Hilarious man Chris Rock is a familiar face whether you're watching a comedy show, a movie or an awards show. He started as a stand up comic and worked his way into mainstream entertainment. Though he was born in South Carolina, Chris Rock grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Rock discovered comedy early in life, and was performing in the New York standup comedy circuit by his late teens. It wasn't until a performance at the New York Comedy Strip that Rock's dream became tangible. That night, a then 18-year-old, Rock was introduced to veteran comedian Eddie Murphy, who was impressed enough to cast him in 1987's Beverly Hills Cop II. While it was no breakout performance, the role and newfound connection with Eddie Murphy helped Rock land a couple of small supporting roles, and eventually a spot on NBC's long-running Saturday Night Live. Rock stayed with SNL for the better part of three years, and periodically guest-starred in fellow comedian Keenan Ivory Wayans' In Living Color. In 1991, he took a break from comedy in favor of a more dramatic role -- indeed, Rock's performance as a surprisingly innocent crack addict-cum-informant in Mario Van Peebles' New Jack City attracted no small amount of favorable attention. Perhaps the role in New Jack City is indicative of Rock's driving force (i.e., the politics of modern society and issues within African-American communities throughout the United States). Though his delivery is certainly of a comedic nature, many of his favorite topics are quite serious, and it was Rock's ability to confront these issues so accurately that launched his career during the late '90s. While his 1993 screenwriting debut received only lukewarm reviews, Rock became a household name after his scathing HBO comedy special Bring the Pain (1996), earning him two Emmy awards and a significantly larger fan base. The same year, he received a third Emmy for his work as a writer and correspondent for Comedy Central's Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. Before long, Rock received a fourth Emmy as well as the NAACP Image Award for his work on HBO's The Chris Rock Show, which aired throughout 1998 and 1999.
Rock's film career would continue to grow throughout the late '90s, and the young comic won particular notice for his role as a hot-headed law enforcement agent in 1998's Lethal Weapon 4 opposite Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, and later for Kevin Smith's Dogma(1999), in which he played a rather bitter apostle of Jesus. He also published a book titled Rock This! with much success. Though Dogma received mixed reviews, 1999 was no lukewarm year for Rock -- HBO came through once again, and Chris hit it big with Bigger & Blacker, his second televised comedy special, which took on topics ranging from gun-control to Bill Clinton and proper parenting techniques. In 2000, he played a fantasy hitman alongside Renée Zellweger in Nurse Betty.
In 2001, Rock put his screenwriting abilities to the test in Down to Earth, a remake of 1941's Here Comes Mr. Jordan, and again in Pootie Tang, a feature spin-off of one of the characters from The Chris Rock Show. Though Pootie Tang fared much better as a three-minute sketch, the film's razor-sharp pop cultural references begat a spot alongside I'm Gonna Git You Sucka and Hollywood Shuffle. In 2001, Rock lent his vocal chords to Steven Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and Osmosis Jones, and rejoined Kevin Smith for a tiny role in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. In 2002, Rock was one of several comedians featured in Christian Charles' documentary Comedian, and in the same year starred opposite Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins as a CIA spy in Bad Company. Rock directed and starred in 2003's Head of State as an unlikely presidential candidate for the Democratic party and is slated to star opposite Ben Stiller in Eric Darnell's Madagascar (2005).
Chris Rock fails to rack up more Oscar viewers
Chris Rock may have changed up the Oscars, but he didn't bring more viewers with him.
The 77th annual Academy Awards averaged 41.5 million viewers Sunday, a 5% drop from last year. And aside from the record-low turnout of 33 million in 2002, when musical Chicago won the best-picture Oscar, this year marked the least-watched Oscars since 1997, when the art-house film The English Patient took top honors.
Oddly, viewership among Rock's young-male fan base — always in shorter supply for the Oscars — actually fell from last year, though more young women watched.
"I would've thought with Chris Rock there it would be just the opposite," ABC researcher Larry Hyams says. "That really surprised me."
Rock had his fans: "He was fun, witty, and jabbed celebrities and Hollywood just enough without stepping over the line," says Nathan Rasmussen, 27, of Orlando.
He also had his detractors, such as viewer Bill Shea, 45, of North Salem, N.Y., who calls this year's Oscars "the most boring telecast ever: There were no surprises, no mistakes, no fashion disasters and no funny jokes."
Shea says that despite the hype about Rock's "cutting-edge" appeal, "it felt like they neutered him." (The FCC, more vigilant about policing program content after last year's Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident, has made networks nervous.)
"I'm a faithful Oscar watcher, but by 10, I was so bored I went to bed," says Kimberly Kamis, 37, of Orchard Park, N.Y. "Chris Rock was not funny or hip. I mainly watched to see if he would offend anyone." (He did offend Sean Penn, who came to actor Jude Law's defense after one of Rock's early jibes.)
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says it has not discussed who will host next year's awards.
More to blame for the turnout, analysts say, was the list of unfamiliar top contenders, whose combined box-office take was the lowest in years: For the first time since 1990, none of the best-picture nominees topped $100 million.
"All in all a lackluster show for a lackluster year in movies," says Justin Bogdanovitch, 39, of Sioux Falls, S.D.
Other viewer beefs included fewer big stars; the "beauty pageant"-style lineup of some nominees, with losers "slinking off" the stage; the too-ubiquitous Beyoncé, who sang three nominated songs; and the banter by Rock and Adam Sandler when "presenter" Catherine Zeta-Jones went missing — a staged bit, according to the network.
Head of State: An Interview with Director/Actor Chris Rock
By all accounts, Chris Rock has made it big. I remember watching him as a youngster when he was starting out some HBO special that featured him and fellow comedian Barry Sobel. It’s not easy building a fan base, but that’s what he did. Slowly but surely, he started doing his own thing, getting the recognition without being associated with other comedians. He gained worldwide attention for his portrayal as “Pookie” in the urban drama “New Jack City”, which launched the careers of numerous stars. He honed his comedic skills as part of “Saturday Night Live” ensemble. When it was time, HBO gave him the biggest break of his career, his own show, THE CHRIS ROCK SHOW. It would go on to win numerous awards and put Chris Rock in the same ranks as other gifted comedians. More films followed along with more power. Now in his directorial film debut, Chris, along with some writers from his hit show, have him vying for President of the USA in HEAD OF STATE. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Chris talks about his role as a first time film director.
WM: Did you feel relaxed on the set working with friends but as the director?
CR: I’m the oldest of seven. I’ve been in charge before. No problem being in charge of a lot of people. I had a good time. I’ve done a lot of movies. I’ve been on more movie sets than the average director I’ve worked with. When you’re out there, it all comes back.
WM: There aren’t that many comedian actors directing themselves in a film. Was it difficult directing yourself as a comedian?
CR: It wasn’t difficult. You have to trust the script. We wrote it funny. We laughed when we were writing it. It should still be funny. I didn’t my performance a ton of thought. It’s weird. I think I have a better performance than I normally have. As far as directors, there’s Woody Allen, & Keenan Ivory Wayans. It seems that most comedies are written for Jim Carrey. I’m not Jim Carrey, so it seems that I have to make these comedies fit me.
WM: How does it feel being the President if your character were to win? Not many of us get that opportunity.
CR: We will see. The movie will give all the answers.
WM: What’s the first thing you would if you were to win?
CR: I would get rid of one of the Carolinas (states). I would get rid of New Mexico. It hasn’t caught on. People still go to Old Mexico.
WM: Were there lots of foolishness on the set?
CR: Me and Lynn (Whitfield) had a torrid affair. [Laughs]
WM: Were there any long production days where you and Bernie would cracks jokes?
CR: We cracked each other up, but there were no long production days. I was not wasting Mr. Spielberg’s, Mr. Geppen’s, and Mr. Katzenberg’s money.
WM: Can you talk about the process of getting this movie? I understand you started it in D.C?
CR: We just went down there and decided to write it in D.C. We stayed at the Four Seasons near Georgetown.
WM: Did you talk to a few politicians while you were there?
CR: I talked to few people but I don’t want to give their names. They may not want me to. The big thing was the device. What would happen if two candidates die in a plane crash? We try to figure what could legally happen. We thought of this film over summer before Sept. 11.
WM: Do you see a Black President in the future?
CR: Probably. Condoleeza’s in the White House. Colin Powell’s in the White House. We just have to get them in the chair now. Colin could be President, but he has to want to be President.
WM: What do think of our current President and the job he’s doing?
CR: Well, we’re still alive. That’s all you want.
WM: What do you think about the timing and release of this movie considering the climate that we’re in?
CR: It’s an interesting time. There’s no good or bad. War is good for no one except for the tank people.
WM: how much input did you have with the casting?
CR: I’m the director, so I picked the cast.
WM: What did you learn as a director?
CR: You have to clear everything. Every product needs to be clear. If you want to use a Sony walkman, or a Sony microphone for the podium, you have to clear it with Sony. Clearances are a big issue.
WM: Was there any challenge to you come on board as a director?
CR: Yes, some studio said no. They like my idea but they didn’t want me directing. Basically, they thought that I was funny, but not competent. Every now and then, you heard the words “Harlem Nights”. They were like, “Why can’t it be like “Braveheart” or “Take the Money and Run”?
WM: Can you talk about interacting with the actors as a director?
CR: We hired great actors. A guy like Dylan Baker has been in so many movies and has worked with so many great directors like Spielberg, Zemekis, and Scorcese, that I got to listen to him. I would be crazy not to listen to him. I drilled him on Woody Allen all throughout the shooting of the film.
WM: Did you have to bend Robin Givens‘arm to be in film?
CR: A little sweet talk. I thought it was a good character. It’s a lighter look at Robin Givens. She’s one of the funniest things in the movie. We were in “Boomerang” years ago, but I don’t think I spoke to her once. Back then, she was really Robin Givens. We definitely the part to be for someone you didn’t expect. There was talk of Janet Jackson for a minute, but she wouldn’t do it. Plus I had to think about her entourage and her schedule. There were a bunch of ladies we thought about, but Robin worked out.
WM: Would you ever do an R rated comedy?
CR: I wouldn’t mind doing an R rated comedy. It’s weird because when I do my stand-up comedy act, it’s just me and HBO really doesn’t comment about any of my lines. Think of my stand up act and specials that I have done. There are funny, but imagine if I had to submit it to a studio and 6 executives got to fiddle with. One bad move and it could really mess up my career. I would say that it’s impossible to do what I do on stage and in a film.
WM: Was this film ore of a situation where you bring back your old team from your HBO show?
CR: Yes, it got back the old crew. We sat down, we wrote a movie, and it feels like that.
Still In The Game : An Interview with Chris Rock
It’s not easy sustaining a long career in this business. Actors come and go by the hundreds. To survive, you must be good or at least have a good agent. Unlike most comedians who get a shot at stardom on the big screen with a lead role such as Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, and a few others, Chris Rock had to work hard before he was given a film to carry. Now, fully established as a big star, Chris talks about his role in BAD COMPANY and his “luck” so far.
WM: Can you talk about your character in the film?
CR: My character Jake Hayes is a ticket scalper, DJ, hustler type who has a twin brother he was separated from at birth. His brother Kevin is a CIA agent. Kevin gets killed and JK has to take his place to finish a mission. And to help him finish the mission, Anthony Hopkins will show him the ropes of becoming a spy.
WM: Can you describe your first meeting with Sir Hopkins? Do you remember?
CR: I think it was a photo shoot. It was like some early press thing and you know. It was how are you, how are you? We bonded; Being in Prague helped a lot because we both were experiencing Prague. So we automatically had something in common. It was like where are you eating, no, where are you eating? Is there a bookstore, oh boy, there are no American bookstores. Oh, I found one, or I found a record store. If we had done the movie in LA we wouldn’t have bonded as much. We were going through something together. If we had done the movie, like in LA, we wouldn’t have bonded as much.
WM: Did you like Prague?
CR: I liked it. Prague is like New Orleans without the food. Swingin’ sin city type, voodoo. It’s got an aura.
WM: In speaking with Garcelle (Beavais), she said that they were not that many Blacks in Prague so it was a different feeling for her. Did they know who you were and did they find you funny?
CR: They had no idea who I was. But there were Blacks in Prague. It wasn’t like being in America in a town with no Blacks. They hadn’t seen Blacks. They were like the Blacks they see was like Shaq or something. It was like a curiosity thing. Like, ah, you’re one of those Black people that I’ve heard so much about. It was kind of cool no one knew me but no one followed me around in a store or anything; hit their car door or anything. It was just oh, a Black guy.
WM: As someone born and raised in NYC, it’s a special feeling playing a character that saves NY?
CR: I’ve been so lucky to work in New York. I did “New Jack City” in New York, I did “Down to Earth” in New York, I did “Boomerang” in NY, I did this movie in NY, I did the “Chris Rock Show” in New York, I did “Saturday Night Live” in NY. I have been very fortunate to have worked in NY so much.
WM: Actors and spies, at least undercover spies have something in common don’t you think? You’d probably make a great spy.
CR: Naw, cause I’d be Black and too many people paying attention to you anyway. You gotta really blend in. I guess I’d be a good spy in Africa somewhere. But, being a Black spy is a hard one to pull off.
WM: How do you go about adapting the lines for your character? Did you rewrite a lot of it and did you improvise? What were your favorite lines?
CR: It’s weird. The first time you read the script, you’re just reading it for the story. The second time you read it. I read it to find out where can I be funny without messing up the movie. The best ad-libbing, I don’t know. I guess some of that was ad-libbing and some of the bomb stuff, when I was detonating the bomb or checking out the bomb. The Dr. Dre., Shaq stuff was kinda ad-libbed. But you know the day before what you’re doing the next day. So you sit around you jot stuff down. The best ad lib was the one you thought of yesterday. Be prepared.
WM: You went from having a small role in “Beverly Hills Cop” to costarring with Anthony Hopkins. How does it feel to co-star with one of the most respected actors in the world after over a decade of working?
CR: I’ve been fortunate. I’m fortunate that I started 18 years ago and they didn’t give you a starring movie when I started. Nowadays there’s no building up process. It seems like a plan, but a lot of it is just luck and the era I’m from. I mean the last five, six years try to pick good projects and try to work with good people. And try not to spend that much money so that I can turn down really bad movies. That’s the key more than anything. To be able to afford my house and stuff like that.
WM: Would you say that this is the biggest role in your career?
CR: Yeah, I guess it would be. I remember when I did “Nurse Betty” that was big too. The movie didn’t turn out to be this blockbuster. But working with Morgan Freeman was incredible too.
WM: Is your next film, “Head of State”, about the first Black President?
CR: Well, it’s not the first Black President. I think Tucker’s doing the first Black president. I’m doing an election movie more than anything. The basic premise is that I play an alderman from D.C. D.C., Maryland area. We haven’t zeroed it in yet and the Democratic nominee has a heart attack three months before Election Day and the Republican candidate no one wants to run against him because he’s an incumbent and he’s a war hero and he’s Sharon Stone’s cousin. So they decided to get a patsy to lose this election and they’ve chose me as this alderman. So I get to run and comedy ensues.
WM: Have you been spending any time at the White House to research your role?
CR: No, I’ve been around Bill Clinton a few times lately. Been in D.C. brushing up on it. It’s more the Mel Brooks take on politics. I’m not really trying to make the contender here. I’m not trying to. If all you guys hated the movie and the people in the theatre loved it, I’d be so happy. Making a political movie is hard. ‘Cause people really don’t care about politics in a mass way like we think they do.
WM: Do you have any more projects lined up?
CR: Actually there is one more movie. I’m producing a movie for HBO. It’s gonna go in August. The Marion Berry biopic with Jaime Foxx starring as Marion Berry. That’s drama, that’s straight drama. Madagascar is a couple of years away, that’s DreamWorks. I’ll have 2 movies going in the DC, Baltimore area.
WM: Are you going to be doing any more specials for TV?
CR: I’m gonna. Soon as I’m done with “Head of State.” Everybody’s saying you’re doing movies now and no more TV. Directing a movie, especially with the crew I’m working with, it’s all the same people from the “Chris Rock Show.” And, by directing it I’m really getting back to what I was doing on TV. That was having my hand in every part of it. So, hopefully this movie is like what you say you’re missing.
WM: Thanks for speaking to blackfilm.com.
Chris Rock clarifies Oscar comments
Chris Rock wants to clarify what he meant when he said straight men don't watch the Oscars.
"I did not say that. I said only gay people watch the Tonys," he joked Monday during an appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
But later he stuck to his guns.
"I really don't know any straight men who aren't in show business that have ever watched the Oscars," he said.
The Emmy-winning comedian has taken some heat for an Entertainment Weekly interview in which he called the notion of giving awards for art "idiotic" and added: "what straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars?"
But he offered Leno some toned-down criticism of Oscar hype.
"The awards don't really affect anybody's lives in the crowd," Rock said. "Meanwhile, the Nobel Peace Prize, there's no one there. Nobody cares what the scientists are wearing. What are you wearing Professor Allen? 'Pants!'"
Rock, asked if he was rooting for anyone to win, said he would favor Don Cheadle, who is up for best actor for his role in "Hotel Rwanda."
"I like it if the award will affect the person's life," Rock said. "If he wins, he's gonna get better scripts, he's gonna work with better directors."
And he had some advice for acceptance speeches.
"Don't thank God," Rock said. "God's busy working on the tsunami, so leave him alone."
Rock Can't Prevent Oscar Ratings From Sinking Like a Stone
A younger, hipper host and a new format were not enough to prevent the ratings for the 2005 Academy Awards from falling lower than last year. According to preliminary ratings, 41.5 people tuned in to ABC for the Oscar ceremony Sunday night, down approximately two million from the previous year.
ABC was hoping that Chris Rock's presence would help increase the number of males ages 18-to-34 who watched the telecast but that did not take place. Viewership in that age group was up slightly but not significantly according to information provided by Neilson Media Research.
One problem facing the awards this year was the lack of a blockbuster film among the nominees for best picture. None of the five finalists grossed more than $100 million in domestic box office this year although 'Million Dollar Baby' may top that now that it has won the Academy Award.
Rock received mixed reviews for his performance as host. Some critics felt Rock added a freshness to the show while others felt his attempts at comedy were harsh and often failed to connect with the audience.
With Chris Rock taking aim at the stars, Oscars could be a hit
According to hype, if not for Chris Rock's hosting of Sunday's 77th annual Academy Awards, the broadcast would redefine tedium. Believe it. None of the best picture nominees have exactly bowled over the nation; there are no "Titanics," no "Gladiators" or chapters of "Lord of the Rings" in the mix. And without those, the ceremony promises little more than a slide show of high fashion, updos and attitudes.
Such an evening of soft velvets and unassuming silks needs Rock's sandpaper roughness to break the monotony. Otherwise, there's not much of a reason to watch, which ABC knows, which is why it must be celebrating the assumption that around 5:30 p.m. Sunday (when it airs on KOMO/4) Oscar will sustain injuries from a train wreck.
ABC couldn't have had an inkling the ceremony would hang on such a comparatively dull lineup when it tapped Rock as its host last October, of course. But producer Gil Cates is a smart guy, and obviously had his eye on the ratings trends. Last year's broadcast attracted about 43.5 million viewers, half of 1998's audience ("Titanic's" year) and, sadly, probably more than this year, when the most talked-about contenders are Jamie Foxx, Leo DiCaprio, "The Aviator" and "Sideways," the last of which is due to its "how did that happen" factor.
A recent New York Times article elucidated the declines in viewership for every award show, due in part to the sheer glut of them but also because the cult of celebrity is up and running 24/7. Seeing stars play dress-up is no longer an annual event, and if one were to walk the red carpet in something remarkably risqué, well, ABC's five-second delay would ensure that the only place we would see it is the Internet.
So here comes Rock to liven up the place and bring in viewers who ordinarily would shun this extravaganza. (Straight black men, maybe? No? No.)
And enter an easily outraged media to feign shock and doubt that he can do the job without including four-letter words. Bring on Matt Drudge to yank quotes from magazines and his standup acts out of context and rail on cable that Rock will be taking Hollywood's most important religious holiday into the gutter.
Run ads of Chris fondling the bald statuette with every insinuation but a flashing red warning sign over his head. For more fun, dial up the Web site fanatics intending to keep count of how many ways Rock offends them, so they can call upon the FCC to slap the comic with fines.
Which is to say, Cates and ABC must be reeling from the fabulous free publicity all this manufactured controversy is getting them. In the days leading up to Sunday, they should congratulate themselves on such an inspired Oscar hire.
As for Monday morning, well, we wonder.
Rock's looking at a Catch-22 situation here. If he dials it back to a level suitable for Oscar standards, he'll be penalized for not giving us what we expect. He may do the job as well and blandly as his most successful predecessors. But if bland was what they wanted, well, why didn't Cates just haul in Whoopi or Billy Crystal again?
On the other hand, to let Chris Rock be Chris Rock these days is to invite scorn from humorless Hollywood nabobs who can't take having their poor A-listers be the butt of a joke. I'd imagine it'd be kind of like sitting down to a Woody Allen film only to be scandalized at the sight of several unexpected, expertly aimed knee-to-the-groin sequences.
Onstage, Rock is at his best when he's free to verbally stalk, slash and burn. We saw this when he was the ringmaster of MTV's Video Music Awards in 1997, 1999 and 2003. Those keeping track may remember 1999's stint as the best, and notice the plentiful similarities between that award show and this one.
The 1999 VMAs gave us a slate of nominees and presenters that had about as much flavor as flour paste. If you'll recall, Lauryn Hill was the edgiest offering hip-hop could spank out. The Backstreet Boys and Jennifer Lopez represented pop's more outlandish contingent.
What saved that award ceremony from being a total snore was Rock's ruthlessness. Kid Rock, in the comic's estimation, was a substitute pimp and the NutraSweet black man. Fatboy Slim "looks like white boy retarded." It was a big night for Ricky Martin thanks to "Livin' La Vida Loca," but Rock broke it down: "He's stretchin' that thing like it's turkey meat!"
Now, apply that gift of in-the-moment butcher-knife observation to the Oscars, with all its staid, stiff elegance. Previous hosts got away with gently ribbing the stars, best described in the Shakespearean sense of "making merry sport of them." Rock is not Shakespeare.
Of course, that's the very reason I plan to tune in, to see him go off on Johnny Depp's fondness for slouchy suits or notice, quite loudly, the way Nicole Kidman's face appears more stretched eastward and westward with each awards show.
This perspective is less concerned about ratings than whether Rock can live up to expectations of both fans who know him best and Oscar aficionados hooked on the ceremony. In recent interviews, the common question posed to Rock was whether he could be funny without using foul language, which is an ignorant, silly suggestion. Most comics that have gotten as far as Rock know how to tailor their acts for the audience and venue.
We can only hope the Academy Awards doesn't prove to be too tight a fit for Rock to do what he does best: making people comfortable enough to laugh at life's and high society's discomforts.
Conversation With...Chris Rock
"You’re One of Those Black People That I’ve Heard So Much About!"
The action comedy Bad Company stars Chris Rock as a two-bit hustler who’s recruited to fill in for his long-lost twin brother, a CIA agent who’s been killed in the line of duty. Chris’ smart mouth and street ways cause clashes with the no-nonsense veteran spy (played by Anthony Hopkins) who’s assigned to show him the ropes. While he races to save New York City, Chris’ character faces danger of a whole ‘nother kind in the form temptation from of a gorgeous and sexy CNN reporter (Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon) who happens to be his dead brother’s girlfriend! We kicked it with Chris Rock and got the good word on Bad Company as well as a preview of coming attractions in Chris’ personal and professional lives!
RIM: Do you think you’d like to be a spy for real?
Chris Rock: Nah, because I’m black and too many people are paying attention to you anyway. You’ve got to really blend in to be a spy. I guess I’d be a good spy in Africa or somewhere. [Laughs] Being a black spy is a hard one to pull off because people always, you know. It’s like Ray Lewis. The offense knows where he’s at!
RIM: You’ve spent a long time working your way up from small roles in flicks like New Jack City and Boomerang to, now, starring in the lead role.
CR: I’m fortunate that I started 18 years ago. They didn’t just give you a starring movie when I started. (So, I had time to prepare.) Today, it’s no building up process. The last five, six years I tried to pick good projects and just work with good people. I try not to spend that much money so I can turn down really bad movies. That’s the key, more than anything! Being able to afford my house and stuff like that.
RIM: Anthony Hopkins plays the veteran CIA agent who trains you in Bad Company. How did you guys get along?
CR: [Filming the movie] in Prague (the Czech Republic) helped a lot, because we both were experiencing Prague. We automatically had something in common. We were like, "Where are you eating?" "Well, where are you eating?" "There are no American bookstores!" "Hey, I found one!" "Oh, I found a record store! I found this, I found that!" So, we were going through stuff together. If we had done the movie like in L.A. we wouldn’t have bonded as much.
RIM: A lot of movies – especially international spy thrillers and action flicks – film over in Prague these days. Word is that it’s actually a pretty wild city.
CR: I liked I! Prague is like New Orleans without the food. It’s got that swinging, sin city, voodoo. It’s got an aura!
RIM: But the people over there probably weren’t used to seeing black folks!
CR: But it wasn’t like being in America in a town with no blacks. They hadn’t seen blacks. The blacks they see are like Shaq or something. So, it was like a curiosity thing. "Ah, you’re one of those black people that I’ve heard so much about!" No one knew me, but no one followed me around a store or anything. Or hit their car door or anything.
RIM: Your leading lady in Bad Company is Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, whom fans know from The Jamie Foxx Show and NYPD Blue. There’s some great sexual tension between the two of you in this movie. There’s even a scene where she’s got her foot up in your privates!
CR: Uh, you know. But, I’m in show business. It was acting. Yes, if it was… I’d have sex with her in a minute but we’re both married. [laughs] What’s the question? Garcelle! Yeah, I had sex with her years ago! [laughs] No!
RIM: And your character in Bad Company has a hard time staying faithful to his lady when he goes undercover. We know you’re dedicated to your wife, Malaak, but can you relate to your character’s frustration?
CR: You know, it’s something that I have to go through a lot [laughs] being the entertainer that I am! Situations arise, you know. Gotta do the right thing. Sometimes it’s easy to do the right thing, sometimes it’s hard. But, you’ve gotta do the right thing!
RIM: Well, you and your wife are about to become parents in about a minute, aren’t you?
CR: She’s due July 7th.
RIM: Are you ready to take on the role of daddy?
CR: I’m really looking forward to it! And I don’t really look forward to much!
RIM: So, you’re not nervous?
CR: Well, it’s a kid. It’s the ultimate responsibility. Bring it on! Millions of people do it so it can’t be that hard! (laughs) It’s like my mother always said, "There’s no such thing as quality time. There’s just time!" You’ve just gotta be there. All the time. And that’s what I hope to do. Be there all the time.
RIM: Let’s close with a couple of quick, career notes. It looks like you’re getting more active behind the scenes. You’re producing a movie about former DC Mayor Marion Berry?
CR: I’m producing a movie for HBO. It’s going to film in August. With Jamie Foxx starring as Marion Berry. That’s a drama. That’s straight drama.
RIM: And you’re also going to direct and star in another political picture, Head of State, which is about the first black President?
CR: Well, Head of State’s not the first black President. I think Chris Tucker’s doing the first black President. I’m doing an election movie more than anything. I play an alderman from the DC, Maryland area. The Democratic Presidential nominee has a heart attack three months before Election Day. And the Republican candidate, no one wants to run against him because he’s an incumbent, he’s a war hero and he’s Sharon Stone’s cousin! So, the Democratic Party decides to get a patsy to lose this election and they get me, this alderman. So, I get to run and comedy ensues.
RIM: But you win the election?
CR: Maybe! We’ll see!
RIM: A lot of us really miss The Chris Rock Show. HBO does reruns but it’s not the same! Will you ever return to TV?
CR: I’m gonna do another special as soon as I’m done with Head of State. The good thing about Head of State is that it’s all the same crew people who worked on The Chris Rock Show. And by directing it I’m really getting back to what I was doing on TV and that was having my hand in every part of it. So, hopefully the next movie will be like what you say you’re missing.
A Q & A with Chris Rock
Last month, Chris Rock launched DOWN TO EARTH. The film received poor reviews, bad reviews and really bad reviews. Nevertheless, the ROCK will be back – you can count on that. Before DOWN TO EARTH debuted, I spent some time with the full-time funny man.
What was your worst experience as a comedian?
Opening up bachelor parties and you go before the stripper and stuff like that.
Did you ever get booed at the Apollo or at all?
Never at the Apollo, but I’ve been booed before. I was booed at a club called IBEX in D.C. Booing is not that bad, it is the silence that bothers you. At least, booing is a reaction. You’ve got to treat the crowd like you treat your women. Women don’t mind when you argue, they hate it when you don’t argue.
Was it always your intention to display your talent on screen like RAW and FOOLISH?
None of those movies come to mind, I’m thinking ANNIE HALL. I’m going for the top. You want to have a vehicle for yourself where you can best show your talents. Like WEDDING SINGER most would agree that it’s Sandler’s best film. Me playing a comedian is natural, playing a bad one is even better.
How did you choose this film to make? Was it after watching “Heaven Can Wait”?
Yes, I swear. I watched it one day after meeting Warren Beatty. After seeing the film, I thought this would have been for Richard Pryor and then threw myself in the mix.
How did the Weitz Brothers come into the picture?
I met with a bunch of directors trying to figure who to hire and I saw American Pie before it came out and knew it was going to be a big hit and decided to go with these guys and I knew it would help down the line. I knew it would help us get a lot of money.
Did you ever consider directing the film yourself?
Yeah, Warren told me to direct it, David Geffen told me to do so, but I knew I had to go back to the show and I couldn’t do both. If I didn’t have to go back to the show, I would have directed it.
Speaking of the show, why did you cancel it?
When you get a hit show, win a few awards, its like winning the Super Bowl. People take your best players, they poach your lineup, take your coaches and everything. When I started the show, it was me and my friends and we called it the Chris Rock Show, because it helped us get money but it wasn’t just my show. When your friends start leaving you’re working with people who aren’t your friends and it gets to be like a real job and I don’t want a real job. I want to be an artist and have fun.
Have you ever had a real job?
I had lots of real jobs. They sucked. I loaded trucks at the Daily News, Red Lobster and Odd Lot. I worked with mentally handicapped. Far too many to name. I never liked working.
What’s your biggest hang-up?
I feel inadequate like everyone else. I’m skinny. I just got my teeth fixed and I’m over that. I’m very insecure, not much of a confident guy. Don’t get me wrong, you have to be confident when you go on stage, it’s just the rest of the day you have to be meek.
When casting the film, how did you come up with Regina King?
Best actress out there. I really didn’t have anyone else in mind. Other people had opinions but I stuck to my guns. I got my girl.
Is the pressure on being in the lead role?
I guess there is a pressure I can’t control. My pressure is to make to the film good. The pressure is to make money so that the Chris Rock machine keeps rolling.
Chris Rock under fire fron moral groups
Oscar host Chris Rock has been slammed by Christian groups, who are calling for viewers to boycott the TV broadcast of next Sunday's Academy Awards.
Organisations including Concerned Women for America (CWA) are outraged comedian Rock, who peppers his stage act with swearing, is presenting the global event.
However, US TV network ABC are promising to implement a five-second "decency delay" and have waived concerns about Rock's conduct.
Robert Knight, the CWA's Culture and Family Institute director, says: "Hollywood seems intent on spreading vulgarity far and wide, so the F-word spewing from Rock might actually be the perfect Tinseltown ambassador."
Chris Rock says time delay a 'safety net'
First-time Oscar host Chris Rock, a comedian known for his frequent use of expletives, says the five-second decency delay on the ABC show's Feb. 27 telecast will be a welcome "safety net."
"I've been on TV and been funny not cursing," Rock says in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" newsmagazine, to air Sunday night. "As far as content is concerned, I will talk about the movies. I'm not really worried about it. I'm sure ABC is more worried about it than me."
Gil Cates, the producer of the Oscar show, has expressed confidence in Rock, who suggested in a recent Entertainment Weekly magazine interview that no straight black men watch the telecast.
"[A time delay is] a safety net. You know, you're a trapeze artist ... you welcome the net," Rock says.
Rock also says that when he arrives on Oscar night, he may be traveling "small," without an entourage. The 39-year-old actor-comedian says that "with a posse, you're not letting the real world in. And if you don't let the real world in, you're not going to be funny."
He added: "Donald Trump rolls pretty small, you know."
Chris Rock wasn't joking: Arts awards are idiotic
Chris Rock said giving out awards for art is "(expletive deleted) idiotic." I say "Amen."
For those of you not in the pop culture swim, Rock — the edgy, acerbic comedian tapped to host this year's Academy Awards — told Entertainment Weekly recently that he has never cared for the Academy Awards and that they're really more a fashion show than an awards ceremony.
"What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars?" Rock said. "Show me one."
Conservative blogger Matt Drudge tried to stir up a controversy earlier this week, quoting nameless Hollywood starlets and moguls who wanted Rock bounced for his sacrilege. As of this writing, Rock still has his emcee job — though one never knows how the spines-of-tofu Hollywood types will react to pressure — and he has issued no mea culpas.
Nor should he. Chris Rock's only sin is that he said aloud something that everyone with a brain knows to be true: Arts awards are, almost universally speaking, bogus exercises in hype and self-congratulation.
Think about it: Until about a decade ago, the Golden Globes — awarded by the 90 or so dubious journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — were widely regarded as a corrupt joke, not even fit for television. Today, they air on network TV, and the results are flashed around the world with breathless urgency.
Or how about the recent Grammy Awards? With more than 100 statuettes awarded — including the always-competitive "best surround sound" and "best album notes" categories — it seems like a 6-year-old with one of those toy xylophones could probably bring home some hardware if he knew which category to enter.
The Tonys, the Emmys and the Oscars are all awarded to artists by ballots of their peers. Any conflict of interest can presumably be counterbalanced by the levelheaded objectivity, lack of competitive instinct and resistance to bazillion-dollar award campaigns for which artists are so well known.
The idea of slapping a "best" label on artistic endeavor is understandable; we live in a society that insists on quantification. And everyone likes to be a winner. But it's also like trying to hold smoke in your hands: Since there are few objective guidelines for what's good and bad in art — and since individual opinion on such matters varies broadly — it's simply not possible to come up with any meaningful way to describe the "best" anything.
Arts award shows, by definition, can't really be about quality. They're about marketing. A couple of years ago, some academics calculated that a best picture Oscar is worth an additional $15 million a week at the box office. If you peruse local theater programs, you can find actor biographies touting their winning a Kudos Award — a Twin Cities award program that has been defunct for 21 years.
The funny thing about all of this — if you define "funny" as "sad and cruelly ironic"— is the way that the Grammys, the Oscars and other such trumped-up love-ins make news. Getting their mitts on one of these tchotchkes is about the only way an artist can find himself on the front page of the newspaper if he hasn't checked into rehab, committed a felony or died. (Managing to do all three would get you a story above the fold.)
To return to the competitive metaphor for a moment, it's easy to report the box score — everyone understands winning and losing. It's more difficult, however, to delve into the game to find out why something succeeded or failed.
But if they're idiotic, arts awards shows aren't useless. They give smart critics and savvy observers both an excuse and an opportunity to pull back the curtain and engage in a conversation about who got in, who was left out and why (I love those "will win/should win/should've been nominated" pre-Oscar analyses).
And there's nothing necessarily wrong with a group of artists and fans getting together to celebrate their craft and have a good party. The Ivey Awards — a new award program starting up in the Twin Cities next fall — have made no secret of the fact that they are creating a celebration for people who love Twin Cities' theater.
The Ivey Awards folk want to give our hard-working actors an opportunity to see, be seen and strut a bit. They'll hand out some awards along the way, but let's hope no one walks away thinking they're the "best." To do so would be to display "a complete lack of thought or common sense." Which, handily, is the definition of "idiotic" in my Merriam-Webster.
Oscar host Chris Rock vows to keep it clean
This year's Oscar host Chris Rock, already in hot water for disparaging the annual awards ceremony, says he's confident he can rein in his fondness for off-colour language during the big show.
"I've been on TV and not cursed before," Rock, whose live, stand-up shows are renowned for their expletive-laced content, said in an interview with the CBS network's "60 Minutes" program to be shown Sunday.
"I've been on TV and been funny not cursing," the comedian said.
"As far as content is concerned, I will talk about the movies. I'm not really worried about it. I'm sure ABC might be more worried about it than me," he added.
The ABC network, which will broadcast cinema's biggest night on February 27, will be using a slight transmission delay to allow censors to bleep out any offensive words or remarks.
Rock said he was happy with the "safety net" provided by the delay.
"You know, you're a trapeze artist ... you welcome the net," he said.
The edgy comic has already ruffled feathers with a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly in which he branded awards ceremonies as "idiotic" and the Oscars as a "fashion show" that few heterosexual men would want to watch.
"What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one," he told the magazine.
Amid reports that some members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences were outraged at his comments, the Oscar producers felt obliged to confirm that Rock would still be hosting the show.
"Chris's comments over the past few weeks are meant to be humorous digs at a show that some people, obviously including Chris himself, think may be a bit too stuffy," the show's producer Gil Gates said on Wednesday.
Chris Rock: Nurse Betty
Tell me about the role that you play in "Nurse Betty".
I'm Wesley, I'm a young hit man and I'm a little, you know, itchy trigger finger and just kind of a hot head.
Talk about working with Morgan Freeman, how did your relationship develop?
It was really cool. We kind of had an uncle/nephew relationship and it worked perfect on the screen. We would talk offscreen and he would tell me about marriage, he's been married a couple of times and he was telling me how to handle my money.
You usually write a lot of your own material I would imagine, how different is it approaching a scripted role?
The material was really good so it felt pretty natural. I felt fortunate to have such a good script.
When he scalps Del it's a shocking moment in the film, it kind of comes out of nowhere. Tell me about that scene.
It wasn't my idea, it was Neil's. When you are filming something it's all fake and you are really mapping it out. I mean it's not really scary while you're doing it. It just looks that way on film.
And what about your future?
I just did a movie with the directors of "American Pie" that I wrote. A little romantic comedy with me and Regina King called "I Was Made To Love Her" and I guess that's coming out in October, so that's next.
Chris Rock - Never Scared
HBO Video is proud to announce the release of the stand-up comedy special Chris Rock, Never Scared – available to buy on DVD from the 28th February.
The DVD release coincides with the most high-profile date of his stand-up comedy career – as host of the 2005 Oscars on 27th February.
Widely regarded as the funniest man in America, Never Scared is his fourth HBO Special – and finds the comedian at his best and most unique, cracking up the audience with a stand up routine that is straight out of the top drawer.
Never Scared is a potent combination of Rock’s expletive-peppered wit and razor sharp delivery, marrying astute observation with raucous, side-splitting humour.
This is one DVD you will simply not want to miss, with over an hour and a half of classic comedy, as well as exclusive bonus material in the form of Chris Rock’s first solo comedy special ‘Big Ass Jokes’.
Chris Rock takes shot after shot at the Oscars
Call it a tempest in the Oscar crockpot.
Comic Chris Rock may have offended some Hollywood fogies with his dis of the Oscar ceremony in Entertainment Weekly, but the producer of the show insists that Rock's hosting of the gala is still rock-solid.
World Entertainment News Network reports that producer Gil Cates said Monday that the Rock brouhaha in no way diminishes expectations that the comic will host "a very funny evening."
As Cates said, "Chris's comments over the past few weeks are meant to be humorous digs at the show that some people, obviously, including Chris himself, think may be a bit too stuffy."
So what exactly did Rock say that stirred up the fogie fuss? Well, for one thing, he did use the adjective "idiotic," to describe the show. And he implied that the Academy Awards telecast is so boring that it's only of much interest to fashion groupies, i.e. gays.
Here, minus one expletive, is Rock's dis: "I never watched the Oscars, except the Halle Berry/Denzel Washington year. But even then, I went back and forth to other channels.
"Come on, it's a fashion show. No one performs, it's not like a music show. Nothing against people who aren't straight, but what straight guy that you know really cares? Who gives a *#@&? They're clothes. What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one.
"And they don't recognize comedy, and you don't see a lot of black people nominated, so why should I watch it?"
Oh please, Mr. Rock, tell us what you really think ...