Review: ‘Charles Grodin’

Stepping into the CNBC talkshow spot vacated by Tom Snyder, Charles Grodin debuted on the same night as his predecessor's new CBS spot. Despite some not-unexpected rough edges in the first seg of the Monday-Thursday strip, Grodin displays intelligence, conversational skills and personality; he should do fine.

Stepping into the CNBC talkshow spot vacated by Tom Snyder, Charles Grodin debuted on the same night as his predecessor’s new CBS spot. Despite some not-unexpected rough edges in the first seg of the Monday-Thursday strip, Grodin displays intelligence, conversational skills and personality; he should do fine.

“Charles Grodin” originates at CNBC’s New Jersey studio, which means that he’ll often be sharing the guest pool with New York-originated talkshows.

Monday’s opener featured two performers who appeared in films with Grodin — Martin Short (“Clifford”) and Art Garfunkel (“Catch-22”). The announced booking policy of having a guest singer or musician each night shows promise, though the range of available material is limited by CNBC’s license to perform songs cleared through ASCAP only.

Grodin seemed a bit more defensive than may be warranted about the abrasive image he’s carefully developed over the years as a talkshow guest. Here, he’s a pussycat, almost obsequious.

Short, from CNBC’s L.A. studios, tried hard, opening with his Katharine Hepburn imitation (“Beethoven was deaf during the latter part of his career. So wasCharles Coburn — are you Charles Coburn?”).

References like that show Short is playing to an older demographic than CNBC management had in mind as a core audience.

Interview with Garfunkel (who performed “I Only Have Eyes for You” backed by uncredited keyboardist David Biglin) demonstrated possible problem with Grodin that’s also one of his strong points: Is he kidding or not?

After pointing out that Garfunkel and Paul Simon had split 25 years ago (it was actually 1971), Grodin asked “what everybody wants to know about — the breakup with Paul.”

Garfunkel, rather than punching out his host, replied problems had arisen from the beginning. “I wanted to call the group ‘Garfunkel and Simon,’ but Paul wanted the billing to be alphabetical …”

Jay Leno checked in with a phone call that was gracious and plugged self-deprecating Grodin’s upcoming appearance on “The Tonight Show”: “You’re going to be on next Monday? Did Jerry Mathers drop out?”

The show airs live four nights a week, with repeats on Friday and throughout the weekend. Grodin reportedly is pacted for two years.

Charles Grodin

(Mon. (9), 10-11 p.m., CNBC)

Production

Telecast live from Fort Lee, N.J., by CNBC Prods. Network. Executive producer , Andy Friendly; supervising producer, Marlene Dann; coordinating producer, Alice Hurwit; producers, Cathy Abraham, Anne Hilbert; director, Jay Kincaid.

Crew

Production consultants, John Gabriel, Clay Dettmer; technical director, Dave van Dyck; coordinating director, Chuck Woodruff; design consultant, Bill Stage; art director, Richard O'Brien; sound, Lenny Stote.

Cast

Host: Charles Grodin. Guests: Martin Short, Art Garfunkel, Jay Leno.
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