The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ON TV
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TRANSCRIPTS
Return to Transcripts main page

LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Harvey Fierstein

Aired June 3, 2003 - 20:50   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HAIRSPRAY")
HARVEY FIERSTEIN, ACTOR: Excuse me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You're looking at the amazing "Hairspray," starring Harvey Fierstein. It goes into Sunday night's Tony Awards with 13 nominations, the most ever for a musical. From Broadway to television, movies and books, perhaps no one has done more than Fierstein in the last three decades to make the gay life accepted in popular culture. He's a playwright and actor. And he didn't just come out of the closet; you might say he knocked down its walls and its doors, notably with his small but standout part as Robin Williams' younger brother in "Mrs. Doubtfire."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MRS. DOUBTFIRE")

FIERSTEIN: Hi.

ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR: Could you make me a woman?

FIERSTEIN: Honey, I'm so happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Among his credits, Fierstein wrote Broadway's "Torch Song Trilogy," and narrated the documentary, "The Times of Harvey Milk (ph)." Here's a whiff of what made "Hairspray" his latest triumph.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HAIRSPRAY")

FIERSTEIN: Hey, baby, hey, baby, look at me, I'm the cutest chickie you ever did see. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Harvey Fierstein has a Tony nomination for best actor in a musical for his performance in "Hairspray." He is with us now. Thanks for being with us, Harvey.

FIERSTEIN: Oh, sure, I got nothing else to do.

COOPER: Right, you're going to go to the theater in moments to be on tonight. You have said that you anticipated being an underdog at the Tonys on Sunday. Why? FIERSTEIN: It was actually a little misquote, but you know the press never misquotes anything. I said you would think we would be an underdog. I mean, we're doing a $10 million musical about an interracial story, about changing the race practices of a teenage dance show in 1960, starring a little fat girl and her fat mother played by a man. I mean, one would think that that's not exactly the makings of a $10.5 million knock'em dead Broadway hit, but it is, and I'm thrilled it is.

COOPER: And at first, it was sort of unknown how people were going to respond to this, but you brought it to Seattle.

FIERSTEIN: We brought it to -- we arrived in Seattle, you know, we're talking Seattle. That's about as far away from Broadway as you can get. You know, any further than that, you've got to go to Hawaii. So we go to Seattle. They don't know who John Waters is there, they don't know who I am there. I mean, a couple of people at the hotel I was staying at thought we were doing a musical of "Shampoo." They asked if I was going to play the Warren Beatty role.

COOPER: That's a compliment, I think.

FIERSTEIN: I think they meant it that way, but they really didn't know, and that first audience walked in knowing nothing about the show at all. The last show they had seen was Robert Goulet in "South Pacific." It's a subscription (ph) audience. They walk into this 2,500-seat theater, and we come out there, and they ripped the seats out of the theater, screaming and yelling. And we were thrilled, they were thrilled.

COOPER: And you're getting that response basically every night, I mean, standing ovation?

FIERSTEIN: Standing ovation every performance, and the audiences love it. And whatever mood they come in -- and you know, we've had some bad days in America lately, but whatever mood that audience comes in, we send them out singing and dancing. And boy, there's not a nicer thing to do in this world.

COOPER: You said it was a $10 million musical, which, for some of the budgets these days, that's pretty small. Is it harder putting on a musical these days than it used to be?

FIERSTEIN: Well, I think the cost as it is, I mean, the cost is cost, you know. There are limited number of seats in the theater. We do eight performances. Couldn't possibly do any more than that. You know, how many jobs work six days a week? We do the same thing eight times a week. So there are a limited number of seats, and so it costs money.

COOPER: It's hard these days for small shows to get started. Do you think that's fair to say?

FIERSTEIN: I don't know. I think we've had some real strange things this season, you know, that I'm very happy made it to Broadway, though I'm not sure how well they'll do in the long run, "Frog & Toad," which is a children's show, made it to Broadway. I'm not sure if it's going to make it all the rest of the way, but it's kind of exciting to see if a children's show, if a real family show can make it.

COOPER: Let me ask you ...

FIERSTEIN: And one-person shows as well.

COOPER: Right. We wish you a lot of luck and everyone else in the cast luck.

FIERSTEIN: Well, thank you.

COOPER: Thanks for being with us. Harvey Fierstein.

FIERSTEIN: I love seeing you, you know I do.

COOPER: And happy birthday this week.

FIERSTEIN: And happy birthday to you. It's his birthday today.

COOPER: All right. That's enough now.

FIERSTEIN: Twenty-six. He's 26. I dyed that gray hair myself.

COOPER: No. We'll be right back.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




CNN US
On CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNN AvantGo CNNtext Ad info Preferences
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.