Tiffany Haddish host of ‘Kids Say the Darndest Things’ revival | TribLIVE.com
Movies/TV

Tiffany Haddish host of ‘Kids Say the Darndest Things’ revival

1743526_web1_gtr-TV-kids-01100119
In this June 15, 2019, file photo, Tiffany Haddish arrives at the MTV Movie and TV Awards at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. As a comedian, Haddish sometimes says the darndest things. Now, she’s getting kids to do it, too. Haddish is host and executive producer of ABC’s "Kids Say the Darndest Things," the latest revival of Art Linkletter’s comical interactions with children.

It was an idea that started way back in the Dark Ages of radio, but a good idea never falters. That’s proven once again as ABC revives the comedy series “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” premiering Sunday.

The format was simple: Encourage youngsters (around 4 to 8) to talk about all kinds of subjects from bowling to bad manners. The outcome was usually hilarious with no one prompting them on the sidelines and with a host who could zig when they zagged (and they often did.)

Art Linkletter introduced the idea on his “House Party” radio show, which ran from 1945 to ‘67. When he transplanted it to television in 1952, the segment became a whopping success, enduring for 17 years. Bill Cosby hosted a similar enterprise from 1998 to 2000, and in ABC’s reincarnation, comedian Tiffany Haddish takes the reins.

Haddish, 39, claims she’s still a kid at heart and always knew she was destined for the unusual.

“At that time in my life, I knew that I wanted to do something really cool,” she says. “And when people asked me, ‘Tiffany, what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I’d be, like, ‘I want to be a horse farmer’ or ‘I want to work in a Snickers factory’ or ‘I want to work in a beef jerky factory.’ And everybody would be, like, ‘Why would you want to do those things?’ and I’m, like, ‘Because my grandma said, “Do what you love.” And I love horses. I love Snickers. I love beef jerky.’ So there you have it.”

The children on the ABC show don’t appear through high-priced Hollywood agents either, says executive producer Eric Schotz. “We’re not looking to get professional kids to come on the show. We’re looking for regular kids, and there are millions of them out there that are not necessarily in Los Angeles,” he says.

“We’ve seen thousands and thousands of kids,” adds producer Jack Martin. “They’re there for the casting call, and then they come back, and we put them in a situation kind of like this — as far as they have to come in and meet with the producers behind a table to make sure they’re prepared to go to the stage. Because the worst thing you want to do is have a kid in a small environment who freezes up and goes out onstage in front of 300 people and just loses it,” he says.

They try to explore the child’s interests, before they go on stage, says Martin. “It’s about 50/50 whether they walk out and we say, ‘Oh, you love baseball?’ ‘Nooooo.’ And that’s where having someone as talented as Tiffany, who can go, ‘All right. Well, I guess we’re NOT talking about baseball. That’s what we were prepped on. What are we talking about today?’ So we have an idea of what we want to talk about. Half the time we just throw it right out the window.”

The spontaneity of the kiddies proves the charm. Haddish says she’s particularly fitted to the job because of her own upbringing. She and her siblings were put in foster care when she was 12 years old because of her mother’s illness. “I always try to look at the brighter side of things,” she says, “and I always felt like, ‘Oh, I’m on an adventure.’

“I was moving from house to house. I was living with strangers and whatnot, and I looked at it as an adventure. I kind of hated it, too. But for my mind, I had to make it, like, ‘This is making me stronger.’ And I was always taught that, too, as a kid — what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This is happening for a reason. Everything happens for a reason. Even though you don’t know what it is now, you’ll know later.”

She thinks the experience gave her a special affinity for children.

“I feel like everything that I went through as a child and being in the foster care system, and knowing what it’s like to NOT be heard, and now that I am an adult, I really feel that it’s very important to hear children, to listen to them, to give them a place to talk,” she says.

“I remember being a kid and people saying, ‘Oh, kids should be seen and not heard.’ I do not agree with that at all. I think kids should be seen and they should be heard. If you’re able to talk, you should be heard, period, no matter what you are.”

‘GET SHORTY’ PRIMED FOR SEASON 3

Epix’s hilarious dramedy “Get Shorty” will be barreling back onto TV screens Sunday when Season 3 arrives. The series, based loosely on Elmore Leonard’s book by the same name, stars Ray Romano as a washed-up B-movie producer and Chris O’Dowd as a hit man with dreams of Hollywood glamour.

The show was preceded by a popular film that starred John Travolta and Gene Hackman, but O’Dowd says the TV series bears little resemblance to the big-screen version.

“The way I like to think about it is that we’re both obviously using the same original material with the book, but it’s like visiting a bar at a different time of the week. So the movie’s kind of like going to a bar on a Saturday night when everybody’s looking well. There are chat-up lines … and the night is their oyster. And we kind of visit the bar at 3 a.m. on a Thursday, when the floor is kind of sticky. You’re fighting with your girlfriend. And the bar bill’s about to arrive, and you can’t afford to pay it. That’s essentially how it feels to me.” Let’s hope they don’t pay that bar bill for a long time.

‘RETRO REPORT’ EXCAVATES THE FACTS

Today’s headlines often look anemic when flattened against history. “Retro Report on PBS” tries to relegate today’s trendy news with yesterday’s stodgy facts. It lends a sense of perspective to the Twitter-pated public sensibility and will return for a new season on Sunday (check local listings).

New York writer and comedian Andy Borowitz is one of its contributors, with a segment called “Now it Makes Sense.”

“The facts actually lead you in surprising directions,” he says. “A good example of this is I’ve done a segment coming up on the show about something that happened in my childhood in Cleveland where I’m from, which is the Cuyahoga River very famously caught on fire.

“And in researching the segment, what I learned, which I didn’t know, was that this event led to the founding of the EPA by a radical environmentalist named Richard M. Nixon. So I didn’t think, when I started this piece, it was going to be a piece extolling the virtues of Nixon, but that’s where the facts led me.

It’s interesting. It’s been an expanding experience for me because I’ve had to be a little bit more open-minded and a little bit more willing to be surprised, as opposed to falling into a reflective position,” he says.

BILLY BOB RETURNS TO ‘GOLIATH’

Although he’s best known for his acting, it’s difficult for Billy Bob Thornton to separate his writing from his acting. In fact, he wrote and starred in “Sling Blade,” the movie that finally propelled him into high-octane prominence and earned him an Oscar for screenplay adaptation.

“I wrote short stories as a kid,” he tells me. “When I was in elementary school I would just sit there and not pay attention to the school lessons whatsoever and just write short stories. And the first play I did was in the third grade. We did the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. I was the middle billy goat. I think from then on, I was an actor.

“I was in the school play, but I didn’t take it seriously in the sense that I was going to be an actor when I grew up. I was going to be a rock ‘n’ roll singer or a baseball player. I didn’t really want to be an actor because growing up in Arkansas, it’s not like in New York or L.A., where that was actually available to them. They would go see plays and thought about movies. In Arkansas you can be a baseball player, and you can be rock ‘n’ roll singer. We had music and clubs, but you couldn’t just sit around the town square and do monologues for people. It just wasn’t an option.”

Fortunately Thornton still finds that option open to him, as he returns for Season 3 of Amazon’s terrific series “Goliath” on Friday. Thornton plays a down-at-the-heels lawyer who has forsaken his profession but keeps getting pulled back into action when his conscience gets the better of him.

Categories: AandE | Movies TV
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.