Culture

Chuck Barris: Confessions of a Dangerous Novelist

DO YOU LIKE WRITING?
I love it. I used to run a TV company, and I sold it to go write in the south of France, which is a strange thing to do, I guess. But, anyway, I found out that writing is pretty hard no matter where you are.

IS WRITING HARDER THAN RUNNING THE GONG SHOW?
Oh, jeez, there's no comparison. I don't know what I was thinking. Before I moved I had written two books: You and Me, Babe and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. The first one was on The New York Times bestseller list for seven weeks, and the second one came out in 1982 and didn't do a thing; it just laid there. Twenty years later, George Clooney found it and decided to make a movie out of it.

WHEN CLOONEY CALLED, DID YOU THINK ALL YOUR CHANUKAHS HAD COME AT ONCE?
Yes! I certainly did. I just thought that was the greatest thing I ever heard in my whole life, and it turned out relatively good, too.

DO YOU WATCH AMERICAN IDOL ?
No.

OH, I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU IF YOU THOUGHT IDOL WAS THE GONG SHOW IN REVERSE.
That's what I've been told. I did an interview show on Fox and the host asked me if I watched AI, and I told him no, and he just refused to believe me. He kept repeating the question over and over. Maybe it's out of jealousy because I think they did make AI infinitely better than The Gong Show.

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY JEWS IN SHOWBIZ?
(Laughs) That is a wonderful question. I would say they have great senses of humor by nature and a sense of showmanship that may be lacking in other religions.

DO YOU WATCH TV ?
I watch Masterpiece Theatre, sports and public-affairs shows.

NO GAME SHOWS?
I never even watched them when I was creating them because I didn't want to be influenced by anyone. I hate game shows. But that doesn't mean you can't create them and be successful.

AND YOU STILL HAVE MORE MONEY THAN GOD.
That's true.

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