Cover image for Brief encounters : conversations, magic moments, and assorted hijinks
Title:
Brief encounters : conversations, magic moments, and assorted hijinks
Author:
Cavett, Dick.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2014.
Physical Description:
xiv, 267 pages ; 24 cm
Summary:
Legendary talk show host Dick Cavett shares his reflections and reminiscences about Hollywood legends, American cultural icons, and the absurdities of everyday life. On his talk show, Cavett welcomed the leading figures from film, music, theater, literature, comedy, and politics, and engaged them in conversation that made viewers feel that the discussion was taking place in their own living rooms. Here he introduces us to the fascinating characters who have crossed his path, from James Gandolfini and John Lennon to Mel Brooks and Nora Ephron, enhancing our appreciation of their talent, their personalities, and their place in the pantheon. We tag along as Cavett spends an afternoon with Stan Laurel at his modest apartment in Los Angeles, spars with Muhammad Ali at his training camp, and comes to know a young Steve Jobs--who woos him to be Apple's first celebrity pitchman. He also offers piquant commentary on contemporary politics, the indignities of travel, the nature of comedy writing, and the utter improbability of being alive at all.--From publisher description.
General Note:
"A New York Times book."

Includes index.
Language:
English
Contents:
Dreams, let up on us! -- The windows of the soul need cleaning -- Art did the darndest things...to your jokes -- A. Godfrey : a man for a long, long season -- More of our man Godfrey -- Real Americans, please stand up -- Dear fellow improbable... -- Further improbables -- The titan and the Pfc. -- Match him? Not likely -- I wrote it, must I also hustle it? -- Lennon's return -- A bittersweet Christmas story -- Sauce for the goose? Take a gander -- The wrath of grapes -- How do you open for a mind-reading horse? -- My life as a juvenile delinquent -- My Liz : the fantasy -- In defense of offense -- The week that was -- The first shall be last--or, anyway, second -- Waiting (and waiting) in the wings -- I owe William Jennings Bryan an apology -- Sorry, W.J.B., to bring this up again -- Flying? Increasingly for the birds -- The great Melvino, or our Mr. Brooks -- Tough sell -- Up against the wall -- Last nude column (for now, at least) -- Deck the halls with boughs of nutty -- Marlene on the phone -- Should news come with a warning label? -- Schooling Santorum -- Road to ruin -- Groucho lives! (in two places) -- They dressed like Groucho -- Pyramid power, over me -- You gave away your babies? -- Vamping with Nora -- Comedy pain and comedy pleasure -- The fine mess maker at home -- Can you stand some more Stan? -- How are the mighty fallen, or Where's my friend? -- Ali, round two -- Back when I was packing -- More on guns, with readers -- And the Oscar doesn't go to the Oscars -- Tonight, tonight, its world is full of blight -- With Winters gone, can we be far behind? -- Missing: Jonathan Winters. Badly -- Hel-LO! You're...who again? -- Good night, sweet Soprano -- As comics say, "These kids today! I tell ya!" -- More sex, anyone? -- Tough way to lose a friend -- Cavett on booze, again -- Only in my dreams?
Personal Subject:
ISBN:
9780805099775
Format :
Book

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PN2287.C38 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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Summary

Summary


Dick Cavett is back, sharing his reflections and reminiscences about Hollywood legends, American cultural icons, and the absurdities of everyday life

In Brief Encounters , the legendary talk show host Dick Cavett introduces us to the fascinating characters who have crossed his path, from James Gandolfini and John Lennon to Mel Brooks and Nora Ephron, enhancing our appreciation of their talent, their personalities, and their place in the pantheon. We tag along as Cavett spends an afternoon with Stan Laurel at his modest apartment in Los Angeles, spars with Muhammad Ali at his training camp, and comes to know a young Steve Jobs--who woos him to be Apple's first celebrity pitchman. He also offers piquant commentary on contemporary politics, the indignities of travel, the nature of comedy writing, and the utter improbability of being alive at all.

On his talk show, Cavett welcomed the leading figures from film, music, theater, literature, comedy, and politics, and engaged them in conversation that made viewers feel that the discussion was taking place in their own living rooms. Jimmy Fallon, the host of The Tonight Show , has called him "a legend and an inspiration" and has written a foreword that makes clear the debt that today's talk show hosts owe to Dick Cavett.

To spend a few minutes, or an hour, or even a whole evening with Dick Cavett is an experience not to be missed, and now there's no reason to deny yourself. Enjoy the conversation!


Author Notes


Dick Cavett was the host of The Dick Cavett Show on ABC and PBS, and he also hosted talk shows on the USA, HBO, and CNBC cable networks. He appears frequently on stage, screen, and new media, and he was nominated for his most recent Emmy Award in 2012. He is the author of Talk Show and the coauthor of Cavett and Eye on Cavett , and he writes an online opinion column for The New York Times . He lives in New York City and Montauk, New York.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

With his signature wit, writer and comic Cavett shares brief encounters from his early childhood in Nebraska on through his career in show business. He offers memories of network skittishness at the waywardness of some of his most memorable talk shows; performing magic acts, including on one notable occasion when Liz Taylor extemporaneously assisted; and his famously contentious relationship with the Nixon administration. He reprises visiting with Stan Laurel at his apartment and Muhammad Ali at his training camp and meeting the young Steve Jobs before agreeing to do Apple's first commercials. He also recalls working with an assortment of famous names, including Groucho Marx, Jerry Lewis, and Mel Brooks. Of dreams, he ponders that the complexity of the human brain is too, well, complex for that same brain to understand. He draws on his days as a young writer learning the ropes from more experienced comedians and from a long career as talk-show host on an assortment of television and cable networks, expounding on life, American culture, and politics with obvious love of magic, entertainment, and words.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

A collection of work previously published as a part of Cavett's New York Times online opinion column, these articles could easily fall under the heading of musings were they not so varied in content, topic, theme, and style. Some are biography, like Cavett's account of a prank pulled when he was in high school ("I Owe William Jennings Bryan an Apology"). Others are pieces on such celebrities as Stan Laurel, Muhammad Ali, and John Lennon, told as only Cavett, both as a journalist and a celebrity himself, can. Still others are commentary, told with wit, such as "Should News Come with a Warning Label?" Given Cavett's background hosting talk shows and doing TV interviews, it comes as no surprise that what holds these varied vignettes together is his conversational style. In fact, in many of these short works (some no more than five pages), like "Can You Stand Some More Stan?" about Stan Laurel, he seems to be carrying on a discussion with Laurel's fans and detractors alike. Cavett's showing off of his chops from the golden age of late night TV, focusing on people like Groucho Marx, Marlene Dietrich, Jonathan Winters, Tony Curtis, and Mel Brooks, gives everyone a chance to remember or to be introduced to these influential Hollywood and comedy stars. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Cavett may not be a household name these days but in the late 1960s to mid-1970s the Dick Cavett Show was a late-night TV destination. He was known as a literate, erudite interviewer who loved wordplay, but who didn't take any guff from his guests, as the now famous show in 1971 with Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal demonstrates. Mailer, drunk, belligerent, and trading insults with Vidal, finally said to Cavett, "Why don't you look at your question sheet and ask your question?" to which Cavett responded, "Why don't you fold it five ways and put it where the moon don't shine?" The author wrote about his life in Cavett (1974) and his career in Talk Show (2011). Currently Cavett writes an online opinion column for the New York Times and here he reprises some of those with varying success. Most notable are his anecdotal stories about such people as Groucho Marx, Nora Ephron, and Muhammad Ali; his stints on the game show $25,000 Pyramid; and what it was like writing jokes for comedians. Jimmy Fallon writes a thoughtful and admiring foreword. VERDICT Baby boomers, Cavett fans, and those interested in the history of television will enjoy this book.-Rosellen Brewer, Sno-Isle Libs., Marysville, WA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Dreams, Let Up on Us! Will Shakespeare told us, in that line always misquoted with the word "of"--even by Bogey in The Maltese Falcon --that "we are such stuff as dreams are made on." If they're in fact what we're made on, it's a mixed blessing. We know that much of Freud's work has been repudiated and disparaged by the psychiatric world. Particularly his dream symbolism. But I've seen dream analysis work. When "in treatment"--that lovely euphemism for getting your head shrunk--with the brilliant Dr. Willard Gaylin, I would come in with a mishmash of a dream and, feature by crazy feature, he would elucidate it. It was--and can we now retire this word for at least a decade, young people?--awesome. Some people claim they never dream. There are times when I wish I were one of them. There are two types of dream that rate, for me at least, the word "nightmare." The buggers are the Actor's Dream and the Exam Dream. If you've never endured either of these, count yourself lucky. Maybe I'm getting your share. The question I can never find an answer to is the one that makes dreams so mysterious. When you watch a movie or read a story you don't know what's coming next. You're surprised by what happens as it unfolds. You know that someone wrote the book or made the movie. But who in hell is the author of the dream? How can it be anyone but you? But how can it be you if it's all new to you, if you don't know what's coming? Do you write the dream, then hide it from yourself, forget it, and then "sit out front" and watch it? Everything in it is a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant. And, unlike a book or film, you can't fast-forward to see how it comes out. So where does it come from? And who "wrote" it? (I apologize if I've led you to think I have the answers.) What shows you the dream and at the same time blinds you to its source? The mechanism has to be ingeniously complex to pull this stunt off. But it seems that the complexity of the human brain is too, well, complex for that same brain to understand. A nice puzzle. I'm not sure I've ever met anyone who hasn't had the Exam Dream. (Do people who haven't been to school get this dream, or are they immune to the torture?) There you are in the classroom, trying desperately to get a peek at someone else's paper, but they've just turned the page as you writhe in the realization that you forgot to study. Why, this far from one's education, does one (or at least I) still get the damned dream? Once I awoke in a sweat from it, walked around a little to shake it off, calmed down, and went back to sleep, only to be blindsided that same night by the Actor's Dream. Every actor gets it, even people who have only been in the school play. You're backstage, about to go on, and desperately trying to find a copy of the play to get at least your first line or two, but no one has a script. How did you get to opening night and fail to learn a single line? You're plagued with "How did I do this to myself?" and "Am I even wearing the right costume?" and "Do I go out there and try to ad-lib a part I don't know, maybe getting a few lines right by chance?" and "In a moment I'll step out there and make an ass of myself, let down and embarrass my fellow actors, and probably be fired on the spot as they give people's money back." It goes on and on and won't let up on you. The merciful release at the much-too-late-in-coming realization "Oh, thank God, it's a dream!" leaves you limp. Freud, "the Viennese quack" (Nabokov), is said to have pointed out that the mental agony of an excruciating dream is always far worse than the real situation would be. It's true. Logic tells you that in waking real life you probably wouldn't get into the situation you lie there suffering and blaming yourself for. The rich variety of hateful anxiety dreams can be about anything: not having studied; having lost your passport in an unfamiliar land; getting hopelessly lost in the woods; being late for and unable to find your own wedding; having let your pet get lost; and the myriad other sleeping torture plots the mind is heir to. The psychic pain is acute. And even if these things did happen, awful as they would be, why must the psychic pain be ten times more excruciating in the dream than it would be in real life? Who does this to us? Who or what is the sadistic force operating on us here? It's hard to admit, but doesn't it have to be ourselves? Then why are we doing it to ourselves? What did we do to deserve it? And does it all stand for something about us that's so awful it has to be disguised as something else in the dream? Please have your answers to these questions on my desk by Friday. Neatness and clarity of presentation will count, and five points will be taken off for spelling. Time for a laugh here. I just remembered that the great Robert Benchley wrote, somewhere, a piece about that aspect of dreams that's common to most of them--that nothing is quite itself as you know it. "It's my house but it's not my house. It's my gray suit but it has wheels on it." Should you deem this subject worthy of a return visit, I'll expose the specific anxiety dreams I collected for a time from some famous people: Laurence Olivier, Rudolf Nureyev, others. (Or you can just tell me to shut up about it.) APRIL 30, 2010 Copyright © 2014 by Richard A. Cavett Foreword © 2014 by Jimmy Fallon Excerpted from Brief Encounters by Dick Cavett All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Jimmy Fallon
Forewordp. xiii
Dreams, Let Up on Us!p. 1
The Windows of the Soul Need Cleaningp. 4
Art Did the Darndest Things ... to Your Jokesp. 8
A. Godfrey: A Man for a Long, Long Seasonp. 11
More of Our Man Godfreyp. 15
Real Americans, Please Stand Upp. 19
Dear Fellow Improbable ...p. 23
Further Improbablesp. 27
The Titan and the Pfc.p. 31
Match Him? Not Likelyp. 36
I Wrote It, Must I Also Hustle It?p. 39
Lennon's Returnp. 42
A Bittersweet Christmas Storyp. 45
Sauce for the Goose? Take a Ganderp. 49
The Wrath of Grapesp. 53
How Do You Open for a Mind-Reading Horse?p. 57
My Life as a Juvenile Delinquentp. 62
My Liz: The Fantasyp. 67
In Defense of Offensep. 71
The Week That Wasp. 75
The First Shall Be Last-or, Anyway, Secondp. 79
Waiting (and Waiting) in the Wingsp. 83
I Owe William Jennings Bryan an Apologyp. 87
Sorry, W.J.B., to Bring This Up Againp. 93
Flying? Increasingly for the Birdsp. 97
The Great Melvino, or Our Mr. Brooksp. 101
Tough Sellp. 106
Up Against the Wallp. 109
Last Nude Column (for Now, at Least)p. 113
Deck the Halls with Boughs of Nuttyp. 116
Marlene on the Phonep. 120
Should News Come with a Warning Label?p. 125
Schooling Santorump. 128
Road to Ruinp. 132
Groucho Lives! (In Two Places)p. 137
They Dressed Like Grouchop. 142
Pyramid Power, Over Mep. 148
You Gave Away Your Babies?p. 154
Vamping with Norap. 158
Comedy Pain and Comedy Pleasurep. 162
The Fine Mess Maker at Homep. 167
Can You Stand Some More Stan?p. 173
How Are the Mighty Fallen, or Where's My Friend?p. 177
Ali, Round Twop. 181
Back When I Was Packingp. 186
More on Guns, with Readersp. 190
And the Oscar Doesn't Go to the Oscarsp. 194
Tonight, Tonight, Its World Is Full of Blightp. 198
With Winters Gone, Can We Be Far Behind?p. 203
Missing: Jonathan Winters. Badlyp. 207
Hel-LO! You're ... Who Again?p. 214
Good Night, Sweet Sopranop. 225
As Comics Say, "These Kids Today! I Tell Ya!"p. 230
More Sex, Anyone?p. 235
Tough Way to Lose a Friendp. 239
Cavett on Booze, Againp. 244
Only in My Dreams?p. 249
Acknowledgmentsp. 255
Indexp. 257