‘Let’s Make A Deal’ Strains Wayne Brady to the Point of Doctor Care
"Having 300 people yelling your name is harder vocally and physically than I ever imagined," says the actor/singer/comedian/game show emcee. "Trying to be heard in front of hundreds of screaming people is more difficult than one could realize."
He adds, "There's nothing more draining then having a whole room of people wanting to be picked. Everyone is there to have fun, but by the end of the day, it's about money, and that almost always brings on desperation in some people."
He continues, "Some people are there to have a blast; others because it's their last chance, and they may be there to win money for mortgage payments. They might get mad at me for picking the wrong door. It's an amazing study in humanity."
Brady says that compared to "Let's Make A Deal," the "Don't Forget the Lyrics" show he hosted was a cinch.
"With 'Lyrics,' we could crank out five shows a day. 'Let's Make A Deal' is a bigger, more elaborate show and takes a lot longer to shoot."
"Deal" has put such a strain on Wayne that he is under a doctor's supervision, and there are times when he is on ordered vocal rest. He has no idea how much longer the ordeal will continue.
"I am the host — they don't tell me anything," he reveals. "All I know is that we're shooting for the next five weeks, and then I don't know when or if we're coming back. We haven't gotten a pickup order yet."
THE BIG-SCREEN SCENE: With Timothy Olyphant's first-rate "Justified" series launching this week, producer Graham Yost had blue rubber WWED bracelets sent out to members of the press. The letters stand for "What Would Elmore Do?" as in author Elmore Leonard, on whose work the show is based. Yost says the writers are so enamored of Leonard's style, WWED is their mantra while penning scripts.
Filmmaker Charlie Matthau is another of Hollywood's vast legion of Leonard devotees — and the man who aims to bring Leonard's "Freaky Deaky" before the cameras this summer after a long and winding journey through development hell. He calls "Freaky Deaky" "my passion project — Elmore Leonard's favorite and best novel. For years, I've been tracking it. Quentin Tarantino optioned it after 'Pulp Fiction,'" Matthau recounts. "He developed a script, but didn't write it. Then we got very lucky because Quentin decided to do 'Rum Punch' instead. That turned into 'Jackie Brown,' so he did let the option go on 'Freaky Deaky.' Then John Malkovich got hold of it, so again, I thought I would never get it. But John is involved in so many different projects, a couple of years went by, and the option lapsed."
Matthau, whose work includes the critically admired "Grass Harp" and "Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love," was just about ready to camp out on Leonard's doorstep at that point. "About the time Elmore was about to turn 90, he was hearing from yours truly at least once a month, nagging him for the rights. I think partially to get rid of me, he gave it to me."
Matthau (son of the late Walter Matthau) has since turned his persevering ways toward financing and has come a long way in that regard, he tells us. Also, he has a lineup of actors who've expressed a desire to be involved. Again, that Leonard cachet is a powerful lure in Hollywood. He'd especially like Chris Tucker. "It's almost like Elmore was channeling him when he wrote this in 1988. If you went to God and said, 'Create a script for Chris Tucker that is perfect for him,' this is what He'd come up with."
Or at least, what Elmore Leonard came up with.
FROM THE INSIDE LOOKING OUT: Standup comedian Jim Norton, who's a sidekick on the Opie and Anthony radio show, gets to meet famous people every day, but he tells us he still gets starstruck when meeting some of the greats. "I completely do. I am a boob," says Norton with a laugh. "KISS were at Sirius doing something else, and I know Gene (Simmons) because I roasted him and Paul (Stanley) recognized me because he knows my act. Gene was just being casual with me because we've spoken quite a few times, and even though I know those guys know me, I literally couldn't talk. I'm just a blithering idiot around people I admire," he admits. "But that's the fun part of the job. It's just great to be able to sit down and talk to my heroes."
MULTIMEDIA STARS: Looks like juggling time for Lucy Liu, who is busy with her Broadway role in "God of Carnage" — and is also set to play Andrea in "East Fifth Bliss," which goes into production mid-April starring "Dexter's" Michael C. Hall. "Bliss" was originally expected to go before the cameras last fall. The indie black comedy has Hall playing a 35-year-old man who gets romantically involved with a former classmate's 18-year-old daughter.
And feature filmmaker Brett Ratner's thinking small screen right now; he's about to shoot the pilot for "Chaos," his Fox TV drama starring Freddy Rodriguez with Tim Blake Nelson on board. Casting notices have it that the show deals with rogue CIA operatives "who combat bureaucratic gridlock, rampant incompetence and political infighting." Obviously, it's a fantasy, folks.
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster
To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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