TIME celebrities

How Steve Buscemi Created a Hit Talk Show on a Park Bench

AOL

Why Park Bench is not your typical talk show

Steve Buscemi has one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood; viewers saw him most recently as Enoch ‘Nucky’ Thompson on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. But the acclaimed actor is popping up in a different kind of show these days—and the only set is a park bench.

The AOL web series, titled—what else?—Park Bench, has a simple design: Buscemi sits on a bench and talks to somebody, whether it’s a famous friend, a former co-worker or an everyday person. Yet the execution in each episode is far more complex. There are appearances from Buscemi’s sidekick Geo Orlando, and Buscemi’s brother Michael, who runs a rival talk show and frequently steals his brother’s guests; occasionally, there’s also an all-female accordion band. Celebrity guests like Chris Rock, GZA from the Wu Tang Clan, and Rosanne Cash add additional color.

TIME caught up with Buscemi at the AOL NewFronts to talk John Oliver, Portlandia and why his show is more than just a typical talk show

TIME: What is about a bench that makes it so easy to talk?

Steve Buscemi: A few years ago I was directing a series of promotional shorts for Vampire Weekend, which led to their concert. We were doing this scene in a bar called the Paradise Café in Greenpoint, and I needed to do a little scene outside the bar and McGolrick Park is right there. I had just met Geo Orlando, who was just a guy hanging out that day. I pulled him into the scene, we went on a park bench and did a little scene with the singer Grimes. When we saw the footage, Geo was so natural and just a great sidekick, if you will, that I said to my producing partner and our producing team, ‘I think I can build a whole show out of Geo and I on park benches.’ So here we are.

What’s your production like?

We shoot it all in five days and have to deliver 12 episodes. Last year we ended up with 13 episodes because we shot so much. We just keep shooting and shooting, because it’s all digital and easy to do. We shoot in extremely cold weather, we shoot in the rain, we always have indoor locations.

When you’re indoors, where do you find a park bench?

We have our own bench. We bring it to different locations. Last year we brought it to the Rubens Museum and Julian Schnabel’s house. This year we brought it into a couple of bars—Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook, the Manhattan Inn in Williamsburg, and a couple of other places.

TIME: How do you choose your guests?

Steve Buscemi: A lot of them are people that I’ve worked with or who are friends of mine or who I would like to get to know. I appeared on John Oliver’s show a couple of times and I’ve met him a few times, but I don’t really know him. We asked him to do it. It was great fun to have him come down and be able to talk to him for a few minutes. Justin Vivian Bond, I had heard about for years and met a few times at benefits for PS 122, but I had never had a conversation with him. He actually got to sing a song at the Manhattan Inn and we had a wonderful talk. Then friends like Jim Jarmusch, who I’ve known for years, and I was very excited to have my friend Mark Boone., Jr., who played Bobby on Sons of Anarchy. We used to do a lot of theater together in the ‘80s, but we haven’t worked together in a while, so it was great to have him around for two episodes.

The show is unscripted but there are some scripted elements, right?

We don’t work from a script, but we do have a few scenarios on the show, like my brother Michael with his competing talk show, Bench Talk. We have our band the Main Squeeze Orchestra and Anthony Laciura, who I worked with on Boardwalk Empire, leads the band and there’s Geo. At the end of last season, it appears as if Michael has appropriated my whole team and this season I’m trying to win them back. So there are bits like that, which we try to improvise on, but we don’t have scripts.

Which episode was the most fun for you?

The John Oliver one was a lot of fun. He was very attuned to what we were doing and we just sort of threw an idea at him right when he got there. We hadn’t discussed it or anything before and he just went with it. After seeing what he does on his show and on The Daily Show it was fun to be doing a comedy bit with him.

The show is billed not as a talk show, but a talking show. What’s the difference?

I think that came from the ad department when we were pitching the show. It was revised to “talk” show, but I liked the idea of a ”talking” show. I don’t know why it’s different, but it sounds different. I thought we could probably make a thing of it, and we did. In last year’s first episode, when I was pitching the show to Chris Rock, he said that there are too many talk shows, and I said, well, ours is a talking show. It really makes no sense, but it’s a way to make our show different.

What do you enjoy about working on Park Bench instead of a scripted TV show?

I don’t have to memorize any lines. I don’t have to get in to hair and makeup or wardrobe. I really like the looseness of it. I loved doing Boardwalk Empire, but that is a huge production. When I first did those shorts for Vampire Weekend, I really loved that we just took a camera. We had some working scripts, but we improvised a lot and I really liked that. I come from theater. [Mark] Boone and I used to write our own material, but the way we wrote was from improvisation. I miss that way of working. I miss working fast. This is my improv. I get to do that here and I get to do that on Portlandia, too. We had Fred [Armisen] on Park Bench last year and I’ve been on Portlandia three times now, and last time I directed an episode. I feel like Park Bench owes a lot to Portlandia.

Since you now have an online show, do you spend much time online?

I don’t go on it a lot, but I’m on it. I know there’s stuff about me, but that’s not my doing. I tend not to read that stuff or pay attention to it too much and I don’t try to capitalize on it either. There’s nothing that we do on Park Bench that’s a takeoff of stuff that people have done about me on the internet.

Park Bench premieres May 28th.

TIME movies

San Andreas Was Reviewed By An Earthquake Expert

She reported some factual inaccuracies

The trailer for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s new action flick may be literally groundbreaking, but it turns out that San Andreas isn’t entirely realistic. Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, known in some circles as the Earthquake Lady for her expertise in the field, went to the premiere and live-tweeted the entire movie — for science.

Jones used her scientific knowledge to fact-check the movie’s portrayal of The Big One and it appears that Hollywood has taken some liberties with the truth:

You can read all her tweets here, but the overall takeaway of Jones’s tweets is that while San Andreas is not exactly realistic, it is important to prepare for disasters. If you have an emergency plan, take a disaster training course, get a landline, learn to drop, cover and hold on, and create a post-disaster family communication strategy, you can be your own competent, sexy hero, and, hopefully, you won’t need The Rock to save you from an earthquake.

[H/T LAist]

TIME Television

The Bachelorette Recap: Amy Schumer and Laila Ali Help Kaitlyn Find Love

Someone is not here to make friends

Welcome back to The Bachelorette. Now that a winner has emerged from the Thunderdome of Love, and the show has a star (Hello Kaitlyn! So long Britt!), and she has started to get Darwinian on the herd of troglodytes with stars in their eyes, cutting out the weak, the feeble, the Britt lovers and the horrifying drunken rape aspirant, she is ready to start on her journey to find love. But before she can take the first tentative step, Kaitlyn must sit down for her first tête-à-tête with Chris Harrison. In their chat, he points out that she kissed a bunch of guys already, which sounds like the tsk tsk of a slightly disappointed cool dad, but she shrugs it off. Then she asks after Britt, who was sent home without a single rose.

Here’s what happened on The Bachelorette:

Britt Update: Speaking of the devil (the devil is any woman who sleeps in full makeup, apparently) Britt is in her hotel room calling her mommy. She sits on the bed (with her shoes on) and cries until there is a knock on the door. It’s Brady. He gives her a big hug. and they sit down to get to know each other.

First Group Date: For the very first date, Kaitlyn invites Daniel the fashion designer, Justin, Jared the restaurant manager with the asymmetrical haircut, Corey, Kupah, both Bens and an affable-looking guy named Tanner to some secret rendezvous that the Date Card promises will end “with a ring.” That makes the men start sweating before they even get to the boxing gym where Laila Ali awaits to school them in the sweet science. The only reason to have a boxing date is because of the marriage-analogy possibilities. To wit, Kaitlyn wants a man who will fight for her, and Laila Ali adds that “boxing is a lot like relationships,” because it takes commitment and passion and determination. After getting taped up, working with a trainer for at least seven minutes, and hitting the heavy bag once or twice, the men are sent into a boxing ring to battle it out for Kaitlyn’s heart. Don’t worry, they are wearing protective head gear, so what could possibly go wrong? The main event pits 160-lb. Jared against Ben Z., a 200-lb. monster, which results in Jared getting clobbered in the first four seconds of the round. Don’t worry, Jared, many journeys to love start with a head injury.

The After Party: Jared can’t see straight and is sent to the hospital for an MRI and medical monitoring, which ruins his chance to have some one-on-one time with Kaitlyn. Luckily she doesn’t really notice, because she is otherwise occupied with Ben Z., the winner who has fists of iron, a heart of gold and a back story that will melt stone. (His mother passed away when he was a teenager, and he had to grow up fast. Awwww.) While Kaitlyn is talking to some other guy (Daniel? A different Ben?), she gets a note from a mysterious suitor that tells her to come downstairs right that second. She does and finds Jared. While the producers won’t let him join the part, because they are contractually obligated to follow doctors’ orders to go to home and rest, they will help him woo Kaitlyn downstairs so she can kiss his boo-boos. So they make out on the street. She still gives the Group Date Rose to Ben Z., though.

One-on-One Date: For her first solo date as the Bachelorette, Kaitlyn decided to head out with Clint, the architectural engineer who surprised her with a picture of Chris Harrison riding a triceratops. That behavior needs to be rewarded after all. Rewarded with what you say? An underwater photo shoot of course, which might be the first time any couple on the show has been in the pool fully dressed. As the photographer encourages them to open themselves up to the universe and love, always love, they take a few fully dressed dips into the pool. Then Kaitlyn has her first-ever first kiss underwater, followed by a bunch of kisses above water. Later, they toast each other over dinner and kiss on a rooftop, which according to Kaitlyn is “next level,” literally.

Second Group Date: In the second date card, Kaitlyn says she wants someone to “stand up” for her. Because she loves a guy with a sense of humor, she invites JJ, Jonathan, Chris, Ian, Joe and Tony to do some amateur comedy with Amy Schumer stepping in as their spirit guide. To help whip the men into shape before their sets, Amy brings in Nikki Glaser, Rachel Feinstein and Bridget Everett (Google them!) and a whole lot of wine. Amy works with JJ, who she dubs a sweetheart who is “just missing charisma and humility and sense of humor.” He really wants to impress Kaitlyn, but also Amy, because he has always wanted to be a standup comedian. It doesn’t go very well. Sample conversation: “Hi, I’m JJ, I’m divorced with a kid, and I live with my parents.” “Is that true?” “That’s totally true.” (Amy drinks her wine silently.) Luckily Tony is ready to be Tony, and he has been training for that all of his life. Sadly we didn’t get Amy’s insights on Tony being Tony.

The After Party: Tony was really into Britt, but now he’s really into Kaitlyn, because now he and Kaitlyn have connected. He has figured out that she is a “combination lock,” and he is learning her secrets. Kaitlyn wisely doesn’t make out with him. She does make out with JJ, though. (Don’t tell Amy Schumer, who would probably be very disappointed.) But he talked about his daughter, and Kaitlyn got all mushy inside and was powerless to resist. She even handed JJ the Date Rose.

The Rose Ceremony: Kaitlyn welcomes the men and is immediately swept out the door by JJ, which is a ballsy move, but also a big faux pas because he already has a rose. The men are not pleased.

Bachelorette Milestone: As all the men glare at him, JJ announces that he is not here to make friends.

The Rose Ceremony (Continued): While JJ crows about his self-anointed frontrunner status, Ian finally gets to tell Kaitlyn that he went to Princeton — and that he was hit by a car and almost never walked again. As JJ tries to bait Tony into outing himself as a loon. Meanwhile Kupah flat-out tells the camera that he has no interest in being here at all if he’s filling out a quota, which is about as honest as this show has ever been about race. When he goes to talk to Kaitlyn he sticks his foot in his mouth and says he hasn’t felt a connection with her yet, which throws Kaitlyn for a loop, because she did feel a connection with him — until tonight. Kupah tries to backtrack, but he can’t get himself out of the hole. Eventually Kaitlyn lets him go. He doesn’t accept, but she lets him go anyway. The drama really picks up when he heads out to the driveway for his exit interview and gets very animated. Kaitlyn goes outside to investigate, but we won’t find out what happens until next week.

Best Reason to Come Back Next Week: Drama! Kaitlyn standing outside watching the drama!

TIME Television

Rumer Willis on Her Dancing with the Stars Win: ‘I Had the Time of My Life’

RUMER WILLIS, VALENTIN CHMERKOVSKIY
Craig Sjodin—ABC DANCING WITH THE STARS - RUMER WILLIS AND VALENTIN CHMERKOVSKIY - The 10th anniversary celebrity cast of "Dancing with the Stars" is strapping on their ballroom shoes and getting ready for their first dance on MONDAY, MARCH 16 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. Rumer Willis is partnered with Valentin Chmerkovskiy. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

Willis heads out with her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, on the Dancing With the Stars tour

After over three months of competition, Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy won Dancing with the Stars on Tuesday night, besting Noah Galloway and Riker Lynch for the victory. “It was incredible,” Chmerkovskiy tells TIME. It was his fourth time to the final round of the competitive reality show, but the first time he won the show’s gaudy Mirror Ball trophy. “I had been waiting for this moment for a very long time,” he says.

While Chmerkovskiy’s victory was a long time coming, one thing he wasn’t expecting was the actual weight of the trophy. “It’s pretty heavy,” says Willis. “We weighed it and it’s about 25 pounds!”

“It doesn’t sound like much, but in the middle of the celebration, they hand you this 25 pound rock,” Chmerkovskiy laughs. “I thought the trophy was going to be lighter. I had all these plans to wave it over my head, but no.”

As for where to store that heavy Mirror Ball, they have different approaches. “I haven’t found a great spot for it yet,” says Willis. “I’m treating my trophy like the Stanley Cup,” says Chmerkovskiy. “I’m taking it everywhere with me. All my friends are in New York, so I have it with me now on a trophy tour.”

As to how they won those trophies, they agree that it was all thanks to the fans. “We had a great group of fans who supported us from the beginning, and they are the reason we won,” says Willis. “They were out there every week voting for us and gathering support. It was awesome.” Willis’s Hollywood lineage and support system didn’t hurt in getting out the votes, either. Her parents—Bruce Willis and Demi Moore—were fixtures in the audience of the show and Willis’s friends like Miley Cyrus, Courtney Love, Zendaya, and even Moore’s ex, Ashton Kutcher, were all tweeting their support for the star during the course of the competition. After she won, so many people called and texted to congratulate her, her phone broke. “It just died,” laughs Willis. “I had to get it fixed in New York.”

While Willis was hesitant to comment on her famous friends, Chmerkovskiy thought it was great to have such well-known supporters. “For me it was incredible to experience that,” he says. “But to be completely honest, it was the anonymous fans, who aren’t famous, who spend their entire season making fan art, and voting for us—those people mean so much to us.”

After the rigors of the competition, the duo hasn’t had much of a chance to take some time off yet. “We had to get on a plane to New York and head straight to Good Morning America and The View,” says Willis. “Now I think we’re going to take a little break.”

The whirlwind of events means that the reality of having won—and the realization that the show and its time commitment are over—hasn’t quite set in yet. “It’s still a little hard to grasp it. It feels really surreal,” says Willis. “I don’t think people realize how unusual the whole process is,” says Chmerkovskiy. “You get together, strangers, and from that moment on you spend every single day together for the next three months. And then overnight, it’s over. It’s very surreal. It’s going to take time to adjust to regular life. I’m going on tour. My dancing doesn’t stop, but she’s taking a slow and steady descent from Dancing with the Stars.

Not that Willis is done dancing. “I’m going to do a couple of dates with the Dancing with the Stars tour, which I’m really excited about,” she says. “I’m also going to be in a show that Val is putting together with his family called Sway, which I’m really excited about. It’s going to be in New York on June 5 and 6 at the Hammerstein Ballroom.”

“Now that we’ve won, I can’t wait to do this tour,” says Chmerkovskiy. “The [Dancing with the Stars] tour is a great way to meet the fans. We have 60 shows in 40 cities and I’m really excited, because these are the people who supported me on the show and support the show in general.”

While Willis wants to focus on her singing—not dancing—career (she and Chmerkovskiy danced to her cover of Britney Spears’s “Toxic” during the finale), she says she loved her time on Dancing with the Stars. “I think the whole experience was really special. It’s an incredible journey. I don’t think you can describe what an intense and unique experience it is,” says Willis. “I had the time of my life.”

TIME Viral Videos

Watch Martin Short Hit The Streets With Billy Eichner

A special 'Billy on the Street' for Red Nose Day

You can’t say that Martin Short didn’t try to do his part to raise money for Red Nose Day. The comedy legend hit the sidewalks of Manhattan with Billy Eichner for a special episode of Billy on the Street, but unfortunately very few people were willing to cough up some cash for the charity.

In the video, which was part of NBC’s imported fundraiser, Red Nose Day, Eichner escorted Short through the city. While normally Eichner will give people a dollar if they recognize David Letterman, plan to watch the Emmy Awards, sing with Amy Poehler, or promise to sleep with Paul Rudd, for this video, Eichner asked for cash for a good cause.

While some people might consider it an honor to have Eichner yell at them, others seemed intimidated by the entourage of a yelling Eichner, Short, and a cameraman. Others simply refused to believe that Short was actually the Martin Short and wouldn’t make a donation to an imposter.

 

TIME Television

A Gilmore Girls Reunion Could Be Heading Our Way

Gilmore Girls
Warner Bros./Getty Images Lauren Graham as Lorelai and Alexis Bledel as Rory in Gilmore Girls

Scott Patterson just hinted that dreams may come true in Stars Hollow

Scott Patterson a.k.a. Luke Danes, a.k.a. Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong depending on your feelings about Lorelei’s relationships, just dropped some serious hints about a possible Gilmore Girls reunion.

Patterson stopped by the Gilmore Guys podcast and hinted that fans might soon get to see a cast reunion from the beloved show. “I will say this, there are talks going on at the moment,” Patterson said, before clamming up. “I can’t really go into any details, but there is some activity. I’m hopeful, and I’m in. I think it would be a big event, and I think it would be a great fan celebration.”

Did Patterson mean that Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Lorelei (Lauren Graham) would be heading back to Stars Hollow? Or was Patterson just reminding fans that the cast will be reuniting next month at the ATX Television Festival in Texas? It will be a big reunion with Patterson, Graham, Bledel expected to be joined by Kelly Bishop, Danny Strong, Todd Lowe, Jackson Douglas, Matt Czuchry and more. Also on hand will be Jared Padelecki, who played Dean. (In the podcast, Patterson revealed that he is firmly on Team Dean, even though he played the uncle of rival love interest Jess on the show.)

To fully parse Patterson’s statements for clues, listen to his full interview on the podcast on iTunes.

TIME Viral Videos

Watch The Kardashians and The Real Housewives Get the Bad Lip Reading Treatment

Thank Red Nose Day for this

Kourtney Kardashian really wants to share her fish sticks with her sister, Kim. At least according to a bad lip reading of their conversation courtesy of Red Nose Day. Of course they weren’t the only members of the Keeping Up With the Kardashian crew saying strange things in the clip above.

“I put weird stuff in my ear,” “said” Bruce Jenner, according to the expert lip readers used in the video. “Like what?” asked Kris Jenner. “Like Doritos,” Bruce Jenner replied. “That’s where you put it,” Kris replied matter-of-factly.

Other highlights of the poorly interpreted conversations include Real Housewives stars NeNe Leakes, Kim Richards, and more talking nonsense (well, more nonsense than usual).

It’s all good fun for a good cause. Specifically, Red Nose Day a fundraising event that just debuted in the United States, decades after it launched in the U.K. in 1985. The special, which aired on NBC on Thursday, also featured the likes of Julia Roberts, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jodie Foster, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, Coldplay, Julianne Moore and the cast of Game of Thrones. And, of course, The Real Housewives.

TIME Television

Is The Bachelorette Already Slut-Shaming Kaitlyn Bristowe?

A promo for the upcoming season suggests a double standard is still at play

At the end of this week’s season premiere of The Bachelorette, the producers gave a sneak peak at all the drama to come in the new season of the show. In the promo, the producers document newly-minted Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe’s fairytale journey to find love complete with canoeing, celebrity guest appearances (hi Amy Schumer!) and sumo wrestling. It’s all rose petals and romance—until around the 1:30 mark, when things get darker. The men start to get jealous watching Kaitlyn kiss other beaus. Not helping the situation is the return of Nick Viall, a finalist from Andi Dorfman’s season, who’s been vocal about his feelings about pre-marital sex. (In case you missed it: He deemed Andi’s decision to have sex with him in the Fantasy Suite “not appropriate.”)

Kaitlyn seems to shrug it off, though, saying: “If the physical part of a relationship isn’t there for me, that is a deal breaker.” Fair enough—that’s how most of the world functions when it comes to romance. As emotions rise, one man soothes his friend’s feelings, “It’s just kissing.” And it is just kissing—until suddenly, it’s not. The lights go out, there’s the sound of heavy breathing, and it becomes clear that an adult woman on a dating reality show had sex. Cut to a picture of a crying Kaitlyn.

In the video, Kaitlyn clearly states that she’s not a bad person and she’s not ashamed of herself. So why does it seem like the producers want to make her look like she is? The next few minutes of the promo are just Kaitlyn crying, curling up in a ball, hiding her face and then admitting her actions to the other men for public pillorying. The men are shocked. One stalks off: “Don’t talk to me!”

Let’s get real: This is not the first time that someone has had sex on this show. The show’s “journey to love” culminates in three back-to-back overnight dates in a Fantasy Suite. We all know what happens there, even if it’s not documented for the camera. This isn’t even the first time that someone has had sex outside of the Fantasy Suites. Remember Courtney’s and Ben’s tryst in the ocean? Or Clare and Juan Pablo? Bachelor Bob Guiney supposedly had sex with at least five different women on his season. Host Chris Harrison low-balled that 67% of couples have sex on the show. Despite that, Courtney is still considered a villain; Clare was blasted on blogs and Twitter for her night with Juan Pablo.

But, of course, those infamous encounters all took place on The Bachelor, not The Bachelorette. Does the show have a double standard when it comes to the perception of its Bachelorette? Maybe. Bachelorette Andi Dorfman certainly got her share of slut-shaming after her Fantasy Suite encounter with Nick Viall came up on After the Final Rose. (To her credit, Andi was having none of it.) Based on the promo, it seems like Kaitlyn is in for similar treatment. Some viewers definitely thought so; many took to Twitter to express their dismay over the producers’ perceived slut-shaming of Kaitlyn.

“I made a mistake. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad person,” Kaitlyn wails in the video. Let’s hope the producers remember that this season.

TIME Television

Watch Justin Bieber Sing Car Karaoke with James Corden

The Bieb also revealed how many times he wears his underwear in a row

While you were still crying over David Letterman’s late night departure, James Corden was asking Justin Bieber if he ever makes love to his own music. While the answer to that was a sad no, there were some other interesting revelations on Wednesday night’s Late Late Show.

In the clip, Corden and Bieber drive around Los Angeles, shouting out to fans on the street and singing along to Bieber’s hit songs “Baby” and “Where Are U Now.” In between all the singing and seat dancing, Corden managed to get some dirt on the singer, like the fact that he only wears underwear once before throwing it out. (As a Calvin Klein model, perhaps he feels he has to do his part to keep the company in business?) Bieber also showed off his impressive skills with a Rubik’s Cube, which has to be seen to be beliebed.

TIME Television

Watch Jamie Foxx Play Wheel of Musical Impressions With Jimmy Fallon

His take on Jennifer Hudson singing "On Top Of Spaghetti" is truly something

Jimmy Fallon made the most of having a multi-hyphenate talent on his show when actor-singer-comedian Jamie Foxx stopped by The Tonight Show Tuesday night. Fallon challenged Foxx to a game called “Wheel of Musical Impressions,” where each person is assigned a random singer and nontraditional song at the push of a button.

Foxx started strong with his version of Mick Jagger singing The Lion King‘s “Hakuna Matata,” complete with, ahem, moves like Jagger. Fallon came back by giving Barney the Purple Dinosaur’s “I Love You” the Bee Gees treatment.

But Foxx won the night with his impressive takes on John Legend singing the Toys ‘R’ Us theme song and Jennifer Hudson warbling “On Top Of Spaghetti,” which must be heard to be believed.

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