PIERS MOR­GAN

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - PUZZLE TIME -

FRI­DAY, MAY 4

TUES­DAY, MAY 1

The Dalai Lama, who be­came ruler of Ti­bet in 1950, is the world’s sec­ond­longest- serv­ing leader of any kind — re­li­gious, po­lit­i­cal or royal. Only King Rama IX of Thai­land, who was crowned in 1946, beats him. The Queen of Eng­land comes third, with 60 years on the throne, and Fidel Cas­tro fourth with 53 years in power.

What makes the Dalai Lama, who I in­ter­viewed for CNN, rather dif­fer­ent to the oth­ers is that he’s never had a drink, drug, cig­a­rette or sex. Nor does he watch TV, movies or even lis­ten to mu­sic. He doesn’t email or use a com­puter, and still hasn’t quite worked out how to use a mo­bile phone. All of which prob­a­bly ex­plains why he looks so ab­surdly healthy at the age of 76.

‘Have you heard of Si­mon Cow­ell?’ I asked at one stage.

Be­mused, he turned to his in­ter­preter, and asked: ‘What IS that?’

He was equally amus­ing about his vow of celibacy. I asked him, ‘Do you ever feel tempted by women?’

‘Oh yes, some­times,’ he chuck­led. ‘You see some­one and think, “This is very nice!” But then . . . I al­ways re­mem­ber . . . that I am a monk.’

I’d been warned that if the Dalai Lama sat back in the in­ter­view, it meant he was bored. ‘I’m en­cour­aged to see you’ve been sit­ting for­ward, your Ho­li­ness,’ I told him to­wards the end. ‘Does this mean you’ve been en­joy­ing the in­ter­view?’

‘I like the fact you speak with feel­ing,’ he replied. ‘And I love your ac­cent.’

Per­haps the most sur­pris­ing rev­e­la­tion came when I asked him to name the most im­pres­sive world leader he’d ever met. ‘As an in­di­vid­ual, I love Pres­i­dent Bush.’ ‘Which one?’ ‘The younger one. Not as a Pres­i­dent — I had some reser­va­tion with his poli­cies. But as a hu­man be­ing, I found him a very nice per­son. I love him.’

This is the cu­ri­ous con­tra­dic­tion about Ge­orge W Bush. He was one of the most di­vi­sive, war-mon­ger­ing Pres­i­dents in mod­ern his­tory — yet nu­mer­ous peo­ple who met him have said ex­actly the same thing to me about his per­sonal like­abil­ity. I don’t, you may be un­sur­prised to learn, re­ceive many hon­ours. In fact, I think the last one may have been 16 years ago when I was awarded a prize for ‘Least Con­struc­tive Con­tri­bu­tion To An­gloGer­man Re­la­tions’ for my ‘ACH­TUNG SUR­REN­DER!’ front page dur­ing that sum­mer’s Euro ’96 foot­ball tour­na­ment. But tonight, I was guest of hon­our at a gala din­ner in Los An­ge­les thrown by Britweek — an or­gan­i­sa­tion that cel­e­brates all things Bri­tish in Hol­ly­wood.

It was held, ap­pro­pri­ately, at the Bev­erly Wil­shire Pretty Woman ho­tel — where I spent two years of my life. Five hun­dred guests turned up, pay­ing £10,000 a ta­ble (all pro­ceeds to an LA chil­dren’s char­ity), and it was all rather splen­did. Well, nearly all.

As I flicked through the brochure, I stum­bled across some hi­lar­i­ous ‘tributes’. Sharon Os­bourne ob­served: ‘Piers is one of the most pompous, ar­ro­gant, ego­tis­ti­cal, and vain peo­ple that I’ve ever met. Lucky for him, his lit­er­ary tal­ent is even larger than his hu­mon­gous head.’

Ricky Ger­vais con­tin­ued the theme: ‘I feel so happy and hon­oured to know Piers Mor­gan. Now, when my friends and fam­ily tell me I am the most an­noy­ing man in the world, I can smugly cor­rect them.’ Even with praise came barbs. ‘Piers re­cently, and bril­liantly, con­ducted two in-depth in­ter­views with me,’ said Rod Ste­wart, promis­ingly, ‘but failed to make me cry on ei­ther oc­ca­sion.’

Richard Bran­son, a pre­vi­ous hon­ouree, said: ‘Con­grat­u­la­tions. You’ve joined a very se­lect group.’ Then added: ‘Be­have your­self.’ Thank God for Don­ald Trump, per­haps the only one to fully en­cap­su­late the spirit of the event: ‘ Piers has an in­tel­li­gence that can scope any per­son­al­ity or topic with an un­canny ease. His wis­dom and in­sight were put on dis­play on the Celebrity Ap­pren­tice, no one could deny his su­pe­rior per­for­mance, and that goes for ev­ery­thing he does. He’s a true cham­pion.’ Ex­actly.

The en­ter­tain­ment, MC’D su­perbly by Day­break’s Ross King, had a suit­ably Bri­tish theme. Jerry Springer, who’s Amer­i­can but was born in a north London Tube sta­tion dur­ing the war, in­tro­duced me with com­mend­able un­der­state­ment: ‘When I grow up, I want to be Piers. If he had been alive in 1776, the Brits might have won.’

Kather­ine Jenk­ins beau­ti­fully sang the God­fa­ther theme tune, Parla Piu Pi­ano, in per­fect Ital­ian — even blow­ing me kisses like Marilyn (who she closely re­sem­bles) did for JFK (who I don’t re­sem­ble in the slight­est) on his birth­day.

Then Jackie Collins mas­ter­fully grilled me in a man­ner so se­duc­tively sala­cious that I may be out of a job soon. ‘What’s your favourite sex­ual po­si­tion?’ she purred at one stage, to gasps from the crowd. ‘The Jackie Collins,’ I re­torted. ‘Jack Ni­chol­son told me it’s his favourite too.’

SATUR­DAY, MAY 5

I was a crazed fan of the Rocky movies as a young­ster. There was some­thing so up­lift­ing about the street bum with a dream who be­came world heavy­weight cham­pion. Prob­a­bly be­cause it was so true to life — that’s the same path trod­den by so many great box­ers.

My ob­ses­sion once led me to watch the first four Rocky movies back-to-back in my lo­cal fleapit cinema — more than six hours of slug­ging, cries of ‘Adrian’ and that Eye Of The Tiger theme mu­sic. Bliss.

Over the years, I’ve got to know Sylvester Stal­lone — in­ter­view­ing him nu­mer­ous times, and par­ty­ing with him oc­ca­sion­ally. Sly tells anec­dotes bet­ter than any other script­less ac­tor I’ve met. He’s hi­lar­i­ous. This morn­ing, I got a call invit­ing me to watch the big Floyd May­weather fight at the Stal­lone res­i­dence in Bev­erly Hills. He lives in a ram­bling gated es­tate, home to some of the big­gest stars in the world, in­clud­ing Den­zel Washington and Eddie Mur­phy.

The lat­ter was hav­ing his own May­weather party, as I could tell from the 100 wait­ers in white suits stand­ing out­side his place, mar­shalling limos. ‘This is the house that Rocky built,’ Sly de­clared, as he led me through his palat ial man­sion. His screen­ing room re­sem­bled a lux­u­ri­ous mini- cinema. And as we sat there, smok­ing Monte Cristo cigars, drink­ing fine red wine, and watch­ing the fight, my mind drifted back to my lo­cal picture House all those years ago, and I smirked con­tent­edly to my­self. Time for my ego to be pricked.

‘Do you watch nor­mal TV in here?’ I asked. ‘Of course. I watch your show all the time.’ ‘Re­ally?’ ‘Re­ally.’ Pause. ‘Have you any con­cept,’ he laughed, ‘of just how mas­sive your head is when it ap­pears on this screen?’

Be­low: The Dalai Lama, who was a guest on Piers’ CNN show last week

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