What motivates Johnny Depp every time his director calls “action”? What is Steven Spielberg trying to convey to his audience through his epic “War of the Worlds”? How does Robin Williams remain so fresh and hilarious through his many improvisations? If you find these, or any similar questions, burning in your mind, throw out that latest issue of People magazine and flip on your TV to Bravo to check out “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” The award-winning TV series, which has been on the air since 1994, places Actor’s Studio member and producer James Lipton in the seat of the interviewer, face-to-face with a famous actor, director, musician, or comedian week after week.
Unlike the gossip writer that gets his or her “journalism” published in the supermarket tabloids, Lipton aims to get really personal with the artist in front of him. In addition to asking questions about the artists’ philosophy on what he or she does, he always asks twelve specific questions, each one from the Bernard Pivot’s Questionnaire. Some of these open-ended queries include “What sound do you love?”, “What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?”, and the ever popular “What is your favorite word?” These types of interviews attempt to help the vigilant audience in the studio and at home, full of ordinary people, to see these celebrities just as themselves – ordinary people. In fact, the students in the audience are even given the opportunity to pitch questions to the stars directly once Lipton is through.
Lipton actually does quite a lot of research on the interviewee he’s expecting, and it typically takes him about two weeks to prepare for it. When does he find the time to find his facts? After his day job, of course! Lipton actually works as the Dean of the Actor’s Studio when he’s not hosting the show.
Every episode is taped before a live, student audience in a large auditorium located at the Michael Schimmel Center of the Arts, and hosted by Pace University. The show has been nominated for an Emmy every year since 1997, and has won the Cable Ace award once. It is currently broadcasted in 125 countries. For the future director, the aspiring screenwriter, or the charismatic actor, “Inside the Actor’s Studio” demands to be part of your television viewing, as it continues to bridge that gap between what is simply “entertainment” and what is justifiably “art.