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On the C(hicago) list: Kathy Griffin
by Jerry Nunn
2008-10-15

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Kathy Griffin's stand-up act has sold out several shows at The Chicago Theatre and added new ones to keep up with the demand. Her Emmy Award-winning reality show is a huge hit, and it was a nice to find out she is just as funny on the phone as on television.

Windy City Times: Hi, Kathy. Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk. First off, is Life on the D-List going to be on for a fifth season?

Kathy Griffin: The Bravo people have said that I have signed up but I have not. I am trying to extract tens more dollars from Bravo. Those cheap bastards—you would think after four years and two Emmys that they could come up with it. I am in bitter negotiations, because you know they are very busy with shows like The Break Up with Jo & Slade.

WCT: I heard that you might be moving to Lifetime—any truth to that?

KG: Lifetime is not one of them, but I have been talking to one of the other major cable networks. Honestly, I would like to stay at NBC since I have worked there since Suddenly Susan, so we will see how it all works out.

WCT: How was the second Emmy win compared to the first?

KG: It was glorious. I wanted to win more than I am supposed to say. I am supposed to say that it's an honor to be nominated. But it's much better to win. I wanted to win like I was in a fucking Jacqueline Susan novel. I wanted to win like Neely O'Hara in Valley of the Dolls. I would have ripped the wig of Ty Pennington if I could!

WCT: What was the behind-the-scenes experience during the Emmys with Don Rickles like?

KG: I talk about all of that in the shows for sure. Let me just say that Don Rickles is so funny and so sweet and delightful, and he really is my idol. At 82, he has a license to kill with him. He gets away with saying anything. Nobody messes with Rickles. It's hysterical. I don't even think Oprah has the nerve to mess with him. He's that much of a comedic icon.

WCT: That was a great moment of the show.

KG: It was fun. I was so glad because the producers wanted Don to stay on script. And I thought he was obviously such a breath of fresh air. I thought it was one of the best moments of the show also.

WCT: Do you feel vindicated with Gaiken [ Clay Aiken ] coming out of the closet?

KG: I do. I am still hurt that I was not asked to be the babymomma. I am going to have to ask my own inner Clay on how to get over that.

WCT: You were so right about the whole thing.

KG: Well, I think it's really great that he came out. The picture of him holding the baby is such a powerful image because gay adoption is such a hot issue. He came out at a relatively young age. I very much applaud him for coming out at this time. He's still facing the people on Broadway every night. He's being honest with himself and his kid, and I think it's great. Doesn't mean that I am not going to make fun of him for the rest of my life, but I still think he's great.

WCT: There was a rumor that you were supposed to be on Dancing with the Stars. Is there any truth to it?

KG: That's actually why I left my agent. After winning an Emmy and having my own show and I, oh, I don't know, selling out four nights at the Chicago Theatre, I am playing Madison Square Garden in February, and for them to call and say, 'We have a hard offer for Dancing.' It's such a show-business line. I of course love the show. I, of course, want my beloved Lance Bass to win. I am just saying: When you think Kathy Griffin, you think dick jokes. You don't think leg extensions or tumbling of any kind. I already wear enough drag makeup; that would not be a new thing for me. I just thought you can not be more off the mark.

WCT: What kind of speech do you have planned for the Grammy win?

KG: I love your positive energy. Well, I can tell you this: When I was making the CD, some bigwig at Sony had me take out all the Britney Spears material. She was on the label and they didn't want to have that. I thought, 'What kind comedian worth their salt would not make fun of Britney Spears, especially in the last year?' So the day the tapes were going to be 'mastered,' ( I am not really sure what that means but I think it's the point of no return ) they said, 'You have to take it out or we won't do it.' So if I am lucky enough to win, I will have to mention that incident and possibly that person by name,

WCT: That's a great idea. [ Both laugh. ]

KG: I always like the mentioning-of-names part. I met Drew Barrymore one time and she said that we should have a dinner party sometime. She said that we hate the same people and we could talk about it. I said, 'Drew, the difference is that I mention their names on television.' So that party never materialized.

WCT: Maybe one day. So is your mother still stealing your gays?

KG: Oh God, she is ruthless. She will steal any gay that isn't nailed down. She has the nerve to be taking the hot gays. At this point she's stealing gays from other gays. She plays that old-lady card. You know: 'I'm vulnerable' and that bit, and the next thing you know the gays are over there watching Judge Judy and Dancing with the Stars.

WCT: And the Golden Girls reruns.

KG: Oh, yeah. And then I can barely get them on the phone. I'm on to her trickery.

WCT: Any new thoughts on The View?

KG: Ohhh. First of all, I still can't get over the fact that Sherri Shepherd thinks the earth is flat. That's already hysterical to me. Also, she told Bill Maher that God personally speaks to her. I am fascinated by that.

Somehow, Elizabeth Hasselbeck has snowed American audiences into not knowing that she is a fucking Survivor reject. I am sorry; I am going to listen to the political beliefs of someone who wore wacky scarves on Survivor?

God knows Barbara [ Walters ] can't stand me, but at least I listen to her because she has interviewed every world leader, living and dead.

Of course I like Whoopi and Joy very much. I get along great with them. Sherri is a pistol. But this notion that everyone has to be quiet and listen to Hasselbeck is out of control. It's always amusing to hear her lose her points when you watch her on YouTube.com .

WCT: She seems more and more stressed out.

KG: She's getting more and more strident; that's for sure. But also, I am not sure why Babs treats her like a rock star. Believe me: When I was there, Barbara Walters was kicking my shins under the table. Barbara had me on a short leash—not one of those leashes where you push the button and it gets longer, she had me on a short choke chain!

WCT: What's in the future for Kathy Griffin?

KG: Well, we will see if I have a Grammy season. First of all, I will have to pick a dress to see if I get on the worst-dressed list. It's a little harder because the girls really go out there fashion-wise for the Grammys. Let me tell you something: If I get a Grammy nomination, I am going to be insufferable. You are going to think that I am Aretha Franklin and Gwen Stefani combined. I am going to be talking about things like my Grammy family and what it's like to be a recording star.

Also, coming down the pike I am doing a story arc for Nip/Tuck. They are writing it for me, which makes me feel very famous.

And then I am just touring, touring, touring, [ and ] I can't wait to go to Chicago. That theater is so gorgeous. By the way, Liza Minnelli, who I have become friendly with, told me that her father used to do the costumes for The Chicago Theatre back in the day.

WCT: Well, that's impressive, and so are you. We are all very excited about the show. I will see you there!

KG: Jerry Nunn, party of four—you are on the list. Grab your gays!

Kathy Griffin is performing to sold out crowds in Chicago Oct. 15-16 at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. For more information, visit www.thechicagotheatre.com or www.kathygriffin.net .


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