'Inside' the Oscars

James Lipton discusses the Oscars, and Bradley Cooper's emotional return to the Actors Studio.

Did you watch the Oscars? Inside the Actors Studio was "there," as it is every year. This time five of the nominees, and two of the winners, were Inside the Actors Studio alumni. During the weeks when the Academy voters were marking their ballots, we shot and aired James Franco and Colin Firth, and previously we had shot and aired Natalie Portman, Jeff Bridges, and Mark Ruffalo.

All of them were nominated, James co-hosted the Oscars, and, as you know, Colin and Natalie took home the Best Actor honors. We take a certain amount of pride in this. And the common wisdom in Hollywood is that we're entitled to some of the credit. Some movie studios and PR firms have expressed the view that our show is the most reliable path to the Oscar because of the number of Academy voters who watch it.

Maybe I'm exaggerating our importance, but the fact is that every November the calls and emails start coming in to our office: "Can we get Ms. X or Mr. Y on Inside the Actors Studio during the Academy voting period?" We do everything we can to accommodate them, and they usually win. One year, when the names were announced, it turned out that we had aired all four acting winners, Leading and Supporting, so maybe there's a connection. I hope you'll forgive me for thinking there is.

Most of all, I hope you enjoyed these remarkable artists on our show. And I hope that you'll take the time to watch Bradley Cooper on March 14. I wrote about the "Cooper experience" in my last blog. If you read it, you know that he's a graduate of the Actors Studio Drama School which is the setting, and the heart, of our series. And he is the first graduate to come to our stage as a bona fide star.

Once upon a time, ten years ago, Bradley was one of those master's degree candidates out there in our audience questioning the guest in the classroom session that concludes each show. I hope I'm not giving away too much of the upcoming episode when I tell you that you'll see a clip of Bradley posing questions to some of the guests who appeared when he was in the student audience. One of them is Robert De Niro, who responds to Bradley with, "Good question."

And now Bradley's episode concludes with clips from his new film, Limitless in which he co-stars with. . .Robert De Niro.

So, it seems that our school can be as rewarding to our students as our show is to our guests.

A word to those of you who take the time and trouble to respond to this blog. I read (gratefully) every one of your communications. I wish I could respond to each of you, but time doesn't allow it. Here, however, are a few responses.

To singleindixie: My wife agrees with you. The last thing she says to me as I leave for the taping is, "Smile!" The fact is that all my life people have been asking me, "What's wrong?" when I'm perfectly content, which has led me to the conclusion that my face in repose is as gloomy as Will Ferrell sees and portrays it. I know it does no good to insist that I'm happy, no matter how somber I look. I should just smile more. So, next time you see me smile on the show, singleindixie, you can take credit for it.

To DJW: The Inside the Actors Studio you see on Bravo is pretty much uncensored. The network's good about that -– within limits. You can find the unbleeped, uncensored answers to my "What's your favorite curse word?" question, in my memoir Inside Inside. It's pretty steamy, especially when the women cut loose.

To Mejc from Slovenia: How do you "know for a fact" that the substance Ricky Gervais was referring to was snuff? Is snuff commonplace in Slovenia? I've never encountered any here, and wouldn't know whether to light it, inhale it or chew it. What Ricky was referring to was a blackcurrant pastille for the throat. Grether's makes them in England, in the little "golden shiny box" you admired, so you can probably get them in Slovenia.

To Melanie A. Stinson: I'm glad you're enjoying Inside Inside, and especially glad that we shared the Benjamin Harvarvy ballet experience. I agree with you that he was a remarkable teacher. You mention a connection to Detroit and a "divine mystery." Right on! Write on.

Until the next blog…

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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 Bravotv.com, 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.

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