Saturday, November 3, 2018

Jeff Goldblum on CBS SUNDAY MORNING

The 1980s was a great decade to land in New York City for TV work.  That's what I did. I was hired by WPIX TV/Channel 11 to relocate from Milwaukee to Manhattan. I'd be doing entertainment features on local TV. Celebrity interviews and such. I'd be at WPIX for two years and then I'd get an offer to national exposure as a daily veejay and talk show host on VH1.  Back in those days, you could pass a lot of celebrities on the streets of New York City. Or see them in a supermarket or hardware store or diner.  If you interviewed them once -- and the interview was good -- they'd remember you if you were scheduled to interview them again for another project. For me, Jeff Goldblum was a celebrity who remembered me back then. I was flattered. If you're a Jeff Goldblum fan, he'll be profiled on CBS SUNDAY MORNING on November 4th.
I've had a couple of interview opportunities with Jeff Goldblum in the 1980s and a couple of casual encounters.  Each single one was fun -- like the fun some of us used to have when we were kids watching Saturday morning cartoons on TV while eating a bowl of Trix cereal.
He's a tall, slim, jazzy bird of character who's been around and noticeable for a long time.  In the first 20 minutes of the 1974 revenge drama, DEATH WISH, starring Charles Bronson, you'll see Goldblum as one of the criminals who terrorizes Hope Lange as the wife opposite Charles Bronson as the NYC architect.  In 1974, Goldblum had one line -- one wacky line -- and managed to stand out in the Woody Allen classic, ANNIE HALL. In 1980, network TV tried to make him a star opposite Ben Vereen in the private eye duo series, TEN SPEED AND BROWN SHOE. It was canceled. But Jeff Goldblum's role as the People Magazine writer in the hit 1983 movie, THE BIG CHILL, really clicked with the public. It was around that time I interviewed him for the first time. Then I'd run into him at New York publicity parties when he was dating and then newlywedded to actress and fabulous feminist Geena Davis.  They seemed to be the perfect couple.  For one thing, they were almost the same height.
 Jeff Goldblum congratulated when I got the VH1 gig.  He knew I'd moved up from local to national TV work.  For VH1, I made many trips from New York to L.A. to tape segments for my talk show. On one return trip, I was reserved in business class from L.A. back to New York.  The flight was fully booked. When I reached my aisle seat, I heard a warm "Hey, Bobby." My seatmate would be a smiling Jeff Goldblum.

This was the first time in my life I'd ever sat next to a celebrity on a flight. I knew that many stars prized their privacy, so I made sure not to get all giddy and be an interruption.

Well, Jeff Goldblum chatted like we were old high school buddies. He chatted about VH1. He chatted about the in-flight meal. He chatted about the groovy music he was listening to on his Walkman and he shared his earpieces so I could hear some of it.  He'd been cast in a new upcoming Robert Altman feature. He was soon to start rehearsals and he had his script with him. So he asked me to run lines with him to prepare for Altman's BEYOND THERAPY.

Jeff Goldblum was one of the chattiest men I'd ever sat next to on a flight, a bus, a subway, or any other kind of mass transportation.

Remember the I LOVE LUCY episode where The Ricardos and The Mertzes are on the flight back from Europe to New York? Lucy Ricardo has a 25 pound piece of cheese wrapped in a baby blanket. She thinks kids fly free and she's trying to pass the cheese off as a baby so Ricky won't have to pay extra. Lucy's seatmate, a mom holding a real baby, keeps trying to engage Lucy in conversation and get a peek at her infant. After a few minutes, Lucy pretends to be asleep.

I did that same exact thing to Jeff Goldblum somewhere over Colorado.

When I was a kid, I dreamed of interviewing and being up close to movie stars.  I never thought that one would talk my ears off while I was strapped in to my seat.
I must add that, as cool as he seems to be onscreen and in interviews, he was that cool sitting next to me in flight.  I just needed a few minutes of quiet. I really dig Jeff Goldblum and have ever since our first meeting. I hope we meet again. Watch him on CBS SUNDAY MORNING.

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