PASADENA, Calif.—You’d think that someone with a reality show wouldn’t have much to hide. Not so with standup comic Kathy Griffin. Griffin stars in her own show on Bravo, “My Life on the D-List,” which begins its new season this week.
But the truth about Griffin is not probed by the video camera. Griffin lost her father 2 ½ months ago and says it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. Her father and mother were part of her show and she says, “My dad passed away and now my mom’s heart isn’t in it. Together they were like a comedy team ... He passed away during production. The day after his memorial I had two shows in Las Vegas, and the reality crew came with me. It’s a grueler. That’s the thing with a reality show, whatever happens in your life, there’s the camera,” she says in the lounge of the Ritz Carlton Hotel here.
A divorcee and practical businesswoman, Griffin admits she’s looking for an “honest, nice man,” but not to marry.
“I’ll never get married again,” she says, “but I’m very pro-relationship, long relationship. I’m in a unique position. I certainly have no need for the guy to be the provider in any way ... Now if I’m with somebody it’s because I like him and he likes me. I don’t need a guy to buy a house or a guy to take care of me in any way except as a partner. And that’s what I love.”
She claims the breakup of her five-year marriage to Matt Moline made her more cynical, but Griffin, 46, still believes in principles—she just casts them in a different light.
About children she says, “I never did want to have children. It’s often hard for me to find guys who don’t want to have kids. I’m a magnet for guys who want to have kids. I had a date recently. On the first date he said, `I can’t wait to be a dad.’ It’s typical, what you’re not looking for just comes for you. I’m not a kid-person. I never had that gene even when I was a teen-ager.”
Though she works in the entertainment industry, she insists, “I couldn’t be less attracted to anyone in show business. I’m so turned off by actors and comics because I think they’re disgusting, and I am one, and so I know. Anyone who has a headshot I don’t want to have sex with. If you even know what sides are or what a script is I don’t want to have anything to do with you. I want an old, rich Jew. That’s what I want. I want a 58-year-old Jewish accountant who has more money than God, or an attorney or some kind of partner in some construction firm. My favorite qualities are honest, normal and nice—that’s it,” she plops her hands onto denim-clad lap. “I want a nice guy who loves me and is a hard-working, honest guy. I don’t care what he looks like.”
The youngest of five from an “Irish, alcoholic” family, Griffin says she began using humor as a defense. “Fair-skinned with freckles and wiry, red hair, I was picked on. The boys used to bark out the window when I’d pass with my schoolbooks and call me `dog’ and every name in the book. It was my survival mechanism. I thought, `If I can be funnier or quicker than they are then I have something on them and they might back off.’ And they did.”
She parlayed that gift into standup comedy, though when she first moved to L.A. she sang in gay bars, her parents faithfully trekking to her performances. She says she had an older brother who dabbled in show business, but never took it seriously. Griffin takes her comedy very seriously, working exhausting hours and performing in 200 cities this year.
A petite woman, with streaked, ash blonde hair to her shoulders, she confesses she’s had some cosmetic surgery done, but is no fan. “I was thin, she acknowledges, “but I was the fattest person in L.A.
“I almost died from that—damn liposuction. I had it done all over and it didn’t work at all. I realized, `Oh, to change your body you have to eat less and go on a treadmill.’ So that liposuction landed me in the hospital. I had Lasik eye surgery gone bad and that’s not cosmetic but it’s elective, and now I have permanent vision loss in my right eye forever. So I haven’t had anything done for years. I’m not against plastic surgery, but I will tell that when stuff goes wrong it’s permanent.”
Now she seems content with her trim body, freckle-less face and straight hair. “In the show-business world I’m considered old and I’m not attractive. But in the real world I’m like a hot tamale. So you take me to a lawyer convention and I’m good to go. I’m like the girl jumping out of the cake.”
Steven Soderbergh’s next Ocean voyage, “Ocean’s Thirteen,” opens Friday. The kid-director has been passionate about the art of filmmaking since he was a lanky lad. He was just 25 when his “sex, lies and videotape” captured the yuppie persona and earned him a place behind the klieg lights.
“If I have a strength,” he says, “I think it’s sort of a relentless pragmatism. The whole thing is just finding a way to do things. It’s a fancy way of saying: `Don’t sweat the small stuff.’ I try and take the long view about everything and pick my battles and invest energy where I think strategically it’s needed, and don’t invest too much energy in things that, at the end of the day, are not seismic. I think that is a type of skill that I developed over the years.”
The greatly underappreciated actor Frank Whaley stars as sports writer Bill Nack in ESPN’s TV film, “Ruffian,” premiering Saturday. Whaley, who had a tough childhood, experienced a series of odd jobs before he landed work as an actor. One of those jobs was updating law books with the new statutes. “I set that law firm back 50 years,” he chuckles.
“If I had an audition, I would take these new decisions and new laws and shred them. One day my boss called me into her office. She had these books stacked on her desk. She said, `These books are like five weeks out of date, what happened?’ I said, `Oh, well ...’ And just walked out.”
HBO’s latest daring entry premieres Sunday: David Milch’s “John from Cincinnati.” It’s purportedly about the surfing Yost family and the collision of other lives with theirs. But this is Milch, one-time collaborator with Stephen Bochco on “NYPD Blue” and later creator of “Deadwood.” His work has always been a little skewed and “John from Cincinnati” is more aberrant than ever.
“To my mind reality is a shifting and elusive condition,” says Milch. “It redefines itself constantly. The actors find one of my most endearing qualities, my insistence after they have located and beautifully conveyed the state of mind or spirit of a character: I’ll say, `Can you try and suggest simultaneously the exact opposite’ and then I duck.”