What's up, kids? Welcome to the Phile for a Tuesday. How are you? Here's an inspirational quote to get you through the workday: "If you think your boss is stupid, remember: you wouldn't have a job if he was any smarter." -John Gotti. Thank goodness for dumb bosses and an hilariously awesome time-wasting blog like this one. Anything to keep us from doing any actual work today, am I right? There's no way to make the clock move any faster, but I can make you watch while you wait.
The college cheating scandal has filled the place in our hearts that has been left empty with the lack of a third Fyre Festival documentary. The tale of rich people finally facing crimes has the perfect origin story: a rich person trying to face less consequences for his crimes. The bust of the college cheating crime ring has a perfect origin story. The Wall Street Journal reports that the authorities first heard about this massive fraud operation from Morrie Tobin, a Los Angeles financier who was implicated in a different white-collar crime, and offered the tip about College Cheatgate in a plea for mercy. The bust of the college cheating crime ring has a perfect origin story. LinkedIn Tobin was cornered by the feds for his alleged involvement in a pump and dump scheme, which is that thing when finance guys submit false reports to artificially inflate the value of a stock and then selling it off to make bank. To try and get off easy for that crime, Tobin tipped the FBI off on the other one: the massive fraud operation that facilities rich kids paying bribes to get their kids into elite schools by pretending to be athletes (the "Aunt Becky") and/or cheat on the SAT (the "Huffman-Macy.") Tobin told the feds that Rudy Meredith, the recently indicted ex-Yale soccer coach, solicited a $450,000 bribe in exchange for getting Tobin's daughter into Yale as an "athletic recruit." He led the feds to William "Rick" Singer, the mastermind behind the whole operation, and it kicked off a ten-month investigation that ensnared such figures as Felicity Huffman and Aunt Becky. Tobin was not charged in Operation Varsity Blues, but is awaiting sentencing after taking a plea deal in his pump and dump case. After Tobin lead the feds the head of Aunt Becky, the judge is sure to.... have mercy.
The college cheating scandal is the best thing that has happened to lovers of schadenfreude since the Fyre Festival and the ripple effects keep on rippling. Both "Fuller House" and the Hallmark Channel... the more wholesome Lifetime of which Lori Loughlin is queen... have cut ties with the actress, as a federal indictment kind of spoils the family fun. "Garage Sale Mysteries" will never be the same. Fear not, "When Calls The Heart" fans: the "Heart" will go on, just without Aunt Becky. There are other characters, including... a Mountie? Loughlin's daughter, the not-so-studious influencer Olivia Jade, was on a literal yacht when the scandal broke. She has since lost her endorsement deals with major brands, and has been dropped by Sephora, which is like a death sentence for beauty vloggers. Oh, and she dropped out of school, but that makes the whole thing worth it, doesn't it? Who will be the next major scammer-daughter to fall? Please say Ivanka Trump.
Speaking of Ivanka Trump... Melania Trump is reportedly the only person who can save us from Ivanka. Welcome back to "The Real White Housewives of D.C.!" The new book Kushner, Inc.: Greed, Ambition, Corruption by investigative journalist Vicky Ward blows the lid off the myth of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump by reporting that they are NOT the selfless civil servants nobody thought they were. The husband-and-wife team have gone from inheriting jobs at their respective fathers' real estate companies to overruling Department of Justice guidelines to set up shop in her father's White House, with daddy getting them security clearances like admission to an elite college. According to Ward, Jared and Ivanka aren't just using their semesters abroad in Washington to personally enrich themselves, but also that Ivanka earnestly believes that she's setting the stage to eventually become president herself. Kushner, Inc. writes that according to former Cabinet member Gary Cohn, Ivanka sees "her father’s reign in Washington, D.C.," as "the beginning of a great American dynasty." Ward also reports that everyone at the White House despises the couple, but the president can't bring himself to fire them. Ward appeared on "The Late Show" with Stephen Colbert to serve up some of the tea that Trump will inevitably tweet about, and revealed that the only person who has the balls to say no to the self-proclaimed princess is Queen Be Best. Ward said, "So here’s an interesting suggestion: Melania Trump... is the only person in my book who has ever successfully stood up to Ivanka Trump and won. I have a scene [during the transition in which] Ivanka Trump has told the world that she’s not going to be joining the White House. Absolute rubbish. Behind the scenes [she was] making all the plans. [She actually had] a “Trump family office” drawn up for the East Wing, which is normally the territory of the First Lady. When Melania Trump heard about this, she put a very quick end to Ivanka’s plans." Ward explained on Twitter that Jared and Ivanka aren't side characters in the story of the Trump administration's corruption... they are the story of the Trump administration's corruption. Melania Trump... welcome to the resistance.
Now for Ivanka's brother... People think Don Jr.'s angry tweet about "racist air" is dumb, even for him. As the nation continues to be enraptured by the college cheating scandal, another case study in how the rich and wealthy by their way into elite institutions has reminded everyone that American meritocracy is a myth. Yes, this is a loquacious (SAT word!) way of saying that Donald Trump Jr. tweeted again. The president's eldest son, despite having every door kept open for him with a wad of $100 bills, always whines on Twitter about how he's a victim of censorship and the Left.
Don Jr. seems to think that the consequences of pollution aren't brought upon by the infrastructure that creates it. He appears to be mocking the study for saying that air is a sentient being with racial biases, but instead of landing a punch on those dang scientists, he's outing himself as an idiot who doesn't understand what words mean. Had he read the article, he would have learned that scientists aren't accusing the air of being racist, but rather found that communities of color are often the ones who live near the power plant smokestacks. “Someone had to make the pen you bought at the store,” said study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Washington. “We wanted to look at where the pollution associated with making that pen is located. Is it close to where people live? And who lives there?” It is close to where people live, and it is often black and Hispanic families who live there. Little Miss Flint, an 11-year old activist from the city that still doesn't have clean water, implied that Don Jr. is so dumb, he isn't even worth explaining things to. If this tweet is any indication, Don Jr. didn't do so well on the reading comprehension section of the SAT. Since issuing this tweet, Don Jr. has moved on to more intellectual pursuits.
The Ivy League's best and brightest, everybody. Go Quakers!
This isn't the first time J.K. Rowling is getting burned for adding details about the Harry Potter universe long after the books have been published. In a time when representation is a major priority in the entertainment industry, some people are grateful for Rowling's modern changes to Harry Potter and the Woke World of Wizarding, while others are roasting her for not featuring these details in the original text. Just because you're a genius of fantasy novels doesn't mean the rest of us lowly dummies can just intuit that Dumbledore kissed a boy and he liked it! While she has added plenty of insight into her subtle intentions for the characters and story over the years, the main detail fans are reacting to is Dumbledore's sexuality. Considering you've known about this fact for over twelve years (Rowling revealed Dumbledore's homosexuality in 2007) the detail has come back into focus with the new Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald movie. Honestly, young Dumbledore and young Grindelwald would've made a very hot couple so nobody is upset about that. It does seem, though, that these afterthoughts to her characters are her trying to play both sides. Others defended her wholeheartedly: Rowling's most recent update on Grindelwald and Dumbledore's love affair was on a feature for the Blu-ray DVD. But like, did Ron and Hermione have a threesome with Harry, or NOT?
I recently stayed in a hotel and glad I didn't have to deal with this hotel's nightmare of a password...
If I had a TARDIS I would probably end up dressing like the Queen's Royal Guard and passing out...
Ha! That should have been a Mindphuck. They tell me at Walmart I'd see some weird sights... I didn't believe it until I saw this...
Oh Captain, My Captain. One of the best things about the Internet is you can see porn free and so easily. The problem is if you're at work or school you might get in trouble, so I came up with a solution.
You're welcome. Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York here is...
Top Phive Other New Details About The Harry Potter Universe J.K. Rowling Came Up With
5. The Whomping Willow was gay.
4. Voldemort was half lesbian.
3. Dumbledore had a Wizndr profile, which is the wizard version of Grindr.
2. Wingardium Leviosa was Hermione’s safe word.
And the number one new detail about the Potter universe Rowling came up with is...
1. Butterbeer is cum.
What the fuck?! If you spot the Mindphuck and I'm sure you will let me know. Ahem. Moving on... so, there's this guy who tells lies but is really bad at it. He wanted to come back on the Phile and tell us what happened recently. Please welcome back to the Phile...
Me: Hey, Chip, how's it going?
Chip: Not so great.
Me: What happened?
Chip: I told my new girlfriend I went to grad school and never graduated.
Me: That's good, right?
Chip: No. It's a giant lie. I just said it to impress her.
Me: Well, did you tell her the truth?
Chip: Only because my mother found out and told her.
Me: Well, at least the truth is out now, Chip.
Chip: Yeah. I am gonna go now. Thanks for listening, Jason.
Me: Yup. Chip Cooin, the world's worse liar, kids. Man, that was laaaammmeee.
I don’t know who’s more sad about this transformation: dad or his son. Here’s hoping that kid just hates Curious George! Okay, so, there's this sex therapist who comes on the Phile now and then and gives us some "advice." She's supposed to but it never turns out that way. Anyway, please welcome back to the Phile...
Me: Hello, Professor.
Liz: Hello, Jason.
Me: So, what's going on? Any advice you can give us?
Liz: Don't have sex before marriage. My old sex ed teacher said to me once he grew up on a farm and learned all he needed to know about sex was by watching the animals.
Me: Ummm... great. Let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.
Liz: Hahaha. Yeah.
Me: Good job, Professor. Professor Liz Chickasaw, kids.
May 4th, 1937 — March 16th, 2019
Our president is at it again, not understanding how comedy works. Trump has been incredibly clear about his disdain for "Saturday Night Live" for awhile now on Twitter, but his most recent attack on the sketch show is truly unhinged. While it's true that comedians take every opportunity they can to roast people in positions of power and the president usually gets burned, Trump has to understand what makes him so easy to mock. He's a former reality TV star who grew up a millionaire and then put his name on a bunch of golden towers to make more millions. He's so much a caricature of a wealthy man who hates change and poor people that he's essentially a McDonald's-fueled Scrooge. Maybe Obama didn't have as many "one-sided" sketches because doing presidential things isn't as funny to put in a comedy as, I don't know, having an affair with a porn star? "SNL" didn't air an episode this week and instead ran a rerun of their Christmas episode that featured a sketch parody of It's a Wonderful Life. Trump, who claims to hate "SNL" but continues to watch it, tweeted this in response Sunday morning...
First of all, "not funny/no talent?" I'm dying to know who Trump thinks is the funniest and most talented comedian? Is it himself? Then, Trump really went for it...
If you're confused, yes he did just accuse "SNL" of colluding with Russia. Was that maybe just a joke from the man who said one of the most popular comedy shows in America is "not funny" with "no talent?" I hope so! What would a bunch of comedy writers gain from Russia? I have so many questions. Russia, can you answer on this?
This is soooo cool. The 95th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...
Sir Michael Caine will be the guest on the Phile in a few weeks. Crazy, right? Now for some...
Phact 1. McDonald’s in New Zealand serves a Kiwiburger that tops a beef patty with a fried egg and a slice of beet.
Phile 2. When a poacher’s snare killed one of their own, two young gorillas teamed up to find and destroy traps in their Rwandan forest home.
Phact 3. More than 50% of sloth deaths occur on their once a week trip to the ground to dig a hole and defecate.
Phile 4. Kimilsungia flower, a symbol of the North Korean regime, is originated from Indonesia. In 1964 when the Leader of North Korea was visiting Indonesia, the President of Indonesia gave him the new type of orchid and named it after him.
Phact 5. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, during a 6-hour spacewalk on the International Space Station, nearly became the first man to drown in space when his helmet began to inexplicably fill with water due to a leak.
Today's guest is a producer, director and writer, best known for being the executive producer of "Late Show with David Letterman" and as the former president of Worldwide Pants. He is a five-time Emmy award winner, and has received 31 nominations. He recently wrote and directed wrote and directed The Fundamentals of Caring. The film was received warmly as the closing night film at the Sundance Film Festival and premiered on Netflix as a Netflix Original on June 24th, 2016. Please welcome to the Phile... Rob Burnett.
Me: Hello, Rob, welcome to the Phile, sir. How are you?
Rob: I'm good, just got back from Whole Foods.
Me: I love Whole Foods, or as I like to call it... Whole Wallet. Hahahaha. So, where are you from, Rob?
Rob: North Caldwell, New Jersey.
Me: When you were a kid did you want to be a writer? I always wanted to be some kind of writer myself.
Rob: I'm one of those people who had early knowledge, early passion and with that early anxiety of how to get from point A to point B. Yes, I always wanted to be in show business. Comedy I loved. My father was a dentist in New Jersey, I had no contacts whatsoever with show business, I had no idea how to get into it at all. But I had a strong desire honestly for as long as I could remember.
Me: How did you start your patch to becoming a writer then?
Rob: I went to Tufts University, but I really didn't know how that was going to get to where I needed to be. We had some amazing people when I was at Tufts, Hank Azaria was there, Oliver Platt was there, but I was never really involved in the theater. It's funny, in my senior year I did some writing in a playwriting class and I had to do a scene and get one of the actors to do the scene and Hank Azaria who was some guy I didn't know, he did my scene and it was phenomenal. I thought I was a genius, but it turned out he was actually. Whatever I write and what Hank Azaria does it fantastic. That was my only step towards show business in college, and then I made the movie and decided I have to go to Los Angeles. I graduated from Tufts, I loaded up my car with all my worldly processions and drove my aging Malibu Chevrolet to Los Angeles and said, "Here I am. Let's go."
Me: Once you go to L.A. what did you do?
Rob: I'm so glad you asked this question. I show up, not knowing anybody there. The first night I stayed in a Travel Lodge next to a 7-11.
Me: When did you start to write and what were you writing?
Rob: I started to write newspaper articles. I decided to come back home to New Jersey and I thought as long as I'm going to pursue this writing career so I got a job at a regional newspaper at the time was called The Herald News. I think now its called The North Jersey News. I was an editorial assistant at this newspaper, and I wrote in my spare time and that lasted for some months. I quickly decided that this was not the kind of writing I was interested in.
Me: You have worked with David Letterman for a lot of years on his shows, Rob. How did you first start to work for him and get to know him?
Rob: I was at a low point in my life I broke my ankle playing basketball with my friends, the paper was sold and I was sort of laid off. I was in my bedroom, laid back in my parents house with really no prospects whatsoever and as a young man trying to decide how I was going to make my way in this world. I was sitting there and I decided I love "The David Letterman Show" I'm going to send in a writing submission and see if I can become a writer on "The David Letterman Show." So I did, I put together a writing submission, I sent it in and amazingly a man named Steve O'Donnell, who was the head writer called me on the phone which was just mind boggling to imagine. He said, "We got your writing submission but we don't have any writing jobs but there are internships." I applied for an internship and got it.
Me: So, what was it like when you first went to work for Letterman as an intern?
Rob: I worked in the talent department which was the department that booked the guests. I was essentially a secretary, answering phones, it was all low level stuff. What was really interesting for me was that up to this point in my life I think I always managed to do enough to get by. I had the wits about me to get into Tufts University and all that. I don't think I really excelled in anything but when I got to "The David Letterman Show," the minute I walked through those doors something clicked in my brain, I just thought I cannot believe I am in this place, this is where I love, I need, I belong to be. So I literally was the first one in that office and the last one to leave every day. No task was to small. Again not accomplishing anything amazing but I just did everything with intense seriousness as if my life depended on it. And then obviously I got extremely lucky because in the talent assistant which was the lowest position, this woman got promoted and I was literally sitting at his desk and I got hired on staff. It was a joke around the office how quick I was hired, but again it was another example of dumb luck in my favor.
Me: So your first job there was a talent assistant? What did you do after that?
Rob: Yeah, my first job was a talent assistant just doing some very basic things and then one of the writers, a guy named Larry Jacobson, I told him I had desired of becoming a writer and he hooked me up with a comedian named Wil Shriner and I would write jokes and send them to Wil and if Wil used one of my jokes he would send me twenty-five dollars, which I found thrilling quite frankly. In fact thr first joke I ever got on television was not on "The David Letterman Show" but on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson." Wil Shriner was the guest on the show, I've written a joke, Wil goes and sits next to Johnny, Wil does the joke and Johnny says politely, "That's funny." This moment is probably the highlight of my life. I high fives with my roommate that Johnny thought I was funny. I grew up watching that show and to hear Wil say something that I came up with on that set and have Johnny reply to him turned my body inside out. It's crazy.
Me: Hahahaha. That's great. Wil was a guest on the Phile last year. So, how did you become a writer for Letterman?
Rob: I continued to write jokes for Shriner and at some point I actually set up a meeting with Dave himself and just said, "You know I have been writing jokes for Wil Shriner I hope that's okay." I wanted to make sure I wasn't doing anything wrong in doing that. And to my surprise and delight Dave said, "No, that's fine, but if you want to submit jokes to me please do." Which was incredible. So I began to submit monologue jokes while I was not a writer on the show I would slip some monologue jokes in which was not an overall suit of mine in retrospective. Nonetheless the door creaked open and I wrote a few jokes and I got a few on. Then finally at that time in the show the writing staff was immovable. They were the same writing staff for about six years, no one left. Then finally someone left and it was finny, there was all these writing submissions, and I was told it came down to three finalists. One was a kid from Oklahoma, I was the second and the third was Conan O'Brian. Conan I think is still upset to this day. It's funny, but I think things worked out just fine for him, him having turned out to be one of the funniest men on the planet. I did get the next working job, they said they did like my submissions, they kind of indicated to me I would get the next opening which I then did which was about three years after.
Me: That's so cool. So, how did you become a head writer?
Rob: It was a surprise and a shock to me. I was twenty-five when I became a writer on the show in February '88 and then what happened was we did these remotes where every Monday, this was back with "Late Night" on NBC, Monday's we would go out with a camera crew and shoot those pieces, then we would edit those all week and show them on Friday. At one point Dave decided that one of the writers should be in charge of those pieces so I became in charge of those pieces beefier I became the head writer. Those remotes were the thing that was probably the most natural for me. I just found them exhilarating I guess. To go out with a camera crew with the funniest guy in the world and shoot stuff then get to edit it and make the best three and half piece I can make. That's just seemed like comedy heaven. Then after a year I think I had a fair amount of success doing that time. Then Steve O'Donnell who was the head writer for about eight years, just got to the point where he needed to try something else, he called me in on a Thursday and said I was going to be the head writer on Monday. I had no idea what I was in for, in fact I showed up on Monday and honestly I had no idea what the head writer did basically. The way the show was structured the head writer was kind of doing his own thing. I didn't know and I had to quickly learn what that job was. It was difficult and intimating. I was never at the beginning of my time NOT being very successful. I was in a room with great comedy writers and suddenly I'm the one who has to be the judge and jury of ideas. It was difficult until I decided I just had to step up and do my thing or else I was going to fail.
Me: So, how does it work being a head writer? You have the final say with what to take to Dave?
Rob: Yeah, that's pretty much it. I looked at a lot of material, I rewrote a lot of material, I wrote a lot of material myself. I drove the ship in a big way. It is the most creative position on the show and I think. I was there deciding we need more of this and less of that. I had a lot of control of what was being generated and I bought it to him and I learned quickly if I'm bringing the ship in the right direction.
Me: Didn't Dave's ex-girlfriend Merrill Markoe worked on the show as a head writer? Did you meet her? What was she like?
Rob: Yeah, I never worked directly with Merrill. I was starting there as she was going to leave. She was nice enough to say hi to a low level person in the hallway but she was an unbelievably funny person.
Me: So what was Dave like to work for?
Rob: Dave was hard on me when I first started. His confidence probably wasn't on me rightfully so. I was very tentative, there was a day that comes to mind... we were at rehearsal and Dave was on a schedule that just clicked along no matter what was going on. At that time we would rehearse 2:30 to 4, then Dave would leave rehearsal to prepare for the 5:30 taping. There was one day I remember, I can't exactly place when, it was probably a couple of months in of my head writer tenure, and we had two ideas and he hadn't approved either. We left rehearsing and it was a bit of a mess. The whole crew, the producer, the director, and me didn't know what was going to happen knowing we were going to record the show in an hour and a half. I went upstairs and I went into Dave's office and I asked him, "So what shall we be doing?" He turned to me and he looked at me very sternly and said, "This is supposed to work the other way around." And he turned and walked away. This was a big moment for me because I realized he's right, I'm the head writer I'm supposed to be telling HIM what we're doing, not asking him what we're doing. This was a turning point for me and I had decided that if I'm going to fail then I'm going to fail. From that moment it was me saying, "Look, this is what we're going to be doing." Pretty soon after Dave and I became a pretty strong working relationship. It was a really nice partnership at that point.
Me: What was it like going from NBC to CBS? A lot of changes, right?
Rob: Well, it was hard and a gift at the same time because we did Studio 6A in Rockefeller Plaza for a lot of years. So the idea of being at a new place with new possibilities, that was really exciting. It was definitely different, and the biggest difference is the size of the theater. Studio 6A had about 116 seats or so and the Ed Sullivan Theater fitted 461. It's a bigger space and the requirements are bigger. The move from 12:30 to 11:30 was also a huge deal. One of the big advantages of the Ed Sullivan Theater, and I think Hal Gurnee gets a lot of credit for that location, was that we were on street level. So those side doors, which we used to call the Bill Murray doors because on the first show Bill Murray came out through those doors, inside we were doing a TV show then you open up those doors and there's 53rd Street. There's Rupert at the deli, there's Mujibur and Siraju the guys who worked at the gift shop and New York City was right out there so there was a lot of brand new possibilities for a lot of us.
Me: Were you involved with Letterman when he hosted the Academy Awards? I have to say I thought he did a great job.
Rob: I was not involved with "do you want to buy a monkey?" I wrote the Uma Oprah joke. I've been asked to leave show business but I refused. It's funny how that came about, to be honest with you it was right before the show he was looking at the monologue and he was a little insecure about things. The actual joke was "Uma, Oprah, Oprah, Uma, have you two met Keanu?" It was a stupid joke, just something for Dave to do and it actually got a laugh the first time. Then Dave kept on going back to it some the problems for him was he couldn't Oprah and Uma, he didn't know where they were so that threw him a little bit. It is what it is and I thought Dave did a really nice job hosting the show. There was a lot going on there, the fact that he was a TV guy, an outsider making fun of people that possibly they weren't ready for in that night. I think the expectations were so incredibly high anything less than a grand slam home run created this super negative response. I take as much responsibility as anybody else. It is what it was.
Me: You created the TV shows "Bonnie" and "Ed," which was one of my favorite shows back in the day. When did you realize you wanted to get into that kind of comedy?
Rob: Well, I did a lot for "The Late Show" at that point and I wanted to write different things. I met Bonnie, we hit it off, and I moved to California briefly to do the Bonnie Hunt show which was in 1995. That unfortunately did not work, I came back to the show then when I came back I actually talked to Jon Beckerman who was one of the writers there and who I've written a lot of stuff with and I said, "We should write a show together." I started writing "Ed" which was somewhere around 1995. I wrote "Ed" as a half hour single camera then CBS was going to do it and HBO was our production partner. In 1996 Robert Morton the executive producer of "The Late Show" left and I was asked to come back as the executive producer. So we put "Ed" on hold and I asked Jon to be the head writer of the show and he and I kind of worked together, The show was having a rough time around that period. It was 1995 when Leno passed us in the ratings and the show was in a little bit of a rough spot. We dedicated ourselves to the show and put "Ed" aside. Then the show righted itself, we never really caught up to Leno in the rating but we did go off and win four or five Emmys in a row which was nice. Then finally a couple of years later Jon and I went off and did the pilot of "Ed" first for CBS who passed on it, we got it back, and a year later we did it for NBC and it was now an hour show and it ended up getting on the air in 2000.
Me: When you won your first Emmy what was that like, Rob?
Rob: Oh, it was a complete and utter shock because by this point everyone who was nominated for an Emmy always said they never expected to win. The truth is we go there hoping to win no matter what anyone tells us. In our case we have been nominated for Emmys, I think I have thirty plus Emmy nominations, we would go every year and we would lose. Not just once but twice and a third time. I remember distinctly being there having been ready to speak if we won for writing as head writer and ready to having to speak if we won for show. We had never won and this was going back to the 80s. In fact during the commercial break the first year that we won I thought of a joke acceptance speech. I was so convinced that we wouldn't win so I went to find Ray Romano because I thought Ray might win and this will be a good joke for Ray. So I went to look for Ray and couldn't find him in time so I came back to my seat and we won the Emmy. We were like how did this happen? We did this for thirty years and it didn't happen. I remember walking up to the stage and all I'm thinking is I had something in my head that I was vaguely prepared for many, many years and now I have something in my head that I thought of fifteen seconds ago. I went with the one I thought of fifteen seconds ago and I will tell you factually as a man who watched comedy and gauges audience reactions this joke killed in the room. I remember the experience really well. The joke was, and its really a joke that was meant for the room, it was a silly little joke that said, "I think I may have kissed a seat filler." Then the little tag was, "Sorry, sir."
Me: Haha. Where do you keep the Emmys?
Rob: In Florida with my father in a trophy case centrally featured in his room. They mean more to him then they could ever possibly mean to me. So for that reason I feel very lucky to have them.
Me: Awe. So, as I said I loved the show "Ed." I was upset when it got canceled. What was your feeling about that? Were you pissed?
Rob: We had done 83 episodes and we were on for four years. By the end of "Ed" things were getting a little big ragged. I was required to go back to "The Late Show" in the fourth season of "Ed" so Jon and I were trying to run "Ed" from the Ed Sullivan Theater which was virtually impossible. I felt that the quality of the show started to give and I felt that I wasn't living up to my responsibility to the great actors we had... Tom Cavanagh, Julie Bowen and on and on. This was a difficult time for me. When they decided to take the show off the air I was grateful there was a plan. They told us they were going to take it off the air so I thought it was time, I was not devastated. We had done really nice work, I was proud of the show and shows are not meant to go on forever. I thought we kind of told our story.
Me: You directed a movie called The Fundamentals of Caring. What made you go and direct a movie?
Rob: I wrote so many jokes for the Letterman show which was great as I kept on doing it and doing it and it's thrilling in that old show business way. I was in the Ed Sullivan Theater and there was costumes and celebrities and everyone is running around and we're putting on a show. It was great but at the same time it was very disposable by definition. The analogy I use is we were mining for tissues. I go deep in the mine and at the end there's a tissue I could wipe my nose with and throw it out and then I have to start again. There is joy and greatness in that believe me but it's not easy. To move to "Ed" for me was oh, there's something here that's a little more lasting in a certain way. "The Late Show" in entities is a bigger thing than "Ed" was or ever will be and yet there's episodes of "Ed" that I could put in and show my kids that will move them. It's hard for me to show them old remotes from "The Late Show," some of them hold up, but it's a different thing. So with movies I think it's an extension of that. I hope to do hopefully stuff that will last longer, that I can look back on, stuff that exists. I feel happy and lucky about The Fundamentals of Caring is there it is, I have this thing. People say, "Hey, what do you do?" I say I directed a movie and they go and watch it and come back and tell me they love it even though they might not have. People lie, it's show business, that's how people are. I just try and enjoy making a longer thing.
Me: You showed the film at Sundance, right? What was that like?
Rob: It was miraculous. We were the closing night film at Sundance, we sold the movie to Netflix three days before Sundance and I was walking around the Sundance Film Festival. We just wrapped up the Letterman show and that part of my career, and a few days later I was at Sundance as a director of a film and the film is playing at the Echo Theater to twelve hundred people, the I was able to have one of the highlights of my career that moment, I was just so grateful for that.
Me: So, what are your plans next, Rob?
Rob: The short answer is I'd like to continue to do movies. Maybe I'll get back into some streaming television type thing but at the moment I have my personal life. I have my two girls, I have a house now. One of them by the way works for the Jimmy Fallon show which is just adorable for me. She's literally walking the same halls I was when I was her age. She's doing her thing there which is great. I do have a son who is a junior in high school who I just adore.
Me: That's great. Rob, thanks so much for being on the Phile. It's so cool you're here. Please come back again.
Rob: Thank you, Jason.
That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Rob Burnett for a great interview. Maybe one day I'll have Letterman on the Phile. Anyway, the Phile will be back next Sunday with Michael Sweet from Stryper. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.
I don't want you, cook my bread, I don't want you, make my bed, I don't want your money too, I just want to make love to you. - Willie Dixon