That said, Stern’s duel for air time with Garry Shandling was fascinating television, aimed, it seems, at the kind of person who slows down to observe car wrecks on the freeway.
Stern’s fans should be delighted; his detractors aren’t likely to change their minds.
Shandling, an avowed fan of the controversial radio personality, held his own on the inaugural episode of Stern’s show. When the host inquired why Shandling ignored others’ advice against appearing, he explained, “I never went skydiving and I never went bungee-jumping.”
That seemed to be the proper attitude; Stern’s questions ranged from Shandling’s sex life (explaining it before Shandling had a chance to) to trying to get the star of talkshow takeoff “The Larry Sanders Show” to knock other talkshow hosts. Shandling demurred, though he did cite “Late Night With David Letterman” as “the best talkshow in … years.”
For all of his deficiencies as an interviewer, Stern does ask some of the questions that fans–Stern’s fans, at least–might care about, and he ultimately comes across as impish, rather than nasty.
The comfortable set, credited to Olivia Villaluz-Peters, consists of a banquette and some dark draperies; it’s probably supposed to look like an intimate restaurant. Shandling, though, notes, “I used to have a van that looked like this in the ’60s.”
Several episodes’ worth of guests are taped in sessions originating in L.A. or N.Y., so timeliness won’t be one of the show’s strong points. Promised upcoming targets include Richard Marx, Grace Slick, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jason Priestley, Joan Rivers, Sandra Bernhard, Ron Wood, Clint Black and James Brown.