Notes on what made James Lipton and Inside The Actors Studio successful for over 20 years.
James Lipton Replacement:
Inside The Actors Studio is actively looking for a replacement for the aging Lipton, who was born in 1926 and is now over ninety years old. Lipton has been hosting the Inside The Actors Studio TV show since 1994 and his replacement will be hard to integrate into the existing show as the show has Lipton's fingerprints and DNA all over it. It is anticipated that Lipton's interim replacement could be Ellen Burstyn, who is another long-term member of The Actors Studio, but she is also getting on in her years as she was born in 1932, barely eight years younger than Lipton.
Great TV Material That Has Never Aired:
Because of the laid back approach of Lipton's interviewing, the taping of the show can often run into two hours or more. The famous Steven Spielberg's 1999 interview stretched out to four hours and was ultimately broadcast as two one-hour shows. This means that an average interview on this show is two hours, but Bravo provides a one-hour transmission slot, therefore over fifty percent of footage is cut, including many memorable moments, as Bravo's time slot does not allow it.
Lipton's Laid Back Interviewing Style:
James Lipton always has his pack of blue question cards and converses at great length with the guest on a variety of subjects before moving to the portion of the interview where he submits the interviewee to his standard Bernard Pivot questionnaire that includes such queries as "What is your favorite curse word?" and "What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?" The final segment of Inside the Actors Studio allows the Actors Studio MFA students in the audience to ask the guest questions directly. James Lipton's style has often been ridiculed as it has featured many pretentious questions that overly lavish his guest with praise.
The Class Room Portion:
At the end of every show, they take a break and Lipton allows students to pose questions to the celebrity guest. The questions are usually inane and often self-serving because the students tie themselves into the question, these are rich drama students after all. This portion of the show does lighten the note of a show that has already taped for hours and is now making the turn into the final straight of wrapping up. This portion of the show runs for another hour and members of the public are allowed to attend, but not allowed to ask questions.
Hollywood "Gives Back":
On Inside The Actors Studio, Hollywood celebrities will often talk about their favorite subject, themselves, for hours. An interview with the late Robin Williams taped in 2007 for over five and a half hours. But the content was brutally edited down to just one hour. Following William's death there have been calls for this specific show to be publicly released in its entirety, as Pace University faculty and students already have complete access to this original material but the rest is not public. By appearing on the show, celebrities believe that they are giving back to the industry by offering their pearls of wisdom to the drama students, but the reality is that this may just be another TV show for celebrities to talk incessantly about themselves for hours under the guise of an educational format.
Pace University Summary:
Pace university is a private university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. This school is well known for its arts program, but the school has attempted to branch out with schools of School of Health Professions, School of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Education, School of Law and Seidenberg School of Computer Science. Their most popular major is business management and their Visual and Performing Arts Program comprises 6% of the total student population. The student to faculty ratio is 14:1 and the school has an acceptance rate at 81%, which is very high. According to US News, their four year graduation rate is only 34% . Rachael Ray, the TV cooking show host, went to Pace in the 1980's but like 66% of other students, she dropped out after two years. Pace University is often described as comparatively expensive (many schools in NYC are similar), but Pace has been reported to provide a poorer experience than its peers of NYU and St Johns due to its dysfunctional administration and aging infrastructure problems with students complaining about "terrible" wireless connectivity and absentee professors.
Inside The Actors Studio Moved To A New Location In 2005:
From September 1994 through May 2005, the Actors Studio taped the TV show Inside The Actors Studio at the John L. Tishman Theater located inside The New School, an independent university in New York City. The school used the show as part of its education program for its masters-level theatre students at their Drama School which also is part of the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences. In 2005 The Actors Studio abruptly ended the contract with The New School and signed up with their cross-town competitor, Pace University. It was at this time that Pace created their own The Actors Studio Drama School and the TV show, Inside The Actors Studio, was moved to their theater, at The Schimmel Center at Pace University. Inside The Actors Studio still tapes at the Schimmel Center to this day and has over 400 seats per show is a popular show to attend on campus. After losing the MFA program and the TV show to Pace, The New School created its own theater program to fill the void left by The Actors Studio and in particular, the void left by the TV show Inside The Actors Studio. The New School discovered that they could not create their own version of the TV show due to a rights issue with The Actors Studio and they now no longer have a TV show that promotes their acting program, which is clearly a big misstep in their own marketing strategy.
Students Provide Research Resource:
Although James Lipton is the interviewer on the show, there are many students moonlighting as researchers who work unseen on the show for course credit. Interviewees are often amazed by Lipton's insight into and knowledge of, their lives. Little-do-they-know, Lipton is just reading off his blue cue cards that over forty researchers have complied with information from every angle. The researchers have been known to go to extraordinary lengths to dig up dirt on the celebrity that many of them later go into tabloid journalism. Some Pace graduates now work on the TMZ TV show in California. This seemingly endless, unpaid talent pool makes Pace University and Inside The Actors Studio the most over-prepared TV show on American Television, with assets that other New York talk shows would love to have.
After Moving To Pace University The MFA Program and TV Show Has Scant Critical Successes:
The MFA program and the TV show that is now at Pace University and is overseen by The Actors Studio, has had very little success in actually turning any of the students and wannabe-famous audience members into actual commercial successes in the entertainment industry. Given the high number of taped episodes over the years and the many thousands of Pace MFA students that have attended the show, this is a surprising fact. The problem may be caused by the high cost of the MFA program tuition at Pace and may only be affordable by affluent families who are encouraging their offspring into this career. Not many regular people can afford to take an MFA program to learn acting and it is now quickly becoming reserved for the rich. It has long been established that great actors come from humble beginnings and it is no surprise that they served their time as starving artists and most do not actually have a higher education. Bradley Cooper recently became the first ever guest to actually have been a student at the Pace MFA program. Pace University uses Cooper as the poster boy of famous alumni, but very few other commercial successes exist since the program moved to Pace. The salad days of the program at The New School produced countless stars including Hollywood greats; Marlon Brando, Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino. Pace has a ho-hum acting MFA program, but with their association with The Actors Studio and the inclusion of the TV show, Inside The Actors Studio, the credibility of this class is raised significantly. Critics claim that the show is both shallow and valueless as a teaching tool that only serves to provide Bravo with great viewer ratings at very little investment and Pace an effective infomercial for their expensive MFA program and other school offerings.
Celebrities Who Have Been On The Show:
Guests on the show have been a veritable who's-who of Hollywood performers. These celebrities have included:
Contemporary Actors: Sean Penn, Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and Jodie Foster.
Classic Actors: Al Pacino, Anthony Hopkins, Clint Eastwood, Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Lauren Bacall, Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman.
Comedic Actors: Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Robin Williams, John Candy, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Conan O'Brien, Dave Chappelle, John Goodman and Tom Hanks.
Directors: Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg
Celebrities Who Declined To Appear On The Show:
Many celebrities have declined to appear on the show. These celebrities have included:
Contemporary Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington, Jennifer Lawrence, Marlon Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington and Michael Keaton.
Classic Actors: Katharine Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Warren Beatty, Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson and Gary Oldman.
Comedic Actors: Bill Murray, Adam Sandler and Chevy Chase.
Directors: George Lucas and Woody Allen.
Howard Stern has also declined an invitation to appear on the show.