Posts Tagged “The Oscars”

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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Ricky Gervais at the 92nd Street Y

Bill Carter of the NY Times moderated a fascinating and highly entertaining conversation with multi-award winning Ricky Gervais, said by some to be the most influential British writer/comedian in the USA since Charlie Chaplin. Ricky of course created The Office which is now shown in 90 countries. Even China is considering creating a version, which should be especially funny,when they try and translate it into all of the dialects spoken in China.

Ricky has won three Golden Globes, two primetime Emmy’s, and seven BAFTAS. I’m not even sure what a BAFTA is, but I’m sure it’s something special since he admits to winning seven of them! (LOL)

As I walked into the 92nd Street Y, I ran into Caroline Hirsch, New York’s reigning Queen of Comedy, and the creator/producer of the NY Comedy Festival. This event is part of that festival and Caroline always brings in the biggest stars from the comedy world to play in special venues.

The event was opened by a man named Buddy Teich,who is described as the benefactor of the Y’s “Funny People” series. I know Buddy as the man who seconded my application to become an LA Friar, when Milton Berle sponsored me for membership many years ago. Uncle Miltie was a good friend of mine, and honored me by sponsoring me for membership while I was out in LA. I had been writing some material for him, and one day while I was at his house, he suggested bringing me into the LA Friars. He was the Pres. at the time.

When I asked him who would second me, he said his friend Buddy Teich. That was the last time I saw him until last night. I know he didn’t remember cause it was so long ago, but it was great to be able to see him again and reminded me of my friendship with the legend known as Mr. Television.

Ricky had lots to say about a lot of things. He started out by saying that just before he came over he ran into Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters on the street, and Dave had invited him to his show tonight. He was all excited about going, until his girlfriend reminded him he had to appear at the Y. So much for Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters!

A little known fact about Ricky is that in 1982, he and his friend Bill Macrae formed a British New Wave group called Seona ( Shawna) Dancing, with Gervais writing and singing the lyrics. In 1985, one of his songs became a #1 hit in The Philippines, which he still can’t understand.

On people being offended by the jokes he told while hosting The Golden Globes this past year: They should see my stand-up act! It’s not like I was playing to a roomful of wounded soldiers. In referring to his remarks about The Tourist starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, he described it as, ( and I’m paraphrasing ) “gently ribbing two of the most talented , … or did he say pampered,… people on the planet about one of their films.” The reason I’m paraphrasing is because just as he said two of the most … people my attention was drawn away and I only heard it subconsciously!

On the possibility of hosting The Oscars : ” They don’t want me. They want someone nice and pleasant! It’s a night of glamour. I’d be fired immediately!”

He had a lot to say about Karl Pilkington, from The Ricky Gervais Show, who Ricky and Stephen Merchant have made into sort of a cult celebrity. They met when Karl was producing a radio show for Ricky in 1997, and Ricky was struck not only by his unusual sense of humor, but also his directness, and his inability to be pretentious. That and the fact that “he has the roundest head Ricky Gervais had ever seen on a human being!”

Some of Ricky’s most important thoughts:

Ricky thinks it’s important to laugh every day, and that humor makes you bulletproof to the big and little miseries we all have to suffer!

In discussing the difference between British and American humor he said that in England, everyone wants you to be as miserable as they are.

In America, every kid grows up thinking that they can be President. In England the attitude is more like, ” Don’t bother trying. It won’t be you!” That’s why the character of David Brent is so perfectly British. He’s a man who thinks he’s above his own station in life.

He and Larry David create what might be seen as “comedy of embarrassment”, because an Englishman really tries his best to get to his grave without ever being embarrassed.

There’s nothing like doing your own thing, and not having to listen to anyone else!

They also showed clips from “Life’s Too Short”, a fake documentary from Gervais and Merchant starring actor Warwick Davis (Prof. Flitwick in the “Harry Potter” movies) that premieres on the BBC later this year and on HBO in 2012.

It was a packed crowd, and a fun and insightful look into the mind of Ricky Gervais!

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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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