Angry Lewis Black Is Still Angry

Categories: Interviews

Part of me selfishly thinks "I might be able to get on the show!" But I think he's a tremendous choice. What he did on television is in the realm of...there's not a lot of people who can create that kind of a breakthrough. He's literally in the category of Sid Caesar or Ernie Kovacs in terms of breaking open the mold. What Ernie Kovacs did was remarkable; what Stephen did was to create a consistent character and bring that character to bear on a news/informational show. It's beyond belief!

It's interesting to see how the nature of the that Comedy Central programming--The Daily Show and Colbert--how it's really taken hold. You can't really imagine the TV landscape without them.

Right! I think what Jon did also with that show is in that category, but Stephen--in terms of acting--is totally unique. He's someone I'm hoping takes the late-night show and flips it on its head. Because as much as I know about the tragedy of white men doing this--it's all white guys doing these shows, except for Arsenio [Hall]--is it's the same fucking "show" show. It's 20 minutes of funny, and the other 20 is somebody selling shit.

What changes would you like to see him make?

I'd like to see him make fun of that bullshit. It's the fifth interview with George Clooney; it's the third interview with Sandra Bullock. You know what I mean? It's like, "Are you kidding?" But they can tell you what appearances will make a difference in how many people they deliver, and it's crazy. So I hope he tweaks it a little so there's not a sense that I'm watching, you know, "...and here's a clip!"

"And here's a funny story about making the movie!"
"And boy, he was really great to work with!" I mean, I just did it a few times in my life as an actor, and George Clooney is astonishing at it, just astonishing. I watch him almost insistently, because I've never seen anybody work it and seem to give a great energy to it. To me, it was like I was in some sort of North Korean prison camp: "I don't like the movie, I don't like myself, I don't like anyone! I'm sorry we made the movie! If I'd known this is what we were going to do when the movie was over, I'd shoot myself!"

And that doesn't play well, huh?
[Laughs]

You mentioned acting. With people who are already famous, TV and movie stars, taking parts on Broadway, is it now harder to make it as a New York Theater artist?
I think there's definitely been a shift in terms of...it's like we're going to take a property that we own--Paramount, MGM, whatever--and try to turn it into a musical, because we own the property. There's that stuff... the Rent phenomenon or Hair is much rarer. The people who are appearing on Broadway, it's certainly easier to get something up that's star-driven so they can put an eight- to ten- to twelve-week thing on so that they sell the tickets. So that makes it tough.

But I think what makes it harder for the young theater artists in New York is the fact that they've been driven out by rents. It's tough to live in Bushwick with the rent they're charging if you come out of college!

I'm telling you, it's the off-off-off Broadway where you're going to still--and we always found--where the young theater artist is going to arise from. I don't think that's going to die anytime soon.


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