Posts Tagged “Arnold Schwartzenegger”

Charles Durning 2/28/23-12/24/12

His face was known all over the world. Even if you didn’t know the name Charles Durning, you recognized his face. He was in more than 100 films, including “Tootsie” with Dustin Hoffman, “The Sting” with Robert Redford, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, “Dog Day Afternoon” with Al Pacino, and so many more! He was a police chief in “Dick Tracy”, and sold frog legs in “The Muppet Movie”!

He starred on Broadway, and won a Tony for his portrayal of Big Daddy in a 1989 revival of “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof”, and got two Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominations and nine Emmy nominations. He was a beloved character, who in 2008 was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

I met him years ago at a wrap party out in LA, for a film he did with my friend Scott Baio called “Very Mean Men”, with Matthew Modine, Ben Gazzara, Martin Landau, and Burt Young to name a few of the more recognizable names. It was directed by Tony Vitale, who had just directed a film that I wrote with Scott Baio called “Face to Face”.

Scott Baio and Jeffrey Gurian in LA at the wrap party for “Very Mean Men” at Planet Hollywood! Scott was blonde for his role in “Very Mean Men”!

It was a comic drama directed by Ellie Kanner about three young men (Scott Baio as Richie, Thomas Calabro as Philly and Carlo Imperato as Al) who kidnap their emotionally distant fathers, (Dean Stockwell, Alex Rocco, and Joe Viterelli), for a weekend of forced “male bonding.” The movie won the Audience Prize for Best Comedy at the Marco Island Film Festival, the Silver Screen Accolade in the Reno Film Festival and the 10 Degrees Hotter Best Feature Award during the Valley Film Festival. It was also chosen as the opening night film for the Taos New Mexico Talking Picture Festival.

I missed a couple of those because my Dad was terminally ill at the time, and I wanted to be here for him. I made it to Taos though as well as a great festival in Sedona, Arizona. There’s nothing more exciting than having your film shown in a film festival, especially when you’re there with the stars.

I had met so many stars before, but I was really impressed to meet Charles Durning. There was something about him that always drew me to him. I had admired his talent for years and I think he even played W.C. Fields in a movie, and W.C. Fields was my favorite comedian of all time.

Scot Baio, Jeffrey Gurian, and the great Charles Durning at the wrap party for “Very Mean Men” at Planet Hollywood in LA!

Charles Durning is a talent that will be missed! R.I.P. Charles!

For more on this story and Charles Durning check out Andy Soltis’s story in the NY Post!

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Celebrity Death, Celebrity Passing, Comedians In The News, Comedy Events, Comedy Festivals, Film Festivals, New Films, Red Carpet Events

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Me and Arnold Schwartzenegger at SNL

I read an item about Arnold Schwartzenegger today on Page 6, something about him trying on a watch with a huge face, (which I’m sure he can handle),and then something about his recent shoulder surgery, but it made me think of one of the funniest stories of my career, when I met Arnold many years ago at SNL, and then wound up writing some jokes for him to do on the Mike Douglas show.

Growing up, I had always been a big fan of body building. I never had the genetics to succeed at it, but I read the magazines, and was fascinated by the sport. I was also fascinated by unusual names so when a friend told me about a young guy named Arnold Schwartzenegger, I thought it was a joke. I think his last name translates to mean something like ” Black-Black”!

I soon found out that it wasn’t a joke, and I became a big fan. He was absolutely immense and his nickname was “The Austrian Oak”! As time went on, I got married and I used to say to my wife, “Please don’t ever let Arnold Schwartzenegger insult you, because I’d hate to have to fight him.” It was kind of a standing joke between us.

A couple of years later, when SNL was new, I went to one of the early shows with a girl named Kathy Jonas, the daughter of famed comedy manager David Jonas, best known for managing Freddie Prinze Sr., and Alan Zweibel. As we walked in, in those days you had assigned seats. I don’t think they do that anymore. Anyway, we walked to our seats, and who was sitting in MY seat? None other than Arnold Schwartzenegger. I almost fell down. I was wishing my wife was there to share the experience with me. I recognized him from his photos in the magazines.

Anyway, I gathered up my courage, walked over to him and said ” Excuse me, aren’t you Arnold Schwartzenegger?” To which he said, “Yes.” I said, ” Well I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re in my seat!”

He jumped right up and was so apologetic. He was so kind and humble and apologized profusely. And I was thinking, “Life is so bizarre. (Or at least MY life is so bizarre!) I just asked Arnold Schwartzenegger to get out of my seat. And he did!!!

I told him I was a comedy writer and a big fan of his. I think Pumping Iron either just came out or was about to come out, and he said he needed some comedy material to do on the talk shows. We exchanged information, but didn’t connect for a while.

Then after Pumping Iron came out, I heard he was doing some kind of book signing at a bookstore in Westchester, not far from where I lived. I went over to see him, and we spoke again, and once again exchanged information, and this time I wound up writing for him for an appearance he did on the Mike Douglas Show.

Somewhere in my memorabilia, I still have a letter from him on his Golden Oak Productions letterhead. At least I think it was called Golden Oak. I have a feeling that was the precursor to Oak Productions which he created in 1985.

It’s going back a long ways! I wasn’t carrying a camera in those days like I do today, so I don’t have a photo of us together, because there was no such thing as small digital pocket cameras in those days. Cameras were huge, needed film, and lights, and definitely did not fit into anyone’s pocket. But even without a photo, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

It makes me want to search my house to find it, but that’s probably just because I’m in the midst of a huge project and my ADHD is telling me to divert my attention to something less important! (LOL)

In more recent years, I had another connection to Arnold. Back in 2004, David Pecker, the billionaire who owns American Media and many magazines and newspapers under that vast umbrella, bought Muscle and Fitness and Flex magazines, and went into an association with Arnold, who was supposed to be an advisor, and editorial contributor. I was asked to write some humorous remarks for David to say at a big press event entitled “The Arnold Classic”, announcing their association, and this was part of what I wrote for David to say, in which he was comparing himself to Arnold:

“And in terms of comparing our experience in the world of fitness. Basically, I am to the world of bodybuilding what the legendary Luciano Pavarotti is to the world of pole-vaulting.

I am to the world of fitness, what the great Mike Tyson is to the world of speed-reading, … what George Bush is to the world of cliff-diving, what Al Sharpton is to the world of modern dance, and what the legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman is to the world of porno films.”

That’s all folks!

Posted in: Comedians In The News, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, General Information, Nightlife Events, Page 6 Review, Red Carpet Events

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Paul Sorvino At Karen Koeningsberg’s Birthday

Karen Koeningsberg is the founder of the charity called Cherished Feet which collects shoes for indigent people all over the world. I’m proud to say she is a friend and so I immediately accepted her invite to attend her private birthday party at the prestigious Boom Boom Room in the Standard Hotel, in NYC’s ultra-hot Meatpacking District.

Jeffrey Gurian of #Comedy Matters TV, Karen Koeningsberg of Cherished Feet and actor Paul Sorvino in the Boom Boom Room celebrating Karen’s birthday!

It was a beautiful event packed with beautiful people, one of whom was blogger Megan Averbuch of Belles and Rebelles, who was so interesting and so well dressed that I felt the need to take photos of her!

Megan Averbuch writing down her information for me effortlessly, … with my big pen!

Megan Averbuch’s “hot” shoes which only served to enhance her world class legs! (LOL)

Karen Koeningsberg with her brother Manfredo at her birthday party at The Boom Boom Room!

I was also glad to see my old friend Paul Sorvino there. I hadn’t seen him in so many years, but I was glad to see that he still looked great and that his operatic voice was as strong as ever. You should have heard him belt out “Happy Birthday”, and how long he held the note!

Paul Sorvino guiding Karen Koeningsberg on how to properly cut her huge birthday cake! His eyes rolled up as he thought about how good it would taste!

It made me recall so many years ago back in the 80’s when Paul and I hung out at a place called “Columbus Cafe”, which was a phenomenon in NYC. I don’t think that ever before or since has there been such a celebrity hang-out in New York. Paul claims to have been the first to start hanging out there. It was on 69th Street and Columbus Avenue and was run by two brothers, Paulie and Charlie Herman. Paulie is now out in LA running a restaurant called Ago.

I too was a regular, and met everyone at Columbus, including Sly Stallone, Bruce Willis, Christopher Reeve, ( before his accident), David Bowie, and even Mike Tyson. Anyone who was anyone in show biz hung out there when they were in NY.

I was there the night Mike Tyson picked up Robin Givens, threw her over his shoulder and walked out of the place with her like that. Not only was I there, but he literally pushed me out of the way to get to her. I had struck up a conversation with her downstairs outside the rest rooms, not knowing who she was, and Mike came by, shouldered me out of the way, picked her up caveman style, threw her over his shoulder and walked up the steps and out of the place just like that. And it never even occurred to me even once to start a fight with him! Not even once!

Jeffrey Gurian and Paul Sorvino back in 1991 right after he did Goodfellas!

I also reminded Paul Sorvino of a story I knew he would never remember. He played the part of “Big Paul Cicero” in the Scorcese classic Goodfellas, and it’s hard to believe it came out in 1990, cause that’s 21 years ago. I remember the day like it was yesterday,because for some reason, I was supposed to call Paul that day. I had just come from seeing the film, and he was so realistic in the role that I was literally nervous to call him. I’m not kidding when I say that. It’s the truth. I was really nervous to call him. And when I told him that on the phone, he said to me, ” What are you a shmuck? I’m an actor, not a gangster!”

He told me playing that part so well affected him for the rest of his life because people really think he’s a gangster. He actually comes from a long line of noblemen from the Naples area of Italy and says his family goes back 1,000 years. He explained that he’s technically a knight from a group of knights whose job it was originally to protect the Pope. Paul looks like he could protect anyone. He’s 6’4″ and massive, but very gentle in the way he speaks and acts.

He helped Karen cut her birthday cake and sat and talked to everyone who was there. I read on Page 6 of the NY Post that he got hit by a car a couple of days later, but thank G-d wasn’t badly hurt! Not even a car can hurt Paul Sorvino!

Check out a previous post on Karen Koeningsberg at the link below:

Posted in: Breaking News, Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Featured, Hot Models, Nightlife Events, Page 6 Review, Red Carpet Events

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