kevin Costner on that Tin Cup movie right?

Hornsby: I didn't work with Kevin. I know Kevin a little bit, we talked a few times. He was originally trying to get me to write some songs for The Bodyguard. I didn't end up doing that. It didn't seem....

Harris: It didn't seem like Whitney Houston and Bruce Hornsby go together?

Hornsby: Yeah, it didn't seem right for me. I didn't do that. Anyway, Ron Shelton, the director of the movie, called me when I was out there doing Jay Leno last year. I went over to his office and looked at some rough cuts of the movie and it looked good to me. I thought it was funny and I've always been a sports fan.

Harris: Do you play golf?

Hornsby: I used to play. I don't play very much any more. I play a lot of basketball. But golf, I was last seen whiffing on national tv on VH-1's Fairways To Hell golf tournament. [laughs] It was called Fairways To Heaven in Vegas, they talked me into playing, but I didn't want to. I kept saying no, no, no, but VH-1 kept badgering me so I finally did it and I was so happy I did [laughs]. Anyway that was the last time I played, part of the reason I was seen whiffing because I don't play much. I used to play a little bit, but once I got more serious about my music, coupled with the fact that I have my twin boys, when I have my leisure time I would rather spend it with my family. So golf was the casualty there. Anyway I liked the movie and he asked me to write the songs and I came up with an idea I liked, a song called Big Stick, about playing golf. A little double entendre for all you morning drivers. I don't do much for movies usually. I get asked to do it a lot. It seems like once every two weeks there's a movie coming along. Generally I haven't done it much. I did it for the Ron Howard fireman's movie, Backdraft, a few years ago. Anyway it's a fun movie and I was glad to be part of it.

Harris: It turned out very nicely. Last thing I want to ask you about this morning -- and I hope you're going to do this when we see you in three weeks out there at George Mason -- is on the Elton John tribute album, Two Rooms, you did a terrific version of Madman Across The Water. I'm going to play it here after we say goodbye to you. Tell us how you got involved in that and why that song?

Hornsby: This thing came about basically because Elton and Bernie asked me to be a part of this record and I was flattered by that. Elton has always been a supporter of mine. He's been a great friend to me through the years. I sang with him at Madison Square Garden one night. We had two pianos back to back and by the end of the song we were both lying on the floor doing the dying cockroach and playing with one hand [laughs] for 20,000 people at The Garden. Originally, I picked the song Come Down In Time, a song from Tumbleweed Connection, a song that I loved. But it came back to us that Sting had already picked that, so we said okay, we'll do something else. I started hearing about what other people were doing and the record sounded very pop to me. It sounded like everyone was doing old hits and sort of the lighter side generally of what Elton did. The Beach Boys were doing Crocodile Rock, Bon Jovi doing Levon, Tina Turner doing The Bitch Is Back. I thought, well, I'll go the other way with this. Certainly our song on the record is the least pop on the thing, the least commercial sounding. We took Madman Across The Water, a pretty dark tune and sort of did more of a McCoy Tyner-esque version. McCoy Tyner is one of the great jazz pianists of the last 40 years. Anyway that's how we decided to do that and go in that direction.

Harris: Well it's a very nice job, and I'm gonna play it now, but first, thank you for coming on with us this morning.

Hornsby: Okay, Paul, I'll see you in a few weeks!

Harris: I'm looking forward to seeing you at George Mason. That's Bruce Hornsby in Williamsburg, Virginia today and in Fairfax in three weeks.

Hornsby: This is about the Special Olympics, people should realize it's really for a great cause and who ever watches the Special Olympics can't help but be moved.

Harris: Absolutely. Thanks, Bruce!

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Nicci Murphy.