[08/12/09 - 12:06 AM]
Interview: "How'D You Get So Rich?" Host Joan Rivers
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

"I'm one of the lucky ones that loves what they do," said comedian/actress/talk show host/business woman Joan Rivers, who doesn't have the word 'retirement' in her vocabulary. In 2009 alone, she won the most recent "Celebrity Apprentice," can still regularly be seen doing stand-up on the New York City comedy circuit, is returning to the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas to perform later this month and is currently starring in TV Land's latest reality series, "How'd You Get So Rich?" Rivers talked to our Jim Halterman this morning and shared her thoughts on why she doesn't really work, her fascination with how people became rich and her response to the vulgar-fest at the recent Comedy Central roast in her honor.

"It's not work," River said in regards to the fascination people have with her busy schedule. "People say 'you work so hard' but I'm playing. They don't get it." She's definitely not interested in the alternative � not working. In fact, Rivers admitted to not knowing what she'd do if she didn't have work to fill her days. "And do what?" she asked, "say things but tell it to the postman? Of course not!"

To prove her point that she's not slowing down, Rivers' latest television endeavor, "How'd You Get So Rich?" premiered last week to solid ratings on TV Land. In the half-hour series, Rivers visits millionaires and uses her trademark blunt and brassy manner to find out not only how they landed their fortunes but also what they've spent their money on. How did the show come about? "TV Land came to me and said to find an idea and I always go all these places and you drive and in the middle of Indianapolis you see this huge house and you go, 'Look at these people! How'd they get so rich?' Or somebody drives past you in a Lamborghini and you think, 'How'd they get so rich?' So I thought wouldn't it be fun to go in and meet them and see their toys, see how much everything costs and that's exactly what the show is."

One interesting aspect of the TV Land series is that the many of the people she meets on the show have earned their money with unconventional products. One millionaire changed his life by inventing a product called 'Billy Bob Teeth.' Upon hearing my "That's crazy!" response, Rivers was quick to correct. "Crazy?" she said. "It should happen to you! An American who was too poor to go to school and his friend was going to dental school and he'd go in with his friend and make these Billy Bob teeth. The kind you put on and you look like a white trash hillbilly. He has made 50 million dollars!"

Besides interviewing the millionaires, Rivers can also be seen out on the streets of Beverly Hills accosting owners of sports cars or fancy clothes to find out what they did to land on easy street. Rivers is also busy on the Internet with the "How'd You Get So Rich?" website where she can be seen in her Vlog giving tips on not only getting rich but also the telltale signs that you need plastic surgery.

Asked if she thought it was better to work hard our whole life to get rich or just marry well and the comic deadpanned, "Oh, marry really well. I always say marry an old guy with a cough."

While Rivers has been known to use colorful language in her comedy act, even she was surprised at the string of vulgarity that was spewed by such fellow comics as Carl Reiner, Brad Garrett, Gilbert Gottfried and Kathy Griffin during her recent Celebrity Roast on Comedy Central. Rivers knew she might be in for a rough night of being roasted when she was able to watch some of the previous roasts that the network has aired over the years. "I hadn't seen their roasts before. Comedy Central sent them all to me and I was in shock! I thought 'Oh my! You can't do that, you can't do that!'" However, she took it all in stride, even getting the chance to stand at the microphone and blast everyone for their shocking behavior. Of course, she did this with her own string of expletives to make her comic point.

When the most recent season of Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" was announced with a cast including reality star Khloe Kardashian, sports figures Herschel Walker and Dennis Rodman and also Rivers' own daughter, Melissa, nobody could have predicted that the 76-year old would walk away with the grand prize. Before the game began for Rivers, though, there was one thing that she feared telling anyone involved with the show. "I don't watch much television so I didn't know what [the show] was about and I was too embarrassed to say that and it wasn't until I got there and I said 'Oh! You get to do tasks!' So I loved it." It wasn't pure luck, however, that helped Rivers win. "I'm very entrepreneurial," she explained. "I'll try anything and I'll do anything so it was great. It was like a big cupcake!"

As comedian Kathy Griffin said during the Comedy Central Roast, Rivers is the reason the women in comedy have careers today since Rivers has been making people laugh for almost 40 years. In fact, Rivers was the first person to be named permanent guest host for Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show" before causing an infamous rift between she and the late night legend by jumping to Fox to host her own talk show. All that aside, who does Rivers see as some of the strongest female comediennes on the scene today? "Kathy Griffin, of course, and Sarah Silverman," Rivers stated.

Thinking back on her long career, it would seem that Rivers has done a little of everything from stand-up comedy, being Grammy nominated for her comedy album "What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most," starting the red carpet craze at awards shows and she also has a popular novel on the market called "Murder at the Academy Awards" (with sequels set at the Emmys and Tonys are in the works). Despite everything she has accomplished, does she have any regrets? "I'd love to star in a movie," she confessed. "I was in 'Spaceballs' and in 'The Muppets Take Manhattan,' that kind of stuff, but I'd love to have a big role in a movie. That would be great. Movies are so much fun."

For now, Rivers is preparing for her return to Las Vegas where she hasn't performed in almost a decade. One of the reasons she is so excited to be back in Sin City is because of the diversity found in the Vegas audiences. "It's a real a little microcosm of America," she said. "It's people from Utah, people from Florida, people from New York, people from Dallas. It's really all over so when a joke works in Vegas, it works."

"How'd You Get So Rich?" airs Wednesday nights on TV Land at 10:00/9:00c and Rivers performs at the Venetian in Las Vegas August 27-29 and September 3-5.

  [august 2009]  


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