James Lipton Celebrates 250 Episodes of Inside the Actors Studio
James Lipton and Bradley Cooper
James Lipton returned to the fourth season of Arrested Development, which rebooted on Netflix this past weekend, but this week (Wed. May 29, 7/6c, Bravo), he's celebrating another milestone. In 1994, Lipton created a Master's degree course at the Actors Studio and started televising his seminars with famous performers. Hundreds of interviews later, Inside the Actors Studio is celebrating its 250th episode by bringing back such guests as Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lopez and Ellen Burstyn (Wednesday, 7/6c, Bravo). Let's get this party started.
TV Guide Magazine: The show launched as a class. Did you know it would work for television?
Lipton: If you had put a gun to my head when I created the show and asked me to predict that it would be in 89 million homes, 125 countries and that we would receive a record-breaking 14 Emmy nominations, I would've said, 'Pull the trigger.'
TV Guide Magazine: When the show began, Bravo was known for the performing arts, which was a perfect fit for your show. Now, they are known for the Housewives. Are you still happy being on the network?
Lipton: There's nowhere I would rather be. Bravo's audience has the highest median level of income and the highest level of education. Where could I possibly find an audience like that?
TV Guide Magazine: What is the secret to the show's success?
Lipton: No matter what the public may think, no matter what the media may say, we're not talking about gossip. We just don't give a damn. We talk about craft. It becomes a very emotional experience.
TV Guide Magazine: How do you land such big names?
Lipton: They know we will not betray them. I'm not a judge of others — there are hosts much better, cleverer and smarter than I am — but it's the only show with no pre-interview, which the guests appreciate. It's an entirely different relationship than exists with other shows.
TV Guide Magazine: One star that has not been on the show yet is Jennifer Lawrence. Rumor has it that she declined your offer. True?
Lipton: I talked to Bravo and said, 'She's 22. Should we take a shot at it?' We all agreed that she was so brilliant in Silver Linings Playbook and Bradley [Cooper] was urging me, saying he would come and sit in the front row. She said, 'I love the show. I'm not ready for it.' I perfectly respect her. She's 22 years old. She's got time.
TV Guide Magazine: Speaking of Bradley Cooper, he's your former student. He will also appear on the 250th anniversary episode. How does it feel to have your former student next to you?
Lipton: Students who graduate become a part of your family forever. You could imagine the pride I feel in Bradley. His Masters' degree thesis at the Actors Studio Drama School was a very serious play so I knew what he could do. Now the public knows what he can do. He's a wonderful comedian. He's an action star. He's a serious actor. He's amazing.
TV Guide Magazine: Who's still on your guest wish list?
Lipton: It's been fulfilled. Think of the people that I've gotten to know! There's a certain comradeship. When I see these people, it's like we've been in combat together. I am the luckiest man in the world.
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