What About Bob?

Sting's Greatest Hits!

The Magical 250th Episode

A Mad Mad Mad 'Mad Men'

Just Get Me There

Making History

The Eighteenth Season

'Inside' the Oscars

Cheers and Tears

A Surprising Discovery

Some Words About Some Music

What Is It Really Like?

Unforseen Pleasures

A Bloomin' Miracle

Some Midwinter Fireworks

The Joys Of Kitsch

A Parade Of Guests

How It All Started

Scarlet Fever

The Horny Manatee

The Strike Is Over!

I Believe I Can Fly

My First Night In Paris

Christmas Past

My First Blog. My First Confession.

What About Bob?

James Lipton responds to his faithful fans and recalls the great Bob Hope.

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm back -- greatly encouraged by your responses to my first two blogs.

In my second blog I expressed my surprise at both the level of interest and acumen of the correspondents who took the time and trouble to weigh in on our Web site. Blogging, I've discovered, is like finding rooms full of friends you didn't know you had.

Thanks, Judith, for your shared admiration of Dickens. And, 1hotgranma, the "OTHER James Lipton" you found in the Bob Hope writing credits doesn't exist. Which is to say, I am that James Lipton -- a product of twelve astonishing years during which I was Executive Producer and one of the writers of Bob's Birthday Special, which took me on a magic carpet ride with Bob to the White House (twice!), all around America, London, Paris, and the Great Wall of China, where I produced the first American entertainment show, "The Road to China," a three-hour special on NBC.

You'll find all the details -- and some startling photographs -- of those unforgettable adventures in my book Inside Inside: But for now, 1hotgranma, and for all the other kind bloggers like Nan and Frank (FYI, Frank, my wife is left-handed , and I once wrote an essay on left-handedness in the "On Language" column of The New York Times), and Vivvy and Bella and all the rest of you, I'd like to include in this blog an excerpt from Inside Inside that describes the magic of those Bob Hope years. In the book, I explain that Bob, like most of the comedians who have come to Inside the Actors Studio's stage, is a night person. In his case, our meetings usually began at eight in the evening, and ended at midnight, at which point Bob was just getting warmed up. So the meeting always ended with "Let's go for a walk."

Whether we walked in Beijing, London, Paris or New York, what occurred was for me a matchless experience, because at that hour of the night, Bob was completely uninhibited -- and much franker than I have ever been able to be. It was my job to listen -- and learn, and here is an account in the book of what happened on one of those occasions:

Of all our walks and talks, the one that stands out took as its setting the deserted streets of Palm Springs, under a canopy of stars so thick and lustrous they looked as if they might collapse and smother us in diamonds. Bob had examined all the shop windows that interested him, and it appeared we'd run out of conversation as well, but Bob wasn't ready to call it a night. Casting about for topics, we came up with the hoary filler: If you could live in any other time and place than this, what would it be?

Bob considered the court of Louis XIV -- provided he could be Louis; I mulled Periclean Greece, Quattrocento Florence and Elizabethan England, rejecting them all finally for the poor quality of their medical care -- then suddenly I stopped dead with "I've got it!"

Bob turned to me, waiting, and I said, "I'd like to have been a star in Hollywood in the nineteen thirties."

Bob's response was unequivocal. "It was Paradise."

The next hour was one of the most entertaining of my life, as Bob strolled through the desert night, recalling Hollywood's Golden Age. "We didn't know it was Paradise. We just took it for granted. Everybody else had problems. The country was broke, but we were doing okay -- and no taxes!" Bob's eyes glittered in the starlight.

He relived riotous croquet games with Chaplin and Fairbanks and Pickford and Harpo. He described Will Rogers galloping along the bridle path that bisected Sunset Boulevard -- and that recollection reminded him of the Beverly Hills Hotel. "You know why they built those bungalows? To keep their stars out of trouble. Privacy!" he confided with a wink. "What happened back there was nobody's business. The studios made sure their bread and butter stayed out of trouble. And if you got in trouble, they got you out."

In Bob's account, Hollywood was alive and young and (moderately) innocent again, MGM was making good on its boast of "more stars than there are in the heavens," the Trocadero and the Brown Derby were crowded with America's idols, Palm Springs was a remote, private oasis for those fortunate few. Fred and Ginger danced across the desert floor that night, and Hope and Benny brought the populace together in front of their radios to laugh their troubles away. Plumbing his phenomenal memory, Bob replayed his favorite radio shows -- monologues that told the story of that time and place, sketches with Bing and Skelton and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. "Can you imagine? A ventriloquist -- on radio!" he exulted. As magically as the shepherds of Mycenae had once revived the Greece of 1200 B.C. for me, Bob resurrected the Hollywood of the thirties. It wasn't surreal. It was better than that. It was real: I discovered I was right about the blessings of being a star in Hollywood in the thirties because that night in Palm Springs one of them ebulliently took me there.

Inside Inside is about the heroes of my life, and Bob Hope is certainly one of them. There are many more in the book, but no room for them in this week's blog. Maybe next time, but until then, please let me know what you're thinking ... because, as you see, that starts me thinking.

The Magical 250th Episode

James lets you know how you the viewer can shape the show's record-shattering episode.

The amazing journey of Inside the Actors Studio continues at an accelerating pace.


We are entering our Nineteenth Season, shattering our own record for cable TV longevity.

We have received out fifteenth Emmy nomination, another record.

We are celebrating these milestones with yet one more record: our 250th Episode.

And just to add another layer of icing to the cake, this will be an Inside the Actors Studio episode unlike any of the preceding 249.

Why? Because this time, you, our viewers in 94,000,000 homes across America on Bravo, and in 125 countries around the world, are going to cast it.

Over the years since 1994, we've had thousands of viewer responses to the show, on the internet, in the media and even -- and often -- on the street and in every conceivable public space, where I'm approached by kind strangers with, "My favorite show was. . ." "My favorite moment was. . ." "My favorite guest was. . ."

So, when my Bravo colleagues and I gathered around a table to ask ourselves, "How do we celebrate the 250th?" we realized the answer was staring us in the face: "Let's let those good people who have shared this amazing journey with us take over and pick the best moments, episodes, and guests of the past eighteen years, and we'll reprise them on the 250th, with full on-air credit to the viewer whose proposal we've selected."

Victor Hugo said, "Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come" and clearly this is an idea whose time has come.

And the social networks of cyberspace, another idea whose time has come since we began the series, enable us to reach out to. . .you out there, wherever you are and whatever you think.

So we invite you to share your all-time favorite moment, guest or episode, and the reason for your choice, by commenting here at, on Bravo’s Facebook page, or on Twitter using the hashtag #IAS250. If we choose your response, it will be read on the show, as the introduction of the moment, guest or episode you’ve proposed, signed and certified by you.

It’s as simple as that: you, our viewers are the casting directors of this historic 250th episode -- and your wishes will be our commands.

We await your responses and decisions. Then you and your friends and family can gather before the electronic hearth later this fall to watch an unprecedented cavalcade of stars, chosen -- and presented -- by YOU and your fellow viewers.

In the meantime, happy reminiscing. We’re sure this will be our best show ever because it’s now in your capable hands.