Daniel Kellison, executive producer of The Man Show , pointed to the stacks of boxes filled with baby toys and furniture. “The great emasculation has begun,” he said.
By his wife’s command, the poker room in the Kellisons’ newly refurbished Greenwich Village town house is being dismantled to make way for a playroom for his 2-month-old daughter.
Mr. Kellison has unhappily acquiesced. He always does when it comes to household matters. That’s kind of funny for a guy who is at ground zero in the men’s movement circa 1999. The Man Show , which he co-created for the Comedy Central cable network, offers up a mix of gleefully moronic comedy bits tailored for “guys’ guys” (flatulent monkeys, peeing contests, etc.) and he-man rants about how guys must fight back against the “tidal wave of feminization” now drowning the country. It’s a cable ratings hit, drawing more than 2 million households per episode. The studio audience drinks beer, served by The Man Show ‘s bikini-clad “Juggy Dance Squad.” At the end of each show–which airs Wednesday nights at 10:30, right after South Park –there’s footage of women jumping up and down on trampolines (so’s you can see their panties).
It has won equal scorn from critics and feminists alike: The New York Post ‘s Michele Greppi gave it minus three stars; in Newsweek , Susan Faludi referred to it as another example of media failing the ever-embattled male, “where flatulence seems to be the sine qua non of male identity.”
On Nov. 4, in the middle of a hiatus between Man Show episodes, Mr. Kellison was a world away from all that. In the lovely town house, Mr. Kellison’s wife, a money manager on maternity leave, was doting on their baby, Chloe, who was sleeping to the electronic chiming of Brahms’ “Lullaby.”
Down the hall, workmen were fixing up his little urban palace, its stark white walls decorated with pieces of folk art by Nilo Lanzas.
“My wife, she does lie about what I do,” said Mr. Kellison, 35. “It’s probably the only time in her life she lies. She’s very, very ethical. She tells people that I work on documentaries and things like that. Last year, when I was doing the David Blaine special, that was palatable. But this is something that I think that she’s, ah, deeply embarrassed by.”
Things were easier a couple of years ago, when Mr. Kellison was executive producer for The Rosie O’Donnell Show . But Ms. O’Donnell’s affinity for Elmo, show tunes and Tom Cruise apparently didn’t prove a great fit for him. He was out after eight months. The Man Show is the direct opposite of Ms. O’Donnell’s friendly program.
“I think that guys have been beat up and feel like they’ve got to act contrary to what their natural instincts tell them,” Mr. Kellison said. “You know, if you want to see what a guy’s really like, you know, give him five Jack-and-Cokes and let him go, and you really see what makes a guy tick, and it’s not pretty.”
Mr. Kellison’s wife went out to pick up food for dinner, the baby strapped to her front in a gray terry cloth jumpsuit, leaving him in the spotless kitchen. All the appliances were stainless steel Sub-zero brand. There was a cherrywood table with cherrywood chairs. On the table was a box of frilly baby socks and a tiny pair of corduroy overalls. A half-dozen baby bottles stood upside down and neatly in a wooden baby bottle rack. It was 6 o’clock.
“I’m ready to have a beer,” he said.
He took out two Sierra Nevada Pale Ales and went on some more about his wife as his visitor sampled her homemade chocolate chip cookies from a mason jar.
She fully supports his career, said Mr. Kellison, but thinks the time he spends with Man Show co-hosts (and co-creators) Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla in Los Angeles tends to bring out the worst in him, the boyish side that doesn’t want to grow up.
“I think that sometimes she’s concerned because her friends probably tell her she should be concerned, rather than having a natural instinct to be concerned,” he said. “And I think that always sort of bothers me a little bit.”
Not that such fears would be totally unwarranted. Take a recent exchange, in a phone interview with NYTV, between Mr. Carolla (who, in his other job, dispenses bits of sexual wisdom largely to troubled young people on MTV’s Loveline ) and Mr. Kimmel (who also stars in Comedy Central’s Win Ben Stein’s Money ).
Mr. Kimmel: “I think as a group men are smarter than women, of course, and I will defend that to my death.”
Mr. Carolla: “Look at what a lame argument women have: ‘Oh, we can be doing the same things, it’s just you suppressed us so much.’ Well, it’s like, ‘Hey, stupid, since when does the town fool suppress the mayor?'”
Mr. Kimmel: “Believe me, there’s a reason why men are in charge of the world and they have been since humans were here, and it’s because we’re just a little more clever than the female of our species.”
Mr. Kellison, who studied dramatic writing at New York University before becoming a kind of TV golden boy as a creative and energetic segment producer at the Late Show With David Letterman , said his close association with such stuff doesn’t make him a misogynist.
“I love women,” he said. “I have a very happy marriage, I’ve been with my wife for almost 10 years: She’s Yale-educated, Columbia-educated, she’s very bright and very feisty. We get along just fine.”
Mr. Kellison’s wife returned with a can of stewed tomatoes and an onion for a veal bolognese dish she would later prepare with a friend. Mr. Kellison took the baby and lightly bounced her up and down and talked some more about his wife.
“One of the stories I tell about her and how she’s the perfect woman for me is one night I was out drinking until, like, 5 o’clock in the morning. As is my typical way, I stopped and got a turkey sandwich, and I said turkey and cheese, and they gave me American cheese, and I normally don’t eat American cheese, and I ate it and was like, ‘This is the best sandwich I’ve ever had in my life!’ And, so, drunkenly, I wake up my wife, who has to be up in two hours, at 5 o’clock in the morning, and say, ‘You have to try this sandwich because it’s so good,’ and she woke up and instead of, like, screaming at me, she’s like, ‘O.K.’ And she took a bite, and she’s like, ‘That is the best sandwich I’ve ever had!’ She’s like the perfect mate.”
And with that, the interview was over. Dinner was about to be prepared, and he had to start packing for a trip to see his and his wife’s grandmothers in Minnesota and Missouri. The trip was his wife’s idea.
“I was like, ‘Yes, dear.'” [Comedy Central, 45, 10:30 P.M.]
Thursday, Nov. 11
Andy Richter is starting his film career a little early. He has landed a modest role in Robert Altman’s next film, Dr. T and the Women , starring Richard Gere as a philandering gynecologist. Mr. Richter will play one of Mr. Gere’s hunting buddies.
It was just a couple of months ago when Mr. Richter, who is the sidekick on Late Night With Conan O’Brien , said he would leave the show in May to pursue his own interests. A couple of weeks after the announcement, his manager called to tell him that Mr. Altman was considering him for the film, even though Mr. Richter did not even know about it. A couple of weeks after that, Mr. Altman called Mr. Richter himself.
“What he told me,” said Mr. Richter, “was that people were suggesting all these people to play Richard Gere’s hunting buddies, like, ‘How ’bout this person?’ He said, ‘No, get me someone like that guy from Conan O’Brien . And then it was like, ‘How ’bout this person?’ and he was like, ‘No, get me that guy from Conan O’Brien .'”
But being on a talk show that doesn’t pull its punches on celebrities has its drawbacks when you’re trying to break into the movie business.
“I’m just sort of a passenger in this vehicle, so I suppose I probably had to deliver a few gerbil punchlines,” he said. [WNBC, 4, 12:35 A.M.]
Friday, Nov. 12
David Letterman has hired city power publicist Howard Rubenstein to get the word out about his Worldwide Pants Inc. television production company. The feeling around the Letterman camp is that people don’t realize that Mr. Letterman’s studio is really doing things now. Besides The Late Show With David Letterman , it owns The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn and co-owns Everybody Loves Raymond . Meanwhile, it has just sold an animated show called Stuckeyville , about a guy who’s down on his luck, to NBC, his former employer.
Meanwhile, Late Show executive producer Rob Burnett had said that he would leave The Late Show to produce the animated comedy if it ever got picked up. Even though it finally has, Mr. Burnett is staying put, at least for the time being. Tonight on Letterman : Johnny Depp. [WCBS, 2, 11:35 P.M.]
Saturday, Nov. 13
Kevin McDonald, the Kids in the Hall star with the big black hair, has left his job at The Martin Short Show . (Pssst. The Kids are scheduled to show up at Luna Lounge on Monday, Nov. 15.) [Comedy Central, 45, 5 P.M.]
Sunday, Nov. 14
The conclusion of The X-Files season premiere airs tonight. [WNYW, 5, 9 P.M.]
Monday, Nov. 15
Law & Order creator Dick Wolf, along with America Online kingpin Bob Pittman and CNN anchor Bernard Shaw, was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame on Nov. 8. Tonight, on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit , a pedophile in Central Park. [WNBC, 4, 10 P.M.]
Tuesday, Nov. 16
When CBS began building its new, $30 million Early Show glass studio last summer in the storied General Motors Building–er, that’s the G.M. Building at Trump International Plaza now–Donald Trump went and put gold “Trump” signs all over the building on East 59th Street because he owns it. One of them hung right above the Early Show studio windows and was certain to be in any external shots of the studio. Just before the show launched, the sign disappeared. Mr. Trump said he finally took it down at the request of CBS chairman Mel Karmazin and CBS president Les Moonves.
“Mel is a great friend of mine, and he said it was directly in line of their vision, and I really thought to myself, ‘I have the right to do it,'” Mr. Trump said. “But every time they panned back around the building, that’s all you could see, which I thought was terrific for me, but I understand the difficulty it is for CBS.” What a guy! [WCBS, 2, 7 A.M.]