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Sometimes, TV stars can shock with their straight talk

Saturday, July 26, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

HOLLYWOOD -- Celebrities say the darndest things, even in staged press conferences where they're surprisingly willing to bite the hands that feed them.

Smoking out a cameo

Cheech Marin stars in Fox's "The Ortegas" this fall, and he said frequent collaborator Tommy Chong might be a guest star "if his ankle bracelet will reach that far. It's a question of range at this point."

Chong pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh in May to distributing drug paraphernalia on the Internet through a family company.

Reverse 'Queer Eye'

Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" takes five gay guys who help a straight schmo make over his life. But what if it were a gay guy shown how to survive the rough, tough manly-macho world?

"It's called high school," said Carson Kressly, the show's blond fashion expert.

"We've been through that. Didn't like it," said Thom Filicia, design guru.

"If you were to do that, we'd play catch a lot better than we do right now," added food and wine connoisseur Ted Allen.

It's a dirty job...

Ron Silver plays a pornographer in the fall Fox drama "Skin," and he's ready to dig into the role.

"Most of the parts in the characters I've done, I really enjoy the process of the investigation and probing the characters, whether it's Alan Dershowitz or Henry Kissinger," Silver said. "And I'm looking forward to doing my due diligence on this."

Harsh!

"A chimpanzee will help select the winning number of the richest game show in the history of the world," said WB publicist/stand-up comic Keith Marder of The WB's Sept. 14 special "Play for a Billion." "We got this idea from Fox, where Monica Lewinsky helped select 'Mr. Personality.' ... All I can hope is the chimp we use in 'Play for a Billion' is smarter than the one that wrote all the 'Sabrina' episodes this season."

Tackling the competition

"They say that deaths come in threes," Marder said, continuing his recent stand-up routine. "First Buddy Hackett, then Buddy Ebsen. I was sure UPN was next. I mean, I can't believe that UPN outlived Strom Thurmond."

The things you learn

John W. Dean III, former White House counsel to President Richard Nixon, is interviewed as part of PBS's "Watergate Plus 30: Shadow of History," airing at 8 p.m. July 30. Though he learned from his role in that scandal, he's also learned about the TV business working as a commentator, particularly during the Clinton impeachment proceedings.

"I actually spent more time back in Washington working for MSNBC as a so-called 'anchor buddy,' " Dean said. "And I learned what an anchor buddy is: It's when the anchor can't think of anything to say, he turns to his buddy and hopes he'll say something intelligent."

It's all about quality -- mostly

Ron Howard is one of the executive producers of "Arrested Development," a new Fox comedy that's gotten positive critical buzz. He said his company develops projects, not products.

"We find stories and characters that we're interested enough in to throw our energies behind," Howard said. "OK, 'Problem Child 2,' maybe that's a product. But '1,' that came from the heart!"

Truer words ...

Actor Benjamin McKenzie is a Hollywood neophyte starring in the new series "The O.C.," but he has a keen self-awareness of where his show falls in the TV firmament.

"Listen, we're not doing Chekov or Ibsen," he said during a press conference. "This is a drama on Fox."

Watch your language!

While accepting honors at the Television Critics Association Awards last weekend, "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart uttered a few profanities. Afterward, the sci-fi miniseries "Taken" won an award and Stewart saw its star, 9-year-old Dakota Fanning, take to the stage. Later, he returned to the podium to collect a second award.

"When I gave the last vulgarity-laced acceptance speech, I didn't realize there was a little adorable girl in here," Stewart said. "I would just like to say, 'Stay in school,' and 'Sometimes daddy gets angry and he says things that are bad.' "

Stewart also poked fun at current events.

"There is a silver lining to the Kobe Bryant case, and I think it's within the medical community. You know, years ago, after that knee operation, it would be six to eight weeks before you could even consider committing a sexual assault."

Child's play

In the new CBS comedy "Two-and-a-Half Men," 10-year-old actor Angus T. Jones plays the son of Jon Crier, but which of the two is more the child remains in question.

"Look at that kid, He's great. He had a problem with gas," Cryer joked. "He has a lot of gas. Other than that, he's a very good kid. Actually, Warner Bros. had to install giant industrial turbines on our stage just to aerate the stage. A huge amount of methane he produces. That's why President Bush did not sign the Kyoto Protocol, because the amount of methane this child [emits]."

Jones laughed through Cryer's extemporaneous rant, then replied, "All I know is you were the one who farted first."


Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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