Making History

James discusses the records 'IAS' is breaking and examines the amazing bond between Brad Pitt and George Clooney.

In my last blog I predicted that we were about to make history. Maybe not world-shaking history, but certainly history for Inside the Actors Studio, and perhaps for television.

And so it is coming to pass. . .

On January 9, on our Actors Studio Drama School stage at Pace University, we shot until 11 p.m. with George Clooney. Working at what was then record speed, we edited a two-hour episode and aired it January 31-- at precisely the moment when Brad Pitt was walking onto that same stage to shoot his episode of Inside the Actors Studio. Each of them sharing his life and life's work with our students for the first time, and each of them hitting the ball (to borrow a term from Brad's film Moneyball) out of the park. Ten days after Brad's live appearance, on February 10, shattering all our previous records, we will have edited his episode and he'll be on the air, matching George revelation for revelation, hilarity for hilarity, and perception for perception.

Each of the two evenings set several records -- for live audience, with lines snaking around the campus in the hope of gaining admission; for the guest's rapport with the students (each left at midnight when I finally had to tell them and the students, who would gladly have stayed with them all night, that early morning classes were looming); and for graciousness, charm, and warmth, in which they ended in a dead heat.

But the record that will be remembered longest by both our students and our viewers across America and around the world is the fact that within the span of ten days two of the most highly esteemed stars in the world can be seen on Bravo, virtually talking to each other as they approach the night when most observers believe one or the other of them will mount the stage to accept the Oscar as Best Actor.

The excitement and drama that will light up this year's Oscar night is there on our stage as they talk about their own work and the work of their friend, colleague, and competitor. When I finally asked Brad whether it was possible that each of them would end up voting for the other, he reflected for a moment, then observed calmly, "I would rather just recuse myself from voting altogether."

I suspect that George will do the same thing. This is a show of mutual respect that isn't normally associated with Hollywood. But it is par for the course with these two superstars and, in the view of our students, super human beings.

I won't reveal here the evening's most hilarious moments when I played a clip of George's claim that he was preparing a practical joke so diabolical that it could end Brad’s career, and Brad responded with the revelation that he had something in the works that would leave George' practical joke -- and George -- in the dust.

Tune in at 8 p.m. February 10 for all the revelations in this unique drama that is making TV history.