Posts Tagged “Brett Ratner”

Fourth Annual Friars Club Comedy Film Festival

The most frustrating thing about attending any film festival is not being able to see all the films you’d like to see, because there’s just too many good ones to choose from. That was the case at the Friars Club’s Fourth Annual Comedy Film Festival.

The schedule for the 4th Annual Friars Club Comedy Film Festival!

Back in 2009, Friar Charlie Prince, an entertainment lawyer in Manhattan realized the lack of a film festival geared towards comedy. He suggested it to the Board of Governors at The Friars Club, and they agreed to give him the green light, so the festival was born. The second year they had 8 films in competition. This year they had over 40.

Charlie as the Exec. Director of the festival is aided by his indefatigable team, including Eric Johnson, head of Programming, Susanna Gora the Director of the festival, and Sue Constantine, Director of Communications. There are others as well not named “Sue”, whose names I don’t recall, but they all work tirelessly to make this festival the success that it is.

Films, (features and shorts) were shown over four nights, to packed audiences, in six different venues: the Cantor Film Center at NYU, The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, The Core Club, the SVA Theatre, The HBO Theater, and The PIT.

Opening night was fun with a film titled ” It’s A Disaster” starring America Ferrera, Julia Stiles and David Cross, which could possibly be described as an apocalyptic comedy if there is such a thing! It was directed by Todd Berger, and Todd, America, and David, along with a couple of funny actors named Jeff Grace, and Kevin Brennan, were at the Q&A that followed as well as the kick-ass opening party at the legendary Friars Club, a gorgeous mansion on East 55th Street in midtowm Manhattan.

(L-R) Moderator Charlie Prince, with America Ferrera, Jeff Grace, Kevin Brennan, and director Todd Berger from ” It’s A Disaster”!

I shot some very cool video interviews with Charlie Prince, David Cross and some of the comics at The Friars CLub which you will see as soon as it’s edited!

Other highlights of the festival for me, and there were several, were seeing my old friend, widely-loved comic Eddie Pepitone immortalized in a film about him,called “The Bitter Buddha”, as well as seeing the film “Price Check” with one of my favorite actresses, indie-queen Parker Posey, and actor Brian Berebbi, who was also there for the Q&A and for the after-party, along with director Mike Walker.

Actor/improv comic Brian (30 Rock) Berebbi, at the premiere of Price Check at the HBO Theater!

Brian played a fun role in the film and as I left the theatre, because my life usually turns into a Woody Allen movie, I fell down in the darkness, and unknowingly cut my hand. As I walked outside with my producer Rob Krieg, I saw Brian who called me over to introduce me to the film’s director Mike Walker, and producer Dolly Hall, and as I extended my hand to shake it was dripping blood.

(L-R_ Charlie Prince, Mike Walker, Dolly Hall, and Brian Berebbi on stage at the HBO Theater, for the Q&A for Price Check!

We all had a good laugh as I made my way to the Men’s Room to clean up. Fortunately it was a minor injury, but a funny visual for a film, trying to shake hands with people while you’re bleeding but trying to act very casual!

The Bitter Buddha was made by Steven Feinartz,(pronounced Fine Arts, which is about as good a name for a director as you can get! LOL.) The title is how Feinartz describes Eddie, who is often called ” the comedian’s comedian” meaning someone that other comics like to watch perform, and it was a great look into his life and what makes him tick.

Eddie Pepitone fielding questions during the Q&A for the film about him “The Bitter Buddha”!

The scenes of Eddie with his Dad, who doesn’t get to attend many of Eddie’s shows, but who unexpectedly came out to Gotham Comedy Club to support his headlining performance there were particularly heart-warming. You could see how proud he was of his son!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV in the audience with Eddie Pepitone after his performance in “The Bitter Buddha” a doc on his life. I couldn’t resist holding up my book ” Make ‘Em Laugh” with a great intro by Chris Rock!

And it was particularly gratifying to me to see the turnout for the afterparties at The Friars CLub, and to see the club packed with so many young, creative people. That’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ve been involved with the club for so many years, and it’s great seeing the energy that Charlie and his team bring to the club.

I attended the closing party with Shoko Tamai, a very talented, and super-creative ballet dancer originally from Japan, but who performs all over the world, and is also surprisingly very funny! I’m excited that she will be doing some comedy work with me, and we are planning some fun and unusual things together!

Friar Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV, with internationally known ballet dancer Shoko Tamei, on the Step and Repeat at The Friars Club!

It was thrilling for me to be able to show her around the club, and watch her amazement at the show business history that is obvious everywhere you look in the club. There’s really no other place like The Friars Club, and it always feels good to be there.

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV, with international ballet star Shoko Tamei, in the Milton Berle room at the legendary Friars Club in NYC. Milton Berle was Jeffrey’s original sponsor in the Friars Club!

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Spectacular Evening at Sotheby’s for 20th Anniversary of ACE

It was 20 years ago that social activist Henry Buhl created ACE which stands for “The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless” with the help of people like Tony Goldman,a real estate magnate, who’s also responsible for building up a lot of South Beach in Miami.

Prince Lorenzo Borghese, Tinsley Mortimer and Henry Buhl at the gala 20th anniversary ACE event at Sotheby’s!

Last night there was a gala event honoring ACE’s work over the past 20 years as well as honoring Russell Simmons and international opera star Jessye Norman.

I was covering the red carpet so I was really hoping to see and interview Russell, who I hadn’t seen since we honored Brett Ratner at The Friars Club some months back, but unfortunately he was detained in arriving.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV ready to man the red carpet at Sotheby’s for the 20th anniversary gala of ACE,, to assist the homeless!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Rosanna Scotto of FOX TV’s Good Day New York at the ACE gala at Sotheby’s!

I did get to see and interview Henry Buhl, Sara Herbert-Galloway who was one of the esteemed hosts,(and a friend!), Jessye Norman, who couldn’t have been nicer, Rosanna Scotto, the anchor from FOX’s Good Day New York, Prince Lorenzo Borghese who I hadn’t seen in quite a while and who was there with Tinsley Mortimer, my old dear friend Countess LuAnn DeLesseps from The Real Housewives of New York City, who was there with her boyfriend Jacques Azoulay, two other old friends Dr. Judy Kuriansky the famous sex therapist, and Mary Sliwa, ex-wife of Curtis Sliwa, and one very special interview for me, with Aviva Drescher one of the new women on Real Housewives of NYC. That was a real treat!

Countess LuAnn DeLesseps with Jacques Azoulay on the red carpet at Sotheby’s!

Jessye Norman was passionate about helping the homeless, and about Henry Buhl’s work over the past 20 years.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with international opera star Jessye Norman at Sotheby’s!

Lorenzo and I caught up on old times and he was shocked that I remembered the name of his line of pet products, Royal Treatment! It always amazes me what I do remember because very often I remember nothing at all!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Lorenzo Borghese at a party back in 2006!

And Tinsley Mortimer and I had a good laugh about the first time we met in of all places, a McDonald’s. You’d have thought maybe The Four Seasons, or Nobu maybe, but no, … it was McDonalds. It was very late at night and we were both hungry and on line for a snack! She has a new book just out for a month called “Southern Charm” and one day soon we’re going to sit down and shoot a little video interview about it for Comedy Matters TV!

Countess LuAnn and I always have something to laugh about together! We just look at each other and laugh! We’re friends since the 80’s, when she was still a nurse and a model, and we had lots of fun times together. It wasn’t that long ago when she was interviewing me on Plum TV in the Hamptons. I’m so happy for her for all of her success, and for being with Jacques who’s such a great guy, but could have been a little more creative with his name! (LOL)

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Countess LuAnn DeLesseps at one of the opening parties for “Real Housewives of New York City”! ( Her Mom is next to us!)

Countess LuAnn DeLesseps and her beautiful Mom at a Real Housewives party!

Who would believe a French guy named Jacques? It’s like an Italian guy named Carmine! Or a Jewish guy named Sol! Not very creative! (LOL)

Anyway, I suggested to LuAnn that we do a comedy thing on Housewives, like some kind of comedy event, and we’re going to discuss it!

But I’d have to say my interview with Aviva Drescher was the highlight of the evening for me. I asked her about her charity “One Step Ahead” and she complimented me on my preparedness, which led to such a heartwarming interview on people overcoming obstacles in their lives.

Real Housewives Heather Thompson, LuAnn DeLesseps, and Aviva Drescher at Sotheby’s!

Aviva is an amputee which you would have no way of knowing unless she told you. She’s a gorgeous woman with a super personality, and a handsome husband with four beautiful kids. When she was six, she lost her left leg in an accident at a friend’s house. But she never let it get the best of her and I admire people so much for that. Because not everyone rises above difficulties like that. Some people let it overwhelm them.

And she shared with me that when she was younger she thought she might never get married or have children, but fortunately none of that was true. I was able to share with her my own story of overcoming obstacles, of which I feel there were many. None as serious as the loss of a limb, but I was a very severe stutterer until I was in my 20’s.

My parents took me for speech therapy but no one was able to help me. One day I realized that I did’t stutter when I was alone, only when I tried to speak to someone else. That basically told me there was really nothing wrong with me, and I vowed to cure myself. I was determined not to go through the rest of my life as a stutterer.

For the next two or three years I became obsessed with curing myself, and as I look at it now, I was given the Grace to figure out how to stop. I now work with other stutterers to teach them how not to stutter. I love doing that kind of work.

So Aviva and I had an instantaneous bond,and I can’t wait to see her again!

You’ll see it all when the video is edited!

And all of this glitz and glamour was thanks to the team at Oui 2 PR, Rob Goldstone and David Wilson who are both so humble and hate to be recognized, but the truth is they do A-1 events, that are well organized, and I for one appreciate that, and believe in giving credit where credit is due! So there!!! (LOL)

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Tuesday Night Comedy At The Friars

The flier for Tuesday night comedy at The Friars Club!

I’ve been going to The Friars Club since the late 70’s, and it’s as exciting today to walk in there as it was then. Granted, I don’t run into Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, or Joey Adams anymore, but I do run into people like Richard Belzer, Richard Lewis, and even people not named Richard, … like Alan Zweibel!

Friars Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV and Richard Lewis in the dining room of The Friars Club!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Richard Belzer in the dining room at The Friars Club!

In the last year alone, I shot video interviews there for Comedy Matters TV with Friar Lisa Lampanelli who made her singing debut at the club, Friar Richard Lewis who came to town to headline at Carolines, and Friar Brett Ratner, who was honored at the club, and you can see these videos on my Comedy Matters Channel at http://www.youtube.com/guriannewsnetwork

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Friar/director Brett Ratner at an event at The Friars in his honor!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Lisa Lampanelli at The Friars Club for her singing debut in preparation for her upcoming one-woman Broadway show!

The Friars is like a museum of show biz, and if you’re a comedy fan, you can’t help be excited to be within it’s walls. The club itself is a beautiful 6 story mansion on East 55th Street between Park and Madison, with a pool room, a well stocked gym, a couple of cool bars, like the downstairs Billy Crystal Bar, a fantastic dining room, a card playing room, and several gorgeous meeting rooms.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in Billy’s office in Beverly Hills!

Once a month, comic/producer Aaron Haber puts on a comedy show in where else, “The Milton Berle Room” on the 2nd floor. Aaron is the busiest guy. He also produces shows at Al Martin’s Broadway Comedy Club, and also just launched www.evilnewsdaily.com

Jeffrey Gurian with Milton Berle in 1985 at the LA Friars, the year he sponsored me into the club!

This month he invited me to participate and in all my years at The Friars it’s the first time I performed stand-up comedy there.

I’ve been hosting shows at the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip for about a year now, so I felt I was ready to do The Friars. It was a great show. Aaron, who could have been the inspiration for Chris Rock’s play, “The Mother-Fuc*er With The Hat”, is a perfect MC, and somehow reminds me of Kevin Nealon, with his delivery. He’s very funny.

Aaron Haber or as he’s known, The Motherfu**er With The Hat, MC’ing his show at The Friars Club!

Also on the bill was Moody McCarthy, and I always mean to ask him how he got the name “Moody” cause he’s always in a good mood when I see him. He agreed to go on first which is always a tough spot, but not so much when you’re funny, and he is. It’s a very appreciative and supportive audience, and they loved him.

Moody McCarthy entertaining Friars in the Milton Berle Room!

Then my old friend Maureen Langan went up and killed it. Comics always reminisce about going on road trips together where they travelled to their gigs in the same car. Maureen lives on my block so we walked over together all the way from East 54th Street! What a reminiscence that will be some day! (LOL) Hey Mo, remember the time we walked three blocks together to get to that gig? And it was a little windy too! Remember that??? My hair almost got all messed up.

Maureen Langan making a comedy point to the audience at The Friars Club!

I followed Maureen and felt pretty good about my set. At least no one threatened to take away my membership, … and General Manager Michael Caputo was there, and was even kind enough to shoot the group photo you see below!

(L-R_ Moody McCarthy, Maureen Langan, Jeffrey Gurian, Aaron Haber, and in the back Josh Spear! ( A Spear in the back sounds painful! LOL)

The next comic up, Josh Spear, was an old friend of mine from the club scene days, where he used to promote hot parties. I hadn’t seen him in quite a while and was glad to see we were going to be on the same show, so it gave us a chance to catch up! He had a really good set, and told me he had to leave on the early side, because he was actually going back to college to pursue the education he never took the time to get previously. I thought that takes a lot of courage, and is very commendable since he already has a career in comedy.

Josh Spear being funny onstage at The Friars Club!

Friar Steven Scott doing his thing onstage at The Friars Club!

And closing the show was the always entertaining Steven Scott, who’s a perfect closer, cause he does so many things. Not only does he tell jokes, but he does imitations, voices, sound effects, and can even imitate music with his voice. Once we were on the Joey Reynolds radio show together, and he acted as an entire band, making the sound of each instrument with his mouth. It was truly amazing.

All in all it was a fantastic show, and all The Friars had a great time. You have to either be a Friar or a guest of a Friar to attend, so if any of you in the biz ever wanna come to a show, let me know and I’ll sponsor you for membership!

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Billy Crystal Replaces Eddie Murphy To Host Academy Awards

A lot of people were excited that Brett Ratner was producing the 2012 Academy Award ceremony. And then Brett added to the excitement by asking Eddie Murphy to host. It would have been a challenge for Eddie, cause you gotta be amazingly funny hosting The Oscars, but I understand he had already called in teams of writers to help him prepare. Then Brett went on Howard Stern, and it all ended. I wonder how many people have gone on Howard’s show and said something they later regretted.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Brett Ratner at The Friars Club in NYC!

Howard has a way of tapping into everyone’s need to be “cool”, and with guys it can be devastating. To me, it all goes back to high school. Most people, especially those who are rich and famous now, did not feel cool, or like they really “fit in” in high school.

You hear it all the time when people write about their lives, how high school was an endless pit of depression and desperation. I always say, if high school was the best time of your life you should probably kill yourself!

Anyway, Brett was on Howard, and wound up saying things like he “banged” Olivia Munn a few times, and then forgot who she was when she came to audition for him. That sounds like the kind of statement high school guys make when they’re trying to impress each other with their supposed conquests of the fairer sex! There’s no other reason to say something like that.

But I’m sure Brett only said it because Howard said something that made Brett feel like he had to embellish upon who he was. All his success, respect in the business, power, and money did not feel like it was enough to make him feel secure, and keep that stuff to himself. Howard, who says he always felt like a geek, especially in high school, revels in getting people to say things that could potentially ruin their lives, or their careers.

Most people want to protect their friends from saying anything publically that might hurt them, or come back to haunt them in some way. On Howard, that seems to be the point of going on. To get people to say or admit something they never had any intention of sharing with the millions of people who listen. And once it’s said, there’s no taking it back. It’s great for Howard’s ratings but not so great for the person’s life who uttered the remark.

So when he asked Brett about rehearsing and Brett said something like “Rehearsals are for fags,” it was taken as a gay slur. In my wildest imagination, I could never believe that Brett, with his position in Hollywood, could have a homophobic bone in his body! He was probably just trying to be cool. He’s already cool, but must have forgotten that in the heat of the moment. I’m sure he knows lots of people who are gay, and probably socializes with people who are gay, and looked at his appearance on Howard as if he was on some kind of Roast or something. But in this day and age, you have to watch every word you say. Instead of bringing us together and being more inclusive, it’s separating us and creating more divisiveness.

Sometimes when non-comedians are trying their best to be funny, and time is of the essence like when you’re on the radio, they come out with something stupid that they wish they hadn’t said. Especially if the host says something provocative, and you want to respond in a funny way that people remember, plus come across as being “cool”, Professional comedians do it too, but not as much!

Anyway, as a result of those remarks, and others, Brett stepped down, and Eddie Murphy quickly followed. I wonder if Brett is sorry he went on Howard’s show. It would have been interesting to see how he produced The Oscars. Now we’ll never know!

The good news is that 9 time Oscar host Billy Crystal has agreed to step up and host for the 10th time, for first time Oscar producer, and Academy Award winner Brian Grazer, who will be co-producing with longtime pro Don Mischer. The 84th Academy Awards will be presented on Feb. 26th, 2012 at the Kodak Theatre in L.A. and televised on ABC.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Billy Crystal in LA in his office at Face Productions!

No one is worried about how Billy will do because he always kills! He’s the consummate showman. When I interviewed him recently for the book I’m doing on the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip, he shared some great stories with me. One of the most memorable was on the best advice he ever got in his life. It was from Jack Rollins who was managing him in the early days, along with Woody Allen and Robin Williams. It was Jack who first introduced me to Billy so many years ago. I was a dentist at the time, and Jack thought Billy would be perfect to play me in a sit-com about a dentist who wanted to be in show biz!

Anyway, this was Billy’s best advice story. It was early in Billy’s career and Jack had come to see him perform. Billy killed it. The audience was roaring with laughter, but when Jack came back to see him after the show, this is what he said: “ I enjoyed tonight, but I don’t think you’re doing yourself any good with the kind of material your doing.”

Billy said, “So now I’m trying to butter my toast, and at the same time not stab him.” And I say , “ Whaddaya mean?” And he goes, “ It was all funny, and you can do very well with this stuff and you will, but you never once told me how you felt about something. I never heard “I” in it. Toys and games was what I heard. The audience really liked it, so take this if you want. But here’s the thing. You didn’t leave a tip! Always leave the audience something of yourself to remember! Always leave a tip!”

According to Billy that changed his entire way of performing. From the next night on he started talking about himself, and after a few weeks of awkwardness had written a whole new much more personalized act. He said it was the best advice he had ever been given!

And as far as his reason for hosting the Oscars again he said: “I am doing this so that the young woman in my pharmacy will finally stop asking me my name when I pick up my prescriptions.”

Billy Crystal pointing to his teeth, because when he first met Jeffrey many years before, Jeffrey was a dentist, who Billy referred to as “the funny dentist!”

Tune in on Feb 26th for the 84th Academy Awards!

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Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist With Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy Opens Today

The long awaited Tower Heist movie starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda and Matthew Broderick is opening today. In shades of the Madoff scandal, when a group of hard working guys led by building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), find out they’ve fallen victim to a wealthy business man Arthur Shaw’s Ponzi scheme, played by Alan Alda, they conspire to rob his high-rise penthouse apartment with the aid of street hustler Slide played by Eddie Murphy.

Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist opens today with Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda!

People are anxious to see Eddie in a funny action character again, and this could be the movie that puts him back on top. Eddie’s been making the rounds of the TV talk shows, like Letterman, Leno and Ellen Degeneres, and on each show he mentions The Comic Strip, the legendary comedy club that brought him to prominence. This year is the 35th anniversary of the club which is going strong. I know because I’m doing the book on the club, with owner/founder Richie Tienken, and have interviewed most of the big stars that came out of there including Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Colin Quinn, Larry Miller, George Wallace, Lewis Black, Susie Essman and many others!

Richie Tienken along with his partner Bob Wachs managed Eddie for about 11 years all the way from his SNL days through Beverly Hills Cop II. That included Raw and Delirious!

Eddie discovered Chris Rock there in 1986. And now that Eddie is gearing up to host The Academy Awards he’s gonna have to get back to his stand-up career which a lot of people feel he’s been wanting to do for a while now. I happen to know that Eddie has an open invitation from Richie Tienken to come and work out at The Strip any time he wants to. It would be like coming home for Eddie and we really hope he comes around.

In the meantime go and check out the film. Brett Ratner was recently honored at another legendary club, The Friars Club in NYC, where he is a proud member, and where he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to him by Russell Simmons. Also present were Richard Belzer, Ron Perelman, and Aisha Tyler. I have exclusive video on that right here! It’s not as funny as Tower Heist, but I think you’ll find it entertaining!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with director Brett Ratner at The Friars Club in NYC!

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Brett Ratner Receives Lifetime Achievement Award At Friars Club

Last night Brett Ratner was honored at The Friars Club during the third annual Friars Club Comedy Film Festival produced by powerhouse Exec. Director Charlie Prince, and his team some of which are Senior Programmer Susannah Gora, Social Media Director Sue Constantine, Programming Director Eric Johnson, Managing Director Jor Law, and Director of Communications, Jaime Marsanico, who did a fantastic job coordinating last night’s event.

The festival screened over 60 films over the five days that it ran and they were from an international pool of films. It was a HUGE amount of work and they are to be commended!

Brett Ratner is one of the most accomplished and respected film, and music video directors in all of Hollywood, and he’s only 42. He’s known for the Rush Hour series starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, as well as The Family Man, Red Dragon, and X-Men, The Last Stand. He was also a producer on the Fox drama Prison Break and will be producing the 84th Academy Awards next year, on Feb. 26th, 2012, with co-producer Don Mischer, and with Eddie Murphy as the host. What a team that should be!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with Brett Ratner after he received his Lifetime Achievement Award from The Friars Club, during the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival!

Eddie recently received the Comedy Icon Award from Comedy Central at the First Annual Comedy Central Awards and was presented that award by Tracy Morgan!

Tracy Morgan presenting Eddie Murphy with the Comedy Icon Award at the First Annual Comedy Central Awards!

But in 1990, Brett was still a film student at NYU. How he got in is an example of his determination. He was initially rejected due to his poor grades, but he got in to see the Dean himself and after literally begging him to watch one of his films, impressed him enough that he let him in as a student.

Brett’s student film was ” What Ever Happened to Mason Reese?” It starred Rebecca Gayheart, Anthony Michael Hall, and of course Mason Reese, an actor who became famous as a child in the 1970’s for a TV commercial he did for Underwood Devil Ham that swept the country, in which he mis-pronounced the word Schmorgasbord as “Borgashmord”. People loved it and he was an instant star.

Jeffrey Gurian with Mason Reese at Mason’s birthday party! He served a Borgashmord of course!

As an aside, for anyone who’s wondering about where Mason is now, he’s right here in NYC and doing great! He currently owns two restaurants in NYC. One is Paladar, a Pan-Latino restaurant located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and the other is “Destination Bar and Grille” located on Avenue A in the East Village. He’s an old friend and I see him a few times a year!

Brett found himself short on funds to finish his film, so he made another spectacular life-changing choice, and sent out “plea letters” to 20 different producers in Hollywood asking for monetary assistance to finish his film. He got only one response, but that was all he needed. Of all people, Steven Spielberg, of Amblin Entertainment sent him a check for $5,000, without ever meeting him.

Brett brought that same film to the attention of Russell Simmons, who was impressed enough that he got Brett into directing music videos, for the likes of Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, and Madonna! Not bad credits for anyone’s resume! (LOL) Russell has since been a close friend and was asked to present Brett with his Lifetime Achievement Award.

Brett once said he wouldn’t attempt to direct a feature film until he had directed 100 music videos. In 1996, the director of a film called ” Money Talks”, starring Charlie Sheen and Chris Tucker, dropped out and Russell suggested Brett Ratner to take over, which he did. That launched his career and led to his multiple big-screen successes.

Russell Simmons himself is not only known as a music impresario, but also throughout the comedy world for creating Def Jam Comedy. I recently attended some tapings he did for Comedy Central that were hosted by JB Smoove, with DJ Cassidy on the ones and twos, that starred comics like Tony Rock, Capone, Tifffany Haddish, Wil Sylvince, Earthquake, Owen Smith and tons more!

Russell Simmons with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV on the step-and-repeat for Brett Ratner, at The Friars Club!

JB Smoove host of Russell Simmons Comedy Central Stand-Up NY specials with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at the Edison Ballroom!

DJ Cassidy, super hot DJ for Russell Simmons’ Comedy Central special with Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV!

Russell Simmons came to present Brett Ratner with the award, and even billionaire Ron Perelman dropped by to say a few words and pay his respects to his good friend Brett.

Russell Simmons making his opening remarks before presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to his pal Brett Ratner!

Ron Perelman paying his respects to director Brett Ratner at The Friars Club in NYC!

Everybody is anxiously awaiting Brett’s new film “Tower Heist” starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, and Matthew Broderick, which is set to open November 4th 2011, and should be a big hit!

(L-R) David Wain, Michael Ian Black, Jeffrey Gurian, and Ben Stiller at Fez, circa 2000!

The Tower Heist poster, showing the incredible cast for the film opening November 4th, 2011.

Video of this fantastic Friars Club event can be seen right here, showing not only an interview with Brett, but also with other celeb guests such as Richard Belzer, and Aisha Tyler!

Russell Simmons chatting up the gorgeous comic/actress Aisha Tyler!

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Eddie Murphy Might Do SNL After 25 Years???

Page 6 of the New York Post, the most prestigious, and most powerful gossip column in the country says that Eddie Murphy, set to host the Academy Awards this year,may make his first appearance on SNL in 25 years this coming Satuday night when Ben hosts SNL. The Academy Awards will be produced by Brett Ratner this year. Eddie and Ben recently starred together in Tower Heist, a film Ratner directed, set to open November 4, 2011, which also stars Matthew Broderick, and Alan Alda.

Eddie Murphy receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy from Tracy Morgan at the Comedy Central First Annual Comedy Award show!

Eddie left the show in 1984, and rumour has it that he had a feud with producer Lorne Michaels over an on-air joke made about Murphy by David Spade, back around 1989, concerning Eddie’s faltering career. Spade has always been known for his snarky remarks! It’s part of who he is, and what people expect of him!

Jeffrey Gurian from Comedy Matters TV with Lorne Michaels at the Writers Guild Awards!

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with David Spade at a comedy club in NYC!

According to Page 6, sources said that Murphy demanded an apology from Michaels which was not forthcoming since Michaels felt he had to give his writers “creative freedom.” Now with Ratner producing The Oscars, and Murphy hosting, it’s felt that Ratner has orchestrated a detente between Michaels and Murphy so we’ll all have to tune in on Saturday night to see what happens.

In the meantime, I have a Murphy/SNL story that you probably don’t know. I know it because I’m writing the book on the 35 year history of the legendary comedy club “The Comic Strip”, the club that brought Eddie to world-wide stardom, thanks mainly to it’s owners and founders Richie Tienken and Bob Wachs, who still own and run the place today!

(L-R) Bob Wachs, and Richie Tienken, owners and founders of the legendary comedy club The Comic Strip opened on June 1, 1976, and still going strong!

Richie was Eddie’s day to day manager. Eddie had been performing as part of an ensemble known as “The Identical Triplets”, two white guys and him! The other two guys were Rob Bartlett and Bob Nelson two respected comics in their own right! Nelson is out in Branson, Missouri, and Bartlett is Don Imus’ sidekick for many years, doing characters on the radio.

Nelson and Bartlett had been performing at The Comic Strip, and they called up Tienken asking him to take a look at Murphy to see if he could audition there. Murphy was supposed to come in on a Monday night which was audition night, but instead of coming in on the night when Tienken was there, he came in when Bob Wachs was there, who had no idea that Eddie was coming, and didn’t go out of his way to accommodate him. When Eddie got a little testy, expecting to go right up on stage, Wachs basically threw him out.

Eddie’s partners called up to find out what happened and Tienken told him to come back on a night he was there. Eddie came back all contrite and acting very polite. Richie told him he wouldn’t go against his partner but told Murphy to go up on stage and if he was good, he’d talk to Wachs. Needless to say, Eddie killed it, and Tienken smoothed it over with Wachs.

In 1980, after Tienken and Wachs were managing him, Eddie was added as a featured player on the sixth season of SNL. The producer that year was Jean Doumanian,who went on to co-produce movies with life-long friend Woody Allen. Her ex-husband John is still Woody’s close friend and was with him when I last saw Woody at the Carlisle Hotel this past April.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Woody Allen at The Carlyle Hotel in NYC!

One night he called Tienken in a panic. The show was running short, and Doumanian asked him to do five minutes of comedy to stretch the show. She had originally asked Joe Piscopo to do it, but he liked Eddie and suggested him instead. When Tienken asked what the problem was, Eddie said ” I’m nervous to do it cause I curse!” So Tienken advised, “Then don’t curse.” Eddie wound up doing it and saved the show.

When it came time for contract renewal, Tienken went up to meet with Doumanian who assured him that Murphy would be re-signed, … as a featured player again. Tienken, as a good manager said, ” He saved your show! Don’t you think he deserves to be a regular cast member?” Fortunately she agreed, and Eddie went immediately from $750. a week to $3,000. a week, and Tienken proved his worth as a great manager.

Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV with Bob Wachs and Richie Tienken at the Friars Club Film Festival where they were showing the trailer for their documentary film on The Comic Strip!

If Eddie is in New York this weekend, they would love to have him drop by The Strip!

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