Here comes autumn, with all that implies: renewal, a quickening of the individual and collective pulse, new sights, new sounds, new sensations.
As hard as it is to see summer slip away with its languid joys, the sharp, bright excitements of September compensate for it.
For Inside the Actors Studio the summer was a time of catching up on episodes lost during last winter's strike. Now we're up to speed again, with a parade of guests heading your way: Brooke Shields, Goldie Hawn, Daniel Radcliffe, Dave Chappelle, Anthony Lapaglia, Laura Linney, Ricky Gervais, Christian Slater...for starters.
As we enter our fifteenth season, two startling and, for us, deeply satisfying statistics have emerged: First, the Television Academy informed us as we received our fourteenth Emmy nomination that Inside the Actors Studio has the longest Emmy-Award Nomination streak in television history.
Second, at some point in the coming season, Inside the Actors Studio will become the longest running series in the history of cable television.
Come and celebrate with us, starting with Christian Slater's episode, airing October 13.
Christian's episode marks one of those rare occasions when we taped at another location than our customary one at Pace University in Manhattan. This episode found us nearly 3,000 miles away in the Redcat Theater in Los Angeles's historic Disney Concert Center, with an audience of CalArts students.
This is the third time we've enjoyed CalArts' hospitality, in a valuable and growing relationship between our school and theirs - a collaboration that brings Inside the Actors Studio to their students and enables some of our guests, like Christian, whose schedules preclude a trip to New York, to add their unique presences to our historic series.
As you'll see on October 13, Christian is a remarkably knowledgeable, open and often amusing guest. Did you know he's a Frank Sinatra fan? You will when you watch the show, as he gives us very creditable renditions of two Frank Sinatra standards.
And listen to his account of a turning point in his acting training:
"I did this scene from "Orphans" where I was playing the older brother and I'll tell you, I I got into it. I slept in the park, I chose the character's underwear, I went to the thrift store and bought the guy's clothes and I'm telling you, the amount that that enriched me and filled my soul reawakened and reignited the true beauty and gift of what it is that we get to do, as actors. To get to be able to put somebody else's shoes on, to escape from yourself is the greatest gift you could possibly give yourself as an actor." He speaks movingly of the difficult transition between the innocent child actor and the fully responsible adult, when it happens under the scrutiny of the public magnifying glass: "It was tumultuous but, quite honestly, I had gotten addicted to the drama of it. Drama is something that is just as addictive as drugs or alcohol."
There's more drama - a lot more. Tune in on October 13 and enjoy all of it. Another heads up: Many of you have been kind enough to write and e-mail me about my book "Inside Inside," which came out a year ago. Now it's time for the paperback, which will be launched in November - and since it's become a tradition in these blogs to include a peek at the book, here's this blog's sample, which I chose because this is the time of year when our students at the Actors Studio Drama School of Pace University return to school, and so do many of the viewers of Inside the Actors Studio and the readers of "Inside Inside," This excerpt describes my first school day:In the beginning, I guess I was meant to be a writer. If not, why could I read (uncomprehendingly, to be sure) when I was one and a half? That claim is usually met with derision (with which there's a good chance it's being met at this moment), but I can only report what my mother told me. She was a teacher and my father was a poet, and my assumption has always been that he just couldn't wait for me to be able to read his poetry, so the reading lessons began in the nursery. I suppose, with enough effort and patience, you can teach an infant to do practically anything, as you'd teach tricks to a dog or an organ-grinder's monkey. My mother wasn't given to what Mark Twain called "stretchers," and when I, as an adult, joined the doubters about my precocity, she offered two proofs. The first concerned a trip to the pediatrician that, according to my mother, nearly cost me my life as it was barely beginning. Since my father was a professional poet, we were always a little short of the ready, to put it bluntly--and mildly. Therefore, when a pediatric visit was scheduled, my mother, who had to be at school at the appointed hour, called upon her brother, who owned a car (which we decidedly didn't), to drive me there, wait at the doctor's office and, on his return, deliver me to the doorman of our apartment building, who would take me up to our apartment, where Mother would by this time be waiting. Mother reported that her brother rolled down the window on the passenger side and handed me through it, an infant in swaddling, to the doorman. This was one of Mother's proofs, confirmed by my uncle: a package small enough to pass through a car window couldn't be older than a year and a half. In Mother's account, I looked up at the doorman and read the name on his cap, "Lee Plaza," and the doorman dropped me (with, I think, arguable justification. Kids bounce: I was delivered to Mother only a little the worse for wear. The doorman may have taken longer to recover. At three, I was "writing" poetry, in the bardic, oral tradition, every awful lay faithfully transcribed by my father. Fortunately, none survive. At five, when I entered kindergarten, my mother received a call informing her with regret that her son appeared to be mentally impaired. When Mother arrived at the school in a state of alarm, she was offered a vantage point from which, unobserved, she could watch me in the classroom. "See?" the kindergarten teacher said. What Mother saw was her son, wandering from one group of children to another as they applied crayons to coloring books, or constructed houses from blocks, or built sand castles. I would watch listlessly, my hands behind my back, then move on, in an unchanging cycle of indifference. "He won't even sit down," the teacher said. Mother breathed a sigh of relief. "Give him a book," she said. "He'll sit down." They did, I did, and Mother went off to her school.
I wish all our Actors Studio students, and all students everywhere, a happy, productive school year.