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Interviews With Sela Ward, Kevin Kline, Joe Viterelli

Aired December 14, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Sela Ward. She had it all, beauty, fame, success, but when her mother died of cancer and her father came down with the same deadly disease, she realized something was missing in her life.
Then legendary actor Kevin Kline talks about his latest role, maybe the role of a lifetime. And then, Joe Viterelli, he could teach the "Sopranos" a thing or two about making mobsters lovable. And a gift of song from two of the greatest voices on the planet Tony Bennett, and K.D. Lang, all next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

A great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING WEEKEND one of my favorite people, a return visit with Sela Ward, two-time Emmy winner, Golden Globe winner, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) award winner, and the author of a new bestseller "Homesick: A Memoir." Does it mean you miss where you grew up?


KING: Yes. Tell me the origins of the book.

WARD: I was on "Oprah" talking about a documentary on ages in our culture that I had done and Judith Regan (ph) saw the show and she called me up, the publisher, and she said you know Sela I'd love for you to write a book on this topic, and I said well Judith I have nothing else to say about ages.

KING: Ages meaning people getting older?

WARD: Yes and our obsession with youth in our culture and how we, women lie about their age after 35 obsessively and no one wants to let anyone know they're getting older, et cetera. And, we sat down over lunch and I said well look, Judith, the only thing I think I have to say anything about really is my own journey which I thought a lot of people could relate to, having left home at 18 years old and lived in big cities all my adult life, New York and Los Angeles.

And, once I got married and had children, you know, psychologists say once you do have kids you revert back to your own childhood consciously or not and for me it was very conscious and I was just aching for a sense of community and belonging and a sense of place that nourished me as a child.

KING: So this is all about Mississippi and the University of Alabama too? WARD: It's about the University of Alabama. It's about, I did talk about my life in broad strokes and what home meant to me in order to really explore the subject of home and can you go back and what that means for people in that sense of community that we've lost.

KING: Having grown up in Mississippi, was the racial issue changing? I guess in your age, it was undergoing change at the time.

WARD: Well, I was eight years old when Goodman, Schwerner & Cheney were murdered and all of that really wicked segregation era was going on and we have made such strides since then. It's quite remarkable and even, you know, it was interesting, I was talking to Cliff Tolbert who wrote "When We Were Colored," the book, and also "Eight Habits of the Heart."

He grew up in Glen Allen, Mississippi, a segregated town in the Delta and he's probably one of the most refreshing people to talk to on the subject. He said when he was younger he was brought in by a Jewish family to have lunch sitting at the table with them, which broke the social code.

There were experiences for him of doctors, Black doctors and White doctors working together to help people both races, and all of these experiences of people reaching out to do the right thing had a lifelong impact, and he said had I not experienced those acts of brotherhood, I would have left Mississippi very angry and embittered. Instead, he left with a plan and a purpose.

KING: Does that give you any thoughts on the Trent Lott matter?

WARD: You know, I know Trent and he is a lovely man, an incredibly bright man and I have no idea what he was thinking.

KING: That is a throw back to what Mississippi was though.

WARD: Yes it was and there's no denying that but I don't understand.

KING: I know many Blacks including the poor fellow that got shot trying to get into the University of Mississippi who love Mississippi.

WARD: Oh, yes.

KING: Love the smell in the morning, love the country, love the people.

WARD: I think things like food, the food of the south is sort of the common tie that binds us all, Black and White, the sense memories. It's a very particular part of the country.

KING: Where in Mississippi did you grow up?

WARD: In Meridian which is sort of due east of Jackson.

KING: That's a big city if I'm not mistaken, right?

WARD: Yes, it's about 50,000.

KING: I-20.

WARD: That's right.

KING: See, I know. Civil War stuff there too?

WARD: Not much. Well Sherman went through Meridian.

KING: Quickly.

WARD: Quickly and said Meridian no longer exists was his comment afterward. I think there's one (UNINTELLIGIBLE) left standing.

KING: And this book is about transition, right? What it was like to grow up and what it was like to go to New York and Los Angeles, right, which was night and day to the way you grew up.

WARD: Oh, definitely and I talk about all the things that I really needed to make me happy at that point in time were outside of Mississippi, and now all the things that I need to make me happy are back there.

KING: You go back?

WARD: Which is a wonderful irony, I have property there. I go back every chance I get. One of the main reasons I actually wrote the book, agreed to write it having never wanted to do that in my life, very intimidating by the way to write a book.

KING: You bet.

WARD: Was because I'd started this home called Hope Village for Children for abused and neglected kids, a permanent shelter and emergency shelter in Meridian and my - it's really rethinking the orphanage for the 21st Century, creating these safe, nurturing environments for kids because foster care, if you saw the "TIME" magazine cover article a couple years ago clearly is not working. More kids get killed.

KING: So you started this home, it's in Meridian only?

WARD: In Meridian only. The first one, it's the - I hope it will be the state of the art prototype to franchise all over the country.

KING: Are you getting the proceeds?

WARD: The proceeds of the book are going to the kids at Hope Village, so anyone who needs a Christmas present know that it's helping the kids.

KING: That's good. We'll mention that again. It's a memoir and an autobiography is it?

WARD: It's not an autobiography. It's not one of those tell-all typical autobiographies. It is a memoir. It's a reflection of my life in broad strokes really giving the reader my journey and my perspective of my own home in order for them to really understand what I refer to when I talk about a loss of community.

KING: Why Sela did a Mississippi girl go to the University of Alabama?

WARD: That was pretty bad, wasn't it?

KING: Traitor.

WARD: I was a traitor. I loved it. I had an art teacher who's the reason I got there in high school who encouraged me to go to Alabama. That's where she had gone and kept raving over their art department.

KING: Were they worth it?

WARD: Oh, you know the art part I quickly got so involved. I was a cheerleader when Bear Bryant was there and -

KING: Tuscaloosa.

WARD: It was so much fun. It was a great chapter of my life. It was definitely worth it. It's how I got to New York.

KING: Did you graduate as an art major or drama?

WARD: An art major and also an advertising major, never thought about acting.

KING: Why did you go to New York?

WARD: I was -- well, I went to cheer for the NIT tournaments, basketball tournaments for Alabama.

KING: Madison Square Garden.

WARD: Right. First time I'd ever been to New York, fell in love with it, determined at that point I might go back and live there and I got a job drawing up storyboards at an audio-visual production company. This is before they had video and they would do those stack slide projectors like American Express at a big conference and they'd synchronize them.


WARD: And so I was doing that and starving and somebody said you should model and I ran when they told me how much money you could make and I did a television commercial the first job.

KING: Which one?

WARD: Maybelline, 24 hour fresh lash mascara, sent me to 18 voice lessons. I still had such a southern accent.

KING: You were a single girl living in New York?

WARD: Oh, yes.

KING: Boy that must have been terrific, huh?

WARD: Oh, it was the best experience of my life.

KING: So how did acting come?

WARD: Well I started studying to help me with these commercial auditions and I just loved it. I did a play as a showcase to get an agent and it was like a little club in New York, you know. It was a very -- you had a real sense of purpose and you felt like a real artist and it just had a lot of meaning for me and I think I was a very shy kid and it really brought me out of myself and learned a lot about human nature.

KING: Did you start in theater?

WARD: No, I didn't.

KING: Never did theater?

WARD: No, I didn't. I didn't. I haven't had the courage yet.

KING: We'll pick up in a minute and find out how Sela Ward went from that to film and all the accolade she's gotten. Sela Ward and the book is "Homesick: A Memoir." You're watching LARRY KING WEEKEND. We'll be right back.


KING: We're back with Sela Ward. If you want more information on Hope Village, that wonderful center that she set up in Meridian, Mississippi, you can get more information at, Your mother died this year right and your father has cancer, right?

WARD: But he's cancer free at the moment. He had bladder cancer.

KING: What did your mother die of?

WARD: She died of cancer also.

KING: Breast?

WARD: She had ovarian cancer.

KING: The killer.

WARD: And sick for nine years yes, but she was a lucky one.

KING: What was that like for you?

WARD: It's the most difficult thing I've ever been through. We were very close.

KING: This was in Mississippi?

WARD: In Mississippi, yes, and she'd been sick for so many years and you're just never ready no matter.

KING: Even though some say with ovarian it becomes a blessing.

WARD: That's true.

KING: It's very painful, isn't it?

WARD: It is very painful. And, ironically, they caught hers in Stage One but there were still cancer cells in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the stomach and it came back twice but there's nothing like losing a parent. It was quite life altering.

KING: Only one mother.

WARD: Yes and it was interesting, I had stated the book before September 11 when a friend of our family, Chic Burlingame, the captain of the plane that went down at the Pentagon and then my mother died.

KING: We had his brother and sister on.

WARD: Yes, Brad, and it was just a very difficult year.

KING: Where were you on 9/11?

WARD: I was in L.A. I was in L.A.


WARD: No, my husband woke me up and said our contractor, we bid on a construction, just called crying, you know, you got to turn the television on and I just sat there glued to the TV all day, wouldn't let the kids go to school, wouldn't let anybody out of my sight, just devastated.

KING: So, you started the book, then your mother died and 9/11 all happened and then continued. Did that affect the way it was written?

WARD: Certainly. It definitely brought the point home even more poignantly about how important the sense of community and place and family and values are.

KING: All right, what do you think why you keep going back? Most people who grow up in a small town in the south and go on to some fame and you have children and a husband and Los Angeles...

WARD: Right.

KING: Why, if they go back it's infrequently? Why do you go back? WARD: For me, Los Angeles, New York, where I don't know my neighbors, where people don't necessarily care if they know their neighbors, I'm missing things that truly fed my soul when I was younger, the exchanges between people, the caring and the shared history with people.

For example, when my mother died, the people who showed up just to put an apron on to cook, people who really do the right thing, so to speak, as my momma would always say to show that they care, a sense of community that we've lost so much in our country.

I think it's really like the 21st Century heartaches I started to call the book because, you know, we've lost -- the baby boomers I think have been so focused on working hard and playing hard that what's missing is what they've compromised is time, time that allows one to give to another person, to bake that casserole, to spend time with children, to spend time with the older generation.

KING: A famous southern writer though said you can't go home again.

WARD: That's true and you really can't go home in the same way. The place is not the same. It's changed. You've changed.

KING: You're not the same.

WARD: Exactly. The people are not the same but a friend of mine who lived in Israel and her mother had died during the Holocaust said the land for her, not so much the people but the land for her, the smells, the contour of the land, the sense of place really became her mother. Israel became her mother.

KING: How did you get your first film role?

WARD: I'd come out to Los Angeles...

KING: As a model?

WARD: a model but I came out to pursue acting and two weeks later I met someone who said I know a part that hasn't been cast in this Blake Edwards film, "The Man Who Loved Women," and they called Blake's office and I went and met him. They had already started filming.

KING: He's a funny guy.

WARD: Isn't he? And he read with me. He read with me in the trailer. It was just he and I and he started. We didn't even get halfway through the scene. He went okay, you got the part.

KING: Just like that?

WARD: Just like that.

KING: Tough life, Sela, huh?

WARD: Well, it got a lot tougher after that. I had to learn how to act.

KING: What was your first big break then other than doing that movie for Blake? I mean what was your first where you got attention?

WARD: Well, I'd have to say the first time I got attention for actually doing good work was "The Jessica Savage Story." Well, I got the Emmy for "Sisters," but I sort of thought that was some fluke.

KING: Boy that was an amazing portrayal as Jessica Savage. You had to change the color of your hair.

WARD: Sixteen hours to get that blonde. Can you imagine in a hair salon for 16 hours.

KING: I knew Jessica. She was blonde, blonde.

WARD: She was and that was a very challenging role and it's the first time I'd ever carried a piece like that from start to finish, so it really made me grow as an actress.

KING: And now you're going to do a movie called "The Day After Tomorrow" with Dennis Quaid.

WARD: Yes.

KING: What's it about?

WARD: It's one of those special effects disaster movies.

KING: Oh, that's right. The guy did "Independence Day," right?

WARD: That's right, Roland Emmerich directed, and I just finished my work on it actually in Montreal and it should be one of those big, big interesting movies. The Ice Age comes to Manhattan.

KING: Are you Dennis Quaid's romantic interest?

WARD: His ex-wife, yes.

KING: Is it hard to play serious when the gimmick is the star, or is the ice converging over New York City is bigger than the two people who are starring in the movie?

WARD: It was a little bit challenging I have to say. However, most of my part, I play a pediatrician, and most of my role had to do with being in another place, staying at the hospital and trying to save kids and stay until people could come. So, it was more based on reality.

KING: Is this ticketed like...

WARD: And Dennis will have the problem of...

KING: Solving it.

WARD: ...dealing with the ice and things like that. KING: Is this the next summer blockbuster?

WARD: I haven't heard the release date. I'm assuming.

KING: Is that the kind of movie it is though?

WARD: It is a big special effects film.

KING: How often do you go back home?

WARD: Every chance I get. I go back east...

KING: Does your husband go with you?

WARD: ...four times a year if not six. He goes.

KING: Where's he from?

WARD: The kids. He's from L.A. born and raised.

KING: What does he think of Meridian?

WARD: He first thought he'd landed on a different planet, I mean truly, because it's such a different culture. When we got engaged and had an engagement party down there, he stood up in front of everybody and said I feel like I'm at a convention of insurance salesmen. He said he never met more friendly people. I don't know at all.

KING: Yes, that's the south and the Midwest.

WARD: Yes.

KING: Thank you so much, Sela.

WARD: Thank you so much, Larry.

KING: Continued great luck.

WARD: Thank you.

KING: And again, if you want more information on Hope Village, which benefits, all the proceeds from the book go to it. It's The book is "Homesick: A Memoir." Back with more on LARRY KING WEEKEND, don't go away.



KEVIN KLINE, ACTOR: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), king, sovereign of the land of Ilam destroyer of Cipar (ph), behold his accomplishments cannot be found in any history book. Why, because great ambition and conquest without contribution is without significance. What will your contribution be?

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING WEEKEND one of my favorite people, a great actor, great guy too, Kevin Kline. He starts in "The Emperor's Club." You've seen my quote in the papers about his movie. I saw a screening before it opened. This is one of the best pictures of the year. It's a throwback to Hollywood when they made great movies. How did you come to get this, Kevin? How did you get the role?

KLINE: In the usual way, my agents sent me -- no, no wait, wait, wait. This was so long ago. It was about three years ago actually. I got it through a friend who said they wanted, they were interested in me for directing it as well as acting in it and I met with the powers that be at that time and discussed it and I said I loved it and I'm in and I'll direct it, act in it, whatever is necessary.

KING: This was three years ago, so what took so long in the evolution?

KLINE: I got involved in what they call in Hollywood the development, which means it gets rewritten. They bring in a new writer. He spends nine months on it.

KING: A new director.

KLINE: You don't like anything he's rewritten. You throw it all out. You keep one or two lines. You bring back the original writer, which was always my favorite and he -- and we have endless meetings and argue about what, you know, what should look like "The Palace Thief," which is Ethan Canin's book on which it is based and what we should add to it, what we should subtract and we argue and yell and scream, and then you do that for about two years and then you finally say let's just shoot the damn thing and get on with it.

KING: This is a wonderful movie about a teacher and a high school, a private school, and what happens 30 years later and it's a lot about morality and learning about life. When you get a role like that, you see it, what do you do? Do you go to a school and watch a teacher?


KING: Do you think of here's what I'd do if I were a teacher?

KLINE: Yes. Well, I was fortunate to have gone to a school not dissimilar from the school depicted in the film so I had a wonderful education in spite of not being particularly spectacular student, but it was a school that stressed the kind of values that my character and the school of St. Benedict School, which is the name of the school in the film.

It's all about character and moral character and rectitude and living a good life, and my character, as you know, teaches ancient history and is always citing Cicero and Socrates and the great thinkers, Aristotle and the notion of an examined life and it's not enough to stop living. It's living rightly that is important and trying to convey this to the kids. So, it reminded me of my school so I didn't have to go look for that. What I did, though, is I went out to a few high schools to see just what the -- what was going on, and I was frankly appalled, as I'm sure I'm not the first to tell you that the educational system in our country is somewhat lacking.

KING: You went to public or private schools?

KLINE: I went to both, actually, and I was frankly surprised not unlike the character who is sort of a Don Quixote kind of highly idealistic moralist who is from another period in time.

KING: You want to say the old school but maybe there never was a school that this guy was from.

KLINE: I mean he goes back through Ancient Greece.

KING: Yes, he does.

KLINE: But, it's the idea of the fact that he as a teacher feels that he's there to mold the character of his students as well as teaching them the facts of history.

KING: And that great relationship between him and that one particular student.

KLINE: Yes. He comes up. It's like the past meeting the present because he meets this kid who is all about doing the expedient thing, winning at all cost. He would have been a high executive at Enron were the situation then.

KING: That's right. What appalled you about the schools you saw?

KLINE: Well, the laxity, the general -- the idea of learning for the sake of students asking what do I need to know for the quiz, for the test, for the advanced placement exam in order to get the college credit, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and the teacher colluding and say well you'll be quizzed on this and this and this and this is what you need to know to pass the test.

So, it's all test oriented and nothing about the actual learning for learning sake or the joy of acquiring wisdom and nothing about character. I think there is a sense in this country that the teachers are, because there's so much, you know, hands-off political correctness and, you know, just teach my son the syllabus and don't -- we don't want you to do any "parenting." And, I think there's some erring on the side of too little hands-on. I mean of course you have to set an example for the students.

KING: Yes.

KLINE: And I think by what your values are you're going to instill in the students some sense of moral values. Why not?

KING: The movie is "The Emperor's Club," and trust me on this viewers, you will love this film. You'll see a terrific performance. It is beautifully directed and wonderfully shot, the colors. What school did you use?

KLINE: We used the Emma Willard School for Girls up in Troy, New York for the exteriors and the interiors were actually shot here in New York City up at Union Seminary and a bit at St. John the Divine. We just had to find big kind of neo-gothic architecture.

KING: It's a great movie. We're going to come back with Kevin Kline and talk about some other things. "The Emperor's Club" now playing everywhere, don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John, Paul, Ringo, and George.

KLINE: Mr. Bell, a word of warning, as the great wit Aristophanes once wrote, roughly translated, youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.




KLINE: Sir, it's my job to mold your son's character and I think if...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mold him, Jesus, God in heaven, son, you're not going to mold my boy. Your job is to teach my son, teach him his timetables, teach him why the world is round, teach him who killed who and when and where. That is your job. You sir will not mold my son.


KING: We're back with Kevin Kline. He stars in "The Emperor's Club." His first film, it's hard to believe that was his first film, was "Sophie's Choice." What a movie that was. He later won best supporting actor Oscar for "A Fish Called Wanda." He does comedy in and out to super serious dramas like "Life as a House." Did you think "A Fish Called Wanda" would be a hit?

KLINE: No, no frankly. In fact, when I was offered the part I was thrilled at the opportunity to work with John Cleese and Michael Palin because I was a "Monty Python" devotee and friends said well you don't want to -- I mean that's such a risky thing. Are you sure you want to do that, go with that British humor? This won't really translate, and I said I don't care if nobody sees it. It's going to be so much fun to work with these people and we did it for very little money and it was a wonderful experience and we never had great expectations. You know we thought we did okay but we had no idea it was going to take off in the way that it did.

KING: Films often surprise, do they not? KLINE: Yes, they do.

KING: "In and Out."


KING: That gay character, was that difficult? Was that hard to do?

KLINE: No, it was fun. It was great fun. It was beautifully written. Paul Rudnick's script was hysterical and Frank Oz directed it. It gave us a wonderful atmosphere where we could play in and Joan Cusack of course was wonderful and Tom Selleck. We really had fun. It was so funny. I think the hardest thing about it was letting the serious, you know playing the serious things seriously, which would make it funny but you know one can get carried away. But Frank Oz kept us in line and we tried to make it all as real as possible.

KING: How do we pinpoint Kevin Kline's career? In other words, you are a major character actor. That's not a put down. That's a compliment.

KLINE: I take it as one, thank you.

KING: You're certainly diverse. Do you ever say I could have been a bigger star if I maybe took some roles that would have led that way?

KLINE: The saddest words, what is it of tongue or pen it might have been? No, I don't. Generally, no I don't think that ever would have happened because -- I mean yes, I don't say it but it's probably true if I'd done more of the kind of movies that appeal to a large audience. My taste runs that way somewhat but it also runs to the more obscure, eccentric.

KING: Yes, you like offbeat.

KLINE: Elite, yes.

KING: So, Phoebe Cates is your wife. She also could have been bigger, right? She also is...

KLINE: Well, if she hadn't retired, I know she'd have been. She practically...

KING: So she retired to raise a family, right?

KLINE: Yes, she basically stopped when we started having children and is very content being a mother and luckily whatever genetic weirdness has been visited upon her, when she's 50 and the kids are all married and whatever, she could come back and still play a college girl because she refuses to age.

KING: Did you never want to be a star, S-T-A-H!

KLINE: Oh no, I wanted to be a huge start, mega star, but I wanted to be a mega star while doing very arcane, elite, snobbish kind of sophisticated, artistic endeavors.

KING: In other words, you wanted everything, didn't you Kevin?

KLINE: Yes. Yes. Still do.

KING: Was frankly "Sophie's Choice," it was difficult to watch, painful to read, what was it like to act?

KLINE: This will sound odd but it was thrilling. It was exhilarating going to work every day with Meryl Streep and the late, great Alan Pakula and Peter McNichol and working with William Styron's story. It was thrilling, as dark, as bleak, as harrowing emotionally a journey as it was, I don't know when I've had so much fun.

KING: Fun?

KLINE: It was hard to watch -- yes. That's my idea of fun, believe it or not. Yes because it's rare to get a script that's that powerful and important and about something that it is important and imponderable and horrific and it's dealt with so artfully and so that is exhilarating as hard as it is to face when you ultimately have to look at it. The process of making it and the thrill of being part of the creative process of bringing it to life is, in fact, that's what I call fun.

KING: Have you ever turned down anything you regretted?

KLINE: Oh, a couple things, a couple things, but not deep regret like oh, I was wrong about that because a lot of times when an actor reads a script it's one thing. By the time you see the movie and it's been rewritten maybe half a dozen times and beautifully acted and directed and you want to kick oneself for not seeing, oh, oh I should have seen it. There was something there at its core that is actually wonderful and they did a great job with it.

KING: Kevin, it's always great seeing you Kevin.

KLINE: Great seeing you Larry.

KING: And again, if anyone deserves an Academy Award it's you for "The Emperor's Club," top of my list.

KLINE: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Best wishes, Kevin.

KLINE: Thank you very much.

KING: Kevin Kline. Joe Viterelli, a character if there ever was a character is next. Don't go away.


KLINE: Do you know why you're here?

BELL: Student of the day. KLINE: I gave you one for spelling your name correctly. Mr. Bell, I don't know what you think you're doing at St. Benedict's but this is unacceptable work. You must apply yourself.

BELL: You're not married, are you sir?

KLINE: No, I am not.

BELL: That's why you like putting us all in togas, right?







UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pull him up. What's the matter with you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said drop him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said pull him back up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That ain't what I heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then you heard what you wanted to hear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess you got me there.


KING: One of my favorite figures is with us now on LARRY KING WEEKEND. He's Joe Viterelli. He's in "Analyze That." He stole "Analyze This." He steals "Analyze That." He's tremendous along with Billy Crystal and Robert DeNiro in a hysterical follow-up to the original movie that has made this man, Joe Viterelli a household face. Why doesn't Jelly get his own series? There should be a television series, Jelly.

JOE VITERELLI, ACTOR: You know that's not a bad idea. I got a better question, though.

KING: What?

VITERELLI: That I've been asking, why doesn't Jelly ever get the girl?

KING: You know you have such a great face. I mean you're a face. A mother loves this face. Were you always an actor? Did you act when you were a kid?

VITERELLI: No, no. I was always ruggedly handsome, though.

KING: How did you get this? I mean how did you come to acting?

VITERELLI: Well, really through the back door by accident. I was friends with a director that lived in California when I moved out here. We became friendly and he kept asking me to be in, you know, things that he was directing.

KING: What were you doing at that time?

VITERELLI: I was living in California.

KING: Doing what?

VITERELLI: About what? What?

KING: What were you doing? Where were you earning a living?

VITERELLI: Oh, well, I had a couple of beer joints that I sold in New York and I came out here and I was looking around.

KING: You weren't in the mob?


KING: All right, so the director says?

VITERELLI: So, yes he says to me, he says Joe why don't you let me put you in a couple of things, you know. He says you got a way, you got a face, a beep and a bop.

KING: A beep and a beep.

VITERELLI: Yes, that's a Hollywood technical term. Anyways, so I always declined not for any reason, Larry, except that you know I always believed in keeping a low profile. I was raised that way, you know.

KING: I get it.

VITERELLI: Anyway, I became friendly with him and his family and his son wound up to be a big star and the kid called me up one day and he says Joe, he says, I'm in New York, he says and I'm in -- I got a problem over here. I said oh boy, who is it and where is it? He said no, no, not that kind of a problem. I'm making a movie and we could use you know -- I know that you'd be perfect for this and I know you always said no to my father but I'd like you to...

KING: Who was the star?

VITERELLI: Sean Penn, yes.

KING: No kidding?


KING: His father was famous.


KING: Leo. What movie?

VITERELLI: He's now passed away but a wonderful director.

KING: What movie were you in?

VITERELLI: "State of Grace." And, I went to New York. I did a screen test and it was a lot of fun. I came back to California, figured that was it, and then the next thing you know they started calling me.

KING: And the rest is history. "Analyze This" made you a star. I mean people know you, right? You can't walk down the street without being recognized.

VITERELLI: Yes, pretty much.

KING: Is it true that you were going to be in "The Sopranos" had you not done "Analyze This?"


KING: You were never considered for "The Sopranos?"

VITERELLI: No, and I'm so glad you straightened that out too.

KING: OK, I'm glad to hear that.


KING: I thought you were considered for "The Sopranos" and they couldn't do it because you did "Analyze This."


KING: Would you have done "The Sopranos?"


KING: How they missed you is beyond belief.

VITERELLI: Yes, I would do "The Sopranos." It was a good show, a great show, hey, five years, you know, they're on.

KING: What's fun about doing the Analyze movies?

VITERELLI: Well, the most funniest thing about doing the Analyze movies is that you never know what Billy Crystal is going to say.

KING: Oh, he ad libs stuff?

VITERELLI: Oh man, he's the funniest guy I ever met in my life but not only funny, the fastest, you know. KING: Yes, he's got a great mind.

VITERELLI: I'll give you an example. We had a scene in "Analyze This," the first one where Lisa Kudrow comes storming into the penthouse and she yells at DeNiro "very nice, you broke up my wedding just because you have a problem" and she entered the word "you lout."

So, I'm sitting at the desk and DeNiro, the camera's still rolling, Robert says to me, hey, Jelly, what's a lout? I actually, we didn't know a lout, but so I said I don't know. I think it's some kind of fish, right? And now he comes back and he says what kind of fish? I says an underwater fish, and Billy Crystal just like this he says, yes, he says it's a fish. It's a cross between lox and a trout, he said, so they call them a lout. He's unbelievably...

KING: Working with DeNiro, he's someone who really...

VITERELLI: That's Mr. Movies.

KING: I know but he marinates a role, doesn't he? I mean he gets into the character.


KING: Totally.


KING: Is he difficult to work with or easy?

VITERELLI: Easiest man to work with in the world. You know a lot of people are going to give you a lot of stories about oh this one's so wonderful, that one. I'm telling you the truth. This guy is a piece of bread. When I worked with him -- piece of bread, that's like you know your right arm -- I worked with him a half hour, I felt like I knew him 30 years. That's the way he is.

For example, there was a line in the movie that was very funny. I forget what that was but so the director says this is a funny line. DeNiro says yes, but I think Jelly's character, it would be funnier if he said it, what do you think?

KING: That's a good sign.

VITERELLI: And Harold says I think that's very generous and then he says what do you think, Joe? I says well I think we should just move on, you know.

KING: We're out of time. I got to do an hour with you one night.


KING: What the problem is, you come and we sit and we talk about life.

VITERELLI: Yes, that would be a good thing.

KING: And by the way, "Analyze That" is hysterical. If you don't laugh at "Analyze That" take the pulse. You passed away. Joe Viterelli, of course, with Billy Crystal and Robert DeNiro and you'll love it. Coming up tomorrow night on LARRY KING WEEKEND; Michael Beschloss, Tony Orlando, Phyllis George, and Larry Elder. We got a great close coming for you, don't go away.


KING: Two formidable musical talents are going to close the show for us tonight. They're performing this evening, in fact, in a tribute to the late Rosie Clooney here in Los Angeles. They are Tony Bennett and K.D. Lang. They have a new album together of duets. The album is titled "A Wonderful World." They're going to sing that song in a couple of moments, and how did this happen, you and her?

TONY BENNETT, SINGER: Well, I always loved the way she sang and I listened to her on television and I said oh-oh, this girl's as good as Judy Garland.

KING: So who called whom?

BENNETT: Well, it was at the...

K.D. LANG, SINGER: Grammys.

BENNETT: At the Grammys at Rockefeller Center at the Radio City and I had been thinking. I said, gee I'd love to sing with her and I took a deep breath and I walked over to her and I said, you know, someday I'd like to sing a duet with you and unbeknownst to me, she has natural ears. I think the only other person was Bing Crosby that could actually automatically harmonize with someone else. She has this wonderful gift that way. She can hear the changes right away and sing.

KING: So, she said?

BENNETT: So, she said well what song should we do? I said how about like a song like "Moonglow" and so we did it and it won the Album of the Year in the Grammys.

KING: You accepted right away why?

LANG: Well, because Tony's one of those people that understands what a good song is and he's an amazing singer and he's just, you know, a total positive professional and it's just a real honor.

KING: Now, that's not necessarily true. You could include an all star team together and that don't mean they're going to play well.

LANG: No, you're right.

KING: You can have two terrific singers who don't melt well.

LANG: Right. KING: Why do you two melt well?

LANG: Well, I personally believe because we have a similar kind of life philosophy.

KING: Because you have different styles.

LANG: We have different styles but we love the same kind of music. We love to sing and we kind of see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues and we both like art and we like art.

KING: So, in other words, a meeting of the minds in life can lead to a meeting of the minds in singing?

BENNETT: Absolutely. It's a matter of having fun and people understanding one another (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Stars generally don't like to share the bill, Tony. I mean you're a major figure.

BENNETT: Now, come on. You know I worked with Lena Horne for ten years.

KING: But you're different.

BENNETT: I like that. I like proper -- I think the public like Martin and Lewis, like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, I think people so rarely get along in real life that when they see two performers working well, they say they did it, why can't we?

KING: Tell me about, this is an album, "What a Wonderful World?"

LANG: Yes.

KING: Containing songs like?

LANG: Well, they're all Louie Armstrong love songs, which was Tony's idea and it was an amazing way for doing it.

KING: Including "Hello Dolly?"

LANG: No, we didn't do "Hello Dolly."

KING: That ain't a love song.

LANG: Love songs.

KING: So they're all songs made famous by Louie?


LANG: Right.

KING: And you titled it "What a Wonderful World," which is the song you're going to sing for us in a couple of minutes, right?

LANG: Right, yes.


KING: And that's an especially great song for this time of year.

LANG: Definitely. Well, and for this time, and this time in life actually.

KING: Ever since 9/11?

LANG: Yes.


KING: It's hard to call it a wonderful world some days.

LANG: Yes.

BENNETT: I know but consider the alternative, you know. It would be horrible if that didn't work. I mean I travel in front of -- all over the world to people.

KING: I know.

BENNETT: And I know that they just want to have a nice life and they want their kids to go to college. They are really hopeful.

KING: That's all you want.

BENNETT: That's all you want.

KING: Do you two tour together now too?

LANG: We actually did it backwards. We toured last summer and Tony had the idea when we were on the road and then we made the record.

KING: The album came after the tour?

LANG: After the tour.

KING: That's a Jewish (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You make the album, then you tour, brains Tony. You make the album then you tour. We're going to close tonight's edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND with two of my favorite people, a new friend K.D. Lang, and a dear old friend Tony Bennett and Louie Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World."



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