'Mad Men,' Mad Cow (in a Good Way), Mad Skills, Mad Judge
Today's cuppa: Decaf British blend tea (for breakfast, no less, as I wasn't paying attention), two cups of "Mad Men" set coffee (just in time!)
Most of today was devoted to visiting the downtown Los Angeles set of AMC's critical fave "Mad Men," where I arrived on time despite three wrong turns and nearly getting back on the 110 Freeway right after exiting it.
But you don't care about my problems, you care about "Mad Men."
Or, at least some of you care, since the sheer tonnage of critical love for the show probably still outweighs the collective poundage of the actual audience. But AMC was happy enough to bring "Mad Men" back for a second season, starting July 27 (when my story will run in syndication).
Once fully caffeinated, I kicked off my day by sitting down with Robert Morse, who plays the head of the early-'60s Manhattan ad agency at the center of the show. A Tony winner in 1961 for his starring role as New York ad man Finch in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (which he reprised on film in 1967), his casting is not only clever but downright inevitable.
During our talk, another actor stopped by to greet Morse and started telling him about a play he's doing in Burbank. Morse peppered him with insider questions, every inch the stage veteran. On top of that, Morse was funny, charming and full of great stories.
It just reinforced my belief that every drama could benefit from the presence of a showbiz veteran, whether, for example, it's Morse or David McCallum on "NCIS." They raise the game of the youngsters (something "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm, no wet-behind-the-ears rookie himself, readily admitted) and provide a living template for career longevity.
After Morse, I talked to more cast regulars then headed out with the cast and crew to lunch, which included some mighty tasty beef. After lunch, there was Turkish coffee, which reminded me of a set lunch I once shared with playwright David Mamet during the first-season finale of his CBS show "The Unit."
According to Hamm, who plays the enigmatic ad man Don Draper, and who did five episodes of "The Unit," this is no coincidence but the result of a shared caterer. It's a small, small TV world.
Speaking of which, "Mad Men" shoots at the same studio complex as CBS' "Numb3rs," on which Hamm had a guest role. He also appeared on "The Sarah Silverman Program," the cast for which was lunching today right next to us.
And Silverman, who dropped by to say hello, is apparently dating Jimmy Kimmel, whom I mentioned here just yesterday because I got an airdate for Guillermo's appearance on "Wipeout," which I watched being filmed.
I'd invoke Kevin Bacon, but since I just saw his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, on the set of "The Closer" on Tuesday, I'd better stop now.
On an unrelated note, I was excited to see NBC's "Celebrity Circus" after visiting the training facility for a story, but the final product was both cool and disappointing. Cool because the celebs -- especially the amazing Stacey Dash, the Herculean Antonio Sabato Jr., spunky Wee Man and gutsy Christopher Knight -- are doing better than I expected and are great fun to watch.
But judge Louie Spence gave me the wiggins the first week, with suggestive and inappropriate comments to celebs of both genders. The second week, he was better, but this week, a disagreement with a fellow judge caused him to flip out -- and actually do a flip (he is a choreographer with a background in dance and gymnastics).
"CC" is no "Dancing With the Stars," that's for sure, but I appreciate the celebs' hard work and will keep tuning in for them. And as long as Spence keeps it clean, I can handle a somersault now and again.