Twelve years after shooting to fame with "Good Will Hunting," Matt Damon remains one of Hollywood's most likable, seemingly level-headed actors. But, as he made clear on Tuesday night's "Tonight Show," even he has his less-than-gracious moments.
Damon told Jay about a frustrating confrontation at a wine store. Damon had invited his "Adjustment Burueau" costar Emily Blunt and her husband, John Krasinski of "The Office," over for dinner. The men popped out to grab a bottle of wine, and that's when the trouble began. When Damon found an unusual wine for sale, he decided to buy an entire case of the $100 bottles and plunked down his credit card.
But the clerk at the wine store wouldn't accept Damon's credit card, and insisted he pay in cash. The actor balked at the suggestion, saying he didn’t walk around with loads of cash. "What am I, like, Mike Tyson?" He and Krasinski returned home, empty-handed, but Damon was unable to put the episode behind him. The stubborn clerk had "engaged my most petty side," and he was determined to prove a point: He wasn't just any old schmo trying to buy wine, he was Matt Damon, movie star.
As anyone who's seen an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" can tell you, attempts to redress minor slights like these are rarely ever productive. Damon's plan -- involving a DVD and a copy of an obscure European magazine -- was no exception. Watch for yourself and find out.
In Tunisia, Egypt and now Lybia, revolution is spreading across the Muslim world. On Tuesday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow stopped by "The Tonight Show" to talk about the remarkable changes taking place overseas -- and a growing protest movement right here at home.
Maddow, who described the revolts across the Arab world as "unimaginable," drew some distinctions between the uprising in Libya with the one in Egpyt. "It looks less like a protest movement there than it does a civil war," she said. The uncertainty is scary, she acknowledged, but Maddow voiced her support for the democracy, no matter how messy it might be. "Ultimately, you're on the right side of history if you're on the side of people deciding their own destiny for themselves," she said.
It's most likely just a coincidence of timing, but this week has also seen plenty of domestic unrest here in the U.S.
"You have Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and now Wisconsin," said Leno, referring to a dispute over the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions in that state. It's not exactly surprising that Maddow, an outspoken liberal, expressed her belief that unions are a good thing. She says they are "the way we got a middle class," but her defense was both passionate and articulate. "You can have problems with unions, but [the proposed bill in Wisconsin] is a real attack on the idea that people ought to be able to make a living if they work full time," she said. "And that's an American idea that I still really believe in."
On Tuesday's "Tonight Show," Jay Leno asked fellow Massachusetts native Mark Wahlberg, what happened to that "kid I met in the '80s?" It was an apt question since self-transformation was, apparently, the theme of the evening.
The Artist Formerly Known as Marky Mark is currently on a charm offensive for his Oscar-nominated movie, "The Fighter." Wahlberg's performance was overlooked -- some would say snubbed -- but he produced the film, which means he's up for the biggest prize of all, Best Picture.
Wahlberg, once best known for his washboard abs and tendency to mouth off in interviews, has transformed himself into Hollywood's leading family man. "You know what, I've been very fortunate. If you don't change after having four beautiful children, I don't know what's going to make you change," he told Leno.
Fatherhood has also turned the former tough guy into a softie. Wahlberg told Leno about tearing up in "Tangled," and said that "Toy Story 3" "killed" him. "One of the best movies ever made," he said. (Cue the "awwws.")
It was time for Leno to ask a leading question: "You've gotten rid of all the bad habits?"
"I think the last one was a little hard to get rid of, Jay, because it helped me with the stress and everything," Wahlberg confessed. "You know a little--pffft..." he said, making that pursed inhaling sound that's code for pot smoking the world over. Wahlberg's honesty, particularly in the strange PR forum that is late-night television, was disarming. You could practically hear the confusion in the audience: Are we supposed to laugh, or wag our fingers in disapproval?
Wahlberg explained that one day, he lit up while driving in the car with his daughter, who asked her mother about the strange smell emanating from the front seat. "And she goes, 'Oh, that's a skunk,'" he said. Wahlberg's daughter responded, "I think daddy's smelled like that before." Wahlberg decided to kick the habit, and told Leno, "It's the best thing I ever did."
Wahlberg's personal overhaul isn't totally complete just yet. There's also the matter of getting his famous tattoos removed -- he says he's gone through 20-something of the torturous sessions so far -- and finally earning his high school diploma.
Self-improvement is a wonderful thing, Mark. But promise us one thing, won't you? Leave the abs as they are.
Just when it seemed the late-night wars had reached a kind of detente, Howard Stern stopped by "Late Show with David Letterman" Thursday night to reignite hostilities all over again.
Stern, who was ostensibly making an appearance to plug his radio show, had a different goal in mind: He told Letterman: "I want to see you beat Jay Leno in the ratings tonight."
He explained to Letterman that he'd just bought "The War for Late Night," Bill Carter's book about last year's vicious late-night feuding, and he was hooked. "I follow this like it's the Torah," Stern joked. He had a confession to make: "I'm ready to comment on this now. You know as well as everyone in this room, Jay is horrible." The audience erupted in applause, and somewhere, off in the distance, I think I heard Leno wincing.
Stern, as usual, was in a performing mood. This time, he was playing the part of the tough-talking motivator, and encouraged Letterman and his crew to play hardball against Leno. "There should a whole attitude adjustment on this show," he said.
Stern wondered: Why did Letterman do that Super Bowl commercial with Leno last year, anyway? "We had the guy down on the ground. ... You had your foot on his neck."
Stern told bandleader Paul Shaffer, "You've gotten a little bit complacent." Case in point: All those pianos Shaffer uses. "I have an iPad you could play all those instruments on," he said.
Then Stern returned to bashing Letterman's rival of the last two decades. "He wants to beat this Jay Leno. Jay's got no talent."
It was harsh, but what else can you expect from Stern? For his part, Letterman -- who was all too happy to sling some mud last year -- remained mum about Leno's alleged lack of talent, and turned the tables back on Stern. "I know you're busy ... busy counting your money," he said.
But Stern was determined to stay on message. "Look, I love you, I'm in your corner. I don't want the same thing to happen to you that happened to Regis."
British actress Helena Bonham Carter has a well-deserved reputation for red carpet eccentricity. True to form, the "King's Speech" star turned up at the recent Golden Globe awards wearing a busy Vivienne Westwood gown, a huge bouffant of curls, and -- the piece de resistance -- a pair of mismatched shoes. In a sea of boringly tasteful champagne-colored gowns, Bonham Carter was a breath of funky air.
Tuesday night, the actress, now up for an Oscar for her performance as Queen Elizabeth (later known to most of us as the Queen Mum), stopped by "The Tonight Show." In contrast to so many stars whose talk-show appearances seem painfully scripted and controlled, Bonham Carter seemed wonderfully human.
She explained that she actually prefers not winning Oscars -- she was nominated once before, for "The Wings of the Dove" -- because "people like you better if you lose." She then drew an analogy between being an Academy Award also-ran to being an intentional fashion disaster.
"It's a bit like my dress sense. I get things deliberately wrong," she said. "Perfectionism is completely overrated." Bonham Carter claimed that she provides a service for the average person, who, were it not for her intentional fashion disasters, would open up magazines and see nothing but taut, tasteful perfection.
"People feel inadequate, which is absurd because they've been through three hours of hair and makeup and retouching. At least I make somebody go, 'Yay, it's OK to look catastrophically dressed.'" Just for that added human touch, the actress clutched a straw throughout the interview, explaining that she had brought it along so she could sip water and not smear her crimson lipstick.
Bonham Carter even had a reasonable excuse for her two-toned Globes footwear. She had planned to wear a pair of precipitous black heels -- the same ones she was wearing for her "Tonight Show" appearance -- but opted for lower heels. "The feet hurt. I can't do it," she said. Unable to settle on a color, Bonham Carter decided simply to wear one of each. Her rationale? "I'm a Gemini."
Teen dream Justin Bieber is on a promotional blitz this week in support of his upcoming documentary, "Never Say Never." There was the Vanity Fair cover story, a lengthy appearance on "The Tonight Show" on Friday, and Monday night, a sit-down with David Letterman on "The Late Show." Leno may have devoted more time -- three whole segments! -- to Bieber, but Letterman's sensibility was a better match for the Canadian heartthrob.
Leno has a grating habit of being "just one of the guys" in his interviews -- cracking jokes about nagging wives and so on -- while Letterman has a different shtick. At 63, he's not exactly young, but Letterman has long played the role of the old fogey, feigning befuddlement at the youthful whimsy of whatever guest happens to be appearing on his show. Bieber, a meticulously coiffed 16-year-old saccharin pop singer propelled to fame via Twitter, is an ideal foil for the easily bemused host.
Monday night, Letterman asked Bieber the obligatory question every heartthrob must answer: What's it like being followed by a horde of screaming girls everywhere you go?
"It's funny because, like, I try to go, like, walk in and there's a bunch of people outside just waiting," Bieber answered.
Letterman could not relate. "That's never happened to me. That has never happened." Just to emphasize the generational gulf a bit more, he then asked Bieber, "Do you use the Twitter device to update your activities?"
"Yeah, I do. I was thinking, do you want me to Twitter you?" the singer proposed. Considering he's got close to 7 million followers, that's actually quite a generous offer. (Side note: Do you think Bieber offers up free tweets up in lieu of Christmas presents?) Letterman didn't quite know what to make of it all -- or so he pretended.
"Like 'late-underscore-show'?" asked Bieber, trying to determine the show's Twitter handle.
"It's 'The Late Show.' I'm Dave," was his deadpan reply. "Now, did you do it already? What'd you say?"
"I just said, 'I'm hanging out with my boy, Dave.''
It was the kind of gently amusing repartee at which the host excels. He plays the role of the old fuddy-duddy, both charmed and confused by his guests. Compare that, if you will, with Bieber's appearance on "The Tonight Show" from Friday night. Leno often comes off as the "dad who thinks he's cool" (even if he isn't actually a father), in contrast to Letterman's "lovably cranky uncle" routine.
Bieber's appearance on Friday night was a prime example of this unfortunate tendency. Leno asked Bieber about attending the Golden Globes. "I met Angelina Jolie," he said, grinning lasciviously. (Brad, watch out!) He also met Hailee Steinfeld, the adorable Oscar-nominated star of "True Grit."
"So what did you think? She's kinda cute," Leno asked.
Bieber wouldn't take the bait. "I think she's ... cute," he shrugged.
Leno continued to pry, "And that's as far as it goes?" Apparently so. Bieber declared that Steinfeld, who's 15, was too young for him. Apparently, Justin Bieber has a thing for older women.
Leno's interest in the teen's love life was either creepy or just a blatant grab for Web hits. In either case, let's be honest: Bieber's millions of adoring fans don't really care who's asking the questions.
Seth Rogen stopped by "The Tonight Show" Wednesday to plug his upcoming movie "The Green Hornet." In the time-honored tradition of the American late-night talk show, this meant sharing a colorful personal anecdote in exchange for a little publicity for the movie. Tit for tat, if you will.
Leno asked Rogen about his recent engagement to longtime girlfriend Lauren Miller and Rogen shared the story of how he proposed. It was equally parts romantic and juvenile, sweet and prurient -- a little like Rogen himself.
Though he and Miller had been dating for six years, Rogen says once he got the ring, he simply couldn't wait to propose -- like, really couldn't wait. His girlfriend was in the closet changing, naked from the waist up, when he barged in. "She was in only her underpants and her ... breasts were hanging out," Rogen delicately explained, taking a moment to recall the polite term for mammary glands, as if it had slipped his mind.
This was not the romantic scene Rogen -- or, I'm guessing, his girlfriend -- had envisioned. "I never pictured it like this," he said. Plus, there was the small matter of how he'd tell the story later on; would he gloss over the more intimate details, or leave them in there for comic effect. Truth be told, it was probably never that much of a question for Rogen, who had already shared this story with Conan O'Brien. Like his mentor, Judd Apatow, Rogen seems to know how the very intimate can also be very funny.
But back to the story at hand. Rogen decided to move ahead with the proposal, despite the less-than-ideal circumstances. "Boobs out, I plowed forward," he joked to Leno. It was a pretty great line, misplaced modifier notwithstanding.
The good news is she accepted, and now it's on to planning the wedding. Presumably on the big day, both bride and groom will be fully clothed.
Larry King celebrated the end of his 25-year run on CNN's "Larry King Live" with a stop by "The Tonight Show" on Monday, telling Jay Leno that being done is "tough," but not all bad. "It's a great feeling of mixed emotions. It's hard to describe," he said. "It's like your mother-in-law going over the cliff in your new Cadillac."
Leno teased King for being the one to crack a joke. "Let me ask you something," said King. "Why do Italians like to give it to Jews?"
But the interview wasn't all taunting. Leno's praise for King was effusive, and he noted that King could secure guests that late-night hosts never could -- Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando. "They know they're going to be treated fairly," said King. "They're not going to be cut off, interrupted," he said, indicating toward Leno.
And for that, Leno went back to needling. "Now, what is the age difference in your kids?" he asked, giggling. "You actually have a son that's older than you -- I heard that. Is that true?"
King began listing his children's ages: "Andy is 55..." Leno erupted in laughter. "And the youngest is how old?" Leno asked. "Ten," said King. Leno cackled and clapped. "Without Viagra -- 10," said King.
"We always tease you about being married seven times," said Leno. "Why not date some of those?" King explained that the way he grew up, couples didn't live together before they got married. "Hey, I have no regrets," he said. "Well, maybe a couple." He said he could think of one in particular but kept it to himself. Instead, he went on to credit one ex-wife with recommending his now-signature suspenders.
Later, Leno asked for quick reviews of some guests King interviewed over the years. O.J. Simpson, for example, King deemed a character in "a Greek tragedy" -- "the most famous person ever charged with murder," he said.
But before riding into the sunset, King had one last order of business: he wanted to perform some stand-up comedy. He told two jokes, both sufficiently funny, but that wasn't the point. It was about the spectacle, and about showing that after all those years of hosting, Larry King is still a hell of a guest.
-- Joe Coscarelli
See the rest of Leno and King's chat after the jump.
Jay Leno wasted no time telling Helen Mirren that she looked "beautiful." She whined about her high heels, but the audience approved and told her so Tuesday with cheers and whistles as the actress extended her reputation as something of an older bombshell on "The Tonight Show."
Mirren said she hoped her turn as an action star in "Red" might replace the memory of her as Elizabeth II in "The Queen," but more than the movie, Mirren can now count on her budding reputation as a sultry diva of sorts, but with all the grace of an older woman.
"Yeah, but it's fun," she quoted the "bad angel" section of her conscience as saying about shooting guns. "Go kick ass."
"No, I'm not going to do that," she said playfully to her imaginary malicious influence, apropos of nothing. "I'm not going to kiss him." But she knew what the crowd wanted, and so Mirren stood up and kissed Leno on the mouth.
"The bad angel always wins," she said.
But once Leno tugged on Mirren's bad-girl thread, it just kept coming. Right after the kiss, she discussed her tattoo. "I got my tattoo when only Hell's Angels and sailors were tattooed," she said. "In fact, I was tattooed in prison. Before I had my sex change." Leno disproved that joke with a photo of Mirren in a bikini.
Now, Mirren said, everyone has tattoos. "It's disgraceful," she claimed with a straight face. And somehow even the scolding served the same purpose: The woman wants you to know that she's not to be messed with.
Russell Brand, perhaps more well known stateside as Mr. Katy Perry, overpowered Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" not necessarily with the quality of his jokes, but more with the volume of his voice. During less of an interview and more of a stand-up routine, Brand seemed to push Leno into the role of straight man, acting as boisterous and British as possible for one guy in a chair.
Brand, wearing a "festive" holiday sweater adorned with skulls, mostly carried on about learning to drive, but only after mocking "The Tonight Show" mug he was drinking from, marked "Guest 1."
"Has this got Slash's spit in it? Or Vanilla Ice's wee-wee?" Brand asked.
Then it was all automobiles, a Leno specialty. "When I saw your glorious museum of cars, Jay, I thought I should learn to drive a car," said Brand. "Not an aircraft hangar of cars, but a car." Leno appeared pleased, but couldn't really get a word in edgewise.
"The key thing for me with learning to drive is do not use my personality during the driving," Brand continued. "My personality is not equipped to deal with rules, regulations, minor misdemeanors, caution towards others, sexual control -- all things that are necessary in a driving situation."
Cue punch line: "I must behave as if I'm at a funeral, otherwise we soon shall be."
"Have you ventured onto the freeway yet?" Leno asked. "The freeway is the crack cocaine of driving," said Brand, describing the rush. But Leno, the car connoisseur, forced Brand to fight for the honor of his ride. "That is a beast, the Prius," Brand assured him. "The Prius is a monster."
But how much damage could it really do? Leno asked Brand about his track record for accidents. It was the set-up Brand had been waiting for. "I knocked over what in my country we call bins," he explained, "but you call pedestrians." But of course -- surely he bowled them over.
"Thank you for all the material," Jay Leno said to former President George W. Bush on Thursday night's episode of "The Tonight Show." It had been 10 years since Bush appeared on the program, but he came with jokes ready. "Does any of that bother you?" asked Leno of the constant comedic ribbing. "I hate to tell you -- I don't want to hurt your feelings," said Bush, "but I was asleep." The crowd roared as they would many times during the interview, beginning with a standing ovation as the former president entered.
Throughout, the reception was entirely warm. When asked about President Obama, Bush told the host, "I don't think it's good for the country to have a former president criticizing his successor." Cue huge applause. And so it went: a careful Leno set-up, Bush's lead-in and a final, large point -- either a joke or spirited proclamation. Each time, the audience did their part to cheer.
After Leno played clips of both Obama and Bush dancing, Bush reached into his prepared material. "One of my girls called me and said, 'No wonder you're not dancing on the stars,'" he joked, stumbling a bit. Pre-planned one-liners filled the first portion of the interview. "That's the definition of a man without an exit strategy," Bush said after a video clip of him struggling with a door in China.
"I used to do some pretty stupid things," said Bush, chuckling. He was speaking about drinking too much, but really, it was a capitulation to his caricature. Even Leno clapped after certain Bush bits.
But in plugging his new book, "Decision Points," Bush displayed his brave side too. "I looked at the childs -- children -- who were sitting in front of me and I realized my most important job was to protect them," he said of 9/11. "I knew that if you're the head of an organization, you should not create any sense of panic."
"I left the classroom at the appropriate moment," he said, again to a big applause.
He spoke of Osama bin Laden ("He's hiding in a very remote part of the world, I guess."), and on the subject of Saddam Hussein, he reiterated, "The guy's a thug, and I believe the world is better off without him." In listing his regrets, Bush noted the "Mission Accomplished" sign, flying over the Hurricane Katrina damage and his occasionally "blunt" language. He hit every talking point.
When asked about the midterm elections, Bush brushed off the job of political pundit, and he shrugged at the mention of Sarah Palin. Of his brother Jeb's future, Bush told Leno, "You better ask him." At least on his book tour, Bush as ambassador is relegated to one subject on which he always says the right thing: himself.
While Conan O'Brien's first two monologues felt a bit stilted -- bogged down with jokes about network politics -- his interviews have been as smooth and funny as ever. The man is comfortable behind a desk, no matter who owns it, and his TBS celebrity sit-downs have the same casual charm of vintage Conan. It's almost as if his guests actually like him.
It sure seemed that way with Jon Hamm on Wednesday night. O'Brien and the "Mad Men" star played off of each other to hilarious effect. O'Brien first asked Hamm about, what else, his good looks, and the actor set up the host like a pro.
"It's funny when they put very fancy clothes on you and you have 400 people attending to your hair and makeup how handsome you can become," Hamm said. Countered Conan: "I have not found that to be true. We have people working on me with hydraulic machinery for hours."
When Hamm spoke of being injured on the set of "Mad Men," some "awws" came in from the crowd. "Oh, the ladies are loving this," said O'Brien bitterly. Women in the crowd catcalled, and though it was ostensibly for Hamm, it demonstrated O'Brien's influence on his audience. He sets the mood and pleasant vibes abound.
Hamm felt comfortable making cracks, too. "There are very uncool clothing styles coming up," said O'Brien of "Mad Men." "What are you gonna do?"
"We're gonna end the show," said Hamm without missing a beat. "There will be no fringe."
Meanwhile, back at "The Tonight Show," Jay Leno and Christine O'Donnell flopped. The failed Senate candidate from Delaware just could not sync up to the host, resulting in an awkward mess of missed connections.