The Eighteenth Season

The Eighteenth Season

James gives you a peek into the show's next season, discusses Bradley Cooper's sexy pedigree, and answers a few questions.

A splendid New Year to you all -- healthy and exciting and, if possible for every one of us, prosperous.

2012 marks one more significant milestone, not just for us at Inside the Actors Studio, but for television: we're entering our eighteenth season, which places us near the top of the list of the longest running series in television history. That is, to me, nothing short of miraculous when you consider that we began as a master-class in a Master's Degree program, the Actors Studio Drama School. . .and we are still a master's class in the Actors Studio Drama School, happily housed in New York's Pace University.

It's no secret that television has been famously wary of shows set in academia -- but in our case, the Bravo Network, and our viewers in 94 million homes in America and 125 countries around the world, have generously defied the taboo -- and the odds -- so, here we are, happily celebrating our eighteenth year by welcoming George Clooney to our stage for the first time, with more exciting guests to come as the season rolls on.

You'll be able to see the Clooney episode at 8 pm, January 31 on Bravo, and I urge you to join us for an in-depth conversation with a star of the first magnitude and an actor of great scope and skill, as both The Ides of March, which he wrote and directed and in which he stars, and The Descendants, in which he gives what some critics have called his greatest performance, head full-speed for the award season.

As always, I welcome these blogs as an opportunity to respond to some of you who have been kind enough to comment in the space provided by Bravo with my blog.

To Hobbits: Your response to the Bradley Cooper episode mirrors my own and that of our students, which was, I think evident when you watched it. You weren't alone, Hobbits. Few of the more than 250 episodes of Inside, with its roster of stars, have equaled the explosive public response to Coop's appearance -- on the very stage before which he sat mesmerized when he was a student in our school.

He is our first, and surely not our last, student to vault into the stratosphere of our profession, but he is the first to be declared The Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. Lest anyone reading this misunderstand, our school doesn't offer a course in "Sexiness," but, as his fellow students will attest, that's something that arrived with him when he crossed our threshold, and nothing we taught him in any way diminished it.

Mainly he's a hugely gifted, and we maintain superbly trained, actor who proves the common wisdom that when you combine natural gifts and strong technique, what comes out is. . .well, Bradley Cooper.

To Phyllis Apple: Needless to say, I'm glad you enjoyed my memoir Inside Inside. In answer to your question, the fact is, you can hear quite a number of the songs I've written in the cast album of my musical, Sherry!, starring Nathan Lane, Bernadette Peters, Carol Burnett, Tommy Tune, and Mike Myers, which we recorded a few years ago after the score, which had been lost for more than three decades, turned up in the Library of Congress.

As for my nightclub act, I'm afraid you'd need a time-transporter to take you back to the heyday of the nightclub Bon Soir where, once upon a time, Barbra Streisand sang for the ages, and I sang briefly, and memorably only, I'm afraid, to me.

But many thanks for asking.

To Tim B.: Whom would I like to have interviewed if I could avail myself of the time-transporter mentioned above? Well, Charlie Chaplin, to begin with; and reaching way back, a couple of actors and playwrights named Shakespeare and Moliere; and reaching way way back, a Greek guy named Euripedes, and, for a few laughs, a fellow named Aristophanes. Why not dream big?

Until the next time, please continue responding to my blog. I learn a lot from your correspondence.

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