Bernie Mac, co-star of the "Guess Who" Movie!
Bernie Mac was recently nominated for his second straight Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his work on the THE BERNIE MAC SHOW. He received a 2002 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and THE BERNIE MAC SHOW won for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. The show was bestowed with the Peabody Award and two Television Critics Association Awards for Best Comedy Series and Best Comedy Performance as well as receiving the 2003 NAACP Image Awards Best Comedy Series and Best Actor Awards. Mac can be seen in three high profile feature films this year. Earlier this year, he co-starred in "Head of State" for first-time director Chris Rock. He plays the older brother and running mate of the presidential candidate (Rock) who finds himself unexpectedly running for the office of President of the United States. Mac followed "Head of State" with the highly anticipated sequel "Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle" where he plays the new liaison between the Angels (Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu) and their mysterious employer, Charlie. Finally, this Christmas, Mac will segue to "Bad Santa." Directed by Terry Zwigoff ("Ghost World"), the comedy stars Billy Bob Thornton in the title role of a thief who masquerades as Santa Claus to knock off shopping malls. Mac plays the detective who searches for a politically correct way to get rid of the bad Santa.
Next up for Mac will be the feature "Mr. 3,000." He'll play an aging baseball star who goes by the nickname, Mr. 3,000, but finds out many years after retirement that he didn't quite reach 3,000 hits. Now at age 47 he's back to try and reach that goal. He will then begin production on "The Dinner Party," a modern rendition of 1967's "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," in which he will reprise Spencer Tracy's role with Ashton Kutcher starring as his daughter's white fiancé.
In 2001, Mac was seen on the big screen in Steven Soderbergh's hit remake of "Ocean's 11." In addition, Mac wrote his first book, entitled I Ain't Scared of You, which was published Fall 2001 from MTV/Pocket Books. In it, he rips through such topics as religion, hygiene, celebrity and more without missing a beat. In April 2003, he released his second book, Maybe You Never Cry Again (Regan Books/Harper Collins). More of a traditional autobiography than I Ain't Scared of You, in Maybe You Never Cry Again Mac expounds upon growing up in Chicago and the hardships and obstacles in his path to the top.
As a founding member of the "Kings of Comedy" tour, Mac displayed his trademark rapid-fire and hard-hitting delivery. The success of the tour spawned Spike Lee's 2000 concert film "The Original Kings of Comedy," which has grossed nearly $40 million dollars.
Born and raised in Chicago, Mac made his television debut on the landmark cable comedy series "Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam," which led to his feature film debut in the Damon Wayans feature "Mo' Money." Other film credits include the Eddie Murphy/Martin Lawrence comedy "Life," "House Party 3," "How to Be a Player" and "What's The Worst That Could Happen?"
Bernie Mac hits burnout
Blistering pace takes toll on hard-working funnyman. It's hard to keep a good Mac down. But grinding along for years with a work ethic that would make even James Brown look like a La-Z-Boy-lounging slacker can take its toll on a guy, physically and emotionally.
That's what Bernie Mac discovered - and discovered the hard way. The tough funnyman from Chicago, who grew up shovelling snow and sweeping streets, is angling for laughs in Guess Who, opening in theatres Friday.
But he wasn't laughing on the set of his last film, the George Clooney caper sequel Ocean's Twelve.
"I was over in Europe, I was over in Amsterdam, I was over in Paris, flying back here (to Hollywood), doing that," Mac said in a recent interview at an L.A. hotel. "Then I caught pneumonia. Double.
"Now, first I'm thinking, 'Double pneumonia?' I'm thinking double pneumonia is a cold or something affiliated with a cold. It's not. My whole immune system shut down."
Mac ultimately had to have a doctor come get him on set and fly him back to L.A., where he checked into a hospital for treatment.
"They ran EKG (electrocardiogram), everything was great," Mac said. "Heart strong as a bull. They asked me to donate it."
Mac is hale and healthy now, relatively speaking. The 46-year-old actor-comedian suffers from sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease that often causes inflammation in the lungs and which was cited as the cause of death for NFL great Reggie White in December. The disease is treatable, and Mac has said he hasn't allowed it to slow him down since being diagnosed more than 20 years ago.
The double pneumonia scare did make him stop and take stock, though.
Doing movies, commercials and his Fox sitcom The Bernie Mac Show back to back to back has taken its toll not just on his health but on his personal life as well.
"When you work hard and you don't expect nothing, time just slips away," he said. "And next thing you know, you're looking, you'll be like, 'You're my son?' And you done missed out on so much stuff."
In Guess Who, a comedic remake of the landmark 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Mac plays blustery Percy Jones, a father who gets a shock when his daughter (Zoe Saldana) brings a white suitor (Ashton Kutcher) home to meet the parents.
While the movie is basically a comedic reworking of the original film's premise, Mac said he signed on out of respect for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and its star, Oscar winner Sidney Poitier.
"When I was a little boy, everybody used to call me Little Sidney," Mac said.
"At that time, you all have to understand, Sidney Poitier got beat up. NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) beat Sidney Poitier up.
"Sidney said NAACP lost more jobs for blacks than they helped.
"And if you say that, you get in trouble. Don't say that. Is it true? Yeah."
On screen and off, the issue of interracial relationships remains a touchy one for many Americans, and Guess Who director Kevin Rodney Sullivan (How Stella Got Her Grove Back, Barbershop 2) said he knew he was tackling a hot-button topic with this film.
But Mac said people who look down on or even question mixed race relationships are hypocrites, especially those who otherwise live by a love thy neighbour philosophy.
"Is heaven going to be all black?" said Mac. "Is it going to be all white? Is it going to be all Asian?
"I go by playgrounds and stuff all the time and those kids ain't paying us no damn attention. Little kids (of different races) play together so much and laugh and joke and rub snot on each other and they ain't paying us no attention. It's us."
Bernie Mac: ShoWest's Comedy Star of the Year
Although he's a film and TV staple today, the rapid-fire, hard-hitting comedy stylings of ShoWest's Comedy Star of the Year Bernie Mac were not embraced by Hollywood early on. "His stage act was edgy and even profane," explains Pete Aronson, executive producer of Fox's "The Bernie Mac Show," who first spied Mac on HBO's "Def Comedy Jam" in the 1990s. "To his credit, Bernie didn't want to get watered down." Born in 1958 in Chicago as Bernard Jeffrey McCollough, he grew up in a large family in a rough neighborhood, which fueled his act, but it took decades for him to achieve industry attention. His performance in 2000's "The Original Kings of Comedy" helped capture a wider audience and led to his own sitcom and roles in films such as 2001's "Ocean's Eleven," its 2004 follow-up, "Ocean's Twelve," and Sony's planned March 25 release "Guess Who." He spoke recently with The Hollywood Reporter's Georg Szalai about winning the award, playing a role Spencer Tracy created and creating laughter out of pain.
The Hollywood Reporter: What's it like to receive a ShoWest honor?
Bernie Mac: I'm not apple pie, I'm not a trophy guy. I think it makes it even more pleasurable when you do your thing and don't expect nothing. It's like going to the mailbox and all of a sudden, there's a check there. Those are good old happy days for me.
THR: You've been a comedian since you were young, but you kept under the Hollywood radar for a long time. Was that planned?
Mac: I cared about how I did things; I wanted to be smart. I never thought I would be with Brad (Pitt) and (George) Clooney and all those ("Ocean's Eleven") guys. To be able to work with those guys was a luxury because they bring so much to the table. (It's) like playing with (Michael) Jordan. You know, it's bragging rights.
THR: How did your early family life influence your comedy?
Mac: My mother had cancer for seven years, and she never told nobody. I saw Bill Cosby on TV, and my mom started crying/laughing. I said that's what I wanna do and what I wanna be; I was about 5 years old. I used to practice every day, and I used to do it at inopportune times, when people went away, when people lost members in their family and stuff like that. I didn't know it was improper, that it was the wrong place. But it grew, and I got better and better.
THR: "The Bernie Mac Show" has been such a success. How long will you do that?
Mac: I think you do things from your heart, and you let it go from there. If you start with numbers and guessing and stuff like that, you lose the passion; I don't want to do that.
THR: What do you see yourself doing after the show ends?
Mac: I definitely want to direct and produce. But I got too much to say right now, and I don't want to do those things at the same time. You know, too many hats. I wanna get done with stand-up, I wanna be done with movies. For now, I got too much life; I got too much to say.
THR: In your latest film, "Guess Who," you play the role Spencer Tracy last embodied in 1967's "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." How does that feel?
Mac: That was so sweet. That's bragging rights for having the opportunity to play Spencer Tracy. People who don't know who Spencer Tracy is, that's a damn shame. I got bragging rights, man, for the rest of my life.
THR: Are you ever considering doing more dramatic roles?
Mac: I wanna hit all corners of the square. If you sit there and limit yourself -- I wanna perform. I'm a performer; that's something I do, and I take it serious.
THR: Any advice for young comedians?
Mac: It was hard, man. All I can tell people is it was desire; it was something I wanted to do. Whenever they called my name, I went up there, and I wanted to be professional and do a good job. I wanted people to leave and say Bernie Mac is funny.
'Guess Who' has issues
Ashton Kutcher, who famously is dating an older woman, now takes on interracial relationships in his new big-screen comedy, Guess Who. This remake of the 1967 Spencer Tracy/Sidney PoitierGuess Who's Coming to Dinner casts Kutcher as a white guy who falls for Bernie Mac's black daughter. It opens March 25.
"Souls don't have a color," Kutcher noted at the premiere Sunday night. Upon arriving, Kutcher, 27, quickly hurried his 42-year-old lady love, Demi Moore, into Grauman's Chinese Theatre before returning to the red carpet for interviews.
Ten minutes earlier, Moore's ex-husband, Bruce Willis, had entered the theater, seemingly solo.
Kutcher wore a small, black leather pouch around his neck, which he described as "my secret."
"Kutch," who also is a producer on the film, will cross-promote Guess Who on his popular MTV prank show, Punk'd, by playing a practical joke on his Guess Who girlfriend, Zoe Saldana.
"We got Zoe good," he said of the episode, which is set to air Sunday night. Although he didn't want to give away the whole prank, Kutcher said it's in keeping with Guess Who's interracial dating theme. "Zoe gets a little offended and uses a lot of swear words."
Saldana apparently has been well trained to keep her lips locked. On the red carpet, she denied that she had been punk'd, and when asked whether it was at all awkward kissing Kutcher with girlfriend Moore on the set, said: "I'm not going to talk about someone's private life. When you're shooting a movie, you're getting paid to be completely professional."
Her movie dad, Mac, meanwhile, has been battling health problems, including a toothache that forced an early exit from Saturday's Guess Who media junket. But Sunday, Mac was back to his hearty, healthy self. Dressed in a dapper camel-colored Woody Wilson suit, Mac said prejudice against interracial couples has become a thing of the past.
"My brother dated white girls, but my family didn't have any problem with it because my grandmother didn't teach (racism)," Mac said. "Now, ain't nobody tripping over that issue."
Mac's wife in the film is played by Judith Scott. Though Scott has no daughters, she said she'd be thrilled if her pet beagle, Homer, brought Kutcher home for dinner.
"I don't think I'd kick Ashton out," Scott said. "Ashton would probably walk Homer, keep the house clean and bring home the bacon. It would be a wonderfully modern interspecies relationship."
Bernie Mac discloses having rare sarcoidosis autoimmune disease
Hollywood actor Bernie Mac has disclosed he has been living with a rare and sometimes fatal autoimmune disease for two decades.
The 46-year-old star of Fox's "The Bernie Mac Show" says he has sarcoidosis, which causes inflammation of the body's tissues, most frequently in the lungs, E! Online reports.
"No one knows where sarcoidosis comes from or where it starts, and there's no known cause for this condition that effects primarily minorities," said Mac. He was diagnosed with the disease in 1983.
The actor's condition landed him in the hospital last summer after finishing work on "Ocean's Twelve" and Fox delayed filming of his show's fourth season.
Sarcoidosis, fatal in 5 percent of the cases, was cited as the cause of death for football great Reggie White last December. Basketball legend Bill Russell also suffers from the disease.
Mac publicist Matt Labov says it's a "treatable illness and not deadly.
Bernie Mac as "Mr. 3000"
Bernie Mac has successfully transformed himself from a TV star to a movie star, and nothing more evidenced by his winning performance in Mr 3000. In this new comedy, Mac shines as an egotistical baseball player who learns humility the hard way. The complete opposite of his character, Mac talked to PAUL FISCHER about who inspired the character, sports and being just an entertainer.
Question: Do you have to be a baseball fan to get into a script like this, to really appreciate this script?
Answer: I don't know. I think it depends on the individual and the actor but I think being a baseball fan and being a baseball player helped me.
Question: How big a fan of baseball are you?
Answer: Oh, I'm a real big fan because I grew up with it and I played the sport and I played every position except pitch. I played high school, semi-pro. At Chicago we had a thing, softball, 16 niche, which you play with your hands. I don't know if you all are familiar with that, but there's no gloves. It's a mean game, it's a mean game. You pitch underhand with the hump on it and you play with your hands. It's gruesome. I've got footage, I've got tape, history, I would love to send to you and I'd blow everyone away every time I introduced them to this. I played softball in the Winter City Classic at and it's the highest competitive summer game in Chicago and you see if you're up close and personal, you see some of these games at the level they are played, it will blow you away.
Question: Did you ever think of the pros?
Answer: I wasn't disciplined. I wasn't disciplined at all. As good of an athlete as I was, I was not disciplined. Had I had the drive that I have in comedy, and acting, and writing, that's why I knew it just wasn't right for me.
Question: So you're more disciplined as an actor?
Answer: I'm very much disciplined because I'm more mature. When I was young I just wanted to live, I could jump, I could run, I was quick and I was relentless, when I lost, I had in high school, I had like three deaths back-to-back, and I used them as a crutch, [inaudible] around my mother, I wasn't a good student, I used every excuse there was to fail, you know, I stayed with my grandmother, my grandmother was really like my backbone after my mother passed away.
Question: So when did that change for you? When was failure no longer an option?
Answer: It was a transition. I got myself together mentally about my junior year in high school because I was a D student, and I was a D student only because I didn't apply myself, only because I didn't go to class, I just did enough to get by, to stay on the basketball team and things like that, the baseball team, and I was just, a young boy of 15, 16, 17 years old and at17 years old my whole life and my whole mind really started to change. My grandmother was always in my ear and she saw what's called a spin and get 'em.
Answer: My grandmother, she's always called a spin and get 'em. She used to always have me next to her and she was always saying these isms and that's what I get 'Macisms' and I never understood them and she would say these little things to me. The first will be last and the last will be first, how you start is how you finish, you know, excuses are only acceptable for those who make them. You know, she would says things of that nature and I would say Grandma what do you mean, you know, and she would say, "You'll find out". You find out, sometime when you win, you lose, sometimes when you lose, you win.
Question: When did you find out?
Answer: I got married at 19 and I had my daughter at 20, I had a couple more deaths before that, my father, my guardian and I started to just develop, you know. If I had that same type of drive and I had good coaches and good teachers, and they were spitting venom to me, I just wasn't getting it man. Do you understand, I just wasn't understanding what they were saying, and had I had, you know, what I got, at that particular time especially, I really got myself together around 28, around 28 it hit me like a ton of bricks, boing, I really understood it. My grandfather got me a job, I was doing comedy at night, I was all over the place, you know, I was here, I was there. Young. At 28 I got myself together.
Question: Could you relate to this character in any way? Was he something you could[.]
Answer: No, I didn't wanna like him. That's why I played him the way I did. I wanted to dislike Ross, I wanted you to hate him. I wanted you to all really dislike him.
Question: So redemption would mean much more?
Answer: Yes, yes, and what I did was my brother.
Question: So what are challenges of playing a character that you have to dislike? Because it's very hard, it must be very difficult to do that.
Answer: I think for me, the advantage was the realism because it exists, especially today in the athletes and people in power, how they become second lower. He quit, just like the ball player from Miami, he quit. He had his 3,000 hit, everything was about him, he left with no ass and all of a sudden I'm gone. He left everybody hanging and that's, I really wanted to do that, and I really wanted to kick his ass because to sit there and you just leave a pack of, a bunch of people depending on you like that, there's so many people like that today, and that was the pinnacle for me, that was the fun part for me because after I did that, after we shot that scene, playing him was easy because then I had a relationship with my brother who I really mimicked, that's all I did, just mimicked my brother Stan Ross. My brother was a baseball player, who should have played pro a long time. Lou Brock helped him, he made him look bad. He hit a couple of home runs he got cocky, he ran the street, he played the women, the whole nine yards, he came back home with his ladies, between his hair, between his legs, the way he cheated people away, he thought that he was the sh*t, and that's why I did it Stan Ross. Stan Ross is my brother.
Question: Is this brother still around?
Question: How does he take being depicted this way?
Answer: He hasn't seen it, he hasn't seen it.
Question: Is he like that, or do you think he's changed?
Answer: Yeah he's still like that, you know, he's still like that, some people just don't learn. I love him but he's just a self-centred son of a bitch.
Question: What keeps you grounded? I mean, you've become a very successful actor, you're a big star ---
Answer: I'm not a star, I hate that word, and I'm an entertainer. Stars fall, you know, I'm an entertainer. I want to be known as an entertainer, and I think what would help me is going last. One thing I learned, watching Flip [Wilson], watching Red, watching Johnny Carson. You know, Johnny Carson I ain't got nothing but respect for him and for that Flip Wilson, the way they left. You know, that's how you leave, you don't come back. You know, Johnny Carson, he gave his best, and I had the opportunity to watch and see individuals and watch it and understand what it's truly about, and at the end of the day, you've got to top what you did, you've gotta keep going. It's not over. It's not over, Bill Cosby is still working, Johnny Carson worked til the day he retired but every time he came back, Johnny Carson, ain't nobody could take his place to this day. They tried, he wasn't the best comedian in the world but he sure was the best personality. He was a hell of a personality, but the animals and everybody keep trying, you can't do it, you can't do it, you can't touch him. He could do animals and he was funny. He had Eddy McMahon. Eddy McMahon said, everybody tried to get it, it didn't work. You know, Flip Wilson, he did his thing and went out honey. He left the scene baby and he didn't come back. Unfortunately he passed right after that but the whole thing about how I stay grounded is being coming from that era, and having my grandmother, watching my brothers and sisters, watching them with talent, talent is not everything, they weren't disciplined, they didn't have the drive, they didn't have the passion, didn't have the love and they didn't have the heart and that's something I wanted to give in this movie, show the heart. Because sometimes man, when you do things, and you think you have it all like Pharaoh. Pharaoh had everything to the point he had nothing. When he was sitting there, with two ladies had ostrich feathers on his side, another lady was doing his nails, other one was feeding him grapes, another was rubbing his neck, another was doing his feet, and all of a sudden he saw all the way over here and he said who is that guy. The guy says, I don't know, he's just a visitor.
Question: He's licking his feet?
Answer: He did everything. He's off with his head, cut his head off, now how the f*ck did you see all that, with all this going on, all the attention you're getting, now how did you see someone as small as that. That is selfish, you know, and that's what I learned from watching other people.
Question: Do you think that's old fashioned today, there's a lot of talk about old school, and there's maybe a meaner sensibility now?
Answer: We pity the fool, we co-sign everything, we feel sorry for the nut, poor thing, he don't have a daddy, he don't have no father, my father left me, you're 57, let it go. We co-sign. If a kid's messed up, we don't believe in discipline, can't say nothing, don't get involved. Then in the next breath, we say, a fellow needs a hug. You know, discipline and drive is what made this country.
Question: Talk about how you prepared to do this movie, physically, and what that did to you.
Answer: It was fun because once again I played baseball and what I did was (and I didn't tell them) when I got the role and I started to break down the script, I went to Swing Town in Chicago, and that was a month before I was supposed to report for the movie and I worked out with some of the Cubs and I was in the batting cage and being a ball player, and a ball player from my status, I had the high kick and if you all reporters, I don't know if you know what a high kick is, you know, when you're doing your thing, and seeing the ball come, do a high kick and pow. Well now they have this new swing where you come across and you hold, you know, the bat like that, more profile. Well when I was in Swing Town I was working out, I had always been a hitter, always to hit, and they were trying to take that away from me. But I'm a good listener, I was always taught you know, take, listen, good listening, apply to yourself and then I went there a whole month, at Swing Town, and then when I was to report at New Orleans, we had training, we had to start training, we had to start a month earlier before the film. So I didn't say anything to them so when I started training and everything, I was a month ahead of the game, but I didn't express, like Tom Cruise did, and Paul Newman. I didn't display it, and I let them go on and train me and I went and did the training and when I went to the batting cage and all that stuff, when it came time to shoot the movie, I was two months in, my hands were conditioned, my swing, I had my swing, I was working out all the time, you know, so I was in, not just baseball shape, but movie shape to do the baseball movie.
Question: Did that allow you to focus more on the acting part of it, just having that done in advance, ahead of the film?
Answer: The acting part was separate because I didn't want it to be remembered as a baseball movie. The player, Stan Ross, just happened to be a baseball player. The acting was always separate because I really wanted to really put and show some range with Stan Ross.
Question: How is the TV show going? Are you still putting in as much effort into that? Is it easy to do that when you're trying to balance?
Answer: Yeah, yeah, it's easy to do because I'm not doing them all at the same time. If I was doing them all at the same time, fortunately for me I had a good team, to pair them off. When I'm done, I'll be done with everything when I get back to the television show, I won't have, oh sh*t, I wanna have a dinner party or anything.
Question: And how's Oceans?
Question: Where were you shooting? Where did you go for that?
Answer: Oceans is the best thing I've done in my life and that's between us. Top shelf, top shelf.
Question: Has Clooney played any pranks on you on Ocean's 12?
Answer: Clooney always plays. He plays too damn much. You gotta watch Clooney. You come in the door, a bucket of water fall on your head, he got it propped up at the top. You got tacks in your seat, all that kind of bullsh*t. He found a rabbit cage and let it loose in your room. You gotta watch Clooney.
Question: Will you be the best part of Ocean's 12?
Answer: You know what, man? When you're talking about some hammers that we've got up in there, I appreciate all of that. I don't know about the best of. I just want to be a part, you know. Now, this being mine? Yeah. But when you participate in somebody else, I'm not into that.
Question: What is the Ashton Kutcher project?
Answer: The Dinner Party. And that's a blast too. I want to do good films. Really, that's what I want to do. And I want every time I meet you guys, I want you all to say I did proud. And you know that I always start off like that. You always start off, I see 'em too. No, I do. I see 'em too and when they get away from what got 'em there, all the time, because they always introduce, they've got a lot of stuff thrown in their face. We live in a place where everybody just does things for money. I want to do good films. John Wayne and them did good films. Those guys did great damn film.
Bernie Mac stars in "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle"
An edgy comic who skyrocketed to comedy fame with his memorably side-splitting appearance in Spike Lee's The Original Kings of Comedy, Bernie Mac may have seemed an unlikely candidate for a television sitcom, but with the debut of The Bernie Mac Show the inventive comedian began on a high note, leaving many pondering the apparent overnight success of the comedian who had ostensibly come from nowhere to become a ubiquitous presence. Born Bernard Jeffrey McCollough in Chicago, IL, in 1958, Mac was a member of a large extended family living under one roof, which provided the energetic youngster with plenty of fuel for refining his ability to perform dead-on impressions and humorously recall memorable family occurrences. Time spent as a gopher for performers at the Regal Theater also served as a primer for his showbiz aspirations (as well as a cautionary warning of the destructive temptations that go along with fame).
Mac's first experiences with standup came at the age of eight, when he performed a routine about his grandparents at the dinner table in front of the congregation at church. Though it resulted in some strict reprimanding from his grandmother, he had the audience feeding out of his palm and the young impressionist quickly had the epiphany that humor meant more to him than the sting of discipline. From that point on, Mac refined and developed his comic abilities on the tracks of Chicago's El trains and in local parks. Though he earned a modest keep from his public performances, Mac craved the legitimacy of the club circuit and he began to perform professionally in 1977. After early film work including memorable appearances in Above the Rim (1994) and The Walking Dead (1995), which followed on the heels of his big screen debut in 1992's Mo' Money, Mac was offered and appeared in the television series Midnight Mac in 1995. Hesitation as to the neutering of his material made the comedian leery of television, and the show didn't last. Turning up frequently the following year in television's Moesha brought some more attention to the comic actor, though mainstream acceptance was still four years and numerous bit film parts away. Following Kings, Mac began to develop an idea for a sitcom that revolved around similar family experiences and retained the edge that had initially shocked his audiences into laughter. 2001 would indeed prove to be the year of the Mac as he also took on a substantial role in director Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's 11.
Mac now takes over from Bill Murray in the new Charlie's Angels and is clearly having the time of his life.
Question: Was it mostly ad-libbed, your stuff?
Answer: You know, everyone keeps asking me that. McG allowed me to, as he called it, 'Bernie Mac' it and I've really been fortunate that, that's when they tell them my career so far, you know, I've been on films where directors always say, now do your thing, and one thing about that to, even on the page, when I'm on the page, I try to bring it so many different, I always try to do it different.
Question: Were you surprised that this was offered to you as a replacement for Bill?
Answer: I wasn't surprised because I didn't know anything about it I really didn't, so I mean to say, I was surprised, you know, I had to have some kind of anticipation or something, but I didn't know. I just thought he wanted me to be in the movie.
Question: What was your reaction when you first heard you guys were going to be brothers and did you have any input on that?
Answer: Ah, no I had lunch with Mc who broke it down like a fraction really. He broke it down. He told me that he wanted me to do Bill and I was a little bit nervous at first because some are from Chicago, second city again, a comedian, street performer and you know, I know Bill and all those guys. I was "Whoa, I was, "man, Bill Murray", you know and I hadn't seen it, and I think that was another part of almost a semi intimidation for me because I hadn't saw the first Charlie. And then he kept, Mc kept breaking it down of what it was, we was brothers and I came from a detective family and Bill was kept coming home and telling us about these three beautiful women and I'd never saw them, you know and it was almost like someone telling you all this stuff, yeah right, right, right, ok. He's your brother but I never really saw it. So I saw that, I caught that and when I went home, flew it in the meet with me and I flew out right after the meeting, when I went home I called my wife and I said "Baby, you got, we got Charlie's Angles?" She said "Yeah." I said "Get it out." I said "Cook something for me." I saw it three times. And I watched it three times for the strength of watching how Mc shot and watching what Bill did because you know when you come in behind somebody and being a movie buff and a comic myself, we automatically just want to see the similarity and try to dissect everything that someone else does. And I didn't want to bring no similarities to Bill, none whatsoever, with no disrespect. That was the key of me being accepting this to see if I could bring something to the party, because that's the way I was brought up. That's the way I always trained. If you're going to do something, my grandma always said bring something to the party. So what I saw it on the third, looking at the movie, third time, I saw it. I said back, I said "I could Bernie Mac it"
Question: So what was the most uncomfortable costume they put you in?
Answer: I don't think it was because when I do film and stuff I'm not me. I'm really not me. The same when I do stand up, I'm not me. The hour and a half, the two hours that I'm on stage I'm gone, man, you know so when I take all that stuff off, this is me. When I take that off I'm doing it in the content of the film.
Question: So are you comfortable being you or are you more comfortable being one of these comic characters?
Answer: I think I'm more comfortable being me, because at the end of the day this is who I've got to live with. You know, when I'm not funny no more this is who I've got to walk with, but I recognize and I separate the fact of what I am and who I am and what I do or what I need to be doing, I separate all of that and Red Fox taught me that.
Question: You said earlier that you could Bernie Mac it can you just add a little of like what that means and how did you add some of your own mix to this in a way?
Answer: I think what it means coming from all the people, I didn't, you know, a lot of people gave me that and I guess it had really been following me from sports you know, when your coach always used to say "Alright Mac, do your thing", you know, because always, I don't know if it's just my personality or what, I always um, I'm not afraid to do it. And plays directors would say "Bern I need you to do it". I never looked at it in terms of being a man, just something that I love to do and I guess it comes off. I don't know how they see me from their point of view. I don't know how they see me but when I do this, this is what I really, really, really, really, really love to do and I don't want to do badly at it. I don't want to do it just for dollars and cents. I don't want to do it for just no hoopla. I don't want to do it just for no cars. I don't want to do it for no superficial reason. I want to do well. I really, extremely want to do well.
Question: But what is that you're trying to do? I mean, do you try to make it real, do you try to, and is there an approach that you have of what makes it true to you?
Answer: I try to make it make sense. If it doesn't make sense, so many times you see a film and I reflect back to it. Three The Hard Way with Fred Williamson and Jim Brown and Jim Kelly. When Jim Kelly was walking through the park a lot he had on dress shoes. When the three guys approached him and they started fighting, he had on gym shoes. And when he kicked the guy in the ass the last kick, he had on orange shoes. When I looked at the Ten Commandments, when Charlton Heston had the Ten Commandments and he threw it, he had his Timex watch. You know? See, my point is I watch all those things and I try to make it look make sense. You know, when it makes sense it's funny when you keep it simple it's true, comedy is truth. Comedy is much different from Lucille, you know Ed Sullivan days. It's much broader when you had comedy teams. Story lines are much more different. You have more dialogue back in the day, now you have sex and explosion. You know, I look at all that being a student of the game, I take all of that and I come back and I put it into me. And I know my audience. I know my audience and I think that's the key of being successful, knows your audience. I watched Don Rickles and Richard Pryor and I saw what they did, television did to them. You know, you had to be yourself.
Question: Does the TV show enhance your understanding of comedy? Does it add to what you're doing in film and how much more time will you give
Answer: I think when we do something, everything enhances one another. I think they call it growth. I think from when you first start out, I'm quite sure you can reflect back to your writing and your journalism skills to what you are now. Night and day. Well, I look back from when I first started doing comedy. I keep those tapes from humble beginnings but I look back and I look at them like this. [Laughter] But I wouldn't be this if it wasn't for that. And (I get you right now) and television enhances all of that.
Question: I was going to ask you when you came into this project did you feel a little bit like you were walking into a sorority house, in a way?
Answer: You know, McG is wired all the time. If this was the seventies, I know he'd smoke reef. [Laughter] Mc is wired and that, once again, is passion, because when you have passion you don't care how you look. You understand what I'm saying? You don't care if a hair is out of place or there is spit in the corner of your mouth, you're serious about, and then you come down, that's how Mc is. And all that comes off with your with your players. It's like coaching. Your team was a reflection of you. Your parents. Everything that you see reflect on us and he was my director on this film and Mc was so energetic, at one time, I said Mc "I get you, I get you" because he's like a parade. Lalalaladedum, oh and that's Mc and then you come down and then all of a sudden you hear the music and he's drawing that picture all the time and that was really fun for me because it was different. Every director has his or her own style that you have to really respect, you have to really be honest to. You know, some director's vision is a little bit more direct than others. Some are really not sure of what their vision is and they find their vision as they go along. And once you find out who you're playing with and where you are, you know, you as a professional have to make that adjustment.
Question: How selective are you in what you choose to do?
Answer: Very selective. Very selective.
Question: You're ready to do something else now that's very different?
Answer: Very selective because I've seen so many people do things for dollars and cents. I've seen so many people do things just for the strength of doing, being on TV. Five minute fame and I always said I was never going to do that. It's not about money. It really isn't. I see guys who I started with that I don't see no more. I don't want to do that. I don't want to set my in it for a minute, I'm in it to win it. I'm not in it for a few seconds , I'm not in it for no parade I don't need no parade, I don't need no pat on the back. I'm very selective because you do things and it's going to come back and haunt you. You can tell an individual from a body of work and that's what I'm seeking. I'm seeking a body of work. People don't, I don't hear the voices, I don't hear what these people, and I don't hear what they say. You know? And it makes no difference what they say. It matters what I think. And one thing that I know from a comedian, people don't know what they're like until you show it to them. They really don't. I don't want to see them in there. I don't want to see them with that. I don't want to see her do this. You don't know, and you as an individual, as an artist, you can't be afraid. Sydney Poitier in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner got beat up, got beat up by his own people. NAACP beat him up for that movie. That movie was a great movie. Thirty years later now, people are tipping their hat off too him. Sydney Poitier was the man. He had balls. He had guts to do that film in that time, to tell that story and to have faith enough in that story that took a lot of character.
Question: Is his career the kind of career that you would like follow?
Answer: Yeah. Yeah I will follow Sydney. If I had to follow somebody, I would follow Sydney in a minute. Not only his career, he's a gentleman.
Question: What makes you laugh?
Answer: You, because honesty comes along with it. Your sincerity, you know. You're not trying to make me laugh and that's the best laugh in the world. When you do things you do it off the cuff. There's no price on that. Comedy, a lot of young comics, you can't tell them, it's something that you have to really understand. And they call it the essence of comedy. The new comics don't even know who's what, where, where I come from. I can tell you who stole it, who wrote it, where it came from, where it started, who re-made it, I could tell you. Comedy is something, there is no such thing as big or small laugh. Comedy, laughs come in all shapes, forms and fashion. A smile could be a hell of a laugh. My grandmother who dedicated her life to her entire family, who had no life, I've never seen my grandmother really laugh, and when she did laugh she had a little "uh-huhuh." That was almost like a gut busting laugh to us. My grandmother would sit there, [laughter]. That was, to make people laugh at the most inopportune time and places, is funny to me. And so when I say you make me laugh, ordinary things, simple things is the most funny things and that's where my success come from. To be able to have an attachment with you and the people who view me run this relationship when you slap the sh*t out to a man and say you do that. You know, that's funny, because it has some identification with you and that comedy. Comedy is truth.
Question: Was there any talk at all of having Bill Murray kind of pass the torch to in the film? Of having him come and explain why he was leaving and why?
Answer: No. You know, I'd rather he wouldn't do that for Melanie that. Some things go best unsaid. I don't know why. Because where I come from it's none of my business, you know, but Bill Murray pass on the torch to me.
Question: Did you watch the TV series at all
Answer: Yeah. Wednesday nights.
Question: Who was your favorite Angel?
Answer: Ah, Farrah Fawcett was at first. Then Cheryl Ladd and Jackie you know, I saw a lack of brunettes, you know? You know I saw it when Cheryl Ladd was a thriller to, you know? My girl Cheryl she was cool, but I grew up on Cheryl's a little bit too. Farrah Fawcett, I kind of liked. She had that little sexy smile and full body of hair. You know, a young boy, a man, you know, a young freak I might of said, but you know, when you sit there you get that. I was really torn off by them but then Jackie I started getting older you know, I said Hey Jackie, Jackie, oh, you know? Bosley was so simple but he was so funny. But all that stuff was good TV as my grandpa used to call it. Good TV.
Question: You're working on something different now aren't you?
Answer: Right, right. I'm doing Mr. 3000. It's a baseball movie. It's about this young arrogant guy Stan Rowles out of Milwaukee and he saw, Muhammed Ali has got nothing on him. He's way over the top. He's so self-centered and egotistical, you're going to hate him. And he gets a three thousandth hit right at the end of the game, everyone's coming to him to kiss my ass. I retire, quick. Ten years go by, get ready to get inducted into the Hall of Fame, come to find out I'm three hits short. I got to come out of retirement but the man that I was, I'm no longer, but the man I become is the fun part.
Question: So how's the baseball coming along then?
Answer: I was a ball player back in the day, now I'm an actor. I can still play the game from a movie perspective but I'm forty-five now.
Question: Are you preparing to do any?
Answer: Oh yeah, I've been preparing for it for the last two months. We're a month and a half in and all the baseball stuff comes in next week. But we've been in training, we've been in training with the Brewers and everything and then the guys were doing real great. We got a great set of guys and they're all young guys. These guys are twenty seven, twenty six, thirty. I think Dondre is the oldest cat out of those guys playing with me. I'm the vet for real. I'm forty five, so you know, my playing days are really over but I know that I can do it. I used to coach and all that kind of stuff but you know, I know how to look good. I know how to hit the ball but I ain't running.
Question: How active is Drew on the set as a producer.
Answer: Drew? That's a good question. Drew was extremely a great producer.
Question: Did she help direct you?
Answer: Yes, yes she did. She had a lot of input and Drew was extremely beneficial to me.
Question: What sort of things would she tell you?
Answer: Drew really went out of her way and not in a negative sense, to make me feel at home. She involved me in anything that I was in. I mean from the break-down of the character to the break-down of the scene, Drew made it her damnessed that I was there. Drew made it her damnessed that I participated. Drew made it her damnessed that everyone knew what my way was. Drew had me, I mean she took me by the hand literally and I really appreciate that and I told her that and I told know if I told her enough. And the reason that I say that is, that was really nice of her to do that, but I'm a big boy. I really am, and I felt that maybe that was because I don't know being a big fellow I might have been uncomfortable or not, but I wasn't. I was not uncomfortable about my move to play in this movie. I was not uncomfortable about coming behind Bill Murray. If I was uncomfortable in any way I wouldn't have taken it and for them to really do that and make me feel like I belong, I really thank them, because they didn't have to do that.
Question: So would you come back for a third?
Answer: Yeah, you know what, if they ask me to come back I would love to come back and if it's not in the cards for me to come back that's beautiful to.
Question: Have you signed for a third.
Answer: I didn't even know there was a third. I don't know anything about it.
Question: What about the other two girls because you mentioned Drew. What about Cameron
Answer: Well, let me break it down. I just gave you Drew now I'm going to give you Lucy. Lucy is a thriller. OK? Lucy got fire. Lucy is so fun and I liked her because of her directness. I like her because you see what you gets. She'll tell you like it is and that's nothing but the utmost respect. Cameron Diaz, I'm going to tell you, that's the quiet storm. [Laughter] Cameron Diaz she can go. She has, all of them have the sexy thing going. Lucy, she had that little", Drew, got that little, that beautiful smile, you know, just sucks you in and Cameron Diaz man, there's something about Cameron. She got that body of work. That girl can go. She makes your imagination just go wild.. She just makes your imagination just go a little to the left a little bit.
Question: Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
Answer: Cameron Diaz, she did this spoof on Hammertime. Cameron can dance. I mean, really dance. She can move. She can pop-go-the-weasel until the weasel go pop. [Laughter]
Question: What about Demi?
Answer: Oh, when I saw Demi. You see I was in love with Demi back in the day, so when I saw Demi, they tell me Demi was here and I said "Where?" Her trailer was right behind mine and so I waltzed, you know, I like to give people their space but I broke in and of course Demi, when you see Demi, I used to just say, you know up close and personal she's pretty. She's really, really extremely pretty but besides all that she's a gem. She's as nice as a hare. So this guy asked me, he said "Man if you had them all against the wall, which one would you get?" I figure I would be a bad boy. You know, I'd have to steal them all.
Question: Bernie, you're one of the sharpest dressed actors we get to interview, where does this particular outfit come from?
Answer: I designed my own stuff Woody Wilson out of Los Angeles and Hodge out of Chicago. They cut me up. They do my own.
Bernie Mac: King of the laugh
Who he is: As the title tells you, he's the star of The Bernie Mac Show, a Fox sitcom loosely based on his stand-up routine — which is even more loosely based on his own life.
Why you might know him: Mac is a top-grossing comedian on the stand-up circuit and one of the stars of The Kings of Comedy tour, which was turned into a concert film by Spike Lee. But his fame hasn't spread beyond his core audience, probably because he's the last of the Kings to move to TV — following Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer.
Why you will know him: Mac plays a stand-up comic who becomes the unwilling, and often wickedly nasty, guardian to three children, a set-up that sets his show apart from every other family-friendly sitcom on the air. You may not like him, but he's almost certain to get your attention. Even if his show exits quickly, Mac may be here to stay.
New Year’s resolutions for TV personality Bernie Mac
Fox has treated my Peabody-winning sitcom like a dog by shifting it all over the place. Now I'm biting back by renaming the show "Bernie Mac Presents William Hung." He'll start off by singing all of the Four Seasons' Top 10 hits. Then the following week it'll be "The Best of Hootie & the Blowfish." They'll be beggin' for mercy.
New comedy with Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher
Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher star in Guess Who, Columbia Pictures' contemporized pseudo-remake of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? You can watch the new trailer for the funny flick by clicking the link below. Obviously, the culture clash from the original film has been flip-flopped. Mac plays Percy Jones, a parent who takes no chances with his daughter Theresa's (Zoe Saldana) future. Even before he meets Simon Green, her latest boyfriend, Percy has him checked out.
On paper, he passes with flying colors – great job, good investments and a promising future. Not like the other losers she's dated in the past. But there's one thing the credit report didn't tell him... Simon Green (Ashton Kutcher) is white. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Unless, of course, Simon wants to marry his daughter. Which he does.
Kevin Rodney Sullivan (Barbershop 2) directed the film. During a recent visit to the set he told IGN FilmForce, "It's really inspired by [the original]... the same concept, and a good idea for a movie, but it's forty years later. Some of the issues about interracial couples are still there; the challenges are still there, but it's a different time. I think that [original] movie's intention was to explore America in 1967, and things were changing and it was a message piece. Our movie is more character-driven than that. ... If you're working with Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher, you're going to want to shift things and make scenes that are going to highlight their natural abilities."
Guess Who opens on March 25, 2005.
Bernie Mac won the best actor award at the 6th Annual Family Television Awards
The CBS-TV shows "Joan of Arcadia" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" took top family-friendly TV honors during Wednesday night's presentations at the 6th Annual Family Television Awards.
NBC-TV's coverage of the Olympic Games won for best TV special, ABC-TV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" won for top reality show, ABC-TV's "Lost" was voted best new series and Bernie Mac of Fox's "The Bernie Mac Show" was best actor.
"Joan of Arcadia" won as best drama and its star Amber Tamblyn shared the top actress award with "Everybody Loves Raymond" actress Doris Roberts. The best comedy show went to "Everybody Loves Raymond."
The hourlong special hosted by WB "Summerland" star, producer and co-creator Lori Loughlin was videotaped at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for broadcast Dec. 9 by the WB Network.
Bernie Mac and other celebrities are athletes too!
Ever wondered how sports impacted the lives of Henry Kissinger, Jon Bon Jovi, Condoleeza Rice and Jon Stewart, among others? Didn't think so.
Anyway, Fox News Channel's Brian Kilmeade, co-host of "Fox & Friends,'' did. He has written the recently released The Games Do Count: America's Best and Brightest on the Power of Sports that interviews more than 70 notable personalities. Some excerpted observations:
President Bush: "I like to find out what sports different world leaders played before I meet them.''
Bernie Mac: "I got cut from the basketball team five times as a freshman in high school and five more times from the varsity team. But I kept sneaking back and finally, because I wouldn't go away, I made the team.''
Robin Williams: "I think I enjoyed sports because I had some success. If I'd had my ass kicked, I wouldn't have been so happy about it.''
Donald Trump: "Sports for me, is a microcosm of life. There is something about being an athlete that helps you become a successful businessperson.''
Carol Alt: "I did not make one team that I tried out for, and that was cheerleading.''
Gerald Ford: "There's no question that my experience and exposure to athletics had a major impact on my future. I think that sports, particularly football, gave me an opportunity to be out front, to be a leader, which helped me later on, when I got into politics.''
Burt Reynolds: "It's one thing to be successful, which is hard to handle for a lot of people, but to crash and burn and then come back from it with some kind of dignity, that's what football and sports in general teaches you.''
Brian Kilmeade always knew that sports mattered. He just never knew quite how much - and to whom. Then he started asking. But when he wanted to explore the real power that sports holds over America, it wasn't Michael Jordan he turned to. Or Barry Bonds. Or Tiger Woods.
It was an ex-high-school hoops player named Bernie Mac. It was the former teen ice queen Condoleezza Rice and Little League slugger Bill O'Reilly and long-ago gridiron great Burt Reynolds, whose hair looked a little weird even back then. All these big achievers, who've accomplished so much off the court, off the rink and off the field - all of them, still so profoundly affected by their youthful brushes with sport.
"Everyone of these people," Kilmeade said, "had a gripping personal story about the way that sports really did change their lives. Someone got benched. Someone got cut. This one person missed a free throw. That one never got into the game he should have started. Or got completely mistreated by the coach. These things really are universal for anyone who's ever played a sport."
And from those various experiences, Kilmeade discovered, unforgettable lessons were learned.
"It really made me understand," Kilmeade said. "Sports isn't about the superstars. It's about all the rest of us, with varying degrees of natural talent, and the intensity these games brought into our lives. It's no exaggeration to say sports helped to make these people what they are today."
Kilmeade, who grew up in Massapequa and still lives there, got his first inkling of the depth of this connection as a young sports-radio host in Southern California. On a slow, holiday weekend in 1991, he asked his callers to tell their own personal tales of sports. The phone lines lit up like a Christmas tree.
It took a while for the idea to germinate. The sports reporter spent a lot of nights in locker rooms. But eventually, he turned the 15-year-old insight into a book. "The Games Do Count: America's Best and Brightest on the Power of Sports" is just out from Regan Books. It is now barreling up the best-seller list like - well, like a long-ago John Tesh racing downfield with a soccer ball.
Unlike the stars of a thousand big jock biographies, the men and women in here actually seem to learn something from sports. Imagine. What was also surprising was how willing they were to speak.
Said Kilmeade: "These are accomplished people," including TV icons, singing stars, business tycoons, the current president of the United States and several former (and almost) ones. "But mostly, no one had ever asked them about the role that sports played for them. It's like they were just waiting for my call."
And when they got started talking, they could hardly seem to stop. "Robin Williams called my house from somewhere in the Yukon," Kilmeade said. "They barely had cell service up there. I was told, absolutely, 10 minutes was all I was getting with him. Forty-five minutes later we were still on the phone. One source led to another.
"Robin Williams agreed when he heard I got [writer and wrestler] John Irving," Kilmeade said. "When I was talking to Bush 41, he said, 'Did you get the president?' I told him, 'Not yet.'" Dad greased the way to son.
And all of it made Kilmeade, the professional sports TV guy, think back on his own time as an obsessive young soccer player with traveling squads on Long Island - and how the experience shaped him. "I played soccer 320 days a year," he said. "I was never a starter. But soccer teaches lessons about teamwork. You don't get that many goals in a soccer game. You can be a great player and not score a goal for weeks. That doesn't bother a soccer player at all."
Kilmeade tries not to forget that, working in the egocentric world of TV. "We are a team at 'Fox & Friends,'" he said. "And I know what that means. I was lucky enough, back when I was a kid, to learn that lesson on a soccer field. It really is doing everything you can to help the team win. You don't have to score a goal in every game."
Bernie Mac will be back soon
Production on The Bernie Mac Show has been delayed one more week as the comic continues to recover from fatigue and pneumonia, Daily Variety said Wednesday.
The hit series aired four new episodes in September that had been shot earlier this year. The show was scheduled to return to the Fox network's prime time lineup Nov. 3 -- following a break for Major League Baseball coverage -- but it was delayed when Mac got sick.
Mac was to return to work Monday, but Variety said he and several of the show's producers decided he wasn't ready to get back to the hectic pace of production. The paper said insiders at Fox and the show's producers -- Regency TV and 20th Century Fox TV -- expect production will resume next week.
Mac's pneumonia was aggravated by a busy summer during which he shot the features Ocean's Twelve and Guess Who, while promoting his movie Mr. 3000.
Bernie Mac's hobby
Funnyman Bernie Mac's favorite hobby is collecting guns -- because he likes the machinery.
The comic keeps many makes and models of firearms at home, but claims he gets the biggest thrill from seeing how the gun is put together, rather than shooting it.
"I have Glocks, .45s, Berettas, over-unders, Remingtons," Mac said to Playboy Magazine.
"I like the marksmanship and the discipline that it takes to be a gun owner. I like the machinery, breaking it down. Being able to take it out, clean it and put the spring back in is even more fascinating than having the gun."