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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  September 28, 2012 1:00am-1:30am EDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with penny marshall. she is out this month with a critical acclaim memoir called uts.other was no we are glad to have joined us. a conversation with penny marshall, coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: i am pleased to welcome anmal rty back to this program. she has written a funny memoir about her life and career entitled "my mother was nouts." at herake up look back lifey in jail.
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>> it very, very good. -- about her life in film. >> there are no holes. thanks. ♪ >> are you crying? >> no. >> are you crying? are you crying? there is no crying. there is no crying in baseball.
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♪ tavis: you look at one of the episodes of laverne and shirley, the bowling ball episode, and you knew that was the second episode. how do you recall that? >> i have a strange memory. i remember every piece of film. before they did the clacker, he did a thing we could use, or somebody. i know what i shot. i don't remember what got eight
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or anything about last week, it was a little hectic, but i remember back in my childhood. i remember professionally, and i remember what i shot. tavis: i don't know how you recall that with episode no. 2. speaking of your childhood, why did you pick that title? >> everyone feels their mother is slightly nuts. my mother was, but she was also a character. my brother, gary, we all got our sense of humor from hertz, once we learned what the word sarcasm at. she taught dancing school in the basement of our building in the bronx, and the incinerator and
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the bite, where you put your bike. to students who took lessons, and a guy who live in my building, they were at the boat signing -- the book signing. tavis: how was that? >> it was nice to see people i knew. tavis: like a reunion. your mom taught dancing, and you really did not like the dancing thing. >> no, i did not. when i was little, i didn't mind, but as i got older, i liked boys, and i was a tomboy. i would rather hang out with the guys and do sports and than tap dancing. but that was her thing. tavis: when did you know that
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you were going to go the show business route? >> i am did not really think about it much. i went to new mexico to college. i did a little theater there. i am more of a night person. i got married, had a kid, so i was not going back to the bronx. my parents, who did not like each other at all, so i did not know my brother that well. he left. my brother and sister were much older. they were planned. i was not planned for. i was called a mistake, among other things. so i went and said let me go and meet my brother. he was doing a lot of writing, so i went out to meet him. he is a great guy. i would not have a career without him.
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he would say, go take acting classes from this person. i said mom wants me to change my name because she does not want me to embarrass the family. tavis: speaking of changing your name, i want to go back to two stories about your childhood. i heard about your parents who did not really like each other. i did not realize your name was carroll. >> this all my birth announcement. tavis: you and obama, i have seen them both now. >> i have met him, a very nice man. very nice man. i am voting for him.
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he is terrific. penny was written in bigger letters than carol. that only called me penny. in kindergarten i would not respond. they would say carol, and i did not respond. i don't know why they did it. tavis: your mother responded because you were sent home with a note saying we think your daughter is a little koo-koo because she does not respond. >> how would i know? was four or five years old.
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i could tap dance, but i could not read. tavis: use at a moment ago that you would not have a show business career were not for gary. that is very kind, and there may be some truth to that, but obviously have some talent in this. >> i could open a door, but once you go through, you've got to do it on your own. he is 10 years older than me. i was an only child until august 8. my brother and sister were both gone. i figured i would meet him. he is a great guy, and he did help me an awful lot. i landed on the odd couple because of jack luckman more than my brother, and then happy days, and that became the spinoff of laverne and shirley.
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but he was in my movies. he was then jumping jack flash and a league of their own. he was also in the apollo 13. my daughter was then jumping jack flash. my nieces, my daughters middle child. if we are doing this scene, that means marla got married and laura got traded. we are in chicago. then we move to evansville, indiana. i drove from milwaukee to
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chicago. tavis: i am struck by how dedicated you and gary have been to each other and to your broader family of children and nieces and nephews, the story just told now. i am struck by how family- oriented you all have been, would you growing up in a house where your parents did not like each other. >> maybe they like each other when my brother and sister were born, but when they moved to the bronx, then i came along, the mistake, the bad seed, that did not expect nor wanted. so my father, before he left, even though i was too young to remember it so well, to my sister and me aside and said you
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need to help us out. all the kids in the neighborhood love my mother, by the way. i respected certain things about her, but she said we are going to have to stick together, because they are not going to help us. so a few years later, it turns out, my brother did stick to his word. tavis: how you grow up in any way well adjusted if you have that kind of tension in your relationship with your mother? who says you are well adjusted, ok. but there is no bond in the world like the bond between a mother and daughter.
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when that is structured, it can cause all kind of -- shh >> she was funny. if you were not in the line of fire, you could laugh. but it is hard. she did not tell me about a lot of things. she would just make fun of things. she did feel it was important that everyone had the chance to entertain. we went to army camps, veterans hospitals, in the place as long as they fed us. we were precision tap dancers like the rockettes. if one person got sick, we had to change the whole thing. that was my mother thing. not many mothers are rehearsing on the subway platform.
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everyone else, my mother meant so much to them. it gave them an experience they did not have. and i do feel it is important to entertain people. tavis: obviously. it may very well be that beyond the obvious, that was her greatest gift to you, introducing you to show business so early on. >> but i did not consider it show business. it was my mother's thing. it kept her sane from my father, so she would not have to ask him for money. it was a whole thing. i would not put it on my resume, i danced for 100 four years, but i can.
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she wanted to come up because she needed to know some tap steps, but that tornado or thunderstorm hit new york and she was too afraid to come out. tavis: but you would have shown her a few steps. >> yes, i had to teach everyone how to tap. tavis: when gary was here for his book, he talked about the relationship between you and cindy on laverne and shirley. you talk about it in your book. >> gary said we cursed the locked so he did not want to take his kids around us. i do talk like a truck driver sometimes, or i curse. what can i say? i cursed at inadequacy in
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certain things. we did yell at some writers,ut b ut we had a good time. it was anticlimactic when it ended. she got married and was very happy, she was having a baby and all that. a great girl. then ultimately, years later -- i still talk to rob. you are not with someone for 10 years because they are an idiot.
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i don't remember, but he said did you tell them the story about this or that? i tried to. sometimes in the editing -- they like to list all of carl reiner's friends that our wedding. tavis: is there a secret to endi h relationship like yours and rob's and remaining friends afterward? like you can call him with questions when you are writing your book? >> i stay in a relationship way past when it is over, to make sure. i want to make sure it is over. >> he was just going through his thing and i was still working.
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there is not been any animosity, i would not say. i don't like confrontation. he quit all in the family. but we did not find, really. tavis: what day be the nerve to think that you could move beyond acting to become a great director? >> i did not ask them, they asked me. i did not not on anyone's door. they called me and asked me if i wanted to direct. i said not really. we did not have video hookups,
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either. my father said it is a strange business. they pay you to learn. so i gave it a shot. and then someone handed me another script, then another one. i wanted to do awakenings. my mother had alzheimer's. i wondered if she could hear. you treat people like human beings when they are in the hospital. i did it because people asked. someone said, why don't you do that? i said ok, i will try that. tavis: you have been asked todis
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some pretty classic work. >> some of that has been, some of it came out at the wrong time and is not a classic. the first last christmas movie, they would not sell it as a family movie. tavis: what do you make of that all these years later? >> it was a family move me and they put it out on christmas day -- it was a family movie, and they put it out on christmas day. i am not in charge of that park. tavis: do you feel sabotages, you put your blood, sweat, tears, rissole, your spirit into it and the studio drops the ball on it. >> what did the did you did have
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to do with renaissance man? i am good with talents. i can spot talent. but what can you do? that is not your end of the business. i don't know that end of the business. like i don't know certain aspects of the book business. tavis: there is a funny story you tell about whitney and denzel. >> whitney had been there and denzel was hung up in canada or something. so he was late. he did not show up the first day. i said just tell me the truth, that is all i asked. tell me the truth and i will handle it.
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i am understand that. but i apologize to your fellow actors who are waiting. that can be done. so he apologized and he is fine, and he is charming. tavis: has it been your experience that these a-list starts are easier are more difficult to work with than you thought? >> i could talk shorthand with tv actors. there are signals we had. he does have to show them props. i did not find anyone more difficult.
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i had girls and 120 degrees in evansville, indiana. i keep saying i am dying, which i am not. i have a clean bill of health. tavis: let me close by asking what you make of the fact that you have been so successful in this business as a woman? i don't want to put too much on that. >> i did not ask for much. i knew the right people. i was in the right place at the right time. they seem to like me. i have been very, very lucky. i have a great brother. so i just have to thank everyone who has been nice to me. i am reliable. i am where i am supposed to be when i am supposed to be.
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i am going to work as hard as i can. and other things take priority, whether it is your kids or grandkids. tavis: since we all know you and love you as a fan of our basketball teams, you have your bling on. give me your top line on the clippers and the lakers this evening. >> i know the clippers start practice friday. like howard was in a scene in my brother's movie valentine's day, but we were cut out.
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tavis: i think both teams will be pretty good this year. >> i was exhausted last year every night. i could not do it. tavis: i will see at the games. the new book from penny marshall is called "my mother was nuts." good to have you on. >> thank you for having me. >> that is our show for tonight, and until next time, as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with elizabeth banks' on her latest movie project. that is next time. we will see you then.
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>> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. >> be more.
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