Joan Rivers: A life in motion and loving it
Joan Rivers will be appearing at the Hanover Theater in Worcester on May 22 .
By G. Michael Dobbs
Joan Rivers is in a state of motion, which appears to be, looking at her schedule on her website, a typical status for her.
"We're going through a tunnel. But if we get cut off, I'll call you right back," she promised.
As I spoke to her on April 10, she told me she was in a car heading to New Jersey, where she appeared on QVC promoting her successful line of women's fashion accessories.
Then on April 11, she flew to California to prepare for the taping of her hit E! show "Fashion Police.," She taped the show on April 12 and later that day appeared with fellow comic legend Don Rickles at a casino. Then she was back on the East Coast for a succession of appearances in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont before heading back to the West Coast.
One of her stops will be at Worcester's Hanover Theater for the Performing Arts on May 22 for her show "My Life in Show Business; 135 Years and Counting."
How does she do it? At age 79, why does she do it?
Rivers said that she must have Attention Deficit Disorder.
"I get very bored. I like conquering mountains," she told PRIME. When confronted with a new project her reaction is, "OK, of course we can do it."
"Conquering mountains" has been standard operating procedure for Rivers for all of her career.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Barnard College, Rivers did aspire to do something inconceivable for a woman in the early 1960s: become a comic. She worked for seven years before receiving her big break in 1968 when Johnny Carson gave her a guest shot on "The Tonight Show."
"And it was amazing," she recalled the of experience. It came after "seven years of struggle."
Eventually, she would become Carson's permanent substitute, have her own late night show on FOX and win an Emmy for her daytime talk show "The Joan Rivers Show."
In 1990, Rivers started her highly successful fashion business on QVC. Her business acumen was put to the test on "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2009, which she won.
She carved out another niche when she started interviewing people at red carpet events such as the Oscars and has written and performed in well-received one-woman theatrical events.
Her stints at red carpet events led to her commenting on fashion, which has in turn produced "Fashion Police."
"I've got to say the truth," she said of the show during which she leads a discussion of the fashions celebrities have worn at recent events.
A New Yorker, Rivers said that she flies to Los Angeles every Wednesday to prepare for the show, which takes about 10 hours. Her daughter Melissa is the executive producer and assembles the photos Rivers and her co-hosts Giuliana Rancic, George Kotsiopoulos and Kelly Osbourne will use.
Then Rivers spends time with writers, but she added, "The best stuff comes off my head."
Viewers of the show know that Rivers adopts a take-no-prisoners attitude when discussing fashion. When asked if someone who has received a critique from her has ever confronted her, she replied, "As I always say, if you're getting $20 million a movie, what do you care if I don't like your dress?"
Rivers is involved in another television show with her daughter called "Joan and Melissa," on WE, a reality show on their relationship, that is heading into its third season.
Does Rivers have a favorite activity or project of everything that she has done and is currently doing?
"Right now," she said. "I love being in the present tense."
She added, "I'm having a great time. What has kept me floating is every aspect [of my career], writing, performing."
Rivers is willing to laugh at herself a comedic trademark over the one project that didn't turn out so well, her film "Rabbit Test."
She co-wrote and directed the 1978 comedy in which Billy Crystal becomes the world's first man to give birth. The film was not well received when it was released and Rivers said, "We finally got our first good review 30 years later."
The fact someone has called it "a classic" elicits a hearty laugh from Rivers.
A film fan, Rivers said she didn't like directing because "I don't have an eye for the camera." She is proud, though, that she was the first to bring Crystal to the big screen.
Rivers has also written a series of books, two of which include "Men Are Stupid and They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery" and "Murder at the Academy Awards: A Red Carpet Murder Mystery." She has a new book coming out June 6 titled, "I Hate Everybody."
In edgy humor typical for Rivers, she dedicated the book to O.J. Simpson.
"I just sat down and wrote about everything that annoys me," she said.
After a singular career in show business, Rivers said she doesn't compare herself to other people. "A friend of mine in the Mafia said something very smart: 'Don't look right. Don't look left. Look straight ahead.' I look at my life that way," she explained.
Would she ever retire? "I don't play cards and I hate old people," she said with a laugh.
"Life is an adventure and if you don't go through the door, you're an idiot," she added.
For more information on Rivers' show, go to www.thehanovertheatre.org or call 508-831-0800.