Leah Lail - russian site !

The Green Room Magazine, #4, August 20, 2001
Cover
Interview by: Jason M Burns
Leah Lail is best known for her work on the syndicated television show VIP. For all of the hungry men in the world reading this... yes, that's the one with Pam Anderson as the star. But, many may not know that Leah is as funny as she is talented.

On the day we spoke, Leah was on set at 4 o'clock in the morning. Yet, she still managed to be perky, feisty and have the ability to make me laugh. Call me crazy, but anyone who is up that early and can still manage to muster enough energy just to get through the day smiling deserves a round of applauds. (Green Room staffers clap wildly)

Her film credits include roles in Late Last Night (where she played a stripper), Denial opposite Jason Alexander, the family film Heavyweights, and in the Adam Sandler comedy, Little Nicky. She's also appeared on Seinfeld, The Single Guy and one of our personal favorites, The Larry Sanders Show.

How she is appearing here... one night only... be sure to tip the waiter!

JB: How are things?

LL: Things are great! The Green Room Magazine... I love it. I figured it was an omen because one of the first plays I ever did was in a space called The Green Room.
JB: We love comparisons to the word, "Omen". (Laughter) Congrats on the success of the show.
LL: Thank you very much.
JB: It seemed to become a hit almost immediately when it made its debut, but did you have any second thoughts about doing a show based in syndication?
LL: No, not at all. As a matter of fact I was actually thrilled about it. Because when it came down to it, I got an offer to test for this show and a network show. I chose this show over that show because I figured Pam Anderson is the most recognizable face and female figure in the world. If anybody has a chance at keeping a show on the air, it's her. Even though the initial money is less, I figured the longevity was better.
JB: And how has longevity been treating you?
LL: I've got to tell yaI gambled and I was right. That other show never made it past pilot. Yeah... so there ya go! Don't be fooled by all those promises by the big network. As it turns out, our show even in syndication is the only one that started out that year that is still on the air.
JB: Really. That is impressive.
LL: Yeah. Pam's very popular.
JB: What are some of the benefits that you see in syndication as opposed to being on a network?
LL: For this show, we're a little too far out. I think with networks there are so many people that you're having to please that ultimately it's the advertiser... you know. They're trying to sell to the 17-25 group that will buy this kind of soap and this kind of acne product. So it's skewed so specific that the show isn't as good as it could be because they're so concentrated on trying to target a particular audience. And, they're not always right. Where as our show... that wasn't the top priority.
JB: What was the top priority?
LL: Well, Pam and J.F. Lawton had an idea of what she would be good at and they wrote a show based on that. And as it turns out, I think everybody was surprised with our viewers because it's a little bit more women than men.
JB: Really?
LL: Yeah. You would initially say Pam Anderson and you'd think teenage and college age boys, but that's not it at all. Little girls love our show and women in general. It's always women that stop me in the streets. Girl power!

I'm curious if her appearances in Playboy had big female audiences as well? There's something to ponder.

JB: It has the tried and true formula of action, comedy and sexuality. I'm curious how the show was originally pitched to you?

LL: Initially it started out as... well, it wasn't really pitched as anything. When I read the script it wasn't as fun as it ended up being. It was a little bit straighter and a little sleeker. And I, my character Kay was the comic relief.
But now the whole show has a little bit more of a kitschy feel to it. It's really winking at pop culture and Pam plays in the big picture of that. So, I think it grew into something much broader than it was pitched at originally. But, it's better this way. It's funny. It's much more of a comedy, although it's got the action.
JB: You guys also have a knack for getting some major guest stars. Was there anyone that they cast that shocked even you?
LL: I guess the one that shocked me this year was the independent director Jim Jarmusch. He is obsessed with our show and he called a friend of his that knew somebody that maybe worked on the show. He pursued us. He was like, "I'll do anything just let me come to the set." He acted like we were big stars and I was like, "Are you kidding, you're Jim Jarmusch." He really loved doing it.
JB: What about someone that appeared on camera?
LL: I loved having the actor named Robert Romanus and he is better known as Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I couldn't stop giggling. I was like, "My God it's Damone!" And I know we may have bigger name stars but nobody is closer to my heart than Damone.
JB: You shoot 22 episodes a season and I would assume you deal with different directors throughout that time. Is there any type of common thread between all directors that is visible in the work you do?
LL: In general we use about four directors over and over. They each have their own style. One guy that we work with a lot, his name is Savage Steve Holland. And yes that is his name.
JB: I am familiar with him. He directed one of my favorite flicks of all time, "One Crazy Summer."
LL: Yes, exactly. He does most of our shows. He does seven or eight a season. And Savage has a wicked sense of humor so I think his shows tend to be a little kookier than the other directors. We also work a lot with a guy named Nelson McCormick and he got his background in the military shooting films in the Gulf War, documenting that. So his things tend to have their own unique style and the story is really important. The comedy might come second but it's more story and visual. They are my favorite directors.
JB: One Crazy Summer is definitely my favorite 80's film of all time.
LL: (Laughter) Yes, the One Crazy Summer that we've all seen 20 times, each crazy summer of our lives. Can you hold on one second?
JB: Sure can.
LL: (She yells out) Taffy? Come!

Taffy? Huh? As in salt water...

LL: I've got my dog in the park and he's getting dangerously close to the road. That was the other thing about today.
I had you waiting but I had to get him out too because he's been locked up since I went to work at 4 o'clock this morning. So I had to get him out.
JB: I feel his pain.
LL: Sorry about that.
JB: Not a problem at all. If Pam's character was written for her, does your character have any traits that belong to yourself?
LL: I'm certainly like my character. I tend to scare people with my vast knowledge of everything and nothing. All my cast mates come to me when they need to know the answer... if they placed a bet with somebody and just can't find it. I either know it or can get the answer within minutes. So yes, I am a lot like my character. She's much more proficient at the computer than I am. But, she has much better hardwareand software. So, what can I say? (Devilish giggle)

What does that mean? The devilish giggle is throwing us off. And yes... it was devilish.

JB: And you grew up in Kentucky?
LL: I did grow up in Kentucky.
JB: You don't hear about a lot of actors coming out of that state. Was it a bizarre career choice for everyone around you?
LL: It was very much a... (laughter)... yeah that's a very accurate and precise way of putting it. My father works construction and my mom works in the thoroughbred horse industry. We didn't know anybody who was an actor. As it turns out there are actually some actors from there but we didn't know any of them. One thing that really persuaded me and made me believe that I might actually be able to do it was that I went to boarding school in Florida. It's the same school where Kelsey Grammer went and he came to speak at my high school, which was called, Pine Crest. He talked about his career and I figured he's just this guy from Florida and he got his start as an understudy for Christopher Plummer for a show on Broadway. The casting director for Cheers happened to go to the show that night and then he got a chance. So he was kind of saying that it was a lot of hard work and a lot of study and even then on top of that, so much of it is luck. I thought, "You know, I'll try that." And I've got very lucky too.
JB: You also have a lot of outside interests and have degrees in German and Political Science. Were those Plan B in case it didn't work out with acting?
LL: No, no. They weren't really Plan B. They were much more the plan. They were my plan and I always liked acting and always knew that it was a crazy, wild card business. I just thought that I'd try it.
JB: And you were on one of my favorite shows of all time, The Larry Sanders Show.
LL: Oh, the Larry Sanders Show. Can I just tell you how exciting something was that happened to me last week?
JB: Of course.
LL: I ran into my husband... Jeffery Tambor.
And it was a long time ago that I did that so I wasn't sure if he would remember me or recognize me. He saw me from across the room at a movie premiere and yelled, "Oh, my wife!" We started talking and he was with a director that he's making a movie with now and he told this director that I am the most talented comedian of my generation. I was trying really hard to play it cool but inside I was like, (Yells to the point where only Taffy could hear). "That's so cool!" But yes, that is the best show of all time.
JB: Finally, as an actress on VIP, have you ever used that status to get you through the doors somewhere as a "V.I.P"... very important person?
LL: Have I used it? I haven't had to work it, but I'm often offered perks. Yes, which I love. My favorite one being... upgraded on the airplane because the flight attendant is a huge fan of VIP and especially my character. You know, there just happens to be an empty seat in business class. There's nothing like going on to the other side of that blue curtain.
JB: That would definitely be a good perk?
LL: Yeah that is the best perk ever. It makes all those long days worth it. I'm going to keep doing this. (Giggle)
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