A trio of interview memories

Published 9:42 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2015

By Frank Roberts

I’ve interviewed a lot of Hollywood stars in my time and have had my share of detractors — Charlton Heston, as it turns out, was not a fan — but I was reminded recently of how well I have been received by some of Hollywood’s best and brightest.

I got the idea for this column after seeing a story about Lily Tomlin being recognized in the 37th Annual Kennedy Center Honors. Other honorees on the Kennedy program included Tom Hanks, and Sting.


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The comedienne, who once graced the cover of Time Magazine, was the winner of four Emmys, two Tonys and a Grammy.

I never met the lady, but I interviewed her on an Internet program I’d been doing for a couple years. (I’m still at the same site, but strictly as a deejay).

We talked about her career — “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-in” and “Murphy Brown,” among other TV shows; and movies, such as “Nashville,” and “9 To Five,” which co-starred Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda.

“We had great fun,” Tomlin recalled, adding that the three became good friends.

The Laugh-In characters of telephone operator, Ernestine, and 5-year-old Edith Ann were two of her favorites.

Jeff Daniels was a Suffolk Center For Cultural Arts guest a few years back, promoting his music, rather than his acting.

After the pop music presentation, he invited me backstage. One of his sons — Benjamin or Lucas — was with him. I remember the teen asking Dad for the car keys, which the actor tossed to him. There is also a daughter, Nellie.

Daniels is the most “un-Hollywoodish” actor in the business. He lives in Chelsea, Mich., and commutes to the movie capital when he is invited, which is often.

Since 1979, Daniels has been married to his childhood sweetheart, Kathleen. They wed on a Friday the 13th, because that was his number when he was playing baseball in high school. He is an avid Detroit Tigers fan.

Musically, he cut five albums, containing, mostly, self-penned songs, with proceeds going to the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea, named for Woody Allen’s favorite movie, which starred Daniels, “The Purple Rose Of Cairo.”

He loves living in Chelsea, and the deal was that as long as he didn’t mind the constant commute between there and Tinseltown, it was fine with producers.

“Don’t ever tell us that you can’t afford it,” one producer said.

“In Michigan, I do fireworks, shovel snow and live life,” the actor said.

Some of his multitudinous movies are “Speed” (one of my favorites), “Arachnaphobia,” “Terms Of Endearment,” “Dumb and Dumber,” “Pleasantville” and “Good Night, And Good Luck.”

The complete list is looong.

Heston, Tomlin and Daniels. Quite a trio, and I was happy to be part of their lives, if only for a few minutes.

During a 60-year career spanning newspapers, radio and television, Frank Roberts has been there and done that. Today, he’s doing it in retirement from North Carolina, but he continues to keep an eye set on Suffolk and an ear cocked on country music. Email him at froberts73@embarqmail.com.