Joan Rivers really is a Piece of Work. From her start as a comedian in the early days when the biz was tough on women to kicking open the closet door about taboo plastic surgeries, this lady never seems to feel successful enough. Moving in with her daughter across the country for a new reality television show entitled Joan & Melissa: Mother Knows Best brings antics, laughs and unbelievable moments for the comic.
The comedy legend performs at Nashville’s Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) on Friday, Feb. 4. Having spoken with the classic funny lady the same time last year, I had to ask once again “can we talk?”
O&AN: Hi, Joan. I just watched your new show Mother Knows Best.
Rivers: You saw the first episode?
O&AN: I got to see two of them.
Rivers: Oh, that’s good.
O&AN: I thought the second was even better than the first.
Rivers: I am so glad you said that. You are going to see that it turn into something so amazing. It’s funny because we got our legs and really saw it going places.
O&AN: The first episode gets you set up there and moved to California from New York. Then you are just on a roll when you get there.
Rivers: There is a big fight with Melissa and all kinds of stuff that will be happening.
O&AN: Do you consider yourself an extrovert and her an introvert?
Rivers: I think she is much more private. People get to see a side of her that they have never seen. I have been so long in the business that I don’t even notice the cameras behind me, which is very good and why the documentary worked so well.
O&AN: That movie was a whole other side to you.
Rivers: It was great and on DVD now. It is funny because my life is really out there.
O&AN: It is and wonderful for fans to see you in a different light.
Rivers: The thing I love about it is on television as it goes on they will really see the mother daughter dynamic, which is love/hate. Every mother and daughter has that. I love love love you! I hate hate hate you!
O&AN: You love your grandson so much and it’s cute to see on this show.
Rivers: He is so darling. He loves doing the show and the crew gave him a shirt that say “crew” on it. He sits and eats lunch with them. He got totally involved in it.
O&AN: I laughed so much at the show I was crying.
Rivers: It gets even better. It was a great experience. But at one point we were fighting so bad that I couldn’t take it. The lifestyle is so different in LA from New York. When you open the refrigerator it is like being in a foreign country! Everything is brown and soy.
O&AN: I think this show will be good for the network.
Rivers: I hope so. They have been wonderful to us but we are still in the honeymoon phase.
O&AN: Did you learn a lot from it?
Rivers: I just learned that there is nothing better than reality. I can see why reality is working. I am so bored with seeing fake situations. It is good to see realness. People are obviously responding to that.
O&AN: So this was not setup?
Rivers: We planned nothing. The network was very worried but we kept saying trust us. Our household is like everyone’s household and always has something going on. The nanny is a perfect example. Geez, you couldn’t plan that!
O&AN: She is unbelievable.
Rivers: I came out and said she has got to be in it. With Conrad, Melissa’s friend, he just found out he is Jewish. We are going to give him a Bat Mitzvah next. He found out his grandmother cheated.
O&AN: Reality is better than a script!
Rivers: Isn’t that curious? She confessed. It was a family deathbed confession. He is taking Hebrew classes now. The cast got along great.
O&AN: I saw your fellow Fashion Policewoman Giuliana Rancic at an event the other day.
Rivers: She is a Chicago girl now, don’t you think? She is based there now because of him.
O&AN: Yes, and that E show is still going strong.
Rivers: Oh gawd yes, I go out every single week. Melissa produces the show so my daughter is my boss. I have been on the phone all morning to see if I go back to New York then to LA. Are we scared there will be another snowstorm? Yes, it was such a rough winter this winter.
O&AN: Everyone is talking about it. We talked Oscars last time we talked.
Rivers: I remember that.
O&AN: Have you seen any of the movies yet?
Rivers: I have seen most of them.
O&AN: They send them to you, correct?
Rivers: No, they sort of send them to me. It’s kind of funny. I never get one thing for the Emmys. Melissa gets those. For the Oscars I scrounge around and get them.
O&AN: What did you think of Black Swan?
Rivers: I loved it! It’s not a ballet movie. It’s a horror movie. I thought it was great and she was amazing in it.
O&AN: I want Natalie Portman to win. Did you like The Kids Are All Right?
Rivers: I loved it too. I thought Annette Bening knocks you out. Everyone forgets Annette is on a par with Meryl Streep. She doesn’t get her due.
O&AN: She might get it this time.
Rivers: I hope she does.
O&AN: I didn’t look at the Best Actor category. Who cares about the men?
Rivers: Yeah, I know. Well you know what? With all the outstanding performances this is year is all about women. Do you want to see Lazy Bone? Dry Bone? Boned Bone? I haven’t seen that yet.
O&AN: (laughs) Winter’s Bone? I heard it is good.
Rivers: I heard it is very good.
O&AN: And what about Nicole Kidman?
Rivers: I think she is terrific, that Nicole. She has not been used well. Most of these women have not been used well.
O&AN: True, that’s a good point.
Rivers: I still remember Nicole from that ghost movie The Others. She was so good in that.
O&AN: I haven’t seen Rabbit Hole but I hear good things.
Rivers: Me, too.
O&AN: My friends in Nashville said you are heading there soon.
Rivers: I go wherever they want me. I am a performing whore.
O&AN: We love you! You are so good at live standup. Do you feel after making the documentary A Piece of Work that you have peace and can relax now?
Rivers: Oh please, it is such an uphill fight all the time. I have the Joan & Melissa show that I love and now I want that to work. The Fashion Police I also love and I want that to work. It is always worky worky worky, try to make it better.
O&AN: Do you feel competitive with Kathy Griffin for the gay dollar?
Rivers: I feel competitive with everybody. I feel competitive with your neighbor if she does three jokes! Kathy is my really good friend.
O&AN: She always says good things about you to me.
Rivers: I just adore her. But do I feel competitive? Yes, of course. Do I love her? Yes. I think she deserves every bit of success that gets.
O&AN: Well, you are such a classy lady. I just love chatting with you.
Rivers: It is good chatting with you as always.
Make it a Rivers week as Joan & Melissa shout it out on WEtv every Tuesday and see the red carpet treatment Fridays with the Fashion Police on E!
Visit http://www.joanrivers.com, http://www.wetv.com, or http://www.eonline.com for details and listings.
Jerry Nunn is a writer and photographer for Windy City Media Group, Chicago’s LGBT newspaper. His website Nunn on the Run features entertainment news and celebrity interviews.