Thursday, October 30, 1997

Bill Maher

Harris: Joining us now is a guy we've known for a long, long time. When we first met him, he was a stand up comedian, then he had his own show on cable, then he went network and now he is the 90th most powerful person in Hollywood. Here's Bill Maher from ABC's Politically Incorrect.

Maher: That's right and don't you forget it. There is fire in my wake when I walk now. I'm number 90!

Harris: When Entertainment Weekly came out with their list, did you look through there or did somebody have to show you?

Maher: Oh, no. I looked through there on the first day it came out. I was very happy about that.

Harris: Now, at what point do you become so powerful that somebody else looks through it for you?

Maher: [Laughs] I don't know, I guess you have to break the top 50 or something.

Harris: Something like that. Spielberg has tons of people.

Maher: You know, I didn't see Letterman or Leno on that list.

Harris: That's absolutely right.

Maher: Not that I was looking for them. Not that it matters.

Harris: Well, you've got the hippest show and definetly the best monologue by far.

Maher: Well, thank you.

Harris: Which we've talked about many times before. You're bringing your show here to Washington next week, right?

Maher: We're bringing it right into the lion's den. And that means you, you are the lion's den.

Harris: We are. And we prove that by delaying your show to the ridiculous 12:30 time slot.

Maher: Hey, Paul, you know what? When we're in Washington next week, they are going to put us on at the right time.

Harris: Is that right?

Maher: Thats right, that's their concession.

Harris: Why don't they do that all the time, not just when you're here for that week?

Maher: I know, but I take what I can get. But, it should be nice, we're going to be on right after Nightline.

Harris: And it will be all Washington people, except me, of course?

Maher: Not all Washington people, but the first night we have Sonny Bono, the Congressman.

Harris: [laughs] I'm sorry, I still laugh when I hear that.

Maher: Donna Shalala. What is her job? Cabinet or something?

Harris: Health and Human Services.

Maher: Yeah, one of those chick divisions. I'm kidding. I'm kidding, people!

Harris: I know, you kid the HHS.

Maher: Exactly. And we have Ted Nugent, who is not really a Washington person, and we have Bill Kristol, who is the editor of The Standard, who happens to have me on the cover this week with the title "Politically Incompetent."

Harris: Ooooh.

Maher: That's why I love coming to Washington because they hate me.

Harris: Yeah, but on your side of the country, you're number 90 and that's what's important.

Maher: That's right. We know where the real power is.

Harris: And now, while you're doing this, I also understand that you're going to be doing Jeopardy?

Maher: I'm doing Jeopardy on Saturday, right.

Harris: This is Celebrity Jeopardy and, you've done this before, right?

Maher: Yes. Came in third.

Harris: What happened there? Are you going to blame it on the buzzer?

Maher: No, but I could. That buzzer is hard to figure out. No, I was against Swoosie Kurtz, who knew everything about Broadway, which was one of the categories. I think the trick on Jeopardy is to get the right categories. You get the right categories, that's where the lobbying comes in. That's why I am having a series of fund raising coffees with the Jeopardy producers to see if I can get the access. No, but this is like a special political Jeopardy.

Harris: Really?

Maher: Yeah, that's why they're doing it in Washington.

Harris: So, you're hoping that one of the categories is "The Chicks of the HHS."

Maher: [laughs] Yeah. "The Women of the Health and Human Services."

Harris: Now, I know you've been appearing on all these other game shows. I saw you on Pictionary...

Maher: Oh, "all these other game shows." C'mon. I was on one other game show, I was on Pictionary because my friend Alan Thicke has a new game show that's going to make him as much money as Merv Griffin.

Harris: And you got knocked out on this show.

Maher: Just for a second. I got punched by Erik Estrada, by accident. He's just a very excitable young man.

Harris: Erik Estrada, by the way, came in at number 89 on the Entertainment Weekly list. Talk about climbing the ladder! If you knock a guy down, you go over him on the list.

Maher: It's very basic out here, just like in your town. It's tooth and claw.

Harris: So, Bill, the other night, I saw you on Vibe with Sinbad, and what were those tiger pants you were wearing?

Maher: You know, Paul, it's an urban crowd, wink-wink, and I was just trying to... You know, all my black friends called me up and said, "Bill, those pants were just so fly, they were just the greatest!" And all my white friends called me up and said, "Bill, those pants were so funny!" But I was saying to Sinbad, you should see the stuff Keenen wears every night, and he's not kidding. So I thought, if Vibe is going to compete, we've got to be on the same wavelength. But, if you didn't see those pants, they are not to be believed. They are big, fuzzy, tiger, bell-bottom disco pants with a red devil on the ass.

Harris: Sounds like something from the Marv Albert collection.

Maher: Right! Well, I wanted to wish my friend Sinbad good luck on entering the late night arena.

Harris: Well, that's nice. I saw you welcoming him, and we want to welcome you to Washington as warmly as we welcome Jiang Zemin. I mean, we're not having a state dinner for you or anything.

Maher: They call me "The Butcher of ABC."

Harris: What did you think of the Chinese leader coming here? I know Richard Gere is all upset about it.

Maher: Right, he had a thing across the street. You know, China is such a closed society that they didn't even hear that rumor about Richard Gere. That is what I call a closed society!

Harris: [laughs] Very funny.

Maher: I'm really looking forward to coming there.

Harris: I know you have to run because you have to tape tonight's show. Who's on the show tonight?

Maher: Oh, tonight begins sweeps, so we have a powerful lineup. Tonight we have Cindy Crawford, Louie Anderson, Wynonna Judd, and an author you've never heard of, Martin Gross. But he's got a great book out, called The End of Sanity. He believes that a low-cut dress on a woman is a form of sexual harrasssment to a man.

Harris: Which is why you're having Cindy Crawford on with him.

Maher: It's an interesting pairing.

Harris: By the way, Bill, I dare you right now to introduce him tonight as "an author you never heard of."

Maher: Oh, I've done that before.

Harris: Okay, Bill, have a good show tonight, and we'll see you here in Washington next week. Politically Incorrect usually airs at 12:35, but next week, just after Nightline, just after midnight. Thanks, Bill! I appreciate it.

Maher: My pleasure.

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Phil Egenthal

Friday, October 24, 1997

Penn Jillette

Harris: Joining me on the phone now is an old friend, a man who's been on the show in the morning and in the afternoon and sometimes in the middle of the night for a long time now. And he once introduced me to another magician as the smartest DJ he'd ever met -- and then he realized the universe he had to choose from and realized it wasn't that much of a compliment. Here's Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller. Hi, Penn!

Jillette: Well you know, the expression, "Damning with faint praise" comes to mind.

Harris: That was when you introduced me to James Randi.

Jillette: Well, Randi and I have both done a bunch of interviews, and you get to know the kind of people you're dealing with. I would say you're even smarter than that.

Harris: Well, thank you so much.

Jillette: I would say you're just a really regular person who's just a little bit dumb, which is a lot better than the smartest DJ.

Harris: Thanks, I think. The last time I saw you, you were at some Smithsonian thing a couple years ago. You guys had just moved to Las Vegas and I asked you, "Why did you move to Las Vegas?" And you said "Paul, one word: Showgirls!"

Jillette: Yeah, but I think I was wrong about that. I think it's a hyphenated word.

Harris: Oh, is it?

Jillette: I don't know. You know, when you're 6'6", you walk through Las Vegas and women come up to you and go, "Oh, I could wear heels with you." Now what's wrong with that?

Harris: But some of those showgirls with the headdresses, they're taller than you, aren't they?

Jillette: Yeah, they import women who are over 6' and I think like five-and-a-half of that is legs. I don't know how hygienic that is, but it's very attractive.

Harris: How is the whole Las-Vegas-as-family-fun-center thing coming along?

Jillette: Oh, it just bombed. That thing went right in the dumper. I don't think anyone believed that for a second. You know, you go to the MGM and there's the Scarecrow in the lobby and you just go, "We're here for gambling and hookers, why is the scarecrow in the lobby?"

Harris: That's exactly right. And every cab has an advertisement for a topless place on it. "Oh look honey, let's take the kids there!"

Jillette: Not a topless place. It's all Glitter Gulch. Glitter Gulch and The Palomino. They're the only two that bought cabs and they bought every cab. It's 90% Glitter Gulch, 5% Palomino, and 5% Lance Burton and his bird act.

Harris: Well, we're going to get to Lance in a second, but how does this modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah become the home to Penn and Teller?

Jillette: I'll tell you, if you don't drink -- which I never have in my life -- you don't do drugs, and you don't gamble, it is just a cheap holiday in other people's misery. My living is subsidized by bad math. You come to Vegas, you have bad math, you lose your money, and they don't charge me any taxes. Once you get off the strip, you're living in Phoenix only everything's really cheap. And the pawn shops! You can buy prosthetics at the pawn shops!

Harris: No!

Jillette: Yeah! You can go in and say, "I'd like a leg." And they go, "You know, some guy pawned his leg." You can say, "Do you have a pacemaker?" I mean it's the best pawn shops in the world.

Harris: How is it to be playing in some of those showrooms out there, places that are Wayne Newton and Tom Jones to the max?

Jillette: We're doing great. When we were put in there, we were considered to be a complete folly, like we were the wrong people to be there. They would say we were too New York, too smart, too everything. And I think a lot of people come to Las Vegas ironically. They come to kind of make fun of it, because they're much too hip for Vegas. So they come and they go and see Siegfried and Roy and they see that glitzy tractor pull. They have these ultra-white cross-eyed mutants, and they've learned to train tigers and they've got these big-haired Germans torturing endangered species and they go and see that. They go to see Tom jones and after two days they say, "Wait a minute, this isn't fun making fun of this anymore," and they come to see us. And we've had great crowds, and the crowds are very smart and every crowd we've had has been too hip for Vegas. It's like playing Off-Broadway in New York. I don't really get it. It was this wacky gamble and it really paid off. It's the city of wacky gambles.

Harris: Yeah.

Jillette: You know, I think you'd be one of the people who'd be best in math in Las Vegas as well as being the smartest DJ.

Harris: Well, that's why I'm coming out there on vacation in December. When we finish with this, I want to ask you a couple of things about that.

Jillette: All right. I'll give you the number and you just ask for Amber. Is that the question you wanted to ask? And for another four bills she'll bring Ginger with her. That's all you need to know.

Harris: As long as neither of them has met Eddie Murphy, I'm happy.

Jillette: And the number is 555-

Harris: So anyway, you guys are coming to the Patriot Center for a Halloween show.

Jillette: Oh, yes. But you know everyday is Halloween for us. We don't need a day of amateurs. We'll point guns at each other, juggle broken liquor bottles, we do a lot of new stuff. You saw us last at the Smithsonian?

Harris: Yes.

Jillette: It's a whole new show for you, man. Are you going to come by?

Harris: I'm definitely going to be there. And I also know that you've got a new book out.

Jillette: Oh, yeah.

Harris: It's called How to Play in Traffic. It's laugh-out-loud funny, too. I'm looking through this, and you've got some great scams that people can pull on each other. I'm wondering if at this point -- you guys have been together two decades now -- do you guys still try to scam each other?

Jillette: No. As a matter of fact, we can't get away with jack. We are the boys who cried Three Of Clubs. We have to live vicariously through our patrons. I walk into a restaurant, 6'6", 278 pounds, on TV, and I say "Could I have a menu?" And they go, "Come off it, what are you trying to do?" I say, "Could I have a Greek salad with no green peppers?" They say, "No green peppers, did I read that somewhere?" "No, I don't like them, they make me belch." "They make you belch, is there a trick based on that?" So what we do is, we write these things and you as a civilian who has spent your life building up friends and family, people you respect, people you like, people who care for you, those people are just ripe for the plucking. All you need is our information and you can humiliate people you claim to respect and steal money from people you really love.

Harris: It's the office pool concept. If you can't take money from people you most care about, why bother?

Jillette: Well, you know, they always talk about professional gamblers and there's all this sexiness of taking down the casinos, but all your professional gamblers play in local poker games with friends. That's where all that money is made. And this is the same idea. We can give you these great tricks that you can go in and freak out a stewardess, but when we walk on the plane they pretty much put us in solitary. "Now you two get over there, we don't want any monkeying around!"

Harris: Speaking of that one, will you tell my favorite one in the book, the one with Teller on the plane?

Jillette: Oh, it's a great thing. They have these brittle cups that they serve their little beverages in on the airplane. And once you've drained it, you can put it under your armpit -- it's the dumbest trick in the world and the first time Teller did it for me, it just absolutely blew me away it was so funny -- then you call over the flight attendant, and you say, "You know, my neck's a little stiff. You didn't give me a pillow when I asked for it so...." And you grab the top of your head and the other hand under your chin and you give a little twist to your head and at the same time you bring your arm down and crush the cup in your armpit. It gives this wonderful chiropracty gone wrong crunch that will give you the full attention of the stewardess. After that, she'll be going, "Anything I can do to make you happy? You want to be upgraded to first class?" Because it looks like you're a schmuck who broke your neck on the plane. We like to have people think that people who read our books are schmucks who break their own necks on planes. But it is so easy. A lot of people just want to read the book and go, "I'm not the kind of guy who's going to do these tricks because I have friends." But there a lot of tricks that are in there that are hard to do. There are also a lot of what they would call in science, "Gidonkins." You know, thought experiments. "Wouldn't this be a great trick if you did it?"

Harris: There are a lot of good ones in there, and there's also the eternal card trick. You mentioned the three of clubs before...

Jillette: That was Teller's obsession and I'm telling you, if this were a book that was written by just Penn, you wouldn't have this trick. It was much too much work. Teller scammed, and used lawyers, and a huge amount of money, and a lot of disingenuous speech and he got us a plot at Forest Lawn Cemetery, the most famous cemetery in the country, where a lot of movie stars are buried. He got us a plot and a headstone, and we're not dead. And then in the book we teach you how to do a card force -- which just means to get someone to think they had a free choice of a card where they really picked the three of clubs. Then you have them put the card in an envelope that they think they've freely selected and then you say, "I'm going to divine what that card is, the four of diamonds." Then they say, "No, you're a loser." Then you say, "Well, keep the card in your pocket, I want to go to Forest Lawn and show you around. There are some great graves there." And you go around and there's Stan Laurel and all sorts of cool ones and then you walk over and say, "Huh, I didn't know Penn and Teller were dead!" And you point down and there on the gravestone it says, "Is this your card? 3 of Clubs." And there it is in brass and marble. It's beautiful. It cost us most of our advance for the book. But Teller thought "You know, it will be there forever, Penn, and it's wonderful." My mother said, "What's so funny about you having a gravestone?" I said, "Ma, it's OK." It was incredible, because Forest Lawn called and said, "Well we won't sell this to you because you're trying to do something funny, and this is a place with dignity. You can't make fun of that." And Teller had an evil New York lawyer on the phone with them going, "This is breach of contract! We will own Forest Lawn! You put that in, you put it in now! He has a verbal contract, he has a letter of agreement, money has changed hands, do you want to still own your cemetery? Do you, boy? Do you?" Teller just sicked them on them. You know, you're beating up a poor mortician. He said, "It's going to be a great gag."

Harris: It is great -- the eternal card trick. Always great to talk to you, Penn.

Jillette: Great talking to you!

Harris: Thank you very much.

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Doug Houser.

Wednesday, October 22, 1997

George Lopez

Harris: We are happy to welcome back to our guest microphone comedian George Lopez, who was one of the headliners at the first Paul Harris Comedy Concert for Children's Hospital.

Lopez: It was great, wasn't it?

Harris: Wasn't that a nice night? And we've got another great night coming up, that's on December 8th this year.

Lopez: Yeah, I saw your lineup and I urge everyone to go to that one, it's going to be great.

Harris: Wendy Liebman and Will Durst and Jim Gaffigan, Bob Somerby, and The Reduced Shakespeare Company. Thank you for letting me plug that. Now let's talk about you. How have you been? I saw you on Vibe, that Quincy Jones show, a couple of weeks ago. That's on Channel 20 at 10 o'clock here.

Lopez: I jammed, man. Didn't I?

Harris: You were very good on that show.

Lopez: I had just had some material put on hold for The Tonight Show that's supposed to be happening in January. So I had to completely retool, since it's all people of color as opposed to The Tonight Show, which is predominantly the midwest. I was in the middle, I didn't know who I was, and I was like, "What the hell, what am I saying? Who am I?"

Harris: Is that what they'll do? One show will say, "We love this part of your act, hold on to it?"

Lopez: "Hold onto it and don't do anything of this set on any other show." And I had a week to do Vibe, but they replaced my guy, Chris.

Harris: Yeah, Chris Spencer's out and Sinbad's coming in. Why are you laughing about Sinbad?

Lopez: Sinbad is...anytime they need a black man and they need him in a hurry, it's Sinbad. He's the guy, he's the Roto-Rooter. Anytime you're in trouble, call Sinbad!

Harris: I hear Sinbad said, "Yes, Quincy, I'll do the show but only for a couple of months. Find somebody full time to do this."

Lopez: It's too bad that they didn't give Chris a chance because Conan O'Brien ran for at least a year solid and was horrible the first year. He's great now and to replace a guy two months in is just horrible.

Harris: Why didn't they get you? Were you up for the job? You should have gotten that.

Lopez: I'd like to have had it, but I think they weren't going to do anybody that hasn't been proven yet. Plus Telemundo has offered me a talk show. I find that completely interesting that they want to get into English programming.

Harris: Now that's a mistake for Telemundo.

Lopez: Telemundo, the guy who does the astrology is like seventy years old and he's homosexual and all his predictions are that. "Hello, you are lady?" Click. He doesn't want to talk to anybody but men. "I want men, call me, men. Lady, no. Your future, bye." But Telemundo offered me a talk show and I thought that it is the loudest station on TV. You watch NBC, they've got the three little bells going ding, dong, ding. On Telemundo, they scream. That's why if you ever drive by Latino neighborhoods and they're all in the front yard at about 11 o'clock at night, it's because it's too loud in the house! My grandmother would yell at me, "Turn the television down." My response was always the same, "I don't know where the pliers are! What did you do with them? You used the oven last! What did you do with them?"

Harris: Not only is Telemundo a loud channel, but it is also the sweatiest channel on TV. They have to get air-conditioning at that studio or tone down some of the soap operas.

Lopez: The funniest thing to me is that they'll do the same commercials, like Coast soap. "I like Coast because it's the eye opener." And you'll see the same commercial in Spanish a lot louder. It's almost like the way cavemen reacted to fire in "Quest for Fire." They're just so happy to see soap! "We must not tell anyone we have Coast. Don't tell anyone. You are lady." Click. I don't know what's going to happen TV- wise. I love Vibe but I think I'm going to jump and go over to Keenen.

Harris: Well, that seems to be the show of the two in the urban battle.

Lopez: The urban battle is being waged and I'm going over to Keenen.

Harris: Good, that's the show to be on.

Lopez: I'll take a fish for that tank and maybe I'll suck up. That old Chevy Chase tank they have.

Harris: I'm surprised they put a tank on there. Didn't Chevy's fish all die on TV?

Lopez: They all died.

Harris: And so Keenen puts a fish tank on there. Let me ask about one TV thing you did. I always watch this show on Comedy Central called Make Me Laugh, right before The Daily Show. In the history of this show -- and I watch it every night -- nobody ever makes them laugh, and why would they? If you're making money not to laugh, nobody's going to make you laugh. You were funny, but was Marty Putz one of the guys on with you?

Lopez: Marty Putz was one of the guys. I made the guy laugh in 6 seconds. The guy was a bail bondsman. So they go, "He's a bail bondsman who says George, make me laugh!" I said, "So you're a bail bondsman. Do I look familiar to you?" The guy was on the floor in six seconds, it's the record. That's all I said and he starts rolling.

Harris: The idea of that show is that the comedians are trying to be as funny as they can and the people are fighting back laughter. As a comedian, we had Wendy Liebman on after she did the show, and she said that it was the most disgraceful thing in comedy.

Lopez: Right, because they pay people not to laugh for like a dollar a second. Very nice, our egos are completely gone. You're hitting them with bombs and it's almost like you're boxing and you're hitting someone with bombs and they're not going down.

Harris: Not even that, they're not even getting bruised. They're not even turning a cheek.

Lopez: You almost have to do it because you almost have to keep up the money for the insurance. God forbid one of my teeth dies and I'm out there with a gray front tooth. I guess there's always Denny's night manager.

Harris: George, you were so good at the Paul Harris Comedy Concert For Children's Hospital last year.

Lopez: Thanks. It was jam packed and it was a Monday night and it was just perfect. That's what comedy is about. Plus, you give back and people are laughing. I remember some older Republican men coming up going, "You know, we are not really fans of your particular type of comedy, but we thought it was funny." Well, thank you, I guess!

Harris: Kind of a half-hearted compliment there.

Lopez: Then I saw Paul in Las Vegas! I forget when it was.

Harris: About six weeks after that, I was on vacation in Vegas.

Lopez: He called me at the hotel and I was like, "How do I blow this dude out, man?"

Harris: He was playing the Improv over there and I came over after the show and George and I hung out for a while.

Lopez: I made friends with some of the maitre d's at the shows, so I would go over and see Earth, Wind, and Fire and Bill Cosby. I met Bill Cosby and he said, "I saw you man on TV man doing the Spanish thing." That's what he told me, "All right, you're doing the Spanish thing, that's cool."

Harris: "Doing the Spanish thing?" That's a nice compliment from the Cos.

Lopez: "Doing the Spanish thing." Okay, Cos, thank you. But I saw Siegfried and Roy for the first time. The white tigers look more human than Siegfried and Roy. You see the white tigers -- and I don't want to start any rumors -- but the new baby white tiger has Roy's eyes. You didn't hear it from me.

Harris: I heard that Siegfried and Roy have split. That was a story that came out about a week or two ago.

Lopez: Yeah, but Roys are like Lassies man, they'll pull a new Roy out of somewhere. They broke up, right? So that's why all the flags at Dupont Circle are flying half-mast. I was like, "They're flying half-mast, I wonder why?"

Harris: Hey, you weren't here last week for the Louis Farrakhan Day of Atonement. I'm sorry about that.

Lopez: I actually want Latinos to do a Day of Atonement because we do a lot of things in this country and we don't get a lot of recognition.

Harris: Could there be a Latino Million Man March?

Lopez: I think we could do the Million Man Nap, but not the March. I just think Farrakhan is always on, he's always Reverend Farrakhan. If he went to McDonald's he would be like, [in Farrakhan's voice] "Yes I would like...one value meal...super size...with a Diet Coke." And when he gets going, he's a beautiful speaker, but it almost sounds like he's doing 70s songs. He's like, "I can turn the gray sky blue...I can make it rain whenever I want it to...I can build a castle from a single grain of sand...but I can't get next to you, babe, can't get next to you. Just sit right back...and you'll hear a tale...a tale of a fateful trip...that started on this tropic port...aboard a tiny ship...the mate, who was a Jew..." Oh my God! Louis Farrakhan is killing me, man.

Harris: The skipper in a bow tie. I would pay to see it.

Lopez: "Mary Ann, you must atone for your Jezebel ways...why can't we eat something else other than coconut cream pie?"

Harris: If you want to get into the Latino thing, I've got to ask you, there's this new magazine in town called Capital Style and they put Jimmy Smits on the cover of the first issue because he's always in town lobbying for what he calls Hispanic issues. You say Latino right?

Lopez: I just say issues. I don't color code them.

Harris: I know one of the things you're talking about a lot is how Latinos are getting short shrift, especially in the entertainment industry, right?

Lopez: Yeah, so we're on the same page as far as that's concerned. But I think there are good shows. Cheech is on Nash Bridges. That's a great show. Cheech is very fine in that show, and he's also one of my golfing buddies. It's so funny because I never smoke, I never get high. I haven't gotten high in 20 years and Cheech still gets high.

Harris: Is that right?

Lopez: So he says to me one day, "Hey, man, do you want to smoke?" And it's almost like, you don't want to but it's Cheech! It's almost like if Mickey Mantle said, "You want to play catch? Go get your glove." You almost have to say, "Gee Mick, do you mean it?" You almost have to! I became him, man. Two guys, one Cheech and one trying to be Cheech. Just wild.

Harris: Cheech and Cheech, not the greatest act in the world.

Lopez: It was crazy.

Harris: Have you been getting any roles of any kind?

Lopez: I'm gone a lot so I don't get a chance to. My friends are executive producers on the Wayans Brothers Network and they were going to give me a part, but the guy was a robber. I don't want to do that. I'd let the tooth die. I think it's important not to. I travel by myself and you see a lot of things and its always negative. Last week I was in Chicago and I go to breakfast by myself, and the lady looks at me and starts looking around and says, "We only accept applications between 10 and 2 in the afternoon." And you almost have to laugh, man, because it's so funny. So I said, "OK, I'll be back." It's just so ridiculous that we're almost invisible. Those things are funny to me and as long as they're funny to me I'll just continue to put them in the act. I run into all these stupid people.

Harris: I think it's great that you can laugh at that.

Lopez: I think it's important. I mean, maybe one day, who knows? I think that the way you see police, the brutality, like what happened to the guy in New York with the guy and the plunger. And then they say that the guy is recovering slowly. No lie, man! I wouldn't be in any hurry to get back out onto the streets again. "The doctor says you're free to go." "No, I'm OK. This month could we try chocolate ice cream? I just want to sit here and have more ice cream." Because when you see commercials like this for Just For Men hair color, it's hilarious. The cop pulls the guy over and says, "This isn't you, this is an older guy." "Well, that's because I've been using Just For Men." I don't know if that really happens in real-life nighttime scenarios. A cop pulls you over and says "Hey, this isn't you." "Yeah, I know, and in five minutes you're going to find out this isn't my car either."

Harris: So can you picture a day when there is a Latino president who's doing coffees at the White House and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars?

Lopez: Oh no, it wouldn't even be coffees he gets in trouble with. "Did you hear about President Lopez? They caught him fixing his cousin Tooty's parking tickets. He had an aunt who had a Denver boot on and he got it taken off. Man, I think they're going to depeach him."

Harris: George Lopez, thanks for coming.

Lopez: Thank you, Paul!

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Phil Egenthal

Monday, October 20, 1997

Maria Bartiromo

Harris: If you flip around the channels, you may have stopped on CNBC, the business channel. And the reason you may have stopped is our next guest, Maria Bartiromo, who has been at CNBC for a couple of years, but is probably best known for being the first reporter to be live on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange while trading was going on during the day. And she has done so well for herself, she's so hot, that CNBC has given her her own show. It's on at 7:00 every weeknight, it's called Business Center and it just debuted last week. Here is Maria Bartiromo.

Bartiromo: Hi, thanks for having me!

Harris: So, what was it like being the first one on the floor of the Exchange? Were they beating you up a lot in your first week?

Bartiromo: A little. It was really interesting because you had something new to all involved. I mean, here I am, the first person to come down trying to be the person in the middle of all these men and women running around all over the place trying to get their trades done in a hurry. And there are these people who are watching not only a reporter, but a woman, come into their territory out of nowhere. I mean, in some cases they probably thought I was crazy because it appeared I was talking to myself because the camera was so far away from me, because it is up on a ledge, and they had no idea when I was live and when I wasn't live.

Harris: It must be weird for them because, to them, you are just some person staring up into space and talking out loud.

Bartiromo: That's right. So it took a little time for both sides to get used to, but now everyone down there is very respectful and they know what I'm doing and I try and keep out of their way and they try and keep out of my way.

Harris: Is it extremely stressful? Because the other day I was watching this show and it wasn't about business, it was about stress, and you were on it. They showed you doing your makeup on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and they showed all these different flashes of stress. Is it very stressful down there?

Bartiromo: Yes, it is very stressful, just because you have activity and news happening as I speak. So in many cases none of the stuff I come out with is scripted. Often, a story will break or there will be a very large crowd of people standing around one of the posts down on the floor, and it's obvious that somebody knows something because there is all this buying interest in one stock down on the floor. It's sort of finding out what is happening and going with it as it's happening. In many cases, it's sort of breaking news and you just go with it, so it is a little stressful.

Harris: But, it's also a mosh pit, and are there still guys that elbow you as they go by? Have you had to elbow them or kick them as they go by?

Bartiromo: Oh, yes! I'm just kidding. But certainly when someone does bump into me, well, I'll bump back.

Harris: Good for you!. The other thing you are known for, Maria, is being one of the best dressed women on TV.

Bartiromo: Oh, thank you.

Harris: I don't know how you got your company to give you one heck of a wardrobe budget, or did that all come out of your closet?

Bartiromo: Much of it is the Bartiromo closet but there is one company that does provide me with suits -- and that's Kennar -- but often, I really have my own tastes and do often go on shopping sprees myself.

Harris: In fact, I hear it is working so much that comedian Richard Lewis hit on you by phone long distance, didn't he?

Bartiromo: He did! Actually I was doing the nighttime updates, the news updates which is not business at all. They had just asked me to pinch hit for someone else.

Harris: Is that the two minute thing during Geraldo?

Bartiromo: Yes, so I get this phone call from this guy named Richard Lewis, truthfully I didn't really know who he was because the name just did not ring a bell at first. So, I said, I don't really know who you are. And he said what, are you crazy, are you kidding? And I said no. So he sent me an 8 x 10 photo of himself. He wrote on it, "Dear Maria, stop stalking me or I'll get my family after you. -- RL" He then sent me these tapes of him and we've really developed a rapport since then. He is definitely a really funny guy and he has really started watching the stock market action after that.

Harris: So, did you date Richard Lewis?

Bartiromo: No, no. He just came by the office and I just kind of showed him around.

Harris: That's not what he came to see, Maria.

Bartiromo: Well, he did come by one afternoon when he was in New York and I showed him around the office.

Harris: "Oh, this is Joe Kernan's desk! Oh, that's very interesting. Thank you very much!"

Bartiromo: [laughs]

Harris: All right, Maria, I have worked up a little quiz for you this afternoon, and I know you have to run because you do Business Center at 7, so let's do this quiz, okay?

Bartiromo: Oh, gosh, okay.

Harris: Here we go. Classic rocker whose money you would like to have one month's interest from: Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger?

Bartiromo: Paul McCartney.

Harris: More powerful woman: Hillary Clinton or Andrea Mitchell?

Bartiromo: Andrea Mitchell, definitely.

Harris: You know, every day I live in fear that Andrea Mitchell will do something that will annoy her husband, Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve.

Bartiromo: I hope she's keeping him happy.

Harris: She better be keeping him happy day and night or else the whole world is going to collapse. All right, CBS stock -- that's our parent company -- buy, sell, or hold?

Bartiromo: I'm sorry, I can't comment. I just don't know.

Harris: Are you allowed to own stock?

Bartiromo: We are, but long term and very non-speculative. And given my position, I'm not supposed to make recommendations.

Harris: Have you made any bad investment choices yourself?

Bartiromo: No, it's really just long term, mutual funds and stuff so I can't really think of any big bombs. You know, the market's been so strong.

Harris: Okay. Sexier billionaire: Ted Turner or Bill Gates?

Bartiromo: Ooooh, I'd say Ted Turner.

Harris: You want to go for C, none of the above, right?

Bartiromo: [laughs]

Harris: Next, body piercing. We're going to do a Harris Poll on this later. Do you have any pierced body parts?

Bartiromo: Just my ears.

Harris: Body piercing in men: turn on or turn off?

Bartiromo: Turn off.

Harris: More fun: profit taking or bargain hunting?

Bartiromo: Bargain hunting.

Harris: More important: a guy's interest rate or his long bond?

Bartiromo: His interest rate.

Harris: And which is the worse NBC sitcom, Jenny or Suddenly Susan?

Bartiromo: That's not fair! NBC is my parent. I love them all.

Harris: Of course you do. All right. Business Center is on CNBC at 7. And Maria is live on the floor of the Exchange something like thirty times a day.

Bartiromo: Well, I've actually cut it down because of my new show but I am definitely there all day long.

Harris: I hear the ratings were good for your debut last week and good luck with the show. Thanks for coming on with us.

Bartiromo: Thanks for having me. Have a great day!

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Phil Egenthal.

Saturday, October 04, 1997

Keith Emerson

Harris: Keith, it's been a few years since I've talked to you. Believe it or not, the last time was about seven or eight years ago when we all sat down for an interview live from Abbey Road, there in London.

Emerson: Oh, right, yes! I remember that.

Harris: That was a terrific day and you are in London now, right?

Emerson: I'm in London now, yes.

Harris: Now, before we talk about your concert coming up this Saturday, let's talk a little bit about what the mood in town there is like in middle of this whole Diana week.

Emerson: Yeah, right. Well, as you can expect, it's pretty somber.

Harris: Is it weird? Are people all over town, is that the only thing people are talking about?

Emerson: Well, not really. Londoners tend to get on with their life. They express their grief in different ways. For example, I just saw a cab driver, a London taxi cab, and on his aerial he had black ribbons. It's just expressed in different ways, but the whole feeling here is just sort of like very somber. You know, it's just, it's dreadful. You know, I must confess that I was not extremely shocked by what happened. I think it was inevitable by the end of the day, sadly.

Harris: Because of paparazzi or because of other reasons?

Emerson: I think of that for that one reason, yes. To a lesser degree, anybody in the public eye has been exposed to that sort of thing.

Harris: Have you had trouble with that sort of thing?

Emerson: Yeah. Well, to a much lesser degree, yes. What we try and do is, if they want a photograph, then just take it. You know, I think that if that had happened at the Ritz and she'd given one to the photo corps, she would still be here today.

Harris: I know at the height of your tours in the late seventies, where you were playing these big halls, you must have been in a crush of people, not just photographers, but fans. Did that ever get dangerous for you?

Emerson: Well, it got stupid. There was one occasion that I was not actually aware of at the time, where I was in my hotel room, and a personal assistant to the band went after a photographer that had taken some photographs of the band and had gotten into a fight with him. And as a consequence, I was sued. It had nothing to do with me, but there was a lawsuit against me because I employed this person. That must have been a surprise for you when that subpoena came down.

Emerson: Well, it was! I was going on stage and this guy came up to me and shoved this piece of paper in my hand. I had no idea about it but, oh boy.

Harris: When we talked to you years ago at Abbey Road, I asked you if you ever got injured doing stuff, and you told me that sometimes when you were doing those weird concerts where you were flipping upside down and backwards and all over the place, that you would occasionally get bloody hands from playing so hard.

Emerson: Not only that. I've broken my nose, I've broken ribs. You name it. In fact, we just got back from South America and I fell over a monitor speaker on the stage and almost ended up in the front row of the audience. I managed to sprain my wrist on that one but luckily nothing was broken.

Harris: Well, that's not the one you want going into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, is it? "You know I used to play my keyboards upside down and spinning!" "Yeah, so what happened to you?" "Well, I tripped over a monitor! "

Emerson: [laughing] Yeah, right!

Harris: Now, when you come to Wolf Trap this Saturday, for this concert that we're all looking forward to, will you be spinning upside down or are those days behind you?

Emerson: [laughing] I will be mentally spinning upside down. No, those days aren't behind. As far as the Wolf Trap show goes, we'll be doing a lot of stuff, that's musically athletic, I think. The spinning piano, I don't know what is going to be happening with that. I've got to make a call to my keyboard tech and see what's happening about that. It's not a thing that you can do at every venue because it does require a very high ceiling or a very low floor, you need room.

Harris: [laughing] You don't want to be spinning around and see the floor is only eight feet below the stage.

Emerson: No, no. When I did it at the California Jam, I was actually high over the stage and hovering with a twenty foot drop below me. So, there was plenty of room.

Harris: Do insurance agents hang up on you a lot?

Emerson: [laughing] Yeah, yeah. They did when I started my flying lessons. Especially when I landed at the wrong airport. But that's another story.

Harris: Now, we're giving away some tickets to the show and we are also giving away these special invitation-only tickets to your soundcheck that afternoon. What will people see when they come to see your soundcheck that's different from what they'll see during the regular show?

Emerson: Oh, since this our first show, I think they'll see us sweat a lot. They'll see us screaming a lot, going, "Oh, god...how do ya...what chord...what's the note on that one?"

Harris: So you're actually up there practicing and rehearsing stuff and trying to remember how to do it that night?

Emerson: Yeah, I guess so.

Harris: You know, when I looked back over the ELP history, I did not realize that when you played the Isle of Wight in 1970, that was the debut of Pictures at an Exhibition?

Emerson: Well, I guess you could call that the debut. We played a concert about two nights before that at Plymouth Guild Hall.

Harris: But when you guys did this huge Isle of Wight festival, you had only been together for about four days, right?

Emerson: Well, we'd been rehearsing for something like a month prior to that.

Harris: How was that, to go out for one of your first couple of gigs and go out in front of a huge festival audience like that?

Emerson: I felt that the concert we did before that, two days before that at the Plymouth Guild Hall went a lot better than that, mainly because the acoustics were contained. At the Isle of Wight, the sound went out and kind of kept on going. And I wasn't...when I came off stage I was kind of unhappy about how we had played. But now, I listen back to those recordings and it's not bad. In fact, we are releasing that concert and it's coming out this month. The whole concert, the Isle of Wight Festival, ELP live at the Isle of Wight.

Harris: So it's a big fall for you guys, with getting back out on the road. Is everything okay between the team of Keith and Greg and the team of Carl?

Emerson: Well, it's great, yeah.

Harris: Because you guys had some problems over the years.

Emerson: We don't ever say that, quite honestly. No, but if it wasn't good, I wouldn't be going back out on tour. It's because we manage to bounce ideas off one another. Every band fights but at the end of the day, we're very positive about the way we fight. At least we come out with a result at the end of the day.

Harris: One other thing I wanted to ask you about is one of your solo projects. You did the music for a movie called Nighthawks with Sylvester Stallone, Billy Dee Williams, Rutger Hauer, and Lindsey Wagner played Sly's wife.

Emerson: Right.

Harris: How did that come about? Was that a one-on-one project with Sly or was he not even involved at all?

Emerson: Well, he was very much involved right from the word go. I was sent the script and a brief video about what they were doing with Nighthawks and came up with a main title theme and flew to Universal Studios in California. I then waited in an office in Universal, and then Sly walked in, and I was amazed. I had only seen him in the Rocky films and I expected this huge guy to walk in. He wasn't much taller than myself.

Harris: I've heard a lot of people say that. He's only about 5'9", isn't he?

Emerson: Well, he's a bit taller than me and I'm about 5'10", but a helluva nice guy. He had heard the main title theme that I had come up with and then he disappeared with the producer for about a half an hour and then the producer came back and said, "Hey, you've got yourself a job." I said, "Oh good." After that, I sat down with Sly and he expressed what he wanted and it was a great relationship. I really admire him.

Harris: It's a terrific sound track, too. Have you stayed in touch with him? Do you want to work with him again?

Emerson: I'd love to work with him again. Yes, I have stayed in touch with him. The last time I saw him was in California at Elton John's AIDS Benefit and I introduced him to Greg and Carl and we all got along great.

Harris: Well we're looking forward to the show on Saturday, where people will be guaranteed a good time at the show that never ends, right?

Emerson: Yep, absolutely. We're looking forward to it.

Harris: We'll call this one...it can't be Karn Evil 9 or 10...at this point we must be up to about Karn Evil 25, aren't we?

Emerson: Well, who's counting? [Laughing]

Harris: Keith, thanks for checking in with me.

Emerson: Okay, Paul. Take care.

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Phil Egenthal.