A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this interview-based talk show features celebrities discussing the craft of acting. The actors -- and sometimes the host -- use curse words, though the harsher words are bleeped. Mature subjects like drug use or sexual practices can come up, though these topics aren't the focus of the show.
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What's the story?
On long-running talk show INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO, host James Lipton interviews film, TV, and theater actors in front of an audience of drama students from the Actors Studio Drama School in New York City. Guests are usually very famous and from all different areas of entertainment, running the gamut from Tom Hanks to Liza Minnelli to Dave Chappelle. The interviews always follow the same general format, in which Lipton asks a series of straight-faced questions (one of his most infamous is "If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say to you when you reach the pearly gates?") with very few follow-up comments, creating less of a dialogue than an interrogation. The result can seem a little stiff, but Lipton's interview style also allows his guests' personalities to emerge so that they are less glittery and flirty and more serious and humble in this format.
Is it any good?
Lipton tends to compliment the actors excessively, which can sometimes seem like unabashed brown-nosing. (Because of this, he's been parodied often, most notably by Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live). Each interview also takes several hours but is edited for an hour-long broadcast time slot. This can make for some awkward transitions -- sometimes the actor's answer doesn't seem to follow Lipton's question.
Teens interested in drama will enjoy Actors Studio, but those more interested in celebrity will find the show less glitzy than what they've seen on Entertainment Tonight and its ilk. The subject matter also depends on the guest. For instance, the Robert Downey Jr. interview included a good deal of discussion about drugs, some of it rather lighthearted, and Downey smoked cigarettes during the interview.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about acting. What's the different between an actor and a movie star? Which movie stars are good actors, and which aren't? Can you think of a movie you saw recently that featured good acting? Bad acting? What did you learn about the craft of acting from the interview subject? Do you think host James Lipton is objective in his interviews? Should he be? What is his role?