Billy Crystal relives stage hit '700 Sundays' for HBO
In several ways, 700 Sundays weren't enough for Billy Crystal.
They weren't enough time to spend with his late concert promoter father, Jack. And the original run of the Tony Award-winning stage show about their relationship — titled “700 Sundays” — wasn't enough, so Crystal brought it back to Broadway for a recent nine-week revival. Having it be only a theatrical event wasn't enough, so Crystal has turned it into an HBO special: “Billy Crystal 700 Sundays” premieres April 19, on the cable channel.
Assembled from two January performances the actor-comedian gave at New York's Imperial Theatre, the two-hour, one-man show also factors in Crystal's passions for jazz music and the New York Yankees. A winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and six Emmys, the “When Harry Met Sally... ” star also took “700 Sundays” across America and to Australia in the mid-2000s.
Planning a return to series television next year opposite Josh Gad (“Frozen”) in FX's “The Comedians,” Crystal spoke about creating a permanent record of “700 Sundays.”
Question:What made now the time to bring the show to television?
Answer: It's been 10 years of doing it and 66 years of writing it. This last run was so fantastic — as was the first one — it got to the point where I was thinking to myself, “OK. How much longer do I do this?”
I still love it every time I perform the show, but it's 1,500 to 2,000 people a night. And those are big theaters. I thought I was ready to let go of it and let more people see it, and when HBO came to me during this last run, I said, “OK. Let's do it.”
Q:You're all over the stage during the course of the show, and certain camera angles clearly are designed for home viewing. How different was it for you to contour this for television?
A: I think it pretty much spelled itself. We had the crew come in to watch the show, and Des and I knew where we wanted cameras to be at certain points, plus we'd do pickup shots after the audience left.
Q: Does performing “700 Sundays” for TV strike you as a merging of everything you've done professionally?
A: I think so. I don't want to sound self-serving, but it's sort of an expression of all the different kinds of things I can do. I get to go from showing home movies to impersonating people like my aunt Sheila to doing mime. It's a great range I get to play in playing myself, and it's an extraordinary experience to get to do that.
I love that the laughs are as big as they are, but for me, as a performer, the best moments are when 1,500 people don't say a word or don't breathe for six or seven minutes as the show gets more serious ... as I re-create the night my dad died. I can't even tell you how powerful and wonderful a moment that is for an actor, to feel you have everybody leaning forward on your every word. That's a very rare thing, too.
Jay Bobbin writes for Zap2it.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Alamo named as World Heritage site by United Nations
- Don’t remove history’s lessons
- Alvarez homer triggers winning outburst for Pirates
- Pirates claim Ishikawa off waivers; Marte injured
- Apple Hill Playhouse takes on an updated ‘Snow White’
- Pittsburgh singer Lee spreads love through music, charitable works
- High tax could scuttle online gaming in Pa., CEO says
- United States takes down Japan, wins third Women’s World Cup
- More than 120,000 attend Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Police: Maine man shoots off firework from top of head, dies