Perhaps best known for his sitcom personas, Tony Danza is indisputably one of America's most popular performers. Having starred on some of television's most beloved and long-running series, from "Taxi" to "Who's the Boss," Danza also has established himself as a stage and screen star, as well as a respected entertainer. And now, he's entering the world of daytime television with "The Tony Danza Show," a new talk show blending celebrity interviews, human interest stories, cooking and audience participation. The show launches in Fall 2004 in national syndication. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Danza received a wrestling scholarship to the University of Dubuque in Iowa, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in History Education. Discovered at a boxing gymnasium in New York, Danza was ultimately cast in the critically acclaimed series "Taxi," earning him a place in television history. He followed with a starring role in the ABC comedy series "Who's the Boss?" which ran for eight seasons; Danza directed several episodes. His recent television experience includes a role as attorney Joe Celano on the CBS dramatic series "Family Law" opposite a stellar ensemble cast including Kathleen Quinlan, Chris McDonald and Dixie Carter. Danza received an Emmy nomination for his performance on David E. Kelley's award-winning series "The Practice." His small-screen credits include a performance opposite George C. Scott and Jack Lemmon in Showtime's remake of the film classic "12 Angry Men." Danza was seen in the Disney/ABC television movies "The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon" and "Noah," and starred in and executive produced the ABC comedy series "Hudson Street" and NBC's "The Tony Danza Show." He hosted the 2001 "Miss America Pageant," and the 2003 "People's Choice Awards" for national television. Via his production company, Katie Face Productions, Danza is actively involved in all forms of television, including production of the highly rated "Before They Were Stars" specials.
On the big screen, Danza starred in Walt Disney's "Angels in the Outfield" with Danny Glover, "She's Out Of Control," and Frank Rainore's action-drama "A Brooklyn State of Mind" with Vincent Spano, Danny Aiello and Maria Grazia Cucinotta, among other projects. Danza wrote, directed and starred in the short film inspired by personal events entitled "Mama Mia."
For his theatrical debut in "Wrong Turn at Lungfish," he earned an Outer Critic's Circle Award nomination. On stage, Danza received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Rocky the bartender in the Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh" opposite Kevin Spacey in its return to Broadway at the Brook Atkinson Theater. He made his Broadway debut in Arthur Miller's Tony Award-winning play "A View From The Bridge."
Danza spent much of the last eight years touring with his live act, most recently showcasing the newest version of his song and dance show with stops in New York, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Las Vegas, California and Florida among other locations.
He released his debut album The House I Live In last year. It includes his well-received single of the same name, which Billboard Magazine named as the adult contemporary pick of the week. The album includes Danza's versions of many of the classics with which he grew up, including "That's All," "Pennies from Heaven," "Goodnight My Love," "I'll Be Seeing You" and a compelling version of "Little Child" (Daddy Dear), sung with his daughter Emily.
Television talk show host Tony Danza and Samsung Electronics SVP Peter Weedfald, present a check for $100,000 worth of technology equipment that Samsung is donating to the Washington Irving Middle School in Los Angeles, CA. Accepting the check are Grej Pesjaka, a visually impaired 10 year-old student at the school and Chandice Covington, a professor at UCLA's School of Nursing, who nominated the school and wrote the Grand Prize winning essay as part of Samsung's Hope For Education National Essay Contest. One hundred other schools across America each received $10,000 in Samsung technology products as well. (PRNewsFoto)[AG]
Tony Danza supports ''Samsung's Hope for Education National Essay Contest''
Television talk show host Tony Danza today underscored the importance of state-of-the-art technology in classrooms across America by featuring the Grand Prize winner of the first annual
"Samsung's Hope For Education National Essay Contest" on his live nationally syndicated show.
As host to the winners of this million-dollar technology contest, "The Tony Danza Show" is providing a national platform to support awareness for Samsung's new community philanthropy program. "The Tony Danza Show" is a live one-hour talk show featuring celebrities and everyday people, all presented with a unique, positive and upbeat approach. The show is also known for
showcasing everyday people who personify strength, character and spirit. Danza spoke with and congratulated Special Education Assistant Principal Joanne Kamiya from the contests' Grand Prize winning school, Washington Irving Middle School of Los Angeles. Kamiya was joined by Chandice Covington, a professor and department chair at UCLA's School of Nursing, who nominated the school and wrote the winning essay about how technology will benefit student
Grej Pesjaka. Pesjaka is a visually impaired Albanian immigrant, who was Covington's patient when he first came to the United States for eye surgery. Samsung's Sr. Vice President, Peter Weedfald, also joined them on-air to present the Grand-Prize $100,000 gift check representing the donated technology equipment. "Samsung has a long history supporting children and education, and Samsung's 'Hope For Education' program is another important affirmation of
that commitment," said Peter Weedfald, Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing, Samsung Electronics North America. "With elementary, middle and high school budgets being cut back on a daily basis, there is no better way we can help ensure our children's future than making certain they have the best tools possible to help them enrich and elevate their minds and spirit. Having
someone as supportive and enthusiastic as Tony Danza involved in spreading the word about the 2004 Hope for Education program makes it all the more impactful." Tony Danza, who earned his BA in History Education from Dubuque University added, "I'm really proud to help Samsung support public education. Their commitment is truly inspiring." Samsung's Hope For Education, a philanthropy program created to benefit children's education, promoted the contest in October 2004 and challenged students, teachers, parents or anyone who knows of a school in need, to write an essay regarding the importance of technology in education and how it can benefit a school in their community. Essays were evaluated by an independent judging committee made up of professionals from the academic as well as the editorial communities. Samsung is donating a total of $1,100,000 in technology gear. The Grand Prize winner receives $100,000 worth of technology and 100 schools receive $10,000 each. The technology prizes include Samsung's latest, award-winning products, such as 42" Plasma TVs, 32" DynaFlat TVs, 17" LCD
monitors, DVD/VCR Combo units, Color Laser Printers and Camera Phones. Samsung is already gearing up for next year's contest.
Tony Danza is a real talk show host
Just recently I got kicked out of an exclusive club. The CPS. That would be the Couch Potato Society, also known as a club for people who sit around doing nothing but watching TV for 14 hours a day. Actually, it was my own little club, membership of one, and I wasn't really kicked out, I resigned.
Perhaps this column should be called "My Life as a TV Critic."
My convalescence coincided with the opening of the new talk show season. New season, new shows, old shows too.
Oprah was back with a beautiful new hairdo, and wowed the country by giving away 276 cars on her opening day. Wouldn't it have been great to be in her audience that day?
Ellen DeGeneres was back funnier than ever, and I like the way she incorporates members of her audience as well as home viewers into her program. I've always thought she's about the funniest woman on TV, and her daily monologues about the little things in life are usually hilarious. However, after about four weeks of the new season, I began to wonder if she had run out of daily things to talk about, and frankly, I'm tired of watching her dance every day. Sorry, Ellen. I'm in the minority, I know.
Two newcomers made a big splash on the screen -- Jane Pauley and Tony Danza. I admire Jane Pauley greatly as a person and as a journalist and watched faithfully the first week, but soon began to check the listings to see what her topic was going to be. Sorry, Jane.
Now Tony Danza, there's a real talk show host. He's been voted the best new daytime talk show host, and I agree with that. He does everything; chats, sings, dances, cooks, makes us laugh, and even makes the daily game fun when a home viewer plays "Extravadanza". He's quite the man about town and hobnobs with all the celebrities, but is still so down to earth, and doesn't mind admitting that he's a devoted family man. Yes, I like Tony.
No Maury, no Montel, no Jerry Springer. Even the women at "The View" were a little frenetic for my mood. No cooking shows (a little bit of Emeril goes a long way -- Bam!), no reality shows, and very little news except for our faithful "McLaughlin Report" on Friday nights. Of course, I never stopped on the sports channel, except for one time. Isn't it nice to know that tournament Scrabble got coverage on ESPN? Hooray!
Tony Danza helps ''Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research''
A gaggle of TV stars, includ ing Tony Danza, Edie Falco, Jesse Martin, Kelly Ripa and Michael Imperioli have con tributed custom-made Christ mas cards to Cablevision's "Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research," named after former Cablevi sion exec Marc Lustgarten. Over 100 celebrities in total created cards for the fund raising efforts — with Jessica Simpson's card reading "Peas on Earth" (a play on her dim witted public persona) and Adam Sandler's card featur ing a picture of his pooch, Matzo Ball. The cards are available through Dec. 23 on eBay (keyword "cards for charity"), with all money raised going to the foundation. Danza, by the way, will swing with his three-piece band on tomorrow's "Tony Danza Show" (10 a.m./ Ch. 7).
Tony Danza gives away trips to Miami Beach
Oprah recently handed out car keys, to a flood of free publicity, so Miami tried to get into the act Thursday on The Tony Danza Show. The former costar of the sitcom Taxi surprised his studio audience with about 140 free Miami Beach vacations, a promotional stunt hatched by the local tourism board to counter bad publicity over recent hurricanes. "I think they want you to know Miami is beautiful and back," Danza said during the live broadcast from New York, as confetti and streamers rained down on the screaming audience.
Just as Pontiac executives figured that 276 free Pontiac G6s were worth having Oprah Winfrey gush about the sedans on her TV show, Spirit Airlines and Miami Beach's Fontainebleau Hilton Resort bankrolled the Danza giveaway. Spirit will foot the airfare for the trips, and the Fontainebleau will give away its rooms for the six-night stays, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. The tax-funded bureau will pick up the transportation tab for shuttling the winners to The Beach from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Like most discount carriers, Spirit doesn't fly to Miami International. Danza tactfully told guests that Spirit would by flying them "to South Florida." The winners must fly out of New York's La Guardia Airport and may take their trips anytime in the next 12 months. But the prizes are limited to unsold plane tickets and hotel rooms, Spirit and Fontainebleau executives said.
A round-trip Spirit flight to Fort Lauderdale costs about $180 in January, and one night at the Fontainebleau runs about $220 on Expedia.com, meaning that the prizes could be worth a total of $210,000 or more. Trip contests on radio and television are usually orchestrated by destinations seeking publicity, but tourism experts said this giveaway was much larger than usual. Bureau executives held several conference calls with producers to hammer out what the new talk-show host would say.
The bureau wanted Danza to mention New York's cold weather, and he did. The idea was to remind viewers that the Miami area was untouched by this season's hurricane assault. Nonetheless, Danza appeared to wander a bit off message. "Miami's taken a beating," he said, before catching himself. "I mean Florida's taken a beating, with all the hurricanes."
Tony Danza adjusts to show business
And Tony Danza, best known as a sitcom star on "Taxi" and "Who's the Boss?," is still adjusting to working without the safety net of a script and retakes. Though his show airs at 11 a.m. weekdays on Channel 4 in Detroit, it's televised live from New York at 10 a.m. each day in many cities.
"They sort of say, 'Go out there and see what happens.' It's really a tightrope, and it's exciting because of that," notes Danza, who chatted during a quick stop in Detroit last week to do some promotion for his nationally syndicated gabfest.
Though "The Tony Danza Show" is No. 1 in its time period in New York and Philadelphia, the cheerful, upbeat Brooklyn native is struggling to find an audience in other parts of the country for his breezy, lighthearted mix of celebrity interviews, jokey banter and cooking segments. Here in Detroit, he's running fourth in the 11 a.m. time slot and regularly getting bashed by ABC's "The View" and CBS's "The Price is Right."
But Danza is an optimist with a can-do spirit. Over the past decade, the music-loving actor carved out another career for himself as a song-and-dance man with a live nightclub act.
And that experience has helped him find a viewer-friendly talk show comfort zone. The ratings, he hopes, will follow. "I've got a theory about this, and it comes from doing the live act," says Danza. "The more fun I have, the more fun they have."
But when the talk show made its debut in September, Danza found himself slightly overwhelmed by the multitasking demands of a live television host. "You've got a commercial coming, you've only got so much time to do the interview, guys are waving at you," explains Danza. "There's a lot of stuff going on. At first, I was so dwelling on it that it knocks you off. So you let that go. Now I'm going out there and trying to have fun. And if something goes wrong, it's usually the funniest thing on the show."
Danza, who once filled in as a guest host for Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," is working hard to sharpen his interviewing skills. But he's also happy to have his favorite search engine assistant to help with the homework. "Here's the great thing. I'm doing a talk show at a time when we have Google," says Danza. "You can Google and, bang, you get a package of everything your guest has done." For instance, when he Googled actress Maureen McCormick, who famously played Marcia Brady on "The Brady Bunch," he found out that she had supplied the voice of the Chatty Cathy doll.
"A lot of times, that knowledge, that little nugget, puts a guest at ease, and the interview goes a little bit better," says Danza. "Guests want to have a blueprint of what's happening also. It's a team sport interviewing." It's also a team sport hosting a talk show. "The Tony Danza Show" features Ereka Vetrini of "The Apprentice" as Danza's banter buddy and "favorite second banana."
Vetrini, a contestant on the first season of the Donald Trump reality show, is a show business novice. "At first, I was a little reluctant. Because I thought it was stunt casting," says Danza.
"But she came in with a big group of people to audition. And how we did it, I interviewed each person as if they were a guest to see if we had any chemistry. Ereka was great. We clicked. And she looks great on camera. She's bright. She's sort of neighborhood. We got very lucky."
Danza, who loves to cook and who whipped up his own Tony Danza Roasted Chicken Soup on the show last week, always knew the cooking segments were a natural. Such celebrity chefs as Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse and Nigella Lawson are scheduled to stop by for kitchen visits during November.
The oddest sight in Tony's talk show kitchen? Paris Hilton doing lasagna. "That was bizarre. But she was a good sport," says Danza. "You're not going to see Paris Hilton cook on any other show." So from embarrassing Halloween costume mistakes to tabloid celebutante cuisine encounters, "The Tony Danza Show" is a work in progress for its rookie host. "It's a grind," admits Danza. "But you've really got to focus on something before you get good at it. And I really want to get good at this."