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Piers Morgan Live

One-on-one with Joel McHale; The Great Anjelica Huston

Aired March 15, 2012 - 21:00   ET


ROSIE O'DONNELL, GUEST HOST: Well, hi, everybody. I'm Rosie O'Donnell in for Piers Morgan. He's on assignment which is code for, I'm not coming into work this week, so please get somebody to go on.

Tonight on the show I'll be talking to Joel McHale from "The Community" and "The Soup."


O'DONNELL: I think that you are exceptionally funny.



MCHALE: That's on the card, right?


O'DONNELL: Also, Hollywood legend Anjelica Huston. She's been in everything from "Prizzi's Honor" to the "Addams Family" and now she's a diva drunk pro on TV, Broadway producer on SMASH.


ANJELICA HUSTON, ACTRESS: There's something about really good material that you feel like a squirrel with a nut in their shoes. You know? You've got something pretty good.


O'DONNELL: Plus, "Only in America." What's better than miniature golf in Vegas? Miniature golf in Vegas with leather-clad rock stars. Just wait for that.

This is it, Rosie O'Donnell on tonight starts now.

Good evening. I'm Christiane Amanpour in for Piers Morgan.


Our "Big Story" tonight one of the funniest and busiest guys in Hollywood, Joel McHale is here. His NBC show, "Community," returns tonight. Yay. And he joins us now live.

MCHALE: Yay. O'DONNELL: Well, hello there.

MCHALE: It is great to be here, Piers.

O'DONNELL: It's nice -- ouch.


O'DONNELL: No. Rosie.

MCHALE: Rosie.

O'DONNELL: O'Donnell, star of "The Flintstones".

MCHALE: I'm sorry.

O'DONNELL: Nice to meet you.

MCHALE: "Viva Rock Vegas"?

O'DONNELL: You're not kidding. Don't you remember?

MCHALE: Do I? Who's got the "Criterion"? Blu-Ray?

O'DONNELL: That's exactly right.

MCHALE: I don't. But I know a guy.

O'DONNELL: I think that you are exceptionally funny.

MCHALE: God bless you.


MCHALE: That's on the card, right?

O'DONNELL: No, it's not on the card.


O'DONNELL: That is from my heart, Joel.

MCHALE: That is really nice of you. Well, I think you are exceptionally funny and I remember a Liz Taylor hip replacement joke that you told a good 20 years ago that made me fall out of my chair while I was at home.

O'DONNELL: Can you remind me because I don't recall?

MCHALE: Really? Well --


MCHALE: What a year to tell this joke, but you said -- you said, well, she's been married 13 times, and I wonder she had to have her hips replaced. And I said, I was -- yes. O'DONNELL: And you liked that one?

MCHALE: I was at home and my mom and dad were, like, what are you doing? I'm like, you've got to -- I can't rewind this. Maybe some day there will be technology to rewind the television but I can't right now, but it was really funny, mom and dad.


O'DONNELL: And you did not do stand-up, which is shocking to me. Here you are quoting stand-up jokes. But you never did stand-up?

MCHALE: I didn't start until about three and a half years ago.

O'DONNELL: Now can I tell you, honey, I find that shocking.

MCHALE: Well, I -- "The Soup" is a -- in -- like stand-up. And I've been doing that for eight years so --


MCHALE: And they -- my agent said, hey, you want to make some money? A I said yes. And he said, put a bunch of jokes together, start telling those. And I -- what I started doing was hosting shows so I would bring in my real comic friends. And then I would do my material in between. And then I went to a club in Ogden, Utah, and did a -- like 10 shows and kind of tried to put it all together. And then I did it, you know, you'd do it a thousand times. And it's barely OK.

O'DONNELL: Well, are you doing comedy clubs? You do theaters? You do colleges? What do you do?

MCHALE: I do colleges. I do theaters. I'm actually doing "Caroline's Tonight" to kind of work my act -- well, just like hereafter (ph), to remember my act and --


MCHALE: Because I'm doing a show at a casino in Palm Springs on Saturday.


MCHALE: "Agua Caliente" on Saint Patrick's Day. There won't be a drunk crowd for that.

O'DONNELL: I don't think so. That's an easy gig, that and New Year's Eve.

MCHALE: No. Do you still do it?

O'DONNELL: I don't.

MCHALE: Would you do it ever again? O'DONNELL: You know, actually I went back about three years ago. I toured with Cyndi Lauper in the summer. And then I sort of got my sea legs again. But it is like saying, you know, in high school, I was MVP of the softball team.


O'DONNELL: You know, but you're 50. And I don't think you can throw it anymore.

MCHALE: But do you still love it? Do you still like doing it?

O'DONNELL: I love it and I love watching the new people do it and go wow, remember when I used to do that? And, you know, but it's so long ago, when you think that I started, I was 16 years old.


O'DONNELL: You know. You are Irish Catholic.

MCHALE: I am Irish Catholic.

O'DONNELL: Well, I got that right.

MCHALE: Yes. And Norwegian. So, yes, we are -- can be funny and drunk and then really quiet.

O'DONNELL: And cold.

MCHALE: And angry.

O'DONNELL: How many kids in your family?

MCHALE: There are three. My mom had three boys. I'm one of them. I was a hermaphrodite, though, when I was born, so --

O'DONNELL: I didn't know that.

MCHALE: I had both sets of organs. I still have them. But I have 27 first cousins. And most of them live in and around of the Chicago land area. My aunt had 10, another had five. It's just -- yes, they -- they went real Catholic.

O'DONNELL: And how did you get into the whole performing thing? Was it something that was encouraged? Was it family Knights of Columbus dinners or --

MCHALE: Yes. Well, it was the altar boy players. No, how did -- well, I -- for two years, we moved from -- well, I was -- I was born in Rome. Thank you.

O'DONNELL: That's such a weird thing.

MCHALE: I had to throw that in.

O'DONNELL: You were born in Rome, Italy? MCHALE: My dad was the dean of students at the Loyola Center, Rome campus, for Chicago, Illinois -- Chicago, Loyola Chicago. And so he wanted to go -- so we moved there. My mom's family lived there because my grandfather worked for the U.N. And they met. He was the dean. She was a student. Love, three boys. And -- so we moved to Mercer Island, Washington, outside of Seattle. Then we moved to New Jersey for two years.

And that's when I was first on stage, which is we did a -- at -- in Haddonfield, New Jersey, outside of Philadelphia, we did a stage version of the Disney ride, "It's a Small World". So before "Pirates of the Caribbean," there was "It's a Small World."

O'DONNELL: I remember it well.

MCHALE: Yes, and that was the first time and --

O'DONNELL: But you were like a child? You were --

MCHALE: I was a second grader.

O'DONNELL: A second grader.

MCHALE: And then in seventh grade, I did a play. I did "Oliver" at the Children's Theatre Northwest.

O'DONNELL: And were you Oliver?

MCHALE: No. I was way too large to be Oliver.

O'DONNELL: You are a tall man.

MCHALE: Yes, see? That picture is huge. No. Our Oliver in that production, he was a kid from India. So the song, one of the songs when the funeral parlor guys are trying to get rid of him? So one of the lines is, "One boy rather pale," had to switch to "One boy rather frail". And so --


MCHALE: Yes. So after that, I kind of had the bug and as -- when you're as insecure as I am, then you just have can -- have -- stop having people tell you you're good at something.

O'DONNELL: And you enjoy singing, I take it, if that was a musical production?

MCHALE: Well, it was a kids' production, so they would take just about anything. It was pretty brutal.

O'DONNELL: And in high school, you were athletic, I take it?

MCHALE: I played a lot of sports. It was sports and acting. Not a lot of academic --

O'DONNELL: So you were like Finn from "Glee"? Quarterback and in the glee club.

MCHALE: Now what is this show you're -- what is this --

O'DONNELL: "Glee," have you heard? The singers, FOX?

MCHALE: Yes, OK. Well, I'll just take your word for it. Yes, I guess so. Yes, I played a lot of football and a lot of basketball.

O'DONNELL: In college, as well?

MCHALE: Yes, not well. I played at the University of Washington. I was the best receiver of tackles. Like I could crumple better than anyone.

O'DONNELL: And then you got out and decided to become an actor.

MCHALE: I got out and did a sketch comedy show in Seattle called "Almost Live," which was a local -- locally produced sketch comedy show on the NBC affiliate, which was on after the local news on Saturday nights. And we pushed "SNL" to 12:00. And so we had had this crazy big following. Bill Nye, "The Science Guy," came out of there. And that's where I really learned how to screw up. I got a -- very luckily I got a guest star on "Will and Grace" because they were looking for actors who were over 6'7." And I bought boots that had three inch heels on them, which I still have if you'd like to borrow those.


MCHALE: I don't even know -- and I got this role. So it was a little role. Back on me an agent and then that agent promptly dropped me because he said I was not big enough for his agency. And then I just did commercial after commercial. So that's how I made my living was -- and I thought, well, I guess I'll do commercials and then in a few years, I'll just go back to Seattle and do weather and traffic on a country station. And --


MCHALE: But luckily --

O'DONNELL: It was "The Soup".

MCHALE: It was "The Soup" that came along, which -- at the time, was -- it was more of an AV project than anything, because there was a pilot presentation we did. They put us on Friday nights at 10:00, which at that point was a desert. And it was -- it was just kind of my friends and I. And we were just doing anything we wanted. And no one was -- no one cared. I think we got away with a lot worse than we do now. So --


MCHALE: We still have that same court of -- kind of feeling, like no one is watching, so let's just see what happens.

O'DONNELL: You changed it from "Talk Soup" to "The Soup" because it's not just talk shows anymore.

MCHALE: Right.

O'DONNELL: And reality shows, you had to incorporate that.

MCHALE: And jokes.

O'DONNELL: And comedy.

MCHALE: Mostly about Snooki, so.


MCHALE: Who's pregnant, by the way. I don't know if you knew that.


MCHALE: You didn't?

O'DONNELL: I didn't hear that.

MCHALE: Yes. She is going --

O'DONNELL: And wasn't it you who tweeted her? Didn't you tweet something?

MCHALE: She tweeted me that she was going to watch the -- she was going to go on a date. She misspelled something. And I said, hey, are you taking out Mensa members?


MCHALE: And then she had a pretty good comeback, like, uh, I'm from Jersey, what do you expect? And I was like, touche.

O'DONNELL: Well, we have a little clip from "The Soup" which we're going to look at right now together.

MCHALE: Oh, nice. Nice.

O'DONNELL: OK. It's not that one. It's on one of those --

MCHALE: It's an enormous photos of me.

O'DONNELL: Yes, don't worry. Don't look at them.


MCHALE: Love had died after 72 days of marriage. You (EXPLETIVE DELETED). A love we thought we'd last. A love no one would have predicted would end within three days of its actual end. No one predicted that. Especially not on Friday, June 3rd.

Kim, listen to your mom. It takes 60 days for the paperwork to go through with the court, and you're only going to be married for, like, 75 days, so was it really worth all that hassle for just two weeks?


O'DONNELL: You are like the Amazing Kreskin.

MCHALE: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: How did you do that?

MCHALE: We thought, actually, that was too many days, when we told the joke. We were like, let's just go with 75.


MCHALE: And, yes, I've seen Kim since. And I see her at photo shoots and things.

O'DONNELL: And is it awkward and weird?

MCHALE: No, because she's really nice and charismatic. And I -- that's what's awkward and weird. I'm like, don't you want to hit me or something? But you're totally sweet. Maybe I won't make fun of you. No, I must make fun of you. I don't know what to do. And she's -- and very attractive. I don't know.

O'DONNELL: You make fun of Ryan Seacrest a lot.


O'DONNELL: Ryan Seacrest?

MCHALE: He's right here. Hey, buddy.

O'DONNELL: But you're actually friendly with him, yes?

MCHALE: We are friendly. He's very busy. And he moves about the studio as a green gas and just -- just materializes and the next thing, Ryan, and he's like, I'd like to produce this segment, this conversation? Yes. And then he makes another million dollars. So, yes, he's not around too much anymore, but -- but he is -- we are nice to each other.


MCHALE: He's very -- I mean we take a lot of shots at him. He's very cool. It's nice that he's cool.

O'DONNELL: Has anyone ever become very angry and contacted you?

MCHALE: Without exception, no one has said you're going down. I don't know if Tyra was very happy. But every single reality star I've ever met said thank you, please put me on more.

O'DONNELL: As often as possible?

MCHALE: No matter how badly we make fun of them. O'DONNELL: Right.

MCHALE: So I did -- it proves that whole thing that people just want to be famous and that's it, no matter what.

O'DONNELL: Well, I think reality stars for certain.

MCHALE: Yes. That -- oh, yes, that is the -- that report that came out a few years ago, when they asked high school seniors what they wanted to be when they grew up and the answer was famous was as disturbing as anything that's ever been released. I mean it's crazy.

O'DONNELL: I totally agree with you.

MCHALE: Oh, yes. So -- but the problem was not a problem, it helps "The Soup." But the reality is here to say. It's something so cheap to make.

O'DONNELL: Yes. And I'm glad that you're doing it, because it's the funniest show to watch. When you're watching reality --

MCHALE: That was --

O'DONNELL: -- you're thinking to yourself, what we are they going to do on "The Soup?"



MCHALE: Or when Al Roker says that -- or Natalie Morales says -- Al Roker, as she did a couple of weeks ago, that she always likes to see his little leprechaun so --


MCHALE: That really happened.


MCHALE: And see, this is related, too.

O'DONNELL: Yes. We have six people here --

MCHALE: Saint Patrick's Day.

O'DONNELL: And they all giggled. We're going to take a break. We're going to come back and talk about "Community." I'm so happy that the show is back. I was one of the legion of fans that was saying what happened?

MCHALE: Bless you.

O'DONNELL: Why are they on the bubble? Un-bubble them.

MCHALE: Right. O'DONNELL: I have that kind of power.

MCHALE: Well, sometimes bubbles, they float into the air and they go into the sky. I don't know what I'm talking about.

O'DONNELL: I thought it was a "Wizard of Oz" thing you were going to do.


O'DONNELL: We'll be right back with Joel. Don't go away.



MCHALE: Look, I can't get by in this marriage thing either. It was invented back when until death, man, to tell your first cold. And life is too long to spend it with someone else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's sucker's game.

MCHALE: It's a mutual copout. I mean just nut up and die alone.


O'DONNELL: That was a clip from NBC's "Community," which is returning this evening. And I'm here --

MCHALE: A comedy.

O'DONNELL: Come on.

MCHALE: Nut up and die alone.

O'DONNELL: Come on.

MCHALE: Are you going to put the little banners underneath the --

O'DONNELL: Yes, probably. Breaking news stuff? Yes.

MCHALE: Can we put -- well, no, it said something like -- doesn't it say things about the person as they're down there?

O'DONNELL: Sometimes it does. You want it to say Joel McHale, what? Stud muffin?

MCHALE: I sort of feel like -- no, like doesn't like ice in his drinks.

O'DONNELL: OK. I can do that for you. I know people in the control room who are doing the editing.

MCHALE: Has sore gums sometimes after --

O'DONNELL: Sore gums?

MCHALE: -- citrus fruit. All right, I'll stop.



O'DONNELL: You talk in that show about marriage, but yet you've been married for 16 years.

MCHALE: Sixteen years, yes. I got married when I was 11.

O'DONNELL: Ha. I tried to Google information about you. Look, doesn't like ice in his drinks.


MCHALE: Great.

O'DONNELL: We're on it, Joel.

MCHALE: I like a cold beverage, but I don't like a bunch of ice, because I feel like it waters it down.

O'DONNELL: It does. And what's the point? You have to pay twice.


O'DONNELL: Your babies are how old?

MCHALE: How about -- oh, my babies? Four and seven.

O'DONNELL: You're in the glory days, honey.



MCHALE: And yesterday -- or two days ago, after a wrestling match, my 7-year-old left me with a chipped tooth, a bloody nose and he broke my watch. And he was laughing and laughing and -- there they are. That's actually Seacrest. That's not my kids.


O'DONNELL: That's just a happy day, right?

MCHALE: Oh, it was a -- I was OK with it.


MCHALE: Because my -- you know when you chip your tooth, it gets real sharp? And then I cut my tongue on that. So it was going great.

O'DONNELL: Yes. MCHALE: Say he cut his tongue on his own tooth as a banner.


O'DONNELL: What kind --

MCHALE: Cut his tongue on his own tooth.

O'DONNELL: What kind of a dad are you, strict?

MCHALE: I -- my wife is way more even keel. I don't know all the right rules. And she'll just -- she'll just wait and be like, I think what daddy is trying to say is you should put away your Legos.


MCHALE: And let's be reasonable here.


MCHALE: So it becomes like I'm the child, as well, so she's --

O'DONNELL: Can I say --

MCHALE: She's a -- there she is. A thousand times better than I am at that so.

O'DONNELL: And where did you meet?

MCHALE: And well, I mean I gave the kid cigarettes just a few years ago, because I'm like I don't even want to start on this. No, where -- we met once in college, just once. But then on a movie set, a bad -- the worst movie ever made. It was an independent film and her brother was a PA. Her mom was an extra. And her brother knew who I was. I was on "Almost Live" at that point and introduced us. And so I have her brother Richard to thank for that. And yes, we dated for two years and then got married.

O'DONNELL: Has fame affected your ability to be out in public with your family?

MCHALE: Oh, it's so hard, Rosie.


MCHALE: Oh, it is just --

O'DONNELL: Come on.

MCHALE: My gosh.

O'DONNELL: But it's changed.

MCHALE: They'll be like, oh, my gosh, there's Paul Bettany with somebody else. Oh, Matthew Lillard. Scooby.


MCHALE: Shaggy. No, no. It's not --

O'DONNELL: Not at all?

MCHALE: It's not -- it's not bad. You know, it's not -- I can't imagine what it would be like to be Matt Damon or something. Because he's very short. Just kidding, Matt. No.


MCHALE: I can't imagine what that would be. People come up. But it's one of these things where I get if you were a huge celebrity, it would be incredibly hard to just go out. But when people walk up to you and tell you like, hey, I really like you.

O'DONNELL: Yes, that's not so bad.

MCHALE: It's way better than like your hands coming off from digging ditches all day. So --

O'DONNELL: Yes. But you have such, you know, very, very rabid fans that they all got together and pretty much saved the show.

MCHALE: They -- yes, thank God for the fans of "Community," because they are organized, young and know how to use a computer. If it --


MCHALE: If they're all my father's age, there would be a lot of letters written and --

O'DONNELL: They don't count anymore.

MCHALE: No, they got on Twitter. There were flash mobs outside of "30 Rock" and in Burbank, outside of NBC. They all wore these Abed Nadir evil timeline --

O'DONNELL: Scary masks.

MCHALE: Timeline goatees. It was -- their support has been tremendous. And I think everyone thought it would kind of drop off after a month or two. But it only got -- it only ramped up even further.

O'DONNELL: And didn't you promise to French kiss every man and woman who participated?

MCHALE: Every man and woman, I will French kiss, for all that. Yes, if we beat "American Idol" and "Big Bang Theory" combined tonight.

O'DONNELL: And has that, do you think, any chance of --

MCHALE: Oh, yes. No problem. O'DONNELL: Yes.

MCHALE: Does Purell make a lip?


O'DONNELL: A mouthwash.

MCHALE: No, I'm just worried that I'll be very chapped.


MCHALE: And then I'll be spreading --


MCHALE: -- a lot of communicable -- I have a lot of tropical diseases.

O'DONNELL: Growing up as a kid, who were your comedy idols? Who did you look up to and go, hey, that's the person I'd like to be like?

MCHALE: Wow. Well, Mr. Steve Martin, of course. Mr. John Cleese. Pretty much -- Monty Python was kind of the bible for me. Woody Allen movies, I adored.


MCHALE: Bill Murray, there's another one. Bill Murray.

O'DONNELL: Bill Murray. Yes.

MCHALE: Yes. From --

O'DONNELL: Now have you ever met any one of these people and then been star struck?

MCHALE: Well, I did it -- yes, I'm totally.


MCHALE: I went to John Cleese's birthday because my friend had put him in a movie. So and I just kind of sat in the corner blubbering most of the time, not -- and I -- yes. But then I did a movie with Steve Martin last summer that kind of came and went. But I -- but I got -- it was like I had won a prize where I got to be in scenes with Steve Martin so.

O'DONNELL: And was he as you had imagined?

MCHALE: He was that and more so. He's a Renaissance man.

O'DONNELL: Sure. And he's so smart.

MCHALE: And he's so smart. But he actually listens to what you're saying. O'DONNELL: Yes.

MCHALE: Which is rare when you meet really, sometimes, really big, famous people. Sometimes not. But he just listened and really was very thoughtful. And then, of course, was incredibly funny.

O'DONNELL: Are your kids funny?

MCHALE: Yes. The -- I think. The 7-year-old, whenever I tell a joke to him, he will kind of like stop. And then he goes, OK, daddy, no jokes for a week. And then he'll go back to what he's doing.

O'DONNELL: That is very good.

MCHALE: So he tells me, he's like, oh, daddy, no jokes for an entire year now.


MCHALE: And then the -- the 4-year-old is a total ham and will do anything he can to make you laugh and fight you.


MCHALE: He will walk up to you and go fight back and then start hitting you.

O'DONNELL: Yes. "Kung Fu Panda".



MCHALE: And my boys are -- my 7-year-old is very -- has -- he does it -- when they wrestle, he's very gentle with the 4-year-old, even though the 4-year-old is -- my 4-year-old swings hard, so --

O'DONNELL: He does?

MCHALE: It's pretty great. I mean you know.

O'DONNELL: I know.

MCHALE: What that was like.

O'DONNELL: I've got four of them. It's not easy.


O'DONNELL: And I love it.

MCHALE: I can't even imagine.

O'DONNELL: It's a good thing.

MCHALE: I would run away. O'DONNELL: You would?

MCHALE: Well --

O'DONNELL: Come on. One more. You're Irish Catholic. Get in there.

MCHALE: Yes, well, I -- I'm -- yes, for Irish Catholic, I have no --

O'DONNELL: You only got two? Something of a disappointment.

MCHALE: I have no case for Irish Catholic.

O'DONNELL: Really?


O'DONNELL: Two, that's nothing.

MCHALE: You're just warming up.

O'DONNELL: Right. You're not done yet.


O'DONNELL: You're still a young man.

MCHALE: I -- yes, no. It's -- yes, you -- you know -- it's like the -- I -- they're the greatest thing that's ever happened to me.


MCHALE: That and my sports car.


MCHALE: I'm sorry.

O'DONNELL: That's all right.

MCHALE: Yes, my bad.

O'DONNELL: "Community" is on tonight. That would be Thursday. And Anjelica Houston, you've got to say hello to her pretty --

MCHALE: I said -- yes.

O'DONNELL: Come on, is she amazing?

MCHALE: A legend.

O'DONNELL: Amazing.

MCHALE: Anjelica Huston.

O'DONNELL: Yes. She --

MCHALE: And then I got to be interviewed by you.

O'DONNELL: Well, you're delightful. And I --

MCHALE: And you.

O'DONNELL: I have always admired you even when you made fun of me.

MCHALE: God bless you.


MCHALE: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: You're welcome.

MCHALE: Were you ever mad?

O'DONNELL: No, I thought it was hysterical. Once I did a thing on "The View" where I hung upside down, supposedly to help depression. And you showed the clip and you said, I don't know if that helps her depression, but it sure helps mine.


O'DONNELL: I died laughing. Very funny. Nice to meet you.

MCHALE: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Continued success.

MCHALE: Great to meet you.

O'DONNELL: And I'm very happy that your show is back on.


O'DONNELL: Watch "Community," will you?

MCHALE: Let's hope it does well.

O'DONNELL: Coming up, the one and only Academy Award winner, Anjelica Huston. Don't go way.

MCHALE: I'm staying.

O'DONNELL: Please stay, will you?

MCHALE: I'm staying for that. I'm not moving.

O'DONNELL: All right then.



HUSTON: Some day we'll be buried side by side, six feet under, in matching coffins, our lifeless bodies rotting together for all eternity.



O'DONNELL: That is the fabulous Anjelica Huston who joins me now. You know her from the hit show "SMASH."

Anjelica, how are you?

HUSTON: I'm great, Rosie. How are you?

O'DONNELL: How perfect is the show?

HUSTON: It's fantastic.

O'DONNELL: It's like a dream come true for anyone who loves Broadway to turn it on and to see what it really is like to be behind the scenes of a Broadway show.

HUSTON: That and a little extra. You know, we're quite venal backstage on the show. There's a lot going on. But it's great fun and we have a fantastic cast and a great crew and we're all in love.

O'DONNELL: This is the first time that you've done series TV, yes?

HUSTON: It is. This is the longest strip of work I've ever done consecutively. Seven month, I'm in shock. My part ended last night for the season so I'm kind of celebrating with you today.

O'DONNELL: Are we going to get to see Ilene sing finally?

HUSTON: We are. It's a little squeaky but it's a start.

O'DONNELL: Yes. Was it nerve racking when you had to do that?

HUSTON: Totally nerve racking but we have two amazing composers on the series, Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman and they got me through it.

O'DONNELL: They're the guys who brought us "Hairspray," the musical.



HUSTON: And actually -- god, what was it called, our tango, Raul's and my tango and --

O'DONNELL: In the "Addams Family"? HUSTON: Yes. "Addams Family."

O'DONNELL: Yes. Very --

HUSTON: The Mamushka.

O'DONNELL: Very talented guys. Yes.

HUSTON: Great.

O'DONNELL: Well, when they asked you to do this, what made you consider coming to New York and doing series TV?

HUSTON: Well, first of all, the writing on the series was so good. It's Theresa Rebeck who is -- she's well known to New York audiences. She's really fantastic. She's got a great brain and a really good, very observant, very keen eye for this kind of thing. Steven Spielberg executive produces, which is not bad. And it was an opportunity to -- I always call it the culture of death but I so enjoy being part of the series that's not cops, forensics, gloomy.


HUSTON: You know, sort of hospital --


HUSTON: Sad subjects.

O'DONNELL: Sad, yes.

HUSTON: Yes. And so to be part of this is really a great relief and a joy.

O'DONNELL: Now moving to New York that must have been a big deal for you? You've been in California and Venice for a very long time.

HUSTON: Well, I'm still there. I still have my house there that my husband built for me. Although it's on the market, it was good for me to get a little bit of distance.

O'DONNELL: Yes. So your husband Robert who everyone loved, tremendous artist and he passed away about three years ago now?

HUSTON: That's right.

O'DONNELL: Yes. And that must have been very difficult to imagine how to move forward?

HUSTON: It was. It was -- it was a bit confounding to me for a while and actually there's a period of widowhood where I really believe people shouldn't look at you and you shouldn't look at people, you know, veils are not a bad thing. But at a certain point you have to figure out your life and what you're going to do and how you're going to move forward and around that time, or at least a year and a half later this script came to me for "SMASH" and I went to see my dear old friend Sue Minger (ph) who also passed away sadly this year and I said, Sue, I don't know, I've been offered this kid of marvelous thing, but I'm trepidatious, I'm worried, I'm feeling fragile.

And she took a long pause and she looked back and she said, "it's a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) miracle."

O'DONNELL: Exactly. It's a gift.

HUSTON: It is, it is a gift and work is a gift and that's something that can never be taken away from you, your passion for your work and -- and what it offers you and how it covers you and the places it takes you to. And if you'd said to me two years ago, you know, that I'd be in a chair and makeup trailer happily with about eight other cast members, who I would be thrilled to see at 5:00 in the morning, I would have laughed. But --

O'DONNELL: Especially since you --

HUSTON: I'm laughing for the right reasons.

O'DONNELL: -- you were still grieving so much then --

HUSTON: Exactly.

O'DONNELL: -- right? That's the concept seemed almost impossible.

HUSTON: Exactly.

O'DONNELL: Did you and Robert get a chance to say good-bye? Because he sort of got sick kind of suddenly. It wasn't prolonged.

HUSTON: It was -- it was -- it was fast and -- and -- and prolonged at the same time. He -- he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which was a bad diagnosis. And he'd -- his -- his -- his general practitioner had kind of -- had -- had died some years before. And so Bob was -- was seeing specialists.

And if anyone watching this program, you know, is doing that, I'd advise them to get a full blood panel with a general practitioner, because that was the thing that he wasn't doing. He wasn't looking at the overall picture. Maybe he didn't want to look at the overall picture.

But consequently when he was diagnosed, erroneously, with rheumatoid arthritis, given a lot of steroids, his body started to swell and -- and it was rather alarming for about four days. And actually it was the night of -- of the Olympics on August the 9th; about 3:00 in the morning, he sprang up from the bed in full heart attack and kidney failure.

I didn't know what was going on. And that's another thing I'd say, you know, if anyone is -- is in any question about whether to call the paramedics or not, call the paramedics.

O'DONNELL: Call the paramedics, yeah. HUSTON: Don't wait.

But he got through nine weeks in the hospital and then came out and -- and was in rehab and then came home and then he fell. That's another lesson, watch out for falls --


HUSTON: -- because they really take people down. That -- that can be so critical and so crucial. And -- and then he just started to die. And it was -- it would seem to be nothing that we could do, you know, that -- just to be there and -- and to hold his hand.

And at -- at the end, he asked me if he was dying and I said, no of course not. But I don't know, I -- I don't have a -- there's no guide book to these things.

O'DONNELL: Exactly.

HUSTON: You have to do what's in your heart and what you feel is right. It's -- it's one of the hardest things I've ever been through. My -- my father's death was hard. But I don't know -- I don't know if we can ever really negotiate it. You can -- you can make peace with it and -- maybe and hope that you did the right thing, but there's no way of knowing really.


HUSTON: You try to be kind and you try to do the best thing. That's -- that's all you can do really.

O'DONNELL: He was probably the most charming man I've ever know.

HUSTON: He was beautiful.

O'DONNELL: Really and just --

HUSTON: Most beautiful man.

O'DONNELL: Exactly. His physical presence, how he moved in the world and his art, I think all showed his soul. He was an amazing sculptor, really amazing.

HUSTON: Yeah. And Bob took no prisoners. He moved elegantly and -- and sort of seamlessly. He was a very funny, very subtle person, had an incredible eye. Loved you, by the way, thought you were great.

O'DONNELL: Quite mutual.


O'DONNELL: Very odd that we met actually as a friend of ours was dying. I didn't know you. You didn't know me.

HUSTON: That's right. O'DONNELL: And we were both visiting our friend, Anthony.

HUSTON: Anthony Cortino, one of the great all-time people. He -- I met him when I was doing "Prizzi's Honor." He was -- he did my hair on that show and I remember the first time I met him, he had a full afro, white man, Italian, Cortino. And he was as gay as the breeze.

O'DONNELL: He sure was. He'd say Bah-boom and he said first thing -- bah-boom, I told her Oscar.

HUSTON: That's right.

O'DONNELL: And he loved that.

HUSTON: And my favorite thing to do was, just for fun, to deride Barbra Streisand to him, just to -- to see the terrible conundrum this would put him in, because he was passionately in love with --

O'DONNELL: It was blasphemy.

HUSTON: -- Barbra Streisand. It was blasphemy and -- and he also loved me very much. So to do this to him --


HUSTON: -- it was really -- it was a horrible thing. But I used to kind of practice.

O'DONNELL: Well he was absolutely -- I miss him so much. He was the funniest guy.

We're going to take a break. We're going to come back and we're going to show a clip from "Smash" right after this with Angelica and talk about what it's like have a super famous family and then go into that same business. Don't go away. This is Piers Morgan and I am Chakka Chan. We'll be back.



HUSTON: I bought them myself, Jerry. I bought those earrings for myself. And you know what, this is my musical. And I am producing it by myself.


O'DONNELL: That has become her signature.

HUSTON: Indeed.

O'DONNELL: Right, Ilene, what a character that is.

HUSTON: I'm having so much fun with Ilene. She says and does all the things I don't dare to do in my own life. She's mean to people.


HUSTON: She throws drinks in her ex-husband's face. It's all good.

O'DONNELL: Did you base her on anyone that you can admit to or --

HUSTON: A few people who are all kind of a little more venal than I am, or so I like to think. But -- but I think Ilene comes from a very honest place, so.

O'DONNELL: Yeah. Does she sing a ballad when she gets to sing?

HUSTON: She sings a little something her grandfather used to sing.

O'DONNELL: Speaking of which, what -- what does it feel like to you -- I know it's all you know -- but to have grown up in a family where entertainment and art and show business was just part of the milieu, and then you end up going right into the business? Did you feel pushed or drawn or pulled?

HUSTON: I have a baby book that I started writing in as soon as I could kind of spell in which I -- I say I want to be an actress. I think I was about five -- four or five at the time. And it's always what I wanted to be.

I think briefly, I wanted to be a nun, a veterinarian, you know, the usual thing. But -- but acting was always kind of my priority. And when I was 16, my father put me in a movie. And of course, it was a year when there was a school search for Juliette for Sephareli's (pH) "Romeo and Juliette." And of course I wanted to be Juliette. I didn't want to work with my father as a teenager.


HUSTON: And we made this movie together which was a bit of a disaster and -- and I was roundly criticized and he was criticized for nepotism. It was all quite unpleasant. And then years later, I -- I hosted an AFI tribute to him and -- in which I said, you know, if you're willing to try again, I -- I -- I'd like to try again. And what came of that was "Prizzi's Honor," which was a great movie for both of us.

And -- and he won me the -- the supporting actress Academy Award. So it was like a complete reversal of -- of the first time we'd worked. And after that, we did his last song, "The Dead" --

O'DONNELL: "The Dead."

HUSTON: -- which was also a very moving experience for both of us. So I kind of went through all stages of it. I went through reluctance, acceptance and -- and then of course, you know, the full realization that -- that I was a willing and -- and a very lucky pupil.

O'DONNELL: When you were doing "Prizzi's Honor," did you know that it would get the kind of acclaim? Did you -- anyone say to you this has Oscar potential?

HUSTON: No, but there's something about really good material that you feel like a squirrel with a nut in your cheek, you know. You've got something pretty good --


HUSTON: -- going. And I felt it about certain endeavors. I've felt it on "The Grifters." I felt in -- in a movie I did called "The Witches" with Nick Roeg. I felt it on the "Addams Family." I feel it on "Smash."

It's just like you've got a great little secret.

O'DONNELL: Right. We have a clip from your Oscar winning performance, take a look at this.


HUSTON: Answer the question. do you want to do it?


HUSTON: So. Let's do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the lights on.

HUSTON: Yes. Right here on the Oriental with all the lights on.


O'DONNELL: Do you remember winning?

HUSTON: On "The Oriental." Yes I do sort of vaguely. It's all in a haze really. Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfus on the stage presenting were very, very far way away. And it was like kind of walking into a cloud. It -- it -- it's not quite like anything else. I -- unless I guess you're voted, you know --

O'DONNELL: Senator or president --

HUSTON: Something.

O'DONNELL: -- yeah.

HUSTON: Yeah. But -- but it is kind of another zone. And I -- I remember later not thanking the appropriate people and feeling sorry about that. But -- and -- and actually being the only one to -- to leave with -- with an Oscar, which I felt was a bit unfair because there were other people who were kind of better in the movie than I was.

O'DONNELL: Right. What did your dad say to you after you won, do you remember?

HUSTON: He was happy. He was staying at the Mondrial (ph) Hotel, because he was just in from Mexico where he was then living. And he was on oxygen at the time. So he was kind of set up there after -- after the show in bed early, attached to his oxygen tank.

And I think he was -- he was a little disappoint that we hadn't come in together, that -- that he hadn't won too, because years before, he and his grandfather -- he and his father -- my grandfather -- had -- had both won for "Treasure of Sierra Madre."

So I think he kind of wanted to -- to repeat that experience. But of course, you know, that -- that would have been I think, you know, too much to -- to hope for. But he was very -- he was very happy for me and I think proud of me.

O'DONNELL: Yeah. We're going to take a break, come back and we're going to talk about what seems to be happening in our society today, where we're fighting for the same rights as women that we fought for in the '70s.

What is going on, Angelica.

HUSTON: What is going on, Rosie.

O'DONNELL: I don't know. We're going to discuss it after this break. Don't go away.



HUSTON: -- clown pictures, commission salesman -- it's all a front. You're working some angle. And don't tell me you're not, because I wrote the book.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're one to talk. You still running playback money for the mob.

HUSTON: That's me. That's who I am. You were never cut out for the rackets, Roy.


HUSTON: You aren't tough enough.


O'DONNELL: Fantastic in that movie. I love that movie "Grifters."

HUSTON: I had a great time on that movie.

O'DONNELL: You played an evil, horrible family member, crazy.

HUSTON: Yeah, but those people, they always come from somewhere. O'DONNELL: Yeah.

HUSTON: You know, it's -- it's easy to make judgments on them. But I -- I have a lot of sympathy for -- for -- for that character, Lilly Dillon. She was like a fox with her leg caught in the trap. She had to chew off her leg in order to live.

O'DONNELL: Right. In order to get breaks. Speaking of which, it feels as though we women in America today are having to do the same thing. What has happened that we are fighting again for reproductive rights in America?

HUSTON: Unbelievable.

O'DONNELL: How did this happen?

HUSTON: And how did guys get to be ones to -- who solely discuss it? I mean, it's absolutely astonishing to me. It's the dark ages.

O'DONNELL: It really is. I tried to watch the Republican Convention and I think to myself, surely this can't be the cream of the crop.


O'DONNELL: You could disagree politically with someone. You can be a Democrat, they can be Republican, but you have some common ground.


O'DONNELL: It seems as though there is no longer any common ground.

HUSTON: No, it's -- it's totally out of control. I don't understand it. But I don't -- I don't understand a lot of things in present day America. My theory was that if we'd dropped radios and blankets on Afghanistan, we wouldn't be having the problems that we're having now.

I'm just so depressed about the state of the world.

O'DONNELL: And now that there are these war hawks out there saying Syria, go into Syria, I'm like surely you are kidding.

HUSTON: Surely you're kidding. It's already broken this country to -- to go to war in Iran and -- I mean in Iraq and -- and Afghanistan. I mean, we can only interfere so much, too.

O'DONNELL: Yeah. You know when I was kid when the Vietnam War was going on, I remember the teachers in school saying to us, there will never be another war because now everyone has a nuclear bomb, so this will be the last war.

And to think that we're sending out children again to other nations and then coming back with these unbelievable wounds that -- the IED's that are there and the head wounds, the traumas --

HUSTON: It's so terrible.


HUSTON: And also the -- just the -- what we leave in the memories of the -- of the children of those countries that we invade. I mean, we're not exactly creating a state of good will when we go into these places. If we were actually helping in some way, but it seems to me that it's always the people who get caught in the crossfire, the children.


HUSTON: The children. And -- and -- and as you were saying, I remember when I was a little girl, six-years-old, going to Irish convent and taking two and six to -- to -- to help little black babies in Biafra (ph) and thinking, oh, when I grow up, there's not going to be hunger. Well --


HUSTON: It's -- it's very, very disturbing, I agree with you.

O'DONNELL: You did a wonderful documentary about what's going on in Burma.

HUSTON: Yeah, well, finally actually Aung San Suu Kyi is up for reelection for the democratic party. And that's a fantastic thing. She's a wonderful woman. And I think it was really time for the military junta to -- to step down in Burma.

O'DONNELL: Yeah. Do you find that your political views have caused you any kind of problems career wise? Do you ever worry that --

HUSTON: I don't care if they do, you know. They're my opinions. And I'm a public person so if I choose to -- to air what I think publicly, that's my right. I -- I'm not really concerned too much with -- with what people think of that.

I'm presently really endearing myself to -- to the New York public by taking a stand against the carriage horses in Central Park, which I'm -- I'm very opposed to. I'm -- I've been a horse lover all my life. I -- I believe that, you know, they should be allowed to run free once in a while. And --

O'DONNELL: Yeah, it does seem absurdly cruel, truthfully.

HUSTON: I think it is. And -- and -- and of course, great apes in television, chimpanzee babies who are torn away from their mothers. Chimpanzees let -- go up to six years with their parents, they're just like human babies.

O'DONNELL: Right. HUSTON: And to sort of orphan these -- these little chimps or these smaller orangutans, all of these great apes, is -- is really unconscionable.

O'DONNELL: Did you happen to see, there was recently -- there was recently -- the -- the HBO show "Luck" was canceled because three horses were killed.


O'DONNELL: And you often wonder, how we were you able to do that, the three horses get killed, but yet you can do "Warhorse" if your Steven Spielberg and no animals get harmed.

HUSTON: Yeah, I'm not quite sure how that happened or whether it was CGI. But I'm -- I'm -- you know, I understand the need to -- to use animals in film, but you have to be really, really extra careful. And I think a lot of the wranglers working in movies, there should be a checklist on that, because I've seen some bad behavior.

But if I see bad behavior, I don't go to work. I -- I simply will not work. I -- I was in Italy on a film where some Irish wolf hounds were being mistreated and I said that's fine; until that wrangler goes, I'm -- I'm not walking on. So you know, I can be a pain in the ass about it.

O'DONNELL: Yeah. But a pain in the ass that we all love.

HUSTON: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: There you go. Continued success on "Smash." Really it's --

HUSTON: Thanks, Rosie.

O'DONNELL: -- on Monday's on NBC. Everybody watch it. It's really brilliant and you're great in it. And I adore you, Angelica Huston.

HUSTON: I adore you back.

O'DONNELL: And you know that. All right, Only in America when we come back. Don't go away.


O'DONNELL: Well, this is the time in the program that Piers gives us his take on life in the U.S. It's called Only in America. And tonight, I found a story that will make my British buddy proud.

For Only in America can an iconic rock band take the concept of merchandising to a whole new level. I'm talking about Kiss. Yes, the platform shoes, the makeup, the whole tongue thing. Remember them?

They've been glamming it up since the 1970s. For Kiss, it's always been about the music, man. OK, so maybe now it's about the money, too, man.

How else can you explain today's grand opening in Vegas of the Kiss Monster Mini-Golf Course. This is no ordinary miniature golf course. It's a glow in the dark golf course.

It has the largest Kiss gift shop in the world.

Now, I am not calling them sellouts. I am not. But what's next? Batting cages with Kiss glitter balls? I guess what they're trying to tell us it's OK to do anything for money here in America. And you never know. Maybe I'll take that to heart and I'll reconsider some of those offers I got last week to sell Rosie O'Donnell's Kosher for Passover Brand Matzo Ball Soup.

Or better yet, maybe I'll record a country album with Rush Limbaugh. Then we'll hit the road to promote it, the Rush and Rosie Show. Giddy up.

Tomorrow, Arsenio Hall sits in for Piers. His guests, Magic Johnson and his wife, Cookie. In the 20 years since Magic announced he was HIV positive, a lot has changed. He'll talk all about it tomorrow.

And that's it for tonight. Right now, "AC 360" starts. Stay tuned.