Entertainment behind the scenes
Should we respect Joan Rivers for forging the way for female comedians, or cry at her need for attention?
One of the most surprising and buzzed about documentaries at the Tribeca Film Festival this week has been a bittersweet portrait of Joan Rivers, beginning with the aging comedian and actress telling jokes at a club, telling stories about her daughter refusing to do a Playboy photoshoot and looking around at the small audience before quipping that after 40 years in showbiz, “This is my career, I mean, how depressing is this!”
Rivers, is perhaps best known for reality TV, plastic surgery and snarky fashion comments on the red carpet. “Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work” shows extreme close-ups of make-up being applied to Rivers’ bare face that, she says, gives her “the willies.” On her 75th birthday, she laments “it’s a youth society and nobody wants you,” and her manager tells stories of her chronic workaholic ways and desperate fear of being completely without a gig.
But the film also shows vintage footage of Rivers’ groundbreaking comedy about topics like abortion, her years of working with Johnny Carson, and praise from modern female comedians like Kathy Griffin calling her a true inspiration. In the video above, the film’s director Ricki Stern, who previously has turned her attention to topics such as the genocide in Darfur, talks about Rivers’ pioneering career and her ability to survive Hollywood. Stern also takes a stab at a controversial topic at this year’s festival — what filmmakers think of watching movies online, which has been a key effort by Tribeca.
Comedian Joan Rivers is known for dishing out vicious commentary on red carpet fashion, but her platform on AOL evaporated under her high heels this week when she made caustic remarks about what several stars were wearing at this past weekend’s Emmy Awards.
After hiring Rivers and her daughter Melissa to offer up some post-Emmy commentary on what the stars were wearing, AOL declined to post their work on its fashion Web site, Stylelist.com, said Alysia Lew, a spokeswoman for the company.
“We just didn’t find that it was going to be interesting to our consumers, so we chose not too use any of it,” Lew said.
But video of Rivers’ Emmy commentary was put on MyHollywood.com, and among her remarks Joan didn’t pull any punches when describing the hair styles of of Tom Hanks, Ricky Gervais and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as something from the “Third Reich.”
On Thursday, Rivers was not holding her tongue about AOL, either. “This is a free country and AOL can do anything they want to on their Web site. It is a shame they felt that our wicked and witty post-Emmy fashion commentary was too outrageous … but thank God, MyHollywood.com didn’t.”
But one does wonder when celebrity snarkiness goes too far, and when Joan has crossed the line.
Rivers, 75, was making a guest appearance on “Loose Women” when the Hollywood interviewer was asked if she likes meeting celebrities on the red carpet. She responded that she likes “nice” celebrities, but that Crowe is not one of those.