Friday, November 23, 2012

Born On This Day- November 23rd... Bruce Vilanch


I could not quite fathom the idea of Bruce Vilanch being hired by those homophobes- Brett Ratner & Eddie Murphy to write the Academy Awards Ceremony last year. The Academy did the correct thing by hiring back the best Oscar host ever- Billy Crystal. Don't you agree? Ratner & Murphy? The Oscar telecast always is subject to some tweaking, but butching up The Academy Awards telecast seems rather perverse. What the 2013 producers, the openly gay Craig Zaden & Neil Meron should do, besides bringing on Seth McFarlane to host, is to add production numbers with Rob Lowe & Snow White, Sasheen Littlefeather, a streaker & Cher!


Vilanch with a bevy of beauties

Jewish, hairy & very funny, Bruce Vilanch has rarely been seen in public wearing anything more formal than blue jeans & one of his many smartass T-shirts. His own website calls himself- "the man who put F U in funny."

Vilanch's career as the man who writes funny things for funny people to say began when he was writing celebrity features for The Chicago Tribune, & schmoozing with whatever celebrities or semi-celebrities were in town.

It was in Chicago that he met then-struggling nightclub singer Bette Midler, & the pair became fast friends. It was Vilanch who gave Midler some helpful career advice: "You’re pretty funny. You should talk more onstage". He wrote for Midler's 1974 Broadway show, Clams on the Half Shell, then moved to LA to write for The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. When that show ended, Vilanch wrote jokes for anyone who'd hire him, including Lily Tomlin, Billy Crystal, Roseanne Barr, Rosie O'Donnell, Paul Reiser, Elizabeth Taylor, & Robin Williams. He wrote Midler's Divine Madness act of 1980 & has been the Oscar Broadcast head writer, pulling off quips backstage, on the fly.

Vilanch is a notable “script doctor”, who is brought in to punch up other writer’s screenplays. A prolific comedy writer, his resume includes classics like The Paul Lynde Halloween SpecialThe Star Wars Holiday Special & The Brady Bunch Hour, plus numerous awards shows, including several Emmy winning gigs with the Oscars.

He was head writer & a panelist on Hollywood Squares for 4 years, writing gags for the other panelists while his friend & client Whoopi Goldberg ran the show. Vilanch has also toured as Edna Turnblad in stage productions of Hairspray, shaving off his trademark 30 year old beard. A 1999 documentary, Get Bruce, chronicled Vilanch's day to day life.

He has the amazing distinction of having acted in Mahogany & Ice Pirates. Vilanch works tirelessly for gay rights.


2 comments:

  1. Having also played Edna, I feel a special connection with Villanch. Though I have to disagree with Billy being the best choice to host the Oscars. I'm hoping for Neil Patrick Harris this year, myself, though McFarlane would be fine, too.

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  2. Ran into Bruce at the PS airport a couple years ago and said, 'hi.' He is an interesting guy.

    Sorry, Billy Crystal is AWFUL as the host. I can't bear to look at that leering, overly face-lifted face and those terrible hair transplants and I just don't think he's very funny in how he delivers lines....

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