Adweek Writeup of HELLMAN V. MCCARTHY

“I knew Michael [Jackson] when he was black…”

So joked Dick Cavett, with guest host Wayne Brady, on a recent episode of The Late Late Show. The remark came as Cavett recalled welcoming The Jackson 5 as 1973 guests on his ABC-TV talk show and learning the moonwalk from Muhammad Ali

Through February 26, Cavett is playing himself at L.A.’s Theatre 40 in the stage production Hellman v. McCarthy. After a short break, he will reprise the play at the nearby Saban Theatre for one night only on Sunday March 1.

The play is tied to a 1980 PBS show episode Cavett did with author Mary McCarthy. In interviews promoting the west coast swing, the 78-year-old Cavett is never too far from some sort of great showbiz memory. Here is just one more example, taken from a recent Q&A with journalist-blogger Don Grigware:

Do you expect LA audiences to be as intelligent as New York audiences?

As intelligent as New York audiences?

Well, you know how New Yorkers are always putting down LA for not being a theater town?

You mean the people who refer to this as LaLa Land? [laughs] I’ve never seen a major drop in intelligence in California. Maybe they’re only showing me the right people. I lived here, so to speak, for six months, working for Jerry Lewis, back in the days of the ABC two-hour Jerry Lewis Show with Mort Sahl and everybody. I had a little apartment out in Bel Air, almost to the freeway.

Did you write for him?

I did.

That had to be interesting, that whole gig.

It was. [laughs] There’s a long book and play in that.

Maybe Cavett can get Hellman v. McCarthy author Brian Richard Mori to write that play next.

Richard Horgan for Adweek
February 24, 2015