Last year one of the most unexpected TV talk shows on the circuit was “Kathy,” and it speaks to Kathy Griffin’s engaging presence that the unusual formula worked. Instead of featuring the usual spate of celebrities plugging their latest projects, Griffin instead found real people (and her own celebrity friends like Anderson Cooper and Lance Bass) to sit on the couch to discuss what she found most interesting in the news (or in the reality TV programming) of the day, sometimes finishing the show with a group of sexy firefighters, strippers or cops.
This year the show, which returns for its second season Jan. 10 at 10:00 p.m., will have some big changes — more celebrities and a live format, which will be an interesting challenge for the potty-mouthed performer. I spoke to Griffin one-on-one at press tour about the changes, why she’s “hungry and bitter,” and what she’s watching when she’s not watching “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”
So, is CNN just lying when they threaten to ban you every year?
I know they’ve gotten the highest ratings [for New Year’s Even] since 2008, so I think they’re happy about that. I think that’s why they advertise, they’re baaack, and Anderson holding up the “No Nudity” sign. I think they’re pretty smart.
And every year you push it a little further.
I try to. I try to. If you’re going to cut away to Gary in Eastport, Maine kissing a sardine, then darn it, I want to do it in Times Square. Anderson just happened to be the lucky gentleman to my left. He didn’t appreciate it, let’s put it that way.
How is “Kathy” going to be different this year?
Live, Live. And we’re combining celebrities and real people. So last year it was only civilians. And then celebrities started calling me, my hand to God, and I was like, are you sure? And now we’ve decided the winning combo is having the guests out there the whole time, and mixing real people and celebrities.
Are they going to be together on the couch?
Yes! I like that Graham Norton/Rove, let’s all be in this together. So for our first episode Thursday, we have no civilians, we have only Jane Lynch, Lisa Kudrow and Liza Minnelli.
I knew you were friends with Liza, but I’m surprised you got her to commit to a talk show.
I was, too. By the way, we’re live. She’s not there yet. Let’s see. Hold off on those congratulations.
How long until we see Cher?
Cher wants to do an episode in her bathroom.
That sounds fun!
Thank you! I think so, too! When I told the Bravo people, I told them, Cher may want to do a whole episode in her bathroom. And the executive said, could she at least give us a tour of the rest of the house? I go honestly, once you have Cher in the bathroom, you’re good. I don’t even need to see the rec room or the den.
I’m sure Cher’s bathroom is very comfortable.
It’s so huge. It’s like an apartment. And then she sits there and we order food from Nobu and it’s a whole thing.
With celebrities volunteering, was there any thought to scrapping civilians altogether?
I’m still having civilians. For example, I’m having a show with Megan Mullally and her husband Nick Offerman, but with a real person in the middle, so maybe my dog walker or my assistant’s roommate. I love mixing celebrities with the real people. it creates a different kind of conversation. Real people are good. Put a real person next to Anderson Cooper, and sparks fly. My mom will, of course, still be part of the show. And my assistant Tiffany was in People magazine this week because she lost 81 pounds, so she’s a celebrity herself. She won’t do bikini yet, but she looks super foxy.
On your show “My Life on the D-List,” you complained about working out, but you look great.
Because I’m starving and I work out all the time. I’m hungry and bitter. I do everything from the treadmill to I’m a crazy walker. And when I say crazy walker, I mean like Forrest Gump. After New Year’s Eve, I actually had my boyfriend take me on a walk at 4:30 in the morning. So after the broadcast with Anderson, I was like, we’re not going to bed yet, went back to the hotel, put on sneakers, 33 degrees if even, we walked all around the city. I love people watching, so when I’m on tour, I go walking all the time. I kind of like it. I also do it not to be insane. If I don’t work out, I go a little super cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Since you’re back from New Year’s Eve in New York, what do you like about Los Angeles?
I love the weather, hate the people. People don’t read, and if they did I wouldn’t have an act, so I’m so grateful.
You use so much of what you watch in your act, what are you watching now?
I never know what I’m putting in my act, because truly I often write it up to the minute. But tonight my DVR has “Downton Abbey,” “Housewives,” “Meet the Press,” “Oprah’s Next Chapter” with David Letterman, “Honey Boo Boo.” I love it. My problem is here, at the NBC event, I don’t know so many of the scripted people. I say with all due respect, I don’t really have time to watch good television. I’m watching the trash for my audiences. So I can barely keep up with “Homeland.” So people are talking about all these great new shows, and I think I’ll get to them, but I’ve got to get through a lot of “Housewives” first.
So, what do you think of Kenya on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”?
I think she’s “Gone with the Wind” fabulous, She’s everything fabulous. She’s any adjective and then fabulous. But I don’t understand. Because what I’m fascinated by is you see the shows and they’re living a certain lifestyle, and then you read them online and half of them are getting foreclosed on or DUIs or jail time, which is fascinating to me. I don’t really understand that lifestyle. I’ve never had a Birkin bag.