On Sunday at 8 pm/ET, TBS presents Earth to America!, a star-studded special organized to raise awareness of a rather large issue, the Earth itself. But what exactly is going on during the two-hour event? I mean, how can the likes of Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller and Jack Black rescue mankind? Earth to America! creator and executive producer Laurie David, wife of Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David, gave TVGuide.com a sneak peek.
TVGuide.com: Before we get started, I have to say that every time I see the title Earth to America! I think of that Tom Hanks astronaut miniseries thing.
Laurie David: The title's like, "Hello-o-o! Earth to America!" Larry actually came up with the title. It's a good one, don't you think?
TVGuide.com: But the exclamation point at the end — that was your idea, wasn't it?
David: It was, it was. I'm very impressed you focused in on the exclamation point.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of Tom Hanks, he was actually one of the first names you lined up for this, yes?
David: He was, and I will owe this guy for the rest of my life.
TVGuide.com: He does tend to be busy with the occasional movie.
David: He does, but he signed on right away, and once he signs on, everyone else signs on, which was such a great gift to me. He's a personal friend, and I'm really appreciative to him. He's got some funny stuff on Sunday night. People are not going to believe what they're going to see. It's going to be a great show; I am so excited!
TVGuide.com: We'll get to the funny stuff in a second, but first give me the Reader's Digest version of the genesis of the idea.
David: The genesis of the idea was originally to raise money for the NRDC, [National Resource Defense Council], which is an important environmental agency. I got so sick of going to rubber-chicken dinners where they were "honoring" somebody. I said, "There's got to be something else we can do besides a dinner to raise money. I'll put a show on! I'll put it in a theater, and it will be this thing called 'Earth to L.A.'" [The event] always had a keynote speaker, which was Bobby Kennedy, and I asked all my friends to participate. The last one we did, two years ago, raised $3 million in one night. After that, I had studio presidents and agents and everyone saying, 'You've got to put this on TV.'"
TVGuide.com: But you didn't serve chicken at Earth to L.A., right?
David: We did not serve chicken. I refuse to serve chicken!
TVGuide.com: What's the intended format for Earth to America!, understanding that you're dealing with a lot of hard-to-train comedians?
David: It's going to be a very fast-paced evening with lots of elements. You're going to see film pieces and monologues and some stand-up and sketch pieces. Any one segment is going to be just a few minutes long, building to a finale at the end of the show.
TVGuide.com: They're all going to do a kick line while singing "God Bless America," aren't they?
David: No, we're not! I promise you!
TVGuide.com: Any last-minute glitches?
David: I can't believe how smoothly it's going, knock on wood. Everyone's showing up in town and then rehearsals start.... We're in a position where we're cutting material, which is great. Which means it's all going on the DVD — DVD extras!
TVGuide.com: Who have been the latest additions to the lineup?
David: Let's see... Faith Hill, Conan O'Brien and Jason Alexander.
TVGuide.com: Did you have to call in any favors?
David: You know what? Jason Alexander was a favor I called in, because Marty Short was supposed to do this number, but his film shoot ran long and he couldn't do it. We called Jason, and he was like, "I'm there!"
TVGuide.com: As a husband, is Larry David nearly as curmudgeonly as he is on Curb?
David: I think so. He would disagree with that, but I would think so. The difference between the real Larry and the Larry on the show is that the Larry on the show acts out his thoughts, and the real Larry isn't really that confrontational. In fact, between the two of us, I'm much more confrontational than he is.
TVGuide.com: Did any of your relationship anecdotes ever turn up on an episode of Seinfeld?
David: Everything that ever happened to us, including every conversation, has ended up on either Seinfeld or Curb. By the time Curb came along, I was used to it. But it still surprises me — I watched an episode the other night, and there was a conversation between him and his TV wife about snuggling, and it was the exact conversation we once had.
TVGuide.com: Have you checked the bedroom for microphones?
David: I was like, "What the heck?!" I don't see the shows ahead of time, and he doesn't tell me about them, so I'm sitting there watching with him and saw that whole scene up there. Sometimes that can be a little embarrassing. I'm a lunch mom at my kids' school, and when there's a racy scene, I go to school the next day and the parents are going, "Hey, how about...," and I'm going, "Oh, my god!"
TVGuide.com: On Earth to America!, can we expect you and Larry to do any Burns and Allen-type shtick on stage?
David: I'm strictly behind-the-scenes, so you won't see me, but you'll see a really funny monologue piece that he's doing. You don't really get to see him do stand-up, so that will be a treat.
TVGuide.com: Can you reveal something concrete about what we're going to see?
David: I'll give you a great example: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog went to Washington, D.C., and interviewed four Republican congressmen who do not believe in global warming. This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Larry is doing a monologue about tuna fish.
TVGuide.com: I love tuna fish!
David: Well, you'll have to watch to see what that's about. Thanks for covering the show, don't forget to watch!