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Friday, March 07, 1997

Ted Danson

Harris: Joining us now on the guest line is the man you've known for many years as Sam Malone on Cheers and now one of the co-stars of Ink, Monday nights on the CBS television network. Here's Ted Danson...good morning, Ted!

Danson: Well hello, how are you?

Harris: You know we had your lovely bride Mary Steenburgen on here a few months ago as your show was just kicking off on CBS. I told her that you guys should be moved to a later time slot, so this week they move you to a later time slot and the ratings go up. Congratulations!

Danson: Please keep connected with us here. [laughs] Tell us what to do next. [laughs]

Harris: Well, I'll try to do that. But when we talked to Mary it was November or so when Clinton got re-elected and we were talking to her about whether you guys would be coming in for the inaugural again, because Mary and Bill Clinton go all the way back to Arkansas and I know you're friends with them. You guys have come in and stayed in the Lincoln bedroom, haven't you?

Danson: This does seem to be the issue of the day, doesn't it? [laughs]

Harris: Well?

Danson: I have indeed.

Harris: I have nothing wrong with you guys coming in and staying in the Lincoln bedroom, because you're friends of the President.

Danson: Absolutely, but I feel guilty. I think I should donate some money or something in hindsight.

Harris: No, no! That's where you get in trouble!

Danson: Oh. All right.

Harris: Don't do that. But what's it like staying in the Lincoln bedroom?

Danson: It's an honor...

Harris: But you're a star already. You're used to star service. Do you get bigger-than-star service at the White House or do they think, "Well, he's the President and you're just the TV guy."

Danson: I think that if I was in there on my own I would have felt that way, but because I come in with Mary and they have a sit on kitchen counter tops and talk into the wee hours kind of relationship from way back for 15 years. It really does feel like I am... ummm...they love Mary, Mary loves me so they are very inclusive. So it feels much more like you're visiting family friends than it does.....

Harris: He's not hugging you all the time is he?

Danson: Uh, no, I'm hugging him a lot.

Harris: So it's kind of like a brother-in-law relationship with the President?

Danson: Big brother. I mean the first time he met me he embraced me up and down, it was very intimidating. There I was, about to ask Mary to marry me and he was giving me the once-over. And it was kind of confusing you know. Big brother is the president of the United States. Will I be, you know....

Harris: There's some people who would say that's the same thing -- Big Brother and President. Anyway, how are things going on the show? Like I said, the ratings are up. How is it to work all day long with your wife? I like going away to my job and then coming home and having my home life. You guys see each other all day long. Is there any point where you just say, "Mary, go to your trailer and I'll go to my trailer and I'll see you later?"

Danson: I don't know. We're very lucky. We have spats on the floor which are very funny when people watch us argue. All the network executives kind of freeze in their tracks and go, "Please, God, let them stay together for at least 100 episodes." [laughs]

Harris: Don't argue until you get into syndication.

Danson: Please, please. The alternative is one person goes off and works in Houston the other person goes off to London and you're on the phone to each other and somebody is paying you to kiss somebody else. It's very bizarre being an actor. This is a luxury working together.

Harris: Is there more pressure on you now because it's you and Mary who are the stars of the show, as opposed to Cheers where you were the star of the show but you had a much bigger ensemble and entire shows could focus on somebody else?

Danson: The pressure isn't on my brain, but on my mouth. I realized Sam Malone said very little, he spoke in little sentences. [laughs] Which is much more comfortable for me for some reason. I sit up a little straighter around Diane English and study my words.

Harris: Yeah.

Danson: We used to never study or memorize lines. We'd get a half a page out, throw a spit ball and look at our lines. Hence it was very chaotic on Cheers. But not so here. You actually have to learn your lines which I find totally bizarre.

Harris: Are you going to be on Frasier again with your old Cheers buddy Kelsey? Or is he going to come on with you on Ink?

Danson: I have no idea. We do tend to get around. Kirstie was on the show last week on Ink, she came in and played Mary's sister. And I guess a couple of months ago I went over to Rhea's show, Pearl, and did a little guest shot.

Harris: Right.

Danson: You know, why not, if it's the only way we get to hang out together and go play on each other's show.

Harris: By the way since you brought it up I have to ask. How weird is that since you're married to Mary now, and Mary used to be married to Malcolm MacDowell who is the co-star of Rhea's show.....

Danson: And Rhea, who I spent 11 years with.

Harris: Right.

Danson: Yeah, it's very strange.

Harris: Kind of incestuous isn't it? [laughs] Is there ever going to be a Cheers reunion kind of thing? I don't mean a Cheers visits the Harlem Globetrotters meets Gilligan's Island kind of thing or any thing like that. Is there ever going to be a reunion, you think?

Danson: Well, if we do, to keep in the spirit of that kind of laid back, off the wall humor, I think we should wait until we're in our 70's I think [laughs]. You know, falling apart. Then it would be kind of funny. Get us all back in a bar again.

Harris: Did you think you would ever live to the day when Woody Harrelson would be nominated for a Academy Award Ted?

Danson: Doesn't that just burn your butt? [laughs] I refuse to talk to him any more. He's getting to high-falutin for me. [laughs]

Harris: And what about the other thing people know you so well from, the movies, The Three Men. Is it going to be The Three Men and a Clone?

Danson: Yeah, why not? [laughs] I think that's funny. Cloning, wow. Who would have thought?

Harris: Do you think it's possible?

Danson: There should be a list of people who can and cannot clone themselves.

Harris: All right, who would you say should be or shouldn't be on that list?

Danson: First on my list would be...[laughs]...no, I'm sorry, never mind.

Harris: No, you brought it up. Come on now.

Danson: I'm over my head now.

Harris: [laughs] All right, let me ask you this. Kirstie Alley or Shelley Long -- who should be cloned?

Danson: Oh, let's clone them both.

Harris: Oh, Mr. Diplomat! Okay, what about this question -- who can eat more, George Wendt or Bill Clinton?

Danson: I haven't seen Mr. Clinton eat, um, I don't know.

Harris: You've had lunch or dinner with him at the White House.

Danson: Come on, you guys, um, who can eat more? George is a good eater.

Harris: Yeah, I would have guessed that too. Although it would be close.

Danson: George really does know good food, he knows where to put it.

Harris: [laughs] Well, listen, I know you guys got off to a turbulent start with Ink at the beginning of the season, so congratulations on the success. We hope it runs for a long time because we're kind of tired of carrying you guys at CBS-TV here at CBS Radio.

Danson: Well, I know, but I think we might have turned something around here on Monday night. I think it actually works.

Harris: Good, keep it up, and say hi to Mary for us.

Danson: And when you have any advice, please phone us.

Harris: [laughs] I will.

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Nicci Murphy.

Tuesday, March 04, 1997

Bill Maher

Harris: Joining us now is an old friend, Bill Maher. We've known Bill since he worked in the comedy clubs making the trip from city to city just doing standup. Then he worked his way into doing a gig on Comedy Central and a couple of sitcoms and a couple of movies and now of course it's the big time with Politically Incorrect on weeknights, late night, on ABC. He was here in town on Sunday night to do the Presidential Gala over at Ford's Theater and joins us here now. Good morning, Bill.

Maher: Hey, how are you?

Harris: Good, how are you? How did the gig go Sunday night?

Maher: Actually, surprisingly well. I was a ball of nerves but I can't explain it. They were actually a good crowd. I was expecting a very staid, sort of corporate, politically very correct crowd and they really went with it.

Harris: Were Bill and Hillary sitting there right in the front row?

Maher: Right in the front row, and my biggest laugh was I was nervous coming here and so the director of Ford's Theater said "You know you should just treat it like a comedy club." So I said to Clinton, "So, where you from? [laughs] So what do you do there, sir? [laughs]" So they seemed to like it, it was good.

Harris: That's great. It was your first time playing at Ford's, right?

Maher: First time playing at Ford's, yes. That's something everybody should see. It's really amazing.

Harris: Is it weird being on that stage knowing the history of performing on that stage?

Maher: The good thing is no matter how bad you do, it's never going to be the worst thing that happened. [laughs] I kept thinking these Secret Service guys must be so nervous, because if it happened again, oh my god, that would be bad. I mean hey, once, it can happen once anywhere.

Harris: Sure.

Maher: Twice and they'd say that theater is jinxed. [laughs]

Harris: You're right. At the worst you're only the second worst thing that happened there. On this trip you got to go to the White House for the first time, right?

Maher: First time. I brought my mother. It was her birthday yesterday.

Harris: Very nice.

Maher: So this was her big birthday present. And yes, we were ushered into the Blue Room with the other performers. Bon Jovi was there, Gregory Hines, lots of good people, Natalie Cole. And they came in and they were very nice, you know, shake hands, a little chit-chat, and how ya doing.

Harris: He must have heard some of the stuff you've been doing on your show about him. How did he treat you?

Maher: You know it's interesting you asked me that because the last time I met him he was very effusive and friendly. He's always friendly and he couldn't have been nicer to my mother. He really made her feel wonderful. But I definitely got a feeling that he kind of gave me the evil eye. I can't put my finger on it, maybe I'm just reading something into it. But when he shook my hand and said hello, I kinda got a look that said "You rat bastard what did you say the other night? I oughta kill you!" You know?

Harris: Yeah.

Maher: And later on when he came up on the stage at Ford's Theater he kinda felt the same way, but maybe it's just me being overly sensitive. But there have been a lot of fund raising scandals and stuff and we've talked about it quite a bit.

Harris: You didn't get to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom, did you?

Maher: [laugh] No, I should have. At Ford's I said, "I don't wanna make any judgements about this fund raising stuff, but when we were at the White House today...cash bar!"

Harris: [laughs] And Mom had to be very impressed. I know what it's like to be in comedy and in show business and you know Moms sometimes just don't get that impressed. And then you take her to the White House. She must have been blown away.

Maher: She was. It's hard to convince my mother sometimes that I'm even in show business.

Harris: Yeah, I know.

Maher: You know how Moms are. But I think this was a good thing for her, just to see that her son with his little TV show actually got invited to the White House. It gave me a lot of credibility with her.

Harris: That's great. Well, the show is doing terrifically...

Maher: But you know what? It's not on at the right time here.

Harris: We keep putting pressure on Channel 7 to change that. We're your biggest boosters here.

Maher: I mean of all the places where we should be on at the right time, I figure Washington, DC...come on!

Harris: You're pushed back a half hour because of Extra. I know you think of this as a town that loves politics, but really we love infotainment!

Maher: [laughs] No, because I know people here who call me all the time and say "Bill, you've got to get the show on at the right time. They're putting Extra on, it's silly." I appreciate your efforts and anyone out there who can write them and help me.

Harris: The guy's name is Terry Connelly. He's the guy who runs Channel 7. You can call and write and put the pressure on, like we've done ourselves.

Maher: Oh, good. I appreciate that.

Harris: And of course in return I expect to be a guest on your show next time you come to Washington.

Maher: You know that could be as early as May.

Harris: Really?

Maher: That's right. We figure the only way we're going to get the right time slot is to come here. [laughs] No, I wanna come here anyway, I love this town. The establishment here is not too fond of me, and the newspaper and so forth.

Harris: Yeah, I know.

Maher: But I've always loved playing here, and I love being here. It's a beautiful place. Look, I'm hoping for May sweeps to convince ABC, I think they're going to go for it.

Harris: Well, that will be great. So don't invite Tom Shales. Instead you invite me -- and Terry Connelly from Channel 7. [laughs]

Maher: Tom Shales...I don't even think he knows I'm on. He's never written about our show.

Harris: No, he hasn't.

Maher: The Washington Post has, but I guess he's been conspicuously absent.

Harris: He's too busy writing that brilliant review of Pauly!

Maher: [laughs] Right.

Harris: Anyway, continued good luck with the show.

Maher: Thank you very much. I'll see ya soon.

Harris: It's always great to talk to you, Bill. By the way, on our home page I now have a link to your home page.

Maher: Oh, great!

Harris: So our listeners who click into our place can then go over to yours. The ABC one. And I'm real happy for your success. It's great to see a friend doing well.

Maher: Thanks, it's nice to hear. Right back at you.

Harris: And thanks for calling in this morning. Talk to you soon, take care.

Maher: Bye bye.

Harris: That's Bill Maher. He's on ABC-TV weeknights at 12:35am, a half hour after Nightline goes off. So stick around through Extra to catch Bill with Politically Incorrect. That's what VCR's are made for in my house.

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Nicci Murphy.