November 2007 Comedy Matters
Written and Photographed
by Jeffrey Gurian
Ivanka Trump and Liz Claman at Azza
I'm writing this column from my
hotel room at the Hilton Waterfront Resort in LA,
after celebrating Halloween at a SICK party at the
My Old Friend The Hollywood Producer
So I'm reading the production
notes on the just-released suspense thriller Before
The Devil Knows You're Dead, in order to prepare
for my interviews with legendary Academy Award-winning
director Sidney Lumet, Academy Award winner Marisa
Tomei, Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman,
and Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke (how's that
for a cast of characters?), and I see the name of
old friend Michael Cerenzie as producer of the film.
Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey
I haven't spoken to Michael in
years. Back then, he was in New York, just starting
out as a film producer. We used to hang out. Now
he's a major producer with an eponymously named
company on the Paramount lot.
Michael Cerenzie Productions made
the films Deuces Wild with my buddy Matt
Dillon, Stephen Dorff, Vinny Pastore and Norman
Reedus (another new friend); City of Ghosts,
in which Matt Dillon was not only the star but the
director, and with other stars including James Caan
and Gerard Depardieu; and Den of Lions
with Stephen Dorff and Bob Hoskins.
This year, besides Devil,
he produced My Sexiest Year starring Harvey
Keitel, with Amber Valletta, Karolina Kurkova, and
Hayley Duff (whom I’m guessing helps to make
it someone's sexiest year). I haven't seen it yet
So I call up Michael in Hollywood,
leave a message, and he calls me back right away.
I told him I'd be out with Jack 9 Entertainment
for the big Halloween Party at the Playboy Mansion,
and we made plans to get together. I was really
excited to see him again (more on that in the next
Jeffrey Gurian with Academy
Award-Winning Director Sidney Lumet
The next day, when I interview
Sidney Lumet (who looks about twenty years younger
than he actually is), I'm prepared with the "inside"
info Michael already shared with me. Stuff like
when Sidney read the original script, he changed
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke from best
friends to brothers, which intensifies the whole
dynamic of the story.
Marisa Tomei played Hoffman's
"trophy" wife. Phil, (as they call him)
gets to have a love scene with Marisa in the opening
of the movie, and she didn't use a body double.
It's all her. (They should call him "Lucky
Marisa happens to be comfortable
with such scenes, and helped everyone else relax,
as well. I happen to have known her for a long time,
from early Naked Angels days, and she gets more
beautiful each year.
She's so good at what she does
that Sidney Lumet told me when he saw her in My
Cousin Vinnie, he thought they’d hired
a non-pro who really spoke like that.
Ethan Hawke and Jeffrey
Ethan was open, friendly, and
demonstrated the hard work he did to prepare for
his part by discussing his character's "back
story" in detail. He also shared how Sidney
made them rehearse extensively, from “Fade-in",
to "Fade-out," which I’m sure is
part of what distinguishes Lumet as one of the greatest
directors of all time.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was the
first star hired, and Michael's first choice to
play Andy, an overextended broker who involves his
brother Hank (Ethan) in the so-called "perfect
The plan is to pull a simple robbery—their
own parents' jewelry store, no less!—to score
some much needed cash. But things go awry and they
wind up accidentally killing their own mother in
the process. A dark story to say the least.
When Michael first met with Sidney
to discuss the film, it turned out that Sidney's
first choice to play Andy was also Phil. Small world,
The film is great, but so dark
that it left me caught in its spell for a couple
of days. As I'm writing this, I spoke to Michael,
who told me that so far the film is doing fantastically
well. Go see it, and I’ll tell Michael you
Love In The Time Of What?
It's hard to make an important
film with the name of a disease in the title, but
New Line did it with Love In The Time of Cholera,
set to open November 16th. I guess it's easier when
it's based on one of the so-called greatest love
stories ever told, Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel
Garcia Marquez's novel of the same title.
The film features John Leguizamo,
star of stage, small screen and big screen; he’s
one of the very few comedy performers ever to cross
over successfully into drama. Also featured are
Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, Liev Schreiber, Catalina
Sandino Moreno, and Giovanna Mezzogiorno (these
last two make Gina Lollobrigida sound as if she
has a simple name!).
Javier Bardem plays a man who
waits fifty-three years to be with Fermina Daza,
the woman of his dreams, played by Giovanna Mezzogiorno.
They first met as teenagers and he was smitten.
John Leguizamo plays the girl's father who wants
her to have nothing to do with Bardem, a lowly telegraph
operator, the equivalent of a burger-flipper these
The father succeeds in keeping
them apart, and interestingly enough, Bardem's character
displays actions that today would be considered
stalking, and would at the very least afford the
object of his affections an order of protection.
(In those days, romantic obsession was far more
acceptable, it seems.)
Jeffrey Gurian and John
Leguizamo at the Press Conference for Cholera
I ran that thought past director
Mike Newell, (Harry Potter and the Goblet of
Fire, Four Weddings and a Funeral),
and he laughingly agreed.
Bardem's character, Florentino
Ariza, actually has to wait until the woman's first
husband, Benjamin Bratt, dies, and then in an incredible
show of poor timing he comes to the widow's house
the day of the funeral to express his undying love.
He already waited fifty-three
years. You'd think he could have waited another
week or two.
John Leguizamo is one of the nicest
guys I ever met, and we bonded over one of the most
unusual things. We both performed comedy with beautiful
girls who were 6'2" tall.
With John Leguizamo's comedy background,
I knew it was safe to tell him that this movie never
could have been made in modern times. No one would
ever go to see "Love In The Time of MRSA Virus.”
Punchline Is Two Years Old
Dylan Gadino's online comedy mag
Punchline had a two-year birthday celebration
at Comix, the beautiful club on West 14th Street.
Jeffrey Gurian and Lynne
Koplitz at the Bar at Comix
Lots of people showed up to see
comics like Ray Ellin, host of Late Net
with Ray Ellin on DailyComedy.Com, the
beautiful and funny Lynne Koplitz (who recently
shot a lead role on a pilot for IFC, tentatively
titled Zo2, in which she plays the tough
manager of a band with the same name), the talented
Pete Dominick, the always funny, and great guy Russ
Meneve, and Dave Attell, who has an HBO special
coming out on December 8th called Capt. Miserable.
You'd never know it to look at him!
Jeffrey Gurian with Dave
Attell (Cap't. Miserable)
Dave is so busy, he's a little
behind in his e-mail. A few days after I saw him,
he answered an e-mail I had sent him literally months
before, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner.
Make sure to watch his special in December, cause
Dave's hilarious! I'll make sure to tune in also,
around Feb. 12th
I caught film and TV star Sam
Elliott at the Rockefeller Center event for the
trailer of this holiday season's highly anticipated
New Line film The Golden Compass, a futuristic
fantasy film which looks amazing and also stars
Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.
Sam was as nice as I thought he
would be. I've been a big fan ever since he made
the mini-series popular back in the mid-70's with
Once An Eagle. Plus, he has great hair!
Jeffrey Gurian with Sam
Elliott at Rockefeller Center
Check out sexy model/actress Pamela
Paige's new film Cracked Out Super Heroes with
Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Films playing the part of
a cop. ( More in the next column, with some "hot"
photos of Pam!)
After doing Court TV Radio, and
being asked to become a regular with Vinnie Politan,
doing Weekly Weird News from GNN, ( Gurian's
News Network), I got asked to appear on Debbie Nigro's
internet show First Wives World, a show
for divorced women, of whom I've met a few.
The show is shot at the Heartland
Brewery in the Empire State Building, and not only
did I appear, but I was also the first performing
comic to annoy—I mean, entertain—those
eating and watching the taping.
Debbie Nigro and Jeffrey
Gurian On Air for First Wives World
I spoke about the Spiritual Perspective
of Divorce, and how tremendous healing can occur
if you handle things properly, and incorporate certain
powerful principles into your life.
Debbie is a great hostess who
made me very comfortable and invited me back whenever
I want. I think I'll show up every week (LOL).
Jeff (Curb) Garlin did
a hilarious night down at UCB just before the opening
of his film, I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With,
co-starring Sarah Silverman and Amy Sedaris.
At UCB, he had some of his favorite
comedian friends as his guest performers: his TV
wife Susie Essman; my old pal Jim Gaffigan; and
my other old pal Louis CK, whose last name is really
Ckowitz (he just shortened it to CK for show business).
I went to give Jeff a copy of
my book, Filthy, Funny, and Totally Offensive,
since I was so grateful that he was in it, and it's
always good to see him.
Jim Gaffigan, Susie Essman,
Louis CK, and Jeff Garlin Outside UCB
I'm not sure what Ivanka Trump has to do with horseracing,
although I'm sure she's an accomplished equestrian,
but she was appearing at the kick-off party for
the 2007 Breeder's Cup World Championships, and
any time I get a chance to see her I show up. So
I ran over to the beautiful club Azza on East 55th
Street, on my way over to B.B. King’s, to
catch Rockers on Broadway's salute to Motown.
Ivanka is so lovely, and has such
wonderful presence, that it's just a joy to be around
her. She's the picture of elegance and grace, and
she certainly stood out amongst all the jockeys.
That afternoon, I happened to
send her brother Don an e-mail about Operation Smile,
a charity he's involved with, then I saw Ivanka,
and then at B.B. King’s I was supposed to
see her Mom Ivana. It was a triple-Trump day!
on Broadway Salutes Motown
WOW!!! What a show. Exec-produced
by Cori Gardner and Donnie Kehr of Jersey Boys
(who founded Rockers in 1993), and produced
by Sandy Hicks, these folks showcased unbelievable
talent to raise money to benefit charities Broadway
Cares, Equity Fights AIDS, and Wingspan Arts.
Berry Gordy Sharing a Moment
with Donnie Kehr
As she did last January, Caroline
Rhea hosted. And I got to see great performances
by Micky Dolenz, who seemed to channel soul when
he sang "When A Man Loves A Woman"; the
great Michael Lanning; the incredible Jeremy Schonfeld;
the beautiful star of TV and theatre Renee Elise
Goldsberry (who simply radiates positive energy,
and has legs that bring men to their knees); Greg
Reuter and Thomas Cannizzaro in Spamalot,
who along with Mitch Jarvis and Clarke Thorell made
up the super group White Boyz II Men; and
Bobby Spencer of Jersey Boys, whose film
Farm Girl in NY is debuting at the Tribeca
Cinema on November 15th. Check it out!
Jeffrey Gurian with the
Ageless Legend "Cousin Bruce" Morrow
Berry Gordy actually got up and
spoke, along with Holland-Dozier-Holland, one of
the most successful songwriting teams in the history
of the biz. They all really enjoyed the show.
Even the eternally young radio
legend, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Cousin Brucie
was there announcing the acts, and it was so good
to see him again, and to listen to his voice, which
brings back so many great memories for people who
have enjoyed him over the years.
Caroline Rhea and Jackie Martling Backstage at B.B.King’s
My old bud Jackie (The Jokeman)
Martling performed comedy, and the backstage scene
was as much fun as being out in the audience, if
not more so. There were so many more acts I couldn't
possibly mention them all, but I think they raised
tons of cash for their charities.
Friars Roast Pat Cooper
It's not often when it works out
that I'm personal friends with not only the Roast
Master of the event, but also the honoree, but in
this case that was true. Pat Cooper finally received
the honor of having horrible things said about him,
after all his years of dedicated service to the
Jeffrey Gurian and Friars
Honoree Pat Cooper
Pat closed many a Friars event,
sometimes literally waiting hours to go on, which
usually served to fuel his generally angry rant
Lisa Lampanelli was given the
honor of being the Roastmaster, one of very few
women ever allowed to do so. Lisa and Pat are both
prominently featured in my Filthy book.
Jeffrey Gurian and Lisa
Lampanelli in the VIP room before the Roast
On the dais were performers like
Artie Lange from the Howard Stern show, who shpritzed
Opie and Anthony, along with their co-host Jim Norton,
Jeff Pirrami, Dick Capri, Michelle Balan, Belz,
and Gilbert Gottfried, (who married long-time GF
Dara, and has a four-month old daughter Lily—congrats,
Also on the dais, Dean Freddie
Roman, Stewie Stone, Norm Crosby, and Gregg Fitzsimmons.
Artie was there with longtime "Howard"
producer Gary Dell'Abate, whom I hadn't seen in
a long time—and who looks great.
Jeffrey Between Radio Legends
Opie and Anthony
Some of my favorite lines which
I can actually print in this column were from Colin
Quinn who said about Pat," The last woman he
was in was Beth Israel." I'm still laughing
at that one. Then there was Artie Lange, who said
that this was a very special day because usually
the Friars roast someone in show business. Then
he earned applause when he said about Jeff Ross:
" I don't want to say Jeff steals material,
but his comedy coach is Bill Bellichek.” Artie
also kiddingly said that once he was “so desperate
to do some blow, he let Belzer sneeze in his mouth."
Then there was my pal Jeffrey
Ross, who after looking over the dais exclaimed,
" This isn't a "Who's Who.” It's
more like a "Who's Left." Hysterical as
Jeffrey Gurian and the Elegant
So remember, until next time,
A nationally known comedy writer
and an authority on roast humor, Jeffrey L. Gurian
has written material for many of the great performers
at the fabled Friars Roasts including Richard Belzer,
Robin Williams, Milton Berle, Jerry Lewis and even
Bruce Willis, as well as material for comedy stars
such as Joan Rivers, Gilbert Gottfried, Phil Hartman,
Pauly Shore, "Dice" Clay, and Pat Cooper.
He wrote and directed The Men Who Series of short
films for the Toyota Comedy Festival currently showing
on cell phones and You Tube. . He also wrote for
MTV and USA Network and was one of the writers of
Sony's first interactive film. As a playwright he
wrote a one- hour NBC drama about the devastating
effects of homelessness on the young, entitled De
La Salle. He was given the honor of having his own
column in the legendary Weekly World News called
World of the Bizarre." His first feature film
Face to Face, that he wrote with Scott Baio, made
its world premiere at the Taos, New Mexico Film
Festival, and was honored as the opening night film.
It has since become an award-winning film and won
for Best Comedy Feature at the Marco Island Film
Festival in Florida and the Valley Film Festival
in Hollywood. His newest film, I Am Woody , about
a mob boss obsessed with Woody Allen, won for Best
Short Film at the NY Independent Film Festival.
Jeffrey can be seen around town performing his comedy
news broadcast Uncle Nat's Traveling Peep Show with
his comedy partner model/performer Sonya Gignac.
Jeffrey was recently chosen to be the East Coast
producer of National Lampoon radio. His first book,
based on his writing for the Friars Roasts is from
Kensington Books, "Filthy, Funny, and Totally
Offensive - Jokes So Dirty Comedians and Entertainers
Only Tell Them To Each Other." In addition
Jeffrey is a Clinical Professor at NYU in the Oral
Medicine/Oro-Facial Pain Department, a cosmetic
dentist, lecturer, author and healer. He also is
credited for developing a cure for stuttering. You
may read more at http: www.jeffreygurian.com.