Not your ideal host

Yet a pod­cast by Gil­bert Got­tfried — it’s in trou­ble right there — with ag­ing en­ter­tain­ers is ‘Amaz­ing.’

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Paul Brown­field

NEW YORK—“I do ev­ery­thing for pure love,” co­me­dian Gil­bert Got­tfried said. “Noth­ing has to do with fi­nance or self-pro­mo­tion. It’s all love.”

Got­tfried, the squint­ing, hec­tor­ing 60-year-old co­me­dian who can sound like a pet store of up­set macaws, let out a low, un­plugged ver­sion of one of his laugh-roars. It was 10 in the morn­ing in his Chelsea apart­ment, a Mon­day, and Gott fried was just back from a week­end of head lin­ing dates in Port­land and Seat­tle.

His kids— a girl, 8, and a boy, 6 — were at school. The ac­tor Richard Kind was due in an hour, and therewere peo­ple in Got­tfried’s liv­ing room, in­clud­ing his wife, Dara, who co-pro­duces his pod­cast, called “Gil­bert Got­tfried’s Amaz­ing Colos­sal Pod­cast.”

“…and art,” Got­tfried con­tin­ued. “My whole ca­reer is just, neck and neck, art and love.”

There ac­tu­ally is love on the “Amaz­ing Colos­sal Pod­cast” be­cause it’s about some­thing Got­tfried holds dear— the lived lives of show busi­ness. Co-hosted by Frank San­topadre, a for­mer writer on “The View,” the show, avail­able as a weekly iTunes down­load, be­gan a year ago this month. It typ­i­cally con­sists of an hour­long con­ver­sa­tion with an ac­tor or writer, the an­gle be­ing they’re of­ten 70 or older.

On the first episode, Got­tfried and San­topadre in­ter­viewed Dick Cavett, and the book­ings have since skewed older, with Larry Storch of “F Troop” fame (“He’s like 92 and wasn’t our old­est guest,” Got­tfried quipped) as well as film­maker Roger Cor­man, ac­tress Bar­bara Fel­don and New York City talk-show leg­end Joe Franklin.

Franklin died six months af­ter his episode aired. He was 88. This speaks to the pod­cast’s emerg­ing poignancy: Ev­ery­one dies with their sto­ries, and here’s at lea­s­t­one pocket of the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try still tak­ing de­posits.

With all due re­spect to who­ever is guest­ing this week on Co­nan, Kim­mel, Fal­lon, et al, they will not have ac­tor James Karen’s life and ca­reer. At 91, Karen, whom most would re­fer to as a “vet­eran char­ac­ter ac­tor,” came on the pod­cast and told a book’s worth of gems, in­clud­ing about the time he used a two- week break be­tween Broad­way plays, one by Harold Pin­ter and the other by Ed­ward Al­bee, to f ly to Cal­i­for­nia to shoot an in­sur­ance com­mer­cial with the Three Stooges, where he re­cited lines of Shake­speare with Moe Howard.

By San­topadre’s count, the show’s had four guests who ac­tu­ally worked with Buster Keaton.

“Even when I was on ‘ The View,’ if I would pitch some­body like that, the pro­duc­ers would go, ‘ Oh, you want to do a where- are- they- now episode,’” San­topadre said. “That’s peo­ple’s knee- jerk re­ac­tion with the pod­cast too.”

So along with Ken Berry, Chuck McCann and Julie New­mar they also have on younger guests, such as ac­tor Steve Buscemi or a comic with a Twit­ter army like Dave At­tell. A long list of hoped- for guests com­piled by Dara Got­tfried, with notes on their sta­tus, in­cludes Nancy Si­na­tra (“sent msg via Face­book”), Dab­ney Coleman (“looks good”), Ann- Mar­gret (“pass”) and Robert Vaughn (“wants to pass. Re­vealed too much in his book.”).

It could be that guests balk be­cause the show is a pod­cast, the hows and where­fores of which even Got­tfried doesn’t seem to un­der­stand, or that his semi- beloved, semi- con­found­ing comedic per­sona pre­cedes him: The Borscht Belt es­capee ap­pear­ances on Com­edy Cen­tral roasts, the as­so­ci­a­tion with “The Howard Stern Show,” or the tragedy- mi­nus- time Twit­ter jokes about the 2011 Ja­panese tsunami that cost Got­tfried his gig voic­ing the Aflac duck. Got­tfried more re­cently has been a guest on “The Ap­pren­tice,” done voice work on “Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles” and ap­peared as Abra­ham Lin­coln in Seth MacFar­lane’s movie “A Mil­lion Ways to Die in the West.”

But none of it sug­gests he would be a courtly host.

Women ap­pear on the pod­cast far less fre­quently than men. But the Got­tfried of the “Amaz­ing Colos­sal Pod­cast” isn’t ex­actly the co­me­dian Gil­bert Got­tfried, though the beast lurks. San­topadre, the straight man, asks po­lite, earnest and re­searched ques­tions meant to spark a ca­reer mem­ory and some­times has to res­cue the in­ter­view from Got­tfried’s an­tics ( that in it­self can be worth the price of ad­mis­sion, which is free).

But Got­tfried can also go for long stretches ei­ther be­ing se­ri­ous or not say­ing any­thing at all. As an in­ter­viewer, he brings a lim­ited but ob­ses­sional ar­se­nal that roughly con­sists of apoc­ryphal le­gends about the sex­ual fetishes of by­gone Hol­ly­wood, the oeu­vre of Lon Chaney Jr., and the 1978 TV movie “Bud and Lou,” star­ring Har­vey Kor­man and Buddy Hack­ett as Ab­bott and Costello, re­spec­tively.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, Got­tfried and San­topadre pick up guests at nos­tal­gia shows; they sort of picked each other up that way. In 1996, San­topadre said, when he was liv­ing in L. A., he was on his way to an au­to­graph show when he spot­ted Got­tfried on Ven­tura Boule­vard “wan­der­ing aim­lessly.” Got­tfried, who doesn’t drive, couldn’t re­mem­ber why he was in L. A. that par­tic­u­lar time. Do­ing some TV show, he fig­ured.

San­topadre did a U- turn on Ven­tura and pulled over. Though they had worked to­gether on the stand- up show “Caro­line’s Com­edy Hour,” Got­tfried didn’t re­mem­ber him. “Stand- up comics have this funny thing where you can meet them 20, 30, 40 times and they still have no idea who you are,” San­topadre said.

But they ended up go­ing to the nos­tal­gia con­ven­tion to­gether. It was at the Bev­erly Gar­land Ho­tel. “He got in the car, and I drove him to the show, and he met the orig­i­nal Snow White,” San­topadre said.

Got­tfried, by the end of this anec­dote, was stuck on the name Bev­erly Gar­land. “Bev­erly Gar­land, I think, came to a bad end,” he said.

“She was a scream queen, she might have died,” San­topadre said.

“Who was the one who worked with Cag­ney?” Got­tfried asked.

“Bev­erly Gar­land was the wife on ‘ My Three Sons,’” San­topadre said. “She mar­ried a ho­tel mag­nate and he named the ho­tel af­ter her. She was a ’ 50s scream queen.”

“There was another ac­tress, I think it was Bev­erly some­thing. I think she may have been in ‘ Bride of the Go­rilla’ with Lon Chaney Jr. and Ray­mond Massey,” Got­tfried said. “And she wound up ac­tu­ally be­ing like a hooker, pretty much.”

Kind ar­rived at Got­tfried’s apart­ment wear­ing a back­pack. The pod­cast some­times trav­els — in­clud­ing to peo­ple’s homes or to the Friar’s Club — but Kind wanted to come over and see Got­tfried’s art­work ( the co­me­dian has been draw­ing since his teens).

In a vestibule out­side a bath­room they gazed at a framed car­i­ca­ture of Katharine Hep­burn done by the ac­tress her­self. Hep­burn had given it to Got­tfried when the young comic was work­ing con­ces­sions at the Broad­hurst Theatre in 1976 and Hep­burn was star­ring in the play “A Mat­ter of Grav­ity.”

“I even went over to her house once,” Got­tfried told Kind.

“You know she was neigh­bors with [ Stephen] Sond­heim,” Kind said, then mod­u­lated his voice to a stage whis­per: “Hated each other.”

They re­paired to mi­cro­phones, Kind sit­ting be­tween Got­tfried and San­topadre at the din­ing ta­ble.

A work­man­like ac­tor known for long runs on the sit­coms “Mad About You” and “Spin City,” Kind was some­thing of a ringer guest, a fan of the pod­cast who shares Got­tfried’s pas­sion for ex­ca­vat­ing Baby­lo­nian Hol­ly­wood. With Got­tfried, he was ea­ger to start go­ing tete- a- tete, but he set a dis­ap­point­ing ground rule: He would tell no tales out of school about his good friend Ge­orge Clooney. Ev­ery­one else, like Jose Fer­rer, was fair game.

“Now these may all be lies, by the way,” Kind said af­ter a story about Fer­rer and Dustin Hoff­man in an el­e­va­tor when Hoff­man was made up as his char­ac­ter in “Toot­sie.” “All of these are lies, but they’re en­ter­tain­ing, and no­body’s go­ing to hear them.”

Pod­casts don’t have hard seg­ment breaks. The talk roamed over off- color jokes, anti- Semitic coun­try clubs, et cetera. “Now,” Got­tfried said, “you were in what I con­sider to be a ter­ri­ble movie.” That movie was “Be­witched.” Kind didn’t have much.

But he did have one about au­di­tion­ing for the 1996 re­make of “The Is­land of Dr. Moreau.” “I’m gonna tell you the whole story,” Kind said. “And it’s in three parts. With­out an end­ing.”

Ear­lier, asked how he’d pre­pared for the Kind in­ter­view, Got­tfried said: “I met him once.”

‘ Now these [ sto­ries] may all be lies, by the way. All of these are lies, but they’re en­ter­tain­ing, and no­body’s go­ing to hear them.’


ac­tor on ‘ Amaz­ing Colos­sal Pod­cast’

Carolyn Cole Los An­ge­les Times

GIL­BERT GOT­TFRIED hosts the “Amaz­ing Colos­sal Pod­cast” out of New York.

Carolyn Cole Los An­ge­les Times

GIL­BERT GOT­TFRIED, above, and co­host Frank San­topadre have ram­bling chats with ac­tors and writ­ers, mostly older than 70, about show busi­ness of yore with as many never- told or off- color sto­ries as pos­si­ble.

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