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Comedy

Three questions with comedian Lily Tomlin

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Do you still get approached in public to do Ernestine or Edith Ann?

Oh, of course, they still love those characters. People have seen me in the store or something and they go [snorts] or “And that’s the truth,” and blow a raspberry. They still get a kick out of doing that kind of thing. In this one restaurant, a whole table turned around, and literally put their napkins on their heads so the peak was down over their faces. As I was leaving they yelled, “Lily! Lily!” and they went, “And that’s the truth! [blows raspberry]” and they made that napkin flap. [Laughs]

Earlier this year there were talks of your doing a Desperate Housewives spin-off. Where did that end up?

We’re still working on that, and Kathy [actress Kathryn Joosten] is perfectly well. She’s already been operated on. There was all that publicity, like she was really not well. She’s really fine. We have an idea we’ve been working on with a couple of show-runners, so that’s in the works. I also have a part on Damages this year, so I’ve been going back and forth to New York to shoot that. I was a fanatical fan, so I’m very excited to get a part on it. It’s a good part; the show is very well-written and exciting. It’s like when I went on West Wing. I wanted to be on West Wing so bad and spent four years on that show and loved it. I first met the guys who created Damages during the first season, at a gallery opening here in LA, and I just leaped on one of the guys, put my arms around him, my legs around him. I was just overcome because I thought they were so talented.

Calendar

Lily Tomlin
Nov. 10-18, 8 p.m. (9:30 p.m. on Nov. 14), $58.50-$168.50
MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre
891-7777

With the amassed Tonys and Emmys, a Grammy, the Oscar nomination for Nashville, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, is there still one big creative goal left you feel you haven’t reached?

No, I try not to take myself or it too seriously, even though the Academy probably wouldn’t like me to say that. Like one year, I got nominated—Ernestine got nominated—for doing a takeoff on Flashdance on television. I tried to convince the Academy that Ernestine was the nominee, not “Lily Tomlin as Ernestine.” I went to the Emmys as Ernestine, [in] a big, beautiful ’40s bugle-bead dress with a candlestick telephone worked into it. I had two hounds on leads and two guys in livery and two limos and my own film crew ... Of course she didn’t win; Cloris Leachman won that year. When Cloris won, I whipped out a big hankie and I sobbed into it, you know, Ernestine did. And the next day—this is the best part—I got a letter from one of the heads of CBS, and they said, “Last night, Ernestine, you were a vision of dignity and pathos.” So that was almost worth doing the whole stunt.

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