With an epic marathon of 552 (!) episodes of “The Simpsons” launching this week (on cable channel FXX), Gilbert and Frank decided to sit down with someone who’s been there from the very beginning (way back in 1988), writer, producer and former show runner, Mike Reiss. Mike joined the boys in Gilbert’s Chelsea apartment to share a few “dark secrets” behind TV’s longest-running prime time series, including the true story behind Itchy & Scratchy, how Groundskeeper Willie became a national hero, and why Marge’s bouffant is so tall (bet you don’t know the story behind that one.) Also, Mike recalls writing fake “letters to Santa” for Johnny Carson and working on one of our all-time favorite sitcoms, “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.” You want more? How about Michael Jackson’s sound-alike, hookers in helicopters and Raymond Burr does Tiny Tim?
“Man of a Thousand Voices” Billy West has lent his unique talents to projects such as “Ren & Stimpy,” Matt Groening’s “Futurama,” “Looney Tunes” cartoons and of course, “The Howard Stern Show,” where he won over longtime listeners with his savagely funny impressions of Larry Fine, former Stern show writer Jackie Martling and late Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott. Gilbert and Frank rang up Billy at his home in Hollywood to compare notes on some of their favorite essential topics, including Bud Abbott, Gale Gordon, Peter Lorre, Al “Grandpa” Lewis, and the racism of Dick Tracy cartoons. PLUS: the true story behind the voice of Dr. Zoidberg! Billy jams with The Beach Boys! Jewish Frankenstein! Angry Munchkins! And Gilbert sings the theme song from “Problem Child”!
Gilbert and Frank return to the famed New York Friars Club to sit down with Gilbert’s old pal, magician-illusionist-comedian-provocateur Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller fame. In an amusing (and highly informative) hour, Penn shares some fond memories of Johnny Carson, George Carlin and Jerry Lewis, explains how his love of jazz inspired the hit 2005 documentary “The Aristocrats” (a movie he co-conceived and co-produced) and reveals the real, no-“B******t” story behind the death of legendary showman Harry Houdini. Also — the story behind the near-death of Gilbert Gottfried!
Before Paar, Carson, Letterman, Leno and Fallon there was Joe Franklin. The talk show legend and showbiz historian is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the host of the longest running talk show in history (43 years and 300,000 guests, give or take) and often credited with inventing the format itself. Gilbert and Frank dropped in on Joe’s infamously cluttered (an understatement!) Times Square office to nosh on chicken salad, dodge falling stacks of collectibles and ask the “King of Nostalgia” about his memories of Charlie Chaplin, Woody Allen, Buster Keaton, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and John Lennon (to name but a few).
Child actor Butch Patrick was barely 11 years old when he was asked to screen test for a CBS “family sitcom” and within hours, his life was forever changed. To mark the 50th Anniversary of the debut of one of TV’s strangest (and most enduring) shows, “The Munsters,” Gilbert rings up Eddie Munster himself to find out how he first landed the part way back in 1964, why the original Marilyn was replaced and if he still has his old “Woof Woof” doll. Also, Butch speaks with surprising candor about overcoming his various demons of booze, drugs and typecasting and tells us where “Lidsville” creators Sid & Marty Krofft found their own “inspiration.” All this, plus memories of Chuck Jones, Mel Blanc, Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Lynde and more!
Millions of movie buffs know Robert Osborne as the elegant, erudite film historian and host of Turner Classic Movies, but few know that he spent time as a struggling actor, was mentored by comedy legend Lucille Ball, and even appeared in the pilot of “The Beverly Hillbillies? — a show he was certain would “never catch on.” A while back, Gilbert sat in as TCM?s “Guest Programmer” and now Robert generously returns the favor by traveling to Manhattan’s Society of Illustrators on an oppressively hot July evening to dish a little dirt and share anecdotes about Hollywood luminaries Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Natalie Wood and Walt Disney (among others).
Gilbert and Frank head to the Greenwich Village apartment of “Roastmaster General” Jeffrey Ross to talk about some of his favorite roasts and roast jokes (he also couldn’t resist the urge to roast his two interviewers). Jeff also recalls his friendships with showbiz icons Buddy Hackett, Bea Arthur, Sid Caesar and Milton Berle, including the time he was treated to a sneak peek of Uncle Miltie’s legendarily large appendage. Also, Gilbert chimes in on his infamous performance at the Hugh Hefner roast and the “Aristocrats” joke that spawned a hit movie.
Throughout the late 1950’s and 60’s, the comedy duo of Allen & Rossi performed to sold-out Vegas crowds, recorded bestselling comedy albums and made hundreds of TV appearances (44 of them on “The Ed Sullivan Show” show). Sadly, Steve Rossi passed away recently but a few weeks back, we tracked down the other half of the legendary team, 92-year-old (and still performing!) Marty Allen, to talk about his 60+ years in the business, his brushes with Elvis and the Beatles and the origin of the duo’s signature catch phrase, “Hello Dere!”