Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Friday, October 29, 2004
Wonderful pics of Steve
Andrew Eccles is a wonderful photographer who does a lot of celebrities. His pictures of Steve are exceptionally good.
Go here and see a selection. You can click on the small ones for enlargements.
Virus has infected some compleatsteve email -- beware
I tried to notify everyone on the mailing list, but a few came back as undeliverable.
For anyone out there who might receive an email from any account at compleatsteve.com that has the subject line "Re: Text Message" DO NOT OPEN OR DOWNLOAD. Just delete it.
The virus inside is Virus"W32.Beagle.M@mm"
I have seen this email come from email@example.com and from
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Per Steve, Danes gives good sex (scenes)
Danes eases back into Hollywood with `Beauty'
By Steve Baltin
"I just got a manicure and pedicure," actress Claire Danes announces proudly as she walks into the front room of a suite at Los Angeles' Four Seasons Hotel. This is a big step for Danes, who has resisted going Hollywood, despite an impressive resume that includes the cult TV series "My So-Called Life," as well as film roles playing Meryl Streep's daughter in the Academy Award-winning "The Hours," and "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" and the 1996 version of "Romeo + Juliet."
"However, wrapping up her fourth junket for "Stage Beauty," a film set in 1660 in which the 25-year-old actress appears as Maria Hughes, the first woman to ever appear on the English stage, Danes is allowing herself a few moments of star treatment.
It's been an unusual year all around for the actress, who has tried to lead a normal life despite her fame, having transitioned from teen star to college student at Yale, then successfully eased back into Hollywood in adult fare such as "The Hours" and 2002's "Igby Goes Down."
Though a period piece set in 1660 seems like a safe haven from controversy, that has been anything but true of "Stage Beauty," which opened nationwide last week. It started when word came that Danes had begun seeing co-star Billy Crudup. The fact that she was involved in a long-term relationship with rocker Ben Lee would have made it juicy tabloid fodder, but add to the mix that Crudup left his pregnant girlfriend, actress Mary-Louise Parker, and Danes found herself maligned as the other woman.
In conversation the subject never comes up. Danes is more than happy, though, to talk about the work on "Stage Beauty," particularly because it was one of her more challenging parts.
"It was really technically demanding, this role. I had a lot to contend with. Most superficial elements being the accent and the time period," she says.
"And then we had to invent a new, well old, acting style. Richard [Eyre, director] did a bit of research, but there wasn't much material to be found. The performances were not recorded in 1660. So it was really just a product of our imagination."
Screenwriter Jeffery Hatcher, who wrote the play, "Compleat Female Stage Beauty," on which his script is based, thought Danes handled the role well. "Claire is terrific with dialogue, but it's the way you can really read her emotions on her face that impressed me," Hatcher says. "She would have made a terrific silent film star."
Karen Durbin, film critic for Elle magazine, considers "Stage Beauty" a worthy successor to Danes' performance in "Igby Goes Down." "She doesn't have a lazy or a weak moment in the movie," Durbin says. "I hope she gets more first-rate work, because it's going to be a treat to watch her grow."
Still, the movie has received mixed reviews. What has surprised Danes, though, is that controversy continues to surround the film.
"I'm discovering that we made a vaguely controversial movie," she says. "That never occurred to me, but I guess these themes of sex, gender, identity and art unnerve people in some way."
In her opening scene in "Stage Beauty," Danes' Maria stands on the side of a stage, mouthing along the part of Desdemona in "Othello" in awe. Danes says it was the easiest scene in the movie to do.
"It was very easy to identify with her rapture, her desire for performing," she says. "It was so sincere, so genuine. It's always effortful, but that particular scene was easy to produce."
Danes, a music lover who listened to a lot of Stevie Wonder during the filming of "Stage Beauty," is now fully back in the game after a three-year absence, two years of which were spent at Yale, and one devoted to herself.
She will next be seen in 2005 as the lead in an adaptation of Steve Martin's novel "Shopgirl," in which Martin appears.
"Claire is actually younger in life than the role calls for, but her emotional knowledge continued to astound me," Martin said via e-mail. "There was never any uneasiness between us in any of the delicate scenes we had to do."
And longtime Danes fans can rest easy, as she doesn't appear to be in danger of going Hollywood anytime soon. Contemplating whether she prefers her New York $14 mani/pedi or the Four Seasons, she hesitates thoughtfully, then answers, "I do love the hit-and-run mani/pedi in New York, I would say."
Dishing on Steve backstage at the Oscars
November 1, 2004
THE BIG SHOW;High Times and Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards
A decade-and-a-half of gossip from the world's most overblown awards show.
Originally assigned to the Oscars in the late 1980s by Premiere magazine, Pond realized he was going to have more on his hands than a onetime story. With the access he was able to secure, there was just too much in the way of gigantic egos, unbelievable amounts of tension and celebrity-gawking to fit inside even a lengthy feature article--and so now we have The Big Show, a dessert tray of goodies for Oscar junkies. Pond starts off in 1989, if only because the show produced by the Coppolaesque Allen Carr crashing and burning on live television was just too tasty a morsel to pass up. After that, Pond breezes through a quick background of the awards, in a way that sets up a template for the rest of what follows: we're not going to hear much about the titanic struggle between mainstream and independent cinema, Pulp Fiction vs. Forrest Gump. Pond is more interested in the hot-tempered machinations of the show itself. While this does mean that little of the story is in any way important, it also divorces Pond's narrative from the usual notions of inflated importance that comes with tales about the Oscars, an essentially meaningless gimmick that over the decades has somehow accrued the patina of near-royalty. Pond's fly-on-the-wall style keeps things humming, even as we're treated to lengthy exposition about one producer's preference for a particular kind of dance routine or to the reasons why it is that rehearsals for a host went so poorly (David Letterman) or so well (Steve Martin). It's an effective technique, since the writer seems to be everywhere, eavesdropping on conversations between A-list actors and nobodies, hearing which singer can't get served at the bar or which actress is being told that her nipples are showing.
Insider without smarmy, and fun without pointless: a fascinating peek behind that big, ugly, coveted statue.
Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Author: Pond, Steve
Wonder what it looks like
The Independent (London)
October 27, 2004, Wednesday
First Edition; FEATURES; Pg. 29
GALLERY: PORTRAITS #3
Andrew Eccles's portrait of the actor Steve Martin can be seen in Portraits: The World's Top Photographers and the Stories Behind Their Greatest Images', by Fergus Greer. The book is available to Independent' readers at the special price of pounds 20 (incl p&p); call 01476 541080, quoting reference WTPP1
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
October 26, 2004, Tuesday, BC cycle
3:45 AM Eastern Time
'Saturday Night Live' creator awarded Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize
By SIOBHAN McDONOUGH, Associated Press Writer
Live from Washington, it was time to bestow one of the nation's top comedy honors on the creator of "Saturday Night Live."
"For the last 30 years, I've had the coolest job in New York City," Lorne Michaels remarked after receiving the 2004 Mark Twain Prize at the Kennedy Center Monday night.
Michaels, 59, is acclaimed for transforming Saturday night television three decades ago and introducing generations of stars who brought their irreverent talent to his stage.
"I feel nothing but pride - not respect, not admiration, just pride," joked Steve Martin, who made a mark as a "wild and crazy guy" and King Tut on the show.
Martin deemed his friend "one of the great comedy producers of all time."
The Canadian-born Michaels, 59, a nine-time Emmy winner, was feted by cast members, old and new, as he looked on from the balcony of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he was seated with his wife and three children.
"It is the primary satirical voice of the country," said 1970s veteran Dan Aykroyd, one of many who went on to successful film careers after stints on "Saturday Night Live." Shuffling on the stage and doing a "Blues Brothers" dance, Aykroyd told the audience the test of success was always trying to make Michaels break out laughing. "We seek approval of this man."
Tracy Morgan, who segued from "Saturday Night Live" to his own sitcom, said he was 7 years old in 1975 when his father returned from the Vietnam War. One night his father let him stay up late to watch a show featuring John Belushi in a diner, chanting, "Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger." "Thank you for bringing laughter back into my household," Morgan said.
Sens. John McCain and Christopher Dodd talked about how "Saturday Night Live" kept politicians from taking themselves too seriously. After all, Dodd said, "Politics is show business for ugly people."
Tina Fey, current co-anchor of the show's "Weekend Update" newscast, described "Saturday Night Live" as "the pinnacle of sketch comedy for 30 years." Still, she added, Michaels' contributions extend beyond television. He has produced 14 movies, including "Three Amigos," "Wayne's World" and most recently "Mean Girls," written by Fey.
Amy Poehler, Fey's "Weekend Update" partner, described Michaels as "a fair and loyal and funny boss. He lets people succeed and fail on their own."
Staying true to "Saturday Night Live" form, current and former cast members, staff and hosts joined Michaels on stage at the end of the show and hugged each other. Former hosts paying tribute included Candice Bergen, Paul Simon and Christopher Walken.
Michaels moved to Los Angeles from Toronto in 1968 to work as a writer for NBC's "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." Seven years later he shifted to New York to begin "Saturday Night Live." Among those featured in the cast in its three decades were John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Eddie Murphy, Dana Carvey, Chris Rock and Will Ferrell.
The show, which debuted Oct. 11, 1975, has won 18 Emmy Awards and been nominated for more than 80. It continues to get the highest ratings of any late-night television program.
Michaels is also executive producer of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and has produced specials for Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, Flip Wilson and the Rolling Stones.
Previous winners of the Mark Twain Prize include Richard Pryor, Bob Newhart and Tomlin. The prize comes with a bronze reproduction of an 1884 bust of satirist Mark Twain.
The Lorne Michaels tribute was taped and will be broadcast on PBS in early 2005.
Equal time for the OTHER steve martins
National Public Radio (NPR)
Talk of the Nation 3:00 AM EST NPR
October 25, 2004 Monday
ANCHORS: NEAL CONAN
Our interview last week with entertainer extraordinaire Steve Martin inspired a lot of response, and perhaps the most inspired came from a Mr. S.L. Martin(ph) of Elk Point, South Dakota, who did not have time to call in. `On behalf of the country's many Steve Martins without personalities,' he wrote, `I would have confronted Mr. Martin about the burden he has put on all of us. For the last 27 years, I could not buy a pair of socks at a Sears store without the clerk checking my credit card and responding, "Well, excuse me." There are many Steve Martins, too numerous to mention, who have grudgingly saluted Mr. Martin's strategy to launch his career by spoofing buffoons, but who have paid the price by having their own career aspirations truncated. As one of my fellow Steve Martins climbing the legal ladder as a district attorney many years ago remarked to me, "I use my middle name an awful lot now. Call my Charlie. I can't approach the jury anymore without a public defender loudly whispering `Happy feet' to the foreman."'
S.L. Martin went on to suggest that the proceeds from Steve Martin's latest novel, "The Pleasure of My Company," could be used to establish a Steve Martin relief fund for poor unfortunates caught in his wake.
During that show, many of you noted Steve Martin's skill with the banjo, and he mentioned his Grammy-winning performance with Earl Scruggs. We did not have time to play that performance last week, but here for you now is Earl Scruggs and Steve Martin performing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" from the album "Earl Scruggs & Friends."
(Soundbite of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown")
Steve salutes Lorne Michaels at the Kennedy Center
real player video including some steve here
For 'SNL' Maestro Lorne Michaels, the Skits Pay Off With Twain Prize
By Joel Achenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 26, 2004; Page C01
Naturally Lorne Michaels, the great impresario of sketch comedy, waited until the last minute to write his acceptance speech. He's a live-TV guy, an adrenaline junkie, someone for whom chaos and near-disaster and improvisation are part of the normal rhythm of life.
"There has to be the potential for complete humiliation to get my attention," the creator of "Saturday Night Live" said yesterday, just hours before accepting the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Lorne Michaels, admiring his Mark Twain Prize, is joined onstage by Sen. John McCain, left, and "Saturday Night Live" stars. (Photos Jonathan Ernst For The Washington Post)
The two-hour ceremony, taped for broadcast on PBS, was something of an "SNL" Greatest Hits show, a barrage of legendary jokes and catchphrases ("Jane, you ignorant slut," "Cheeburger Cheeburger Cheeburger," "Isn't that speshul??"), laser-sharp political sketches ("Hold it right there, cracker boy, I'm not finished," Dana Carvey's Ross Perot barks to Phil Hartman's Bill Clinton), and edgy TV commercial parodies (to demonstrate a luxury car's smooth ride, a driver steers it down a bumpy country road while Dan Aykroyd narrates a rabbi's circumcision of a newborn). Thrown into the mix were clips of movies that Michaels, 59, has produced, but nothing in "Wayne's World" or "The Three Amigos" can hold up to the vintage "SNL" sketches -- Steve Martin as King Tut, or Martin and Aykroyd as Two Wild and Crazy Guys. The audience was treated last night to shots of Aykroyd and John Belushi high-stepping as the Blues Brothers, singing "Soul Man," and even rare footage of the first tryouts of the comics who would become the Not Ready for Prime Time Players.
Remember this? "Drop the bass, the whole bass, into the Super Bass-O-Matic 76!"
The six previous winners of the Twain Prize were performers, while Michaels just does the occasional cameo on "SNL." But no other winner had such an entourage of talent.
Cast member Tracy Morgan told the audience what it was like to meet Michaels for the first time: "It was like when Luke Skywalker met Obi-Wan Kenobi. . . . He taught me to be a young comic Jedi."
David Spade said before the show that without Michaels "there'd be no Sandler, Farley and Rock, me, Schneider -- that's just my generation. I would still be at Arby's, giving away special sauce."
Steve Martin, who hosted "SNL" 13 times by his own count, joked that a few years ago Michaels called him and asked, "How can I get the Mark Twain Prize?" And then stamped his feet and said, "I want it, I want it, I want it!" Martin added, "It's easy to forget that Lorne Michaels is an immigrant, who came to America from Canada in 1968 with nothing but a million-five."
Backstage before the show the words about Michaels were not so jocular, but rather genuinely appreciative, and not just because, as Darrell Hammond put it, "Lorne gives people money and fame." Hammond said Michaels had been patient and supportive during his struggles with drugs and alcohol. "I can't believe how much he stood by me."
Tim Meadows talked of the rapturous feeling of going to the bank with his first "Saturday Night Live" paycheck, more money than he'd had in all his savings. Tina Fey said that when she was a young "SNL" writer, Michaels took the time to watch her perform in a small theater in a two-person show and soon offered her a chance to appear on the air as co-host of "Weekend Update."
Perhaps he's become a father figure with age, Michaels said. More than that, he knows that in the frenzied production of a weekly sketch-comedy show, where everything's changing, where an actor who thinks he's doing Donald Rumsfeld suddenly has to change to Dick Cheney, where dozens of skits are being tossed around and pared down and jettisoned completely, he, as producer, is the figure people turn to for guidance. He benefits, he said yesterday, "from the human need for structure."
The humor last night was at times more New York than Washington, more late Saturday night than Monday evening, kind of raunchy for the Concert Hall. Meadows may have scored as the Ladies' Man on "SNL," enthusiastically endorsing Viagra as the cure for "chronic fatigue syndrome of the wang," but it felt a bit odd to hear those words in the Kennedy Center.
Conan O'Brien, plucked from obscurity by Michaels to fill the time slot vacated by David Letterman, said of the guest of honor, "He is literally the equivalent of four Wayans brothers, including Shawn." Slight audience titter. "For PBS, that's a big laugh."
Throughout, Michaels sat in his box seat, no doubt mentally editing the proceedings, looking for mistakes, anticipating disasters, making notes about who would no longer be invited to guest host his show.
Hammond broke through with some political humor, talking about the night he performed for Vice President Cheney "in an undisclosed location somewhere beneath the Greenbrier hotel." Sens. Christopher Dodd and John McCain tried to add some local color, and McCain may have stolen the show with a taped performance in which he gamely attempted to sing some Barbra Streisand songs. His reason: She'd been trying to do his job for 20 years, and now he would try to do hers.
Michaels, accepting the prize, said he'd read the wit and wisdom of Mark Twain on the flight down, "and just leafing through the first few pages, you can tell he's a really good writer."
Last weekend, in a final production meeting for "SNL," he said, he wondered why he would get a prize even though everyone else was working so hard.
"And I thought, yes, that's the way it should be. When it comes to being honored, I work alone."
At night's end, all the talent took the stage, just like at the end of a "Saturday Night Live" show. Except this one was taped, and won't air until early next year.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Steve at Halloween
Back by popular demand (mine), the link for the Steve Halloween animation
Steve's box office
this is pretty interesting. it's steve's lifetime box office grosses for all his movies.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Steve speaks on NPR -- a transcript
you can go here to listen
National Public Radio (NPR)
SHOW: Talk of the Nation 3:00 AM EST NPR
October 19, 2004 Tuesday
Steve Martin discusses life on the stage and the page
NEAL CONAN, host:
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.
When tax time rolls around each spring, Steve Martin must need an extra line or two to describe his occupation. Magician, banjo player, actor, comedian, playwright, screenwriter and novelist. His first, called "Shopgirl," is already on its way to the movies. His latest best-seller, "The Pleasure of My Company," has just come out in paperback. Clearly, the next logical step in this long career is reality television.
Later in the program, we'll talk with NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman about the latest twist in the widening steroid scandal.
But first, Steve Martin joins us from NPR West. If you have a question about his movies, TV show or his books, give us a call. Our number here in Washington is (800) 989-8255. That's (800) 989-TALK. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Martin, welcome back to TALK OF THE NATION.
Mr. STEVE MARTIN (Actor; Comedian; Author): Hi. How are you?
CONAN: Very well, thanks.
Mr. MARTIN: And actually, that drug scandal really applies to me. I think writers should be tested for steroid use.
CONAN: We've always wondered. Everybody's always wanted to know, is Steve Martin taking steroids?
Mr. MARTIN: Absolutely. And--but I think a lot of writers are taking vitamins. And I think that's wrong. They're trying to improve their mind. I think that's cheating.
CONAN: So what do you put on your tax form? As little as possible, but other than that.
Mr. MARTIN: The truth is, I don't look at it. I just sign it. So it probably says `actor.' That became the easiest one-word description. Sometimes I'll have to fill out what I do for living, you know, when you're crossing borders, especially when you're doing covert work for the government. And so I just write `actor.'
CONAN: And the covert work for the government, that's--the arrow through the head. That's not a problem with that?
Mr. MARTIN: Well, it breaks down.
CONAN: I see. Oh, it's...
Mr. MARTIN: It breaks down. So it's...
CONAN: ...new technology.
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah.
CONAN: It's coming along all the time.
Mr. MARTIN: Yes. And also I noticed earlier you talking about the Chinese political situation. And I coincidentally had my entire dossier on Chinese political, you know, politics here with me. And I'll send it off to you.
CONAN: Oh, the Sino-Soviet split--that passage has got to be fascinating.
Mr. MARTIN: It's one of my areas of expertise.
CONAN: Well, tell us about another area of expertise. I wasn't joking about reality TV. You're working on show called "The Scholar"?
Mr. MARTIN: Yes. I have a television company, a partner with Joan Stein, and it's--you know, we develop shows. And this idea was actually brought to us, it wasn't my own idea. It's not my--again, whereas Chinese politics is my area of expertise, actually the collegiate world right now is not. So, actually, other people are developing it. And I'm contributing to it along with Joan Stein. In fact, I have a meeting right after this about it. And we're--I hate to use these words because everybody says they're excited about things. But it will give away a full four-year scholarship to a deserving youth.
CONAN: And just off the top of your head, I mean, this sounds like a reality TV show for PBS.
Mr. MARTIN: It kind of does, but it's for ABC. And they're fully behind it. And, you know, the toughest part is--because reality television is based on humiliation--not to humiliate our contestants.
CONAN: So there's no questions about Kierkegaard?
Mr. MARTIN: There may be. But, you know, we need that kind of "Jeopardy!" challenges where you're just so impressed with the brilliance of these people as they win money.
CONAN: As long as you don't get Ken Jennings on the show.
Mr. MARTIN: We don't want him.
CONAN: No, you don't want him. He just keeps winning and winning and winning.
Mr. MARTIN: I know.
CONAN: Boy, it's hard.
As we mentioned, your latest novella is out in paperback. Novella--both of your novels, I call them, but they're both, in terms of strictly length, novellas. Is there something about the length, you just couldn't finish it?
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah, I just stop. That was a joke.
CONAN: I figured it was a joke.
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah. No, actually, I've thought about this before. And I was especially thinking about it last night because I was talking to a friend and I was mentioning I was going to do the interview. And they said, `What are you going to do the interview on?' And I said, `Well, really, a paperback.'
And, you know, I've done interviews on the hardback a year ago. And now I'm doing interviews on the paperback. And the first thing was, well, what's the difference? And there actually is a difference. And the difference is this: that in the hardback, there were printing errors that, to me, hurt the integrity of the book. And they would be rare had there not been 200,000 copies published.
CONAN: I see.
Mr. MARTIN: They'd be collectible, I should say.
CONAN: Yeah. Like the upside-down airplane or something stamp.
Mr. MARTIN: So the book was--pardon me?
CONAN: Like the stamp that has the upside-down airplane. Yeah.
Mr. MARTIN: Exactly. And--but, in this case, it actually to me affected the tensity and outcome, emotional content of the book. So it was published with errata sheets, and the errata sheets were, you know, hustled out to the bookstores and, of course, no ever got them. So...
CONAN: Can you give us an example of something that changed?
Mr. MARTIN: Yes. In the book, the character is, for lack of better words--and I don't think this quite applies--obsessive-compulsive to a humorous degree, I should say. And one of the things he does to relax when he gets agitated--for example, he can't cross the street at the curb. He finds that illogical, that there's a barrier there. So he can only cross the street where two opposing driveways meet because it makes complete sense to him that there's an opening in the street, for example.
And one of the things, when he gets frustrated, in order to relax, is he makes magic squares. And he goes to the art supply store and buys big sheets of cardboard. And a magic square is, you know, a square filled with numbers that add the same in any direction you add them. And he intuits them. He can close his eyes, picture the square, and the numbers come to him. And he fills out the magic square. And he finds it relaxing because it's so occupying.
And in the opening of the book, his life is very, very closed off, very isolated. But as people start to come into his life, he creates magic squares with people in them. And he's always trying to find the center, who the center of the square is. And it's always empty. And so these change. As different people come to into his life, he puts different names into the squares. And when these were printed, for some reason, a couple of them were substituted with dummy copy, which bore no relationship to the book at all, or it was out of sequence. And I found it quite disturbing. So the errors have been corrected in this paperback version.
Mr. MARTIN: Oh, but that didn't even answer your question.
CONAN: Yeah. No, it didn't.
Mr. MARTIN: That's what--I'm trying to fill 50 minutes here.
CONAN: Well, yeah, I mean, that's my job. Your job's just to answer the questions here.
Mr. MARTIN: I just go `yes' and `no'? That's great.
Mr. MARTIN: The reason the books are short is that, one, being an entertainer, I always know that shorter is better. But that's not the main reason. The main reason is that I feel the books are dense and I think--in the sense that the language is--it's not just simple storytelling, which I admire and envy. There's a lot of thought; there's a lot of exploration of mind; there's a lot of language. And there's a lot of, I would call, sometimes more lyrical writing. And I don't think you can go on too long with that kind of writing.
CONAN: Here's an e-mail question from James in Cleveland, Ohio. `As a writer, I'm always curious how other writers do it. Do you have any rituals? Do you keep journals, pen and paper, before you go on the computer?'
Mr. MARTIN: I work only when I'm inspired. I find that that daily grind is not the way I do it. I deeply believe in a subconscious process, that when you're not working or when you're--let's use the word `blocked,' although I don't really run up against that because I don't try to write if I'm not in the mood--I believe that the subconscious mind is forming ideas, forming ideas, and then suddenly they're ready. And you sit down and that's when they start to come. So, you know, I don't punish myself.
CONAN: You don't stare at that blank screen?
Mr. MARTIN: No. I was going--nothing. Yeah.
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah.
CONAN: So that's interesting. Let's get some calls...
Mr. MARTIN: God, it better be. Woof. Phew.
CONAN: Yeah, let's hope so.
Mr. MARTIN: Tough interview. Yeah.
CONAN: (800) 989-8255, (800) 989-TALK. Our e-mail address is email@example.com.
And we'll talk first with Steve. Steve's on the line from Berkeley, California.
Mr. MARTIN: Oh. Oh, it's great. Same name.
STEVE (Caller): Hey, thanks for taking my call.
Mr. MARTIN: My pleasure.
STEVE: Steve, a pleasure to speak with you, sir. Just wanted to say "Let's Get Small"...
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah?
STEVE: ...my favorite comedy album of all time, bro. Wondering when you might be getting back out on the road and getting back into that vein, whatever.
Mr. MARTIN: Oh, yes. I will be out on the road never. So you can mark--you put that on your calendar. Well, thank you. "Let's Get Small" was my first comedy record, and it was recorded in such a homemade process. I had a manager named Bill McEuen who followed me around. And actually on the record--it was all nightclubs. And then the next album was "Wild and Crazy Guy," which was all concert arenas. And so the difference is, you know, that sort of nightclub sound with the sporadic laughter. And you can actually hear my manager, you know, sometimes the only one laughing. But we used to drive around to these what they were then, folk music clubs, coffeehouses, and record me.
CONAN: And you say never because it was such a wonderful experience?
Mr. MARTIN: Yes. You know what it--I'll tell you. It's a complete experience and it's a younger person's experience. You know, a different town every night is not the way I live now. It's just not.
Mr. MARTIN: And also, to be a stand-up comedian, to be sharp, you have to do it all the time. That's what I've found. When I was doing my stand-up act, and I'd be, for example, going on "The Tonight Show," I always tried to work the night before. If I took even a day off, I felt a weird kind of timing slip. It's like maybe a dancer or--it was that kind of feeling, that I just really needed to stay sharp.
CONAN: OK. Steve, thanks for the call.
STEVE: Thank you.
CONAN: OK. Bye-bye.
Let's go to Laura. Laura's calling from Oakland, California.
LAURA (Caller): Hello.
CONAN: Geographic diversity here. Go ahead, Laura.
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah.
LAURA: Hi, Steve Martin. I just wanted to say that my three-year-old son enjoys your balloon skit from the old "Muppet Show."
Mr. MARTIN: Aha. Good. Good.
Mr. MARTIN: That's about the right age, I would say.
LAURA: Well, I do, too, but I guess I shouldn't admit that.
Mr. MARTIN: You should give him my book.
LAURA: You know, he's...
CONAN: He'll probably need four or five copies.
LAURA: He's been tossing around this copy of Dostoyevsky. So maybe he'd be ready for your book.
Mr. MARTIN: OK. Well, he should get through that book first, I think, before he attempts mine.
LAURA: OK. I have a BA in philosophy. And I understand that you have a PhD in philosophy.
Mr. MARTIN: (Laughs) You know, this is one of those, you know, things that gets out there that is absolutely not true. I do have a PhD...
Mr. MARTIN: ...an honorary PhD from the school I went to, Long Beach State. But I studied philosophy in college. I went to college for four years. I changed my major in my last year from philosophy to theater, and I was taking a television writing course, and I, through a weird sequence of events, got a job writing for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." And I quit school. So I don't even have a BA.
LAURA: Oh. So we should then just drop out and replace philosophy with TV.
Mr. MARTIN: I guess that's the message I'm trying to deliver to your son.
LAURA: OK. Well, that totally changes my entire life.
Mr. MARTIN: There's also another rumor that I'm a Mormon, and that rumor was created--which I'm not. But that rumor was created because I was in a movie and I wore, like, a T-shirt underneath that had a scooped neck. It was just the kind of T-shirt I wore at the time. And it looks like garments, which is something that Mormons wear, I think, during a period of their induction into the church. So that rumor is a false one, too.
CONAN: Laura, thanks very much for the call, and take care of that little philosopher we hear in the background.
LAURA: Thank you.
CONAN: And, Steve Martin, your answer...
Mr. MARTIN: Why am I here? I'm humiliating myself. I'm letting all these, like, great rumors about me die out here. I like the idea of a PhD in philosophy. I wish.
CONAN: But now we get it. "The Scholar"--you're going to be a contestant.
Mr. MARTIN: (Laughing) Exactly. Try to get that BA.
CONAN: We're talking with Steve Martin. When we come back from a break, we'll take more of your calls. Our number, if you'd like to join us, is (800) 989-8255; that's (800) 989-TALK. You can also send us e-mail. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm Neal Conan. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
(Soundbite of music)
CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.
We're talking with actor, writer, banjo player and novelist Steve Martin. His latest novel, "The Pleasure of My Company," is just out in paperback. You're invited to join us: (800) 989-8255, if you have a question for Steve Martin. You can also e-mail us: email@example.com.
And you mentioned your days of performing on the road in the last segment. Here's some tape of you performing at The Boarding House in San Francisco in the late 1970s. In this bit, you're having some trouble with getting the light crew to fulfill your request for a blue spotlight.
Mr. MARTIN: All right.
(Soundbite of tape)
Mr. MARTIN: You know, I'm really up to here with this. It's just a matter that, you know, I am on stage, and it's my ass out here, you know what I mean? And I come out and I'm giving and I'm giving and I'm giving and I keep giving and I give some more, and I make a simple request. I say, hey, could I possibly have a blue spot? But I guess the lighting crew feels they know a little bit more about show business than I do, although I've been in the business a few years and I think I know what works best. I'm sorry, but I am angry. I come out here and I can't get a little cooperation from the backstage crew? Excuse me!
CONAN: Steve Martin at NPR West. Except for moments, occasions like this, do you ever go back and listen to any of that stuff?
Mr. MARTIN: Never. Never. You know, in fact, you know, I was listening to satellite radio in my car. And there's a comedy channel. And somebody came out and I said, I thought to myself, this guy is doing me. I can't--he's got the same exact speech pattern. And then I listened--oh, I mean, I don't know, he must have been listening. And then I realized it was me. I didn't remember the routine or the sound of my own voice.
By the way, who played that banjo? Was that broadcast, that banjo song?
CONAN: Well, member stations around the country may have given traffic and weather over that banjo...
Mr. MARTIN: Those idiots. Anyway, that was a nice banjo playing.
CONAN: Well, let's talk with...
Mr. MARTIN: But I'd really like to know what the traffic and weather is around the country. I really...
CONAN: Well, your satellite radio can tell you that probably as well.
Mr. MARTIN: OK.
CONAN: Michelle is with us now on the line from Syracuse, New York.
MICHELLE (Caller): Yes, Neal. Thank you for taking my call.
MICHELLE: And, Steve, I heard that banjo music. It was wonderful.
Mr. MARTIN: Well, that's not me playing.
MICHELLE: That's why I'm calling.
Mr. MARTIN: OK, but that wasn't me playing.
MICHELLE: I want more banjo music from you.
Mr. MARTIN: Say that again?
MICHELLE: I want to hear more banjo music from you. When are you going to put out a CD or a DVD or whatever they call them now?
Mr. MARTIN: Well, get your pen and write this down: Never.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. MARTIN: No, I love to play. I'm an amateur player, sometimes. In fact, I recently won--this is the equivalent of my PhD--I won a Grammy for best country instrumentalist last year or year before last. And the reason I won that is Earl Scruggs put out a record, a 75th anniversary record, and they asked different people to play on it--"Foggy Mountain Breakdown." So I played on it. And we all got when he won--and he won--we all got these Grammys, but they're marked best country instrumentalist. So I guess I have to accept it, that I am the best country instrumentalist.
MICHELLE: Yes. Yes, you are. I love banjo. And with bluegrass, like, it's going crazy because all this other music that's out there--more and more people are incorporating the banjo into music. And it's such a happy instrument. You can't be sad with it, like you say. And it's just wonderful. And I really wish you would continue to do that.
Mr. MARTIN: Well, I do play a lot. I do play a lot. In fact, I'm having a little bluegrass party next week with this...
MICHELLE: Oh, great.
Mr. MARTIN: ...beautiful banjo player named Pete Wernick.
MICHELLE: That's wonderful to hear.
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah. And--but also, the banjo is happy, but it also can be very, very melancholy, which is a quality I love about the banjo.
CONAN: Michelle, thanks very much for the call.
MICHELLE: Yes. Thank you for taking my call again. Bye-bye.
CONAN: Appreciate it.
You also did win a grammar award for best comedy syntax. But...
Mr. MARTIN: Thank you very much. That's another...
CONAN: But you mentioned earlier...
Mr. MARTIN: I wish I could win a grammar award.
CONAN: You wrote for the Smothers Brothers back in the '60s, I guess it was, or early '70s.
Mr. MARTIN: Late '60s and early '70s. Yeah, well--yeah. Sorry.
CONAN: At the time, now, that was the most political show on television. In fact, they got canceled a couple of times for being too political.
Mr. MARTIN: Right.
CONAN: And you've gone the rest of your career sort of determinedly apolitical. How come?
Mr. MARTIN: Well, a couple of reasons. One, I like being a comedian and I like if the public sees me--they're not making, you know, political connections to what I do, what I write, what I say. So I keep my politics to myself. Also I think, you know, I'm not learned enough to debate politics, to present those ideas in a sophisticated way. And I think that's actually a problem, is that there's almost too much celebrity stuff out there of, you know, just endorsement of somebody just by standing there. And I don't feel I have--actually, I mean, I have the right, but I don't have the right more than anyone else to purvey my political thoughts publicly.
But I do write--you know, I had a friend who said, `I'm going to try and write a speech for John Kerry.' And so she sat down, and I had lunch with her the next day. She said, `I tried to write it, I couldn't do it because everything I came up was politically incorrect or was offensive to someone.' So I gave it a try, and I sat down one night and tried to write a speech for John Kerry, which I did. And I kept it to myself. But it was a good exercise in writing down your own beliefs.
CONAN: All right. Let's get another caller on the line. And Stephen joins us on the phone from Sarajevo.
STEPHEN (Caller): Good afternoon.
Mr. MARTIN: Sarajevo?
CONAN: Hi, Steve.
STEPHEN: It's good to be talking with you. You've been one of my favorite entertainers over the years. I've been in Sarajevo for a couple of years now, and the folks here are interested in many aspects of American culture, especially movies and comedians and such. But no one has heard of you here, except for one group.
Mr. MARTIN: One who? One group?
STEPHEN: Dentists have heard of you.
Mr. MARTIN: (Laughs) Yes, I've played a couple of dentists.
STEPHEN: They're the only ones. No kidding.
CONAN: I'm sorry, Stephen. That last line we missed.
STEPHEN: I say, they're the only ones, and I'm not kidding. I have actually asked around, and I have some of your records and things. And I play bits and pieces. And I get kind of a glassy-eyed stare, except for dentists.
CONAN: Well, that's completely understandable. Two things. One is, why dentists? I played two dentists. I played in "Little Shop of Horrors" an insane dentist. And then I, in a movie called "Novocaine," I played not an insane dentist but a desperate dentist. And that may reach the dentists, which is the audience I'm targeting in Sarajevo. So, actually, my publicity scheme there is working quite well.
STEPHEN: There is one dentist in particular that actually has a picture of you...
Mr. MARTIN: Well...
STEPHEN: ...from "Little Shop of Horrors."
Mr. MARTIN: That's the grassroots; that's the beginning of the grassroots Steve Martin movie swelling in Sarajevo.
CONAN: Interestingly, a friend of mine was in a movie with you, "HouseSitter," Woody Brune(ph), who--his film career was largely composed of playing clerks and dentists. He played a clerk in "HouseSitter." And he always would say that, you know, that's acting, you know, when you can hold up the drill and point to the fish on the wall. Boy, you'd better be good when you're playing a dentist.
Mr. MARTIN: Well, you do have to learn to use the tools. That's true. I visited a dentist in New York and stayed there and learned to use the tools. And you gotta look like you can handle them. And now I actually do dentistry on the side, which is fantastic.
CONAN: On the side?
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah.
CONAN: Yeah, that's great.
Stephen, thanks very much for the call.
STEPHEN: My pleasure.
Mr. MARTIN: Thank you.
STEPHEN: Thank you, gentlemen.
Mr. MARTIN: So we're live in Sarajevo right now?
STEPHEN: We're live in Sarajevo. The reach of all kinds of...
Mr. MARTIN: You know, this is how I think actually Americans win the hearts and minds, is through our art and music and our, you know, freedom, in a sense, being broadcast around the world. So there you go.
CONAN: So there you go.
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah.
CONAN: Andy's on the line from Binghamton, New York.
Mr. MARTIN: I'm daring anyone to write that down. I didn't hear...
CONAN: Yeah, that's why I hesitated there.
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah.
CONAN: Binghamton, New York. Andy.
ANDY (Caller): Hello, Steve. I just wanted to steal a line from your movie and say you changed my life twice. I saw you 27 years ago perform at my college in upstate New York. And you truly were an entertainer, something that today comedians, I think, and others squander. You know, you played the banjo, as we heard; you told jokes; you juggled--a skill we don't see too often.
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah.
ANDY: And after your performance, you actually came out of the auditorium and stood in the middle of the quad and did shtick for about 250 people that was just riotous.
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah, I used to do that. That was a lot of fun. Once early on, when the audience size was manageable, I was at a college--maybe yours--and we went outside and there was an empty swimming pool, and I had everyone get in the swimming pool and then I swam over the tops of them.
ANDY: Well, in this case, one of the campus police cars actually prowled up towards where this crowd was--I don't think they knew what was going on--and you looked over and you had the crowd in your hand and you said, `If he gives us any trouble we'll flip the car over.' And if you had just given the word...
Mr. MARTIN: Oh, boy.
ANDY: ...that officer would have been on his roof. But I...
Mr. MARTIN: Those were different times. I would have been shot now.
ANDY: Yes. I have to tell you about the second way that you changed my life, and that was I was dating online and put in my profile one of your quotes, that there's someone out there for all of us even if it takes a compass, a pickax and night-vision goggles to find them, and I had someone respond to that who I'm now living with.
Mr. MARTIN: Fantastic. Did you...
ANDY: And my eight-year-old daughter is a big fan of your films, though I have to sort of explain your choice of names of dogs and...
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah.
ANDY: ...explain what a little fireman is.
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah, OK.
ANDY: But this is the biggest thrill I've had speaking with you and thank you very much for all of your work. You truly are a treasure.
Mr. MARTIN: Thank you very, very much.
CONAN: Andy, does your wife know that that line wasn't yours?
ANDY: Yes, she does and she's not my wife.
CONAN: Ah. OK. Well, I hate--sorry to jump to the conclusion. Anyway, thanks for the phone call.
ANDY: Thank you.
CONAN: Here's an e-mail question from Mandy in Jacksonville, Florida. `When you were growing up did you know you were funny?'
Mr. MARTIN: No. But I did know that I loved comedy and I loved to laugh and I loved to watch comedians and I didn't--you know, there's--you don't really know you're funny 'cause it's so hard to call yourself something that you are. But for me, much, much later and it really had the--you know, professionally funny is one thing and then sort of funny with your friends is another thing, and I really enjoy, you know, being funny with friends and I love to hang out with funny people, and I just grew up on comedy and it just made me want to do it, to sort of relive the experience that someone sent to me. So, you know, it's a complicated question 'cause there's also--you know, there's the funny years, you know, and then there's the doer years, you know, going to...
CONAN: Well, then there's also...
Mr. MARTIN: ...college and very serious and, you know, confused, you know, so you kind of...
CONAN: Well, there's the philosophy student and then there's the class clown.
Mr. MARTIN: Exactly.
CONAN: Yeah. And both is, I guess, the answer. Well, OK.
Mr. MARTIN: Well, OK.
CONAN: We'll leave it there. What comedians when you were a kid did you laugh at a lot?
Mr. MARTIN: Well, you have to understand that when I was a kid it was television--I was born in 1945 and so let's say it's now 1953 or 4, television was mostly showing older comedians. They were--I mean, films like Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello...
CONAN: Three Stooges, yeah.
Mr. MARTIN: ..and--right, well, yeah. I was not a fan so much of the Three Stooges, but I loved Laurel and Hardy. And so those were the comedians I really grew up on, and then there was a big, big breakthrough with modern comedy with Lenny Bruce and Bob Newhart and Shelly Berman.
CONAN: We're talking with Steve Martin.
You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
Get another caller on the line. Lisa is with us from Concord, North Carolina.
LISA (Caller): Hello.
Mr. MARTIN: Hello.
LISA: Hi. I'm in my car so you just--a minute...
Mr. MARTIN: Uh-oh.
LISA: ...but my question was a lot of the callers have been calling and talking about how much we loved the Steve Martin, you know, that we listened to and saw in the movies and stuff, and I was wondering as far as your comedic personality, how much does that or how much of that did you get into your book.
Mr. MARTIN: Into my book. Well, the book--the first book, "Shopgirl," is--I would not call it a funny book. It has funny sequences in it, but it is really much--is quite a poignant book, I think. And the film that we have just finished of it starring Claire Danes is quite a poignant movie with humor. But "The Pleasure of My Company" I actually think of as a funny book. It is also quite poignant, I believe, but it has much more humor. But you have to be very careful in writing comedy in a book because it's easy to just go beyond the truth of the character and maybe go for a joke. You have to--I really am careful about that, that all the humor in these two novels anyway has to be in a way believable. And I believe the humor in "Pleasure of My Company" is that kind of happy-sad thing where the character gets himself in trouble and you just feel for him. So it's a delicate balance in novel writing. If I write a piece for The New Yorker, then anything goes. You know, you can just be silly or funny or make a point.
LISA: Can I ask you one more question, if I could?
Mr. MARTIN: Sure.
LISA: Why did you write the book? "Pleasure"--I'm sorry.
CONAN: "The Pleasure of My Company"?
Mr. MARTIN: Why did I write it? Oh.
Mr. MARTIN: Well, actually it's--a lot of things grow from something else, and I had been writing some pieces for The New Yorker and occasionally I would write about where the central figure was this, you know, slightly offbeat person. And a friend of mine--in fact, Joan Stein is my partner in this "Shopgirl"--sorry, "Scholar" enterprise--said to me, `I love it when you write about that guy.' And I instantly knew what she was talking about and I thought, `Ah. Ah. That guy--that is a rich character.' Now I'm not describing the character to you right now 'cause it's too long a tale, but that's what this book is, is the development of that personality, and in a strange way, it relates to my stand-up comedy act because the character I did was closed-off in a way and saw things in a different way and...
Mr. MARTIN: ...was arrogant, was the world's authority and not--doesn't quite relate to this book, but anyway, that's--it's a long story.
LISA: Well, I--yeah, I can't wait to read it.
CONAN: Lisa, thanks very much for the call.
LISA: It was--I enjoyed talking to you.
CONAN: OK. Bye-bye. I think she enjoyed talking to you, not necessarily to me. She can talk to me any day.
Mr. MARTIN: No, no, no. That--she did not enjoy talking to you; it was strictly me.
CONAN: When we come back from a short break, we're going to continue our conversation with Steve Martin. If you'd like to join us, (800) 989-8255; (800) 989-TALK. Of course we left sometime singer off that list of occupations as well.
I'm Neal Conan. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
(Soundbite of music)
Mr. MARTIN: They're telling you. Now when I die, now don't think I'm a nut. Don't want no fancy funeral, just one like old King Tut. He coulda won a Grammy, buried in his jammies.
Unidentified Group: Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia. Born in Arizona...
Mr. MARTIN: Got a condo made of stona.
Unidentified Group: King Tut.
CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.
Here are some of the stories NPR News is following today. On the campaign trail, President Bush today tried to calm fears among Florida voters about the shortage of flu vaccine, while Senator Kerry continued to battle charges about his stance on terrorism. And the Army is considering punishment for members of a Reserve unit in Iraq who refused to go on a mission last week after complaining about the condition and safety of their vehicles. Some details on those stories coming up later this afternoon on "All Things Considered" from NPR News.
Today we're talking with Steve Martin. "The Pleasure of My Company" is the name of his book just out in paperback. He's with us from the studios of NPR West.
And, Steve, all of your biographical material says Steve Martin lives in Los Angeles and New York, which--not easy when you think about it. But where--what do you consider home?
Mr. MARTIN: Los Angeles. That's where I essentially grew up, mostly. I did live in Aspen, Colorado; I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a while. But really, LA is home.
CONAN: And you grew up right outside of Disneyland.
Mr. MARTIN: I did. I grew up in Garden Grove, California. In fact, I just did a little film for Disneyland's 50th anniversary, and it's going to play inside the park, you know, and I'm sort of the host. I'm working with Donald Duck, etc., but it was kind of--you know, I started working there when I was 10 at Disneyland selling guidebooks. And I had various jobs, ending up at the magic shop there doing magic tricks. And so it was kind of a full-circle thing to have finally achieved hostdom at the Magic Kingdom, having started there as a kid.
CONAN: And in a way, I mean, you're doing this show for ABC-TV. You've done a lot of movies for Disney as well.
Mr. MARTIN: Yes. Yes. "Bringing Down the House" was for Disney and so is "Shopgirl," you know.
CONAN: Yeah. Let's get another caller on the line. Tom joins us from...
Mr. MARTIN: Yeah, before we run out of stuff. Yeah.
CONAN: Before we run out of material. Tom is with us from Oklahoma City.
TOM (Caller): Hi there.
Mr. MARTIN: Hi.
TOM: I was backstage crew working on one of your shows, "Picasso and Einstein Lapin Agile."
Mr. MARTIN: "At the Lapin Agile." "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" is a play I wrote.
TOM: I loved it. It was great being backstage 'cause I could hear your voice in the dialogue.
Mr. MARTIN: Ah.
TOM: It was just amazing. I was wondering what other shows that you might be having in the works, any other plays coming up.
Mr. MARTIN: Well, I did write some other plays. But I'm not writing one now because that's that inspiration issue. I remember once David Geffen called me and he said--you know, it was like 1984, '85 and he said, `You know what? You should go back on the road. You should go back to your comedy act.' And I said, `I don't have anything to say.' And that's the way I feel about right now a play. I don't have anything to say. I like to think about it and wait till I have something to say, essentially, and figure out the best medium for it.
Mr. MARTIN: So right now I've written the Pink Panther movie that is going to come out next summer--co-written, sorry. The Pink Panther movie, and I wrote the screenplay to "Shopgirl" and I have adapted A.R. Gurney's play "Sylvia" into a screenplay, and that's kind of what I'm doing now and writing little tidbits for The New Yorker occasionally. But the--I have other plays. I have a play...
TOM: Oh, yes.
Mr. MARTIN: ...called "WASP," which is about a WASP family--it's a one-act, presented in a kind of funny and lyrical, strange way, so it is a play I actually quite like.
CONAN: You mentioned--obviously you adapted "Shopgirl" for the movies. Very little dialogue in the book. Obviously, you had to...
Mr. MARTIN: Right.
CONAN: ...write some for the film.
Mr. MARTIN: Right. And that was a--the book was written kind of internally inside people's heads. So I did have to write dialogue. But that was the challenge of it and, you know, the movie is so not about dialogue. It's like the dialogue is--it's almost the reverse of a normal movie in that--well, I can't say that, but the visuals and you kind of stay with the person and you stay with them and the visuals are extremely important to the movie.
CONAN: It's interesting and, as you mentioned, you wrote that book; it was sort of an omniscient narrator in that first book. The second book, very first-person.
Mr. MARTIN: Right.
CONAN: Easier or harder?
Mr. MARTIN: Well, I wrote "Shopgirl" in--because it was my first attempt at a novel I wrote it from an omniscient narrator because I thought it would be easier to begin with because, oh, well, here I get the opportunity--I can say anything that's going on inside anyone's head; it might get me out of trouble. And I didn't know how long I could extend a book in the first person, how I could sustain it. But then once I had on "Pleasure of My Company" the character in mind fully--and it's, by the way--anyway, it sort of writes itself almost. You know, I think one of the mistakes made that I encounter in the television industry is they try to have you list characters' qualities so you'll have a page and it'll say `Joe' and it will say, you know, `Loves to have fun, likes' blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. And this is so not the way to write characters. Characters are extremely subtle, and I guarantee you that any of that paragraph that describes that character will not end up in your screenplay, your book or whatever because qualities--you know, five qualities of a character do not translate. All characters are subtle.
CONAN: Tom, thanks very much for the call.
TOM: You bet.
CONAN: You've see...
Mr. MARTIN: Did I go on too long?
CONAN: No, no, no. You did great. And I know you need that reassurance from me.
Mr. MARTIN: Yes, I do. Thank you.
CONAN: Well, which leads to my next question. You've succeeded at so many things. Do you still worry that, you know, the next thing out is going to be a turkey?
Mr. MARTIN: Well, absolutely. And that is--that just goes along with the territory. Everything--you know, the joy--I've learned that the joy in a movie is making it. The joy in a book is writing it. Because you cannot count on anything after that. If it's a success, that's another kind of happiness, a kind of practical happiness. If a book is a success, it's--you know, that's another kind of happiness, too, but you really don't know what people are thinking, you know, but...
CONAN: There's kind of an awful period when you finish the book, you send it to the publishers and then you wait six months, eight months, a year...
Mr. MARTIN: Right. Well, I'm in that now with Pink Panther and "Shopgirl," and they're kind of that state where it's gone away and all that creative energy that goes into making something--the fun of it, the pain of it--I mean, everything I've ever done with the exception of maybe one or two things--one of them was "Roxanne"--has had a negative period, a sour period where it didn't quite work. It needs this; it needs that; it needs to be adjusted and fixed. And I keep reminding myself that that happens on everything. And you--you know, I try to prevent myself from getting--not depressed, but you know, down about it or `What am I doing?' you know, quite challenging yourself because you have to remember it happens all the time.
CONAN: Are you afraid of getting found out that, you know, you've been faking it all these years?
Mr. MARTIN: No. No, I'm not. I don't have that. I had it for a while, but then I--sometimes you just--you just give up on that and you realize, well, you know, I've--I'm still here. I'm still here and I'm--you know, I can get--there is something that--such a small little thing that kind of changed my outlook. When I did a--performers, creative people suffer from reviews. And I don't think critics actually know that. I remember when I was talking to John Simon once, the critic, and he has a reputation for slaughtering people. And I had heard a story that an actress had gone up to him and thrown a glass of wine on him. And so I met him, and he was quite nice and he was very smart and I actually got along with him, but that didn't stop him from killing me, you know, two years later. But I asked him--I said, `I heard a story that an actress threw a glass of red wine on you.' And he said, `Yes, yes, she did.' And I said, `What did you say about her?' And he said, `Nothing! Nothing! I said she had a big nose.'
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. MARTIN: No, so the story was--you know, you can't quite mature out of it, but eventually I think I did. It was over my play, "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," and this play was a success and I'm actually quite proud of it and I think it's touching and moving. But that's me, you know. And it had been out about two years and now it was going back to Chicago where it began, and a local, you know, paper--one of those--the Chicago version of the LA Weekly gave it a, you know, horrible review saying, you know, it's plays like this that keep, you know, real plays from being performed, which was the standard criticism of anything celebrity. But I know the criticism is not about the thing itself but about the fact that you're famous, as that line sort of comes up, meaning--I guess it means that the critic is saying, `Well, my play is not being done.' But--and I just looked at this review--I don't even know how I ended up with it, but I thought, `OK, so I wrote a play and he wrote a review, and that's the difference between us.' And from then on I thought, `OK, I can go along and do my work and know that some'll be interesting, some won't, some'll be fairly criticized, some will be unfairly criticized,' and it's just part of the business.
And you know, I saw a great--Am I going on too long?--a documentary about David Hockney. And I talked to an art collector, a friend of mine, about five years ago--and I really like David Hockney--and he's a contemporary art collector, and I said, `Do you have any Hockney?' He goes, `Oh, no, he's out of it. He's this'--you know, blah, blah. And then I saw this documentary on him and I realized that Hockney doesn't care. Hockney's going on with his work, making beautiful things. He's in a way outside the contemporary mainstream art scene, although he's represented by important galleries in New York, but he was so enthused about his own work, it just didn't matter what people thought of him, what, you know, outside critics, people with their own specialized point of view think of him. He's making beautiful--he was doing at that point stage design. Anyway, it made me really, really admire David Hockney.
CONAN: Well, let's--I think we fooled them again, Steve.
Mr. MARTIN: We did?
CONAN: Yeah, I think we did.
Mr. MARTIN: We're done with it?
CONAN: I think we're done.
Mr. MARTIN: I'm just getting warmed up.
CONAN: Oh, well...
Mr. MARTIN: I'll get my Chinese documents out.
CONAN: There you go. Thanks very much for being with us.
Mr. MARTIN: OK. Thank you very much.
CONAN: "The Pleasure of My Company" is Steve Martin's most recent book. It's out in paperback. Steve Martin was kind enough to join us from the studios of NPR West. And, well, here he is playing a little banjo.
(Soundbite of music)
CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
I found a new rumor!
Martin in Superman? Oct. 8, 2004
Source: Latino Review by: Omar Aviles
Superman news article pic I know what you're thinking. It's been almost two days without a SUPERMAN rumor. Just as I was going into withdrawal, though, a fresh one recently popped up. Whew! A scooper sent Latino Review news that Steve Martin may be up for the role of Perry White, Superman's boss at the newspaper, The Daily Planet, where Superman works incognito as Clark Kent. Apparently, Martin made an appearance at a theater in Palo Alto where a play he's written was being performed but had to leave early as he had an appointment with Bryan Singer, presumably to discuss the Perry role and not to play Magic: The Gathering and trade LORD OF THE RINGS action figures. I think Martin could work as Perry White but, of course, it's just a rumor and could be debunked once an official casting announcement is made. In the meantime, we'll have to wait at least a few hours before another rumor surfaces. I know, I know, it's like nobody even cares about such a high profile project. Crazy.
Don't forget to get your ticket to the Cinematheque tribute
MCN Press Release
May 25, 2004
STEVE MARTIN TO RECEIVE
19TH AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE AWARD
Hollywood - The 19th American Cinematheque Award will be presented to Steve Martin at the Cinematheque's annual benefit gala, American Cinematheque Board chairman Rick Nicita announced today. The presentation takes place Friday, November 12, 2004 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel's International Ballroom in Beverly Hills. The tribute will air on AMC on Sunday, January 23, 2005.
"The American Cinematheque is extremely pleased to honor Steve Martin at this year's celebration," said Rick Nicita. "Steve Martin is a unique Hollywood star - a renaissance man - actor, comedian, screenwriter, playwright, novelist, producer, art collector. His eclectic award-winning career has brought him to the forefront of Hollywood as both a writer and actor in some of the most memorable comedies of the past 20 years. We are looking forward to a wonderful evening honoring this extraordinary artist."
Martin was the unanimous choice of the Cinematheque Board of Directors selection committee, which since 1986, has annually honored an extraordinary artist (actor, director or writer) in the entertainment industry, who is fully engaged in his or her work and is committed to making a significant contribution to the art of the motion picture.
The show is executive produced by Paul Flattery and Barbara Smith and produced by Irene Crinita. Co-chairs of the event will be announced as they are confirmed.
Steve Martin, one of the most diversified performers in the motion picture industry today-actor, comedian, author, playwright, producer - has been successful as a writer of and performer in some of the most popular movies of recent film history.
Christmas 2003, Martin starred in the highest grossing film of his career, "Cheaper by the Dozen," directed by Shawn Levy for 20th Century Fox. The family comedy, co-starring Bonnie Hunt and Hillary Duff, has grossed over $135 million domestically.
Currently, Martin is in production on "Birth of the Pink Panther" for MGM. He is co-writing the script, and will be playing the role of Inspector Clouseau, originally made famous by Peter Sellers. It will re-team him with his "Cheaper by the Dozen" director Shawn Levy.
Martin has completed work on the Touchstone Pictures film "Shopgirl," costarring Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman. The screenplay was written by Martin and adapted from his best-selling novella of the same name. "Shopgirl" follows the funny complexities of a romance between a young girl, who works at a Los Angeles Saks Fifth Avenue glove counter while nurturing dreams of being an artist, and a wealthy older man, who is still learning about the consequences that come with any romantic relationship.
In February of 2003, he starred with Queen Latifah in the blockbuster comedy, "Bringing Down the House" for Touchstone Pictures which gross $132.7 million. In November of 2003, he co-starred in the Warner Bros comic caper "Looney Tunes: Back In Action" opposite Brendon Frasier, Jenna Elfman, and all of the Looney Tunes gang.
Mr. Martin hosted the 75th Annual Academy Awards, his second time handling those duties, the first being the 73rd Oscars. That program was nominated for seven Emmy Awards, including his nomination for "Outstanding Individual Performance In a Variety or Music Program."
Born in Waco, Texas and raised in Southern California, Mr. Martin became a television writer in the late 1960's, winning an Emmy Award for his work on the hit series "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." By the end of the decade he was performing his own material in clubs and on television.
Launched by frequent appearances on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," Mr. Martin went on to host several shows in the innovative "Saturday Night Live" series and to star in and co-write four highly rated television specials. When performing on national concert tours, he drew standing-room-only audiences in some of the largest venues in the country. He won Grammy Awards for his two comedy albums, "Let's Get Small" and "A Wild and Crazy Guy," and had a gold record with his single "King Tut."
Mr. Martin's first film project, "The Absent-Minded Waiter," a short he wrote and starred in, was nominated for a 1977 Academy Award. In 1979, he moved into feature films, co-writing and starring in "The Jerk," directed by Carl Reiner. In 1981, he starred opposite Bernadette Peters in Herbert Ross' bittersweet musical comedy, "Pennies From Heaven."
The actor then co-wrote and starred in the 1982 send-up of detective thrillers, "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" and the science fiction comedy "The Man With Two Brains," both directed by Carl Reiner. In 1984, Mr. Martin received a Best Actor Award from both the New York Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review for his performance opposite Lily Tomlin in "All of Me," his forth collaboration with writer/director Carl Reiner.
In 1987, his motion picture hit, "Roxanne," a modern adaptation of the Cyrano de Bergerac legend, garnered Martin not only warm audience response, but also a Best Actor Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and Best Screenplay Award from the Writer Guild of America. Mr. Martin was also the executive producer on the film.
In 1988, he costarred with Michael Caine in the hit comedy film "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," his second feature collaboration with director Frank Oz (the first being "Little Shop of Horrors"). In 1989, he starred with Mary Steenburgen and Diane Wiest in Ron Howard's affectionate family comedy, "Parenthood" for Universal Pictures.
In 1991, Mr. Martin wrote, starred in and co-executive produced the critically acclaimed comedy, "L.A. Story," a motion picture about a love story set in Los Angeles.
That same year he made a cameo appearance in Lawrence Kasdan's critically lauded "Grand Canyon" and starred with Diane Keaton in the hit Disney film "Father Of The Bride," receiving the People's Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Comedy Motion Picture for the latter. In 1992, he starred in the Universal comedy feature "Housesitter," opposite Goldie Hawn, winning the People's Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Comedy, for the second year in a row.
In 1996, he starred again with Diane Keaton in the hit sequel to "Father of the Bride," and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. In 1997, he received universal critical acclaim for his riveting performance in director David Mamet's thriller, "The Spanish Prisoner."
Mr. Martin wrote and starred in the hilarious 1999 feature comedy, "Bowfinger," opposite Eddie Murphy for Director Frank Oz. The film was showcased at the Deauville International Film Festival.
Mr. Martin's other films include classic comedies like Frank Oz's "Little Shop of Horrors," in which he played a demented dentist; John Hughes' "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," co-starring John Candy; the comic Western send-up "The Three Amigos" co-staring Marin Short and Chevy Chase; "The Lonely Guy" co-starring Charles Grodin; Jonathan Lynn's big screen adaptation of "Sgt. Bilko," co-starring Dan Aykroyd and Phil Hartman; Richard Pearce's "Leap of Faith," co-starring Deborah Winger and Liam Neeson; "My Blue Heaven," co-starring Rick Moranis and Joan Cusack;and the black comedy, "Novocaine," co-starring Helena Bonham Carter and Laura Dern.
In the fall of 1993, Mr. Martin's first original play, the comedy-drama "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," was presented by Chicago's prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre. Following rave reviews and an
extended run in Chicago, the play was presented successfully in Boston and Los Angeles, and then Off-Broadway in New York at the Promenade Theatre, to nationwide critical and audience acclaim. It has since been, and continues to be, mounted in productions worldwide. "The Underpants," a dark comedy Mr. Martin adapted from the 1911 play by Carl Sterneim, premiered Off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company on April 4, 2002.
Mr. Martin was selected as Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals 1988 Man Of The Year and accepted the award at the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus. In 1996, he was honored with a retrospective of his work, by the American Film Institute's Third Decade Council at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. He was also presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony. A selection of paintings from his extensive, private, modern art collection was given a special exhibition at the Bellagio Hotel gallery in Las Vegas in 2000, with catalog notes written for the show my Mr. Martin.
After the success of his first novella Shopgirl Mr. Martin's second novella, "The Pleasure of My Company," published by Hyperion, once again was ranked on best seller lists around the country including the New York Times. He has also written a best selling collection of comic pieces, Pure Drivel, and his work frequently appears in the New Yorker and the New York Times. He lives in New York City and Los Angeles.
Eddie Murphy received the first American Cinematheque Award in 1986. Previous honorees are as follows: Bette Midler (1987); Robin Williams (1988); Steven Spielberg (1989); Ron Howard (1990); Martin Scorsese (1991); Sean Connery (1992); Michael Douglas (1993); Rob Reiner (1994); Mel Gibson (1995); Tom Cruise (1996); John Travolta (1997); Arnold Schwarzenegger (1998); Jodie Foster (1999); Bruce Willis (2000); Nicolas Cage (2001); Denzel Washington (2002) and Nicole Kidman (2003).
Twelve hundred entertainment industry notables are expected to attend the Tribute. This annual event is the American Cinematheque's most important benefit, providing funds for the non-profit film exhibition organization's programs throughout the year and operation of the historic landmark Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard as well as the soon-to-open Aero Theatre in Santa Monica on Montana Avenue.
Tickets to the Cinematheque Tribute, an elegant black-tie dinner followed by a multi-media award show start at $500. Call Event Producer Corrinne Mann for further information at 323.314.7000. Please note that this event was formerly known as the Moving Picture Ball.
Established in 1981, the American Cinematheque is a non-profit viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all of its forms. At the Egyptian Theatre, the Cinematheque presents daily film and video programming which ranges from the classics of American and international cinema to new independent films and digital work. Exhibition of rare works, special and rare prints, etc., combined with fascinating post-screening discussions with the filmmakers who created the work, are a Cinematheque tradition that keep audiences coming back for once-in-a-lifetime cinema experiences.
The American Cinematheque renovated and reopened (on December 4, 1998) the historic 1922 Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. This includes a state-of-the-art 616-seat theatre housed within Sid Grauman's first grand movie palace on Hollywood Boulevard. The exotic courtyard is fully restored to its 1922 grandeur. The Egyptian was the home of the very first Hollywood movie premiere in 1922. In 2004 the American Cinematheque will expand its programming to the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.
A diller, a dollar, a Steve Martin Scholar
BPI Entertainment News Wire
October 18, 2004, Monday 10:43 AM Eastern Time
Martin, ABC enroll teens for 'Scholar'
NELLIE ANDREEVA, The Hollywood Reporter
Steve Martin is teaming with ABC to give bright, ambitious high school students a chance for a free education at a top university.
The network has greenlighted a reality series from Martin/Stein, reality veteran Bunim-Murray and comedy powerhouse Carsey-Werner that will feature 15 qualified high school seniors who might not otherwise have an opportunity to pursue a college education compete for a full-ride scholarship to the college of their choice.
"Every student in this country should be entitled to a college education," executive producers Martin and Joan Stein said. "With this show, we intend to empower both students and parents with the knowledge that a higher education is realistic and attainable for everyone."
Tentatively titled "The Scholar," the series, which will take place on the campus of a major university, will have the constants compete in challenges in the areas of academics, leadership, school spirit and community service for the top prize.
"For the ABC brand of reality series, we are looking for shows that are about life-altering wish fulfillment, and 'The Scholar' couldn't be more perfect," said Andrea Wong, ABC executive vice president alternative programming, specials and late-night. "And in particular, we know this team of producers who really feel the pulse of young people are going to bring us a fantastic cast and tell an amazing story."
The search for high school students to participate in "The Scholar" is under way. Production on the series is slated to begin this year for a premiere next year.
The Pink Panther News Conference -- okay, i'm late
By Julian Roman
The Pink Panther Begins Production
MGM held a press conference at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel to kick off the start of production for their remake of The Pink Panther. The film stars Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau, who also co-wrote the screenplay with director Shawn Levy. Martin and Levy worked together on last year’s comedy hit Cheaper by the Dozen. The press conference included all of the principal cast members and the film’s producer. In attendance were Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyonce, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Kristen Chenoweth, and producer Robert Simmonds. The Pink Panther is set for US release on July 22, 2005.
How should this film be referred to? Is it a remake, a sequel, an update, a reinterpretation? What are we working on here?
Steve Martin: I don’t know? Who wants to answer that question?
Robert Simmonds: I can take that one.
Steve Martin: Sure, it’s a new story…
Shawn Levy: It’s a reinterpretation, I think.
Steve Martin: That’s very important. That’s R-E-I-N…
Robert Simmonds: It’s not a sequel, prequel, or remake. What Steve has done, is taken the essence of different characters, come up with his own story, his own reinterpretation of these characters. We’re trying to do something that’s very contemporary, very fresh, essentially very original.
Steve, with Bringing Down the House Eleven coming up, Cheaper by the Three Dozen…
Steve Martin: None of those are in the works.
How many Pink Panthers are you going to be doing? Can one man have so many franchises?
Steve Martin: I was thinking it’s not quite the 21st century, it’s sort of just edged into it, you know in four or five years then I’ll be dead. All I can tell you is we are having a lot of fun right now. We’re working on the script, rehearsing, and we’re laughing. You know, that’s a good sign. Aren’t we laughing?
Shawn Levy: I would add to that part of what makes Steve so interesting in this role is that, this is the flattery part of the morning, is that Steve is playing the role and written the screenplay. The whole tone of this reinvention is distinctly Steve’s.
This is for Beyonce. How was it for you to decide to take time out of your music and do this movie?
Beyonce: Well, I think it was especially a no brainer. I’m absolutely a huge fan of Steve Martin and this has been a wonderful experience already. Just in rehearsals, I know we’ve been laughing. I don’t know how I’m going to say my lines because it’s hilarious. I’ve been having a great time. I’m really excited to be here.
You said it was going to be a contemporary story. Will there be a reference to the recent diplomatic tensions between France and the US? Will it be shot here in New York and Paris? Also, is there a cameo by David Beckham?
Shawn Levy: The film will be shot, half in New York, Half in Paris. We’re shooting in various locations around Manhattan. Among them, Times Square, Fifth Avenue, very kind of out of the way, conspicuous locations. The movie is very much of this moment. The sense of humor, the things that it references, the whole context of this new Pink Panther is very much now. That said, we won’t be delving into particularly complex, salient, recent political issues, because this is above all, a very funny movie. Finally, Beckham will not be in the film. Ultimately there were scheduling hiccups that couldn’t be overcome.
Clouseau’s character has never been to New York City?
Shawn Levy: That is one of the…
Steve Martin: Yes, that’s a big first. That’s your angle! Go with that! Clouseau in Manhattan! You could say that off mic (referring to Kevin Kline) He said, frog out of water.
Kevin Kline: I don’t say that in the movie.
Steve Martin: Actually, MGM thinks we’re doing a comedy, but we’re doing a highly political film. We have two scripts. There’s the script they see and the script we shoot.
Steve, what do you think Peter Sellers would make of your involvement in this?
Steve Martin: Well, all I know is that I met him once and he was very nice to me. I think that says it all. He spoke to me, comedian to comedian. He was very friendly. He was, you know, under a lot of critical pressure and health pressure at the time too. I don’t know. I often here that people are going to remake The Jerk. I have no qualms about that.
Do you find the Sellers legacy at all intimidating, to live up to that?
Steve Martin: Well, I did for a long, long time. Once I found my own voice in it, I felt more comfortable. I feel really good now. Until you asked that question, now I feel sick.
What’s the plan as far as the rating? Is it going to be more of a PG-rating? Or is it more risqué humor?
Robert Simmonds: I’ll take that. Our goal is to make a PG-13 movie. Try to make the funniest movie we possibly can . PG, PG-13 movie in there depending on how funny funny, the trade-off to funny.
Shawn Levy: One other thing, I would add that this film is rife with a lot of the double entendres and innuendo humor that is built into the franchise and is very much at work.
Steve Martin: You know in that whole rating thing that says language, L for Language, N for Nudity. This will have DJ, for Dick Jokes.
Question for Jean Reno, will you try to get rid of your French accent when your playing in an American movie? Or does it matter for you?
Jean Reno: I have my accent. If it’s a French accent, but I’m not trying to have a special French accent. I’m trying to be honest with the role as usual, for my companion, who I like very much, Steve.
Steve Martin: I love this guy. This is a major star. We got him. Nice guy too. It makes me sick.
Have the Americans in the cast been working on French accents?
Steve Martin: You know we’re going to drop that. No, I’m kidding. I’m working on mine. (with French accent) Don’t be ridiculous, that’s absurd. Kevin has done a French accent. Problem is that they were American movies.
Beyonce, will you have an accent?
Beyonce: No, I won’t a French have an accent.
Steve Martin: But she will be singing a song.
Shawn Levy: Several actually, two.
Steve Martin: Is that allowed in my contract?
Are you writing them for the movie?
Beyonce: Right, I’m co-writing and producing the songs for the movie. Some are for the soundtrack as well.
Steve, you’ve got three very lovely ladies up there. Being the screenwriter, did you write love scenes for yourself?
Steve Martin: Oh yes, I always put those in my screenplays. And he touched her breasts or boobies. You know, Inspector Clouseau seducing Beyonce, that’s in. Emily and I have a…
Emily Mortimer: A gymnastics scene…
Steve Martin: By the way, Kristen [Chenoweth] got a great review in the New York Times for Candide. She’s in our movie.
Kristin Chenoweth: Thank you.
Beyonce, do you feel you have big shoes to fill considering Queen Latifah’s success with Steve Martin?
Beyonce: Absolutely not, I’m so happy for Queen Latifah and I feel she’s helping open the doors for young, black female actresses. I’m just honored, like I said earlier, to be here. Another reason why I did the film was I knew I would be around all this talent. I’ve learned so much. This was a great experience for me.
Mr. Martin, did you see the Benini interpretation of Clouseau and was it at all an inspiration?
Steve Martin: I didn’t see Benini. Fortunately I grew up with the Pink Panther movies and laughing and laughing and laughing. The thought of making other people have those kind of twenty-year memories about a comedy or about a scene in a movie is, you know, what I king of do it for…and money.
Did you study them?
Steve Martin: I didn’t study them, no, but I knew them pretty well. They’d come up on TV and you see little things. You find yourself watching, that’s a good note, that’s a good beat, to remember the Clouseau character. I was thinking. They have different James Bond’s. The end. I was expecting a standing ovation for something like that.
How do you intend to update this for today’s audience and make it contemporary?
Steve Martin: Basically adding filth, no, I don’t know. I think the idea of Clouseau is timeless and classic. I don’t know, what is the update?
Shawn Levy: I think the update is in some part due, you know Clouseau is this absurdist, bumbling character, but he’s also at the mercy of today’s technology and the things that exist in the world today that weren’t around thirty, forty years ago. There’s a lot of new playthings for Clouseau to screw up. Beyond that I think the sense of humor is very much loyal to the broadly physical originals. It has, again largely due to Steve’s screenwriting, a level of wit and just kind of very clever, sharp observations about the way the world is now. So, unknowingly stumbling through that world, it just feels fresh.
Because it’s a madcap comedy, what are you guys doing to stay in shape?
Steve Martin: I’ve actually been doing, question the others too, a lot of yoga, walking and biking. You do need to kind of be in shape to do it.
Beyonce: I actually just got off tour. That’s a huge workout every day.
Kevin Kline: Ahhhhh….just the usual, you know…
Steve Martin: Nothing.
Kevin Kline: It’s high cal, high carbohydrate, high fat, I don’t want to give anything away. So I’ll stop now. No, I just do a lot of falling down and that’s the best exercise.
Steve Martin: So you wake up in the morning and you fall out bed.
Kevin Kline: I fall out of the shower. Fall into the press conference. Fall out of the movie. Hearing all these wonderful actors, directors, producers, moderators, journalists, wonderful people from all over the world. It just makes me want to live. Thank you. I’m very excited to be part of this film. I had a wonderful time shooting it. I look forward to the next movie.
Kevin, you and Steve strike me as birds of a feather. Have you maintained a friendship over the last decade or so?
Kevin Kline: Oh yes, we’re very close. We’ve managed to maintain a friendship by never working together. Putting our friendship to the ultimate test. Wouldn’t you say? We did work together on Grand Canyon. But that’s a more serious film. Although you were very funny, inappropriately so. That’s all water under the bridge. I guess we’ve been friends for years. Good, good, good friends, I know I have a friend in Steve. I at least return phone calls and remember his birthday. Steve doesn’t always do that.
Steve Martin: Keep going.
Kevin Kline: Nuff said.
What political office would you like to hold?
Steve Martin: I think I’d be a very good president, because of my comedy background. I think we could go over there, be kind of amusing, hearts would soften, make them laugh.
Beyonce: I’m not sure. Ask me that again in a couple years.
Kevin Kline: Minister of culture, minister of high culture…
Steve Martin: Because he’s always high.
Kevin Kline: Because I think culture in this country’s at an all time low. I would try to lift it up.
Beyonce, you’re playing a pop star. How is it to play something you are in real life?
Beyonce: Actually, I’m playing Xania and she’s a bit different from me. It’s exciting because I’m able to sing in it and I’m very comfortable doing that. Like I said, it’s great to work with other actors and comedians. Every time I do another film, I feel like I get more and more experience. I’m excited about that.
For Kristen and Emily, the female roles in this film are like Bond girls with a sense of humor. Is that what got the two of you interested?
Emily Mortimer: Yes, I love the part I play in this film. Far from being a sort of token girl. I feel like she’s definitely one of the most adorable characters I’ve had the opportunity to play. Whether or not I’ll be adorable remains to be seen, but she’s wonderful.
I would imagine after doing some tough, dramatic, sexual scenes in Young Adam, you must be excited to do something that’s a little bit more light?
Emily Mortimer: There are tough, dramatic, sexual scenes in this movie.
What about you Kristen?
Kristen Chenoweth: I guess what attracted me to this project has always been the men. This is my first feature film. It’s a great opportunity. My scenes are with these two guys.
Shawn and Steve, this is your second movie together. Who signed on first and brought in the other one?
Steve Martin: Well, the genesis of the movie is not that interesting. I actually ran into Shawn at a parking lot. I was doing some looping for Cheaper by the Dozen and he said, I hear you were offered Pink Panther. I said, I don’t know, it’s a tough thing. I wrote a few scenes just to see, but I don’t think I’m going to do it.
Shawn Levy: I actually remember standing in that parking lot and you pitched me right there.
Steve Martin: I said I wrote this. I said, do you think it’s funny? He said, yeah I think it’s funny. H e said, well are you interested in it? And it sort of escalated and here we are.
Shawn Levy: You know it’s been a treat for this. We’ve had a process over a bunch of months now, working on the screenplay together. Its got the benefit of having spent much of the last year together on Cheaper by the Dozen. So, hopefully he streak will continue.
What happened to Kato?
Steve Martin: I don’t know. He’s not in it. We kind of combined Kato into Jean Reno’s part. That’s really what we did.
Shawn Levy: Clouseau has a partner now named Ponton, played by Jean Reno. What we’ve done is, without giving too much away, we’ve taken some of the classic and most beloved aspects of the Kato and Clouseau relationship, i.e. spontaneous attacks. The spontaneous attacks are reinterpreted through the Ponton character.
Steve Martin: When I got the script, the Kato character was already out. There might have been a politically correct influence in the script.
Shawn Levy: It pre-dated our involvement.
Beyonce, what was your reaction when you were first approached about the Pink Panther? Was it a franchise you were familiar with and who was the first person you told?
Beyonce: I was honored. The first thing I wanted to do was read the script. I thought it was hilarious. I knew Steve Martin was playing Inspector Clouseau. I was just honored to work with him. I’m a huge fan and actually, Sean and I worked together maybe six years ago. I spoke with him and it seemed like everything was perfect. It was a perfect opportunity for me. My mother was the first person I told.
Were you familiar with the franchise growing up?
Beyonce: Actually, I was familiar but I’d never seen the original. I was more familiar with the cartoon.
What was the time you worked with Shawn?
Shawn Levy: This was back when both of us were closer to having started out. Five years ago, I was working in kids television producing and directing a show for Disney call The Famous Jett Jackson. I actually think this is before Goldmember or any of your films. It was Beyonce’s first acting role. I wrote and directed and produced the show. Beyonce was the guest star. We have that history together.
Kristen, how tough is it going to be to juggle this with your theater obligations?
Kristen Chenoweth: Well, I’ll shoot this during the day and do Wicked at night. I’m doing Wicked at the Gershwin theatre. You know, get lots of sleep. Get as much as I can.
Do you have your soccer player and will you use the Pink Panther theme music?
Shawn Levy: We are going to use the theme music. Both in its original form and in several, reinterpreted, rearranged forms. Do we have our soccer player? We’re not finalized there yet, but within a day or two we’ll be able to answer that question. I assume you’re referring to the soccer coach that gets murdered in the beginning of the film, and the investigation that triggers the film. The actor is British.
When do you expect the movie to come out?
Robert Simmonds: Mid-summer 2005.
Steve Martin: This movie is most like getting ready for a sporting event, like an athlete. I feel like I’m training, we’re building up. It’s almost like opening night at a show. We’re building up, we’re rehearsing, I can feel the energy building up. We’re starting to have sleepless nights. Which is a little different from an ordinary movie. There’s a real energy going into this movie, a real confidence and feeling of fun. I remember Frank Oz, he was the director of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and he came to us before we were shooting with Michael Caine. And said, it’s very important that these two characters look like they’re having fun. But it’s more important that it looks like Steve and Michael are having fun. I kind of feel that way about this movie. We are going to have fun making this movie. And we are laughing a lot.
When does your production start in New York?
Shawn Levy: Monday
Where are you shooting?
Steve Martin: Whoa, actually we might change because it’s supposed to rain. So we don’t know.
Shawn Levy: It’s not yet totally set.
Beyonce, can you describe your worst moment on the road?
Steve Martin: Work in the Pink Panther somewhere.
Beyonce: I have lots of crazy moments. It’ll take me a second to think of something. Probably, I'm real clumsy, falling down the stairs. My stiletto broke and I had to somehow play-off, you know, tiptoe off the stage. It was pretty embarrassing.
Beyonce, what do you think was challenging for this film and can you respond to the reports that you’re married?
Beyonce: I’m married? No, I’m not married. I think what attracted me to this role was how funny it was going to be. The challenging part is over. Now it’s time to have fun.