News for 12/8/2006

Whoopie Goldberg Interview@Newsweek.com

News for 10/8/2006

'Everybody Hates Chris' gets Whoopi

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- As the title of his show implies, Chris of "Everybody Hates Chris" is accustomed to every upside having a downside.

But in the season premiere of the CW comedy, the downside comes with an added wallop: Whoopi!

Whoopi Goldberg guests stars as Louise, the overly protective grandmother of a cute girl who's just moved into Chris' Brooklyn neighborhood.

"Stay way from my granddaughter, you cock-eyed hooligan," her Louise yells at Chris (Tyler James Williams) the minute he works up the courage to talk to the girl.

Repeating the scene a number of times on Paramount Studios' New York Street set here, Goldberg threw in a few variations, dubbing poor Chris "a scrawny runt" and worse -- stuff that clearly won't be used in the final version.

"She doesn't have to improvise, but she can ad lib," laughs Ali LeRoi, co-creator with comedian Chris Rock of the half-hour comedy inspired by Rock's childhood.

Sitting beside LeRoi, as she waits for camera adjustments, Goldberg responds that "happily I don't have to write this and the actor in me comes in and is presented with something I don't have to fix. I just have to know which direction you want me to go in, 'cause in my mind I see a thousand different things, but they may not be the right things."

Louise, Goldberg says, is "a snob." Having moved from Queens to the grittier Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, she thinks she's better than her new neighbors. She's also trying to compensate for any mistakes she may have made raising her daughter by being ultra-strict with her granddaughter.

"We had heard last season that Whoopi was a fan of the show and interested in doing it," says LeRoi. So he deliberately created a role where "it wouldn't be a necessity for her to be here every week, just in case she's busy. She's got things she can do."

"That's what you all think," laughs Goldberg. "There I am praying for roles and you all think, 'Oh, yes, she's got a lot of work!' "

Goldberg, 50, first became famous for her one-woman comedy shows. In 1991, she won an Oscar for her supporting role as the psychic in 1990's "Ghost." She's also hosted the Oscar show three times, and has won at the Tonys, Emmys, Grammys and Golden Globes. Her TV appearances include a long stint on "Star Trek: The Next Generation"; guest appearances on "Strong Medicine," a Lifetime series she helped develop, and her own short-lived NBC sitcom, "Whoopi."

"Everybody Hates Chris" is anything but short-lived, becoming an immediate hit its first year on the now defunct UPN. Its second season begins October 1 at 7 p.m. EDT, kicking off the Sunday-night lineup on the CW, the new joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. targeted at the young adult demographic.

LeRoi said the move won't affect the show's creative freedom.

"What we are doing is a little unprecedented, so they've not been very restrictive with us in terms of how we go about realizing these ideas. ... So far so good, we are not changing things because it's the CW. The black will not be painted green," he joked, referring to the new network's bold color scheme.

Besides Williams in the title role, the series, set in the 1980s, stars Tichina Arnold and Terry Crews as Chris' mom and dad, Rochelle and Julius. Tequan Richmond and Imani Hakim play his siblings, Drew and Tonya. And Vincent Martella is his best friend, Greg.

Goldberg was attracted to the show's realistic take on the African American family.

"This is a rich viable family, with two parents who love their kids. Everybody has their job in the house, everyone has chores. It's a normal American family trying to keep it together. For us to be able to see a family like this, knowing the outcome is Chris Rock, who doesn't want that? So, you know, you say, 'My life is a struggle, but you know what? If I persevere, I can get my kids to where they need to be."'

LeRoi said that Goldberg's personal and career history is "partly responsible, whether she thinks so or not, for us being able to do this type of material, for broadening the horizons of what we can do creatively."

"We do not pander. We don't treat the audience like they are children. We don't treat them like they don't have any imagination, like they haven't seen these people," LeRoi explains. "So she's perfect for this. She knows certainly enough about writing and about acting to bring something strong to the screen, and she's damn funny!"

"You may not be able to use the comedy," Goldberg responded, "but you'll definitely get it."

News for 9/18/2006

Crystal, Whoopi & Williams Back for Relief

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

"Comic Relief," the live stand-up comedy benefit which ran on HBO from 1986-98, will return to the premium cable network Nov. 18 after a seven-year absence. It also will be simulcast on TBS, a fellow subsidiary of Time Warner.

Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams will return as hosts of the three-hour event, which will raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"For two decades, 'Comic Relief' has used the art of comedy to help people in need," said Steve Koonin, executive vp and chief operating officer of TBS and TNT. "As television's 'very funny' network, we at TBS are proud to take part in bringing the best comedy talent in the industry together for what is certain to be an extraordinary television event for a very worthy cause."

"Comic Relief 2006," which will air live at 9 p.m. EST and tape-delayed PST, will be presented from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Crystal, Goldberg and Williams hosted "Comic Relief" for its first eight years.

News for 7/17/2006

Whoopi Moves In with 'Chris'

Goldberg to guest-star on CW comedy

PASADENA, Calif. -- Oscar winner and multiple Emmy nominee Whoopi Goldberg will travel back in time this season on "Everybody Hates Chris."

Goldberg will appear in several episodes of The CW's comedy in 2006-07, the network announced Monday during its TCA press tour sessions. She'll be playing a woman who moves with her granddaughter from Queens to the Bed-Stuy apartment building where Chris (Tyler James Williams) and his family live.

The granddaughter will also become a love interest for Chris, or at least the latest girl in the neighborhood to ignore him.

The role on "Chris," which is moving to Sunday nights in the fall, adds another project to Goldberg's already crowded schedule. She has a handful of films in various stages of production, including several independent projects and voice work on "Farce of the Penguins," a spoof of last year's documentary hit written and directed by Bob Saget.

Goldberg won her Oscar in 1991 for "Ghost." The most recent of her six Primetime Emmy nominations came last year, for her HBO special "Whoopi: Back to Broadway." She's also won a Daytime Emmy.

Her recent TV credits include the NBC sitcom "Whoopi" and a guest turn on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" that could become a recurring role.

News for 5/9/2006

Whoopi Goldberg to Host Radio Show

Associated Press Writer

Call it Radio Free Whoopi. Whoopi Goldberg announced she'll be joining the growing ranks of radio voices this summer when she launches a live, syndicated program, "Wake Up With Whoopi."

"I'm going to talk to people. People are going to talk to me. I'm going to be singing and dancing in my chair. I'm going to wake people up," Goldberg told The Associated Press by phone. "I want to have a good time in the morning and I want everyone who wakes up with me to have a good time."

The show will air weekday mornings from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., said John Hogan, president and CEO of Clear Channel Radio. He didn't indicate which markets it would be in when it debuts July 31.

Besides taking calls and doing comedy bits, Goldberg said she'll be playing music, adding she hopes she'll be allowed to select some of her own.

"I've got all kinds of great wonderful things on my iPod," she said. "Everything from Shaggy to Pavarotti to Tony Bennett to Warren Zevon."

Hogan said Goldberg will bring a much-needed female voice to morning radio, although the actress warned that she won't yell at people. Her radio idol, after all, is veteran oldies rock DJ Cousin Brucie.

She hosted a TV talk show in the 1990s, but Goldberg, who won an Academy Award for her role in the film "Ghost," has never done radio.

"It's something I always wanted to do. I just really didn't have the opportunity before this presented itself," she said. "It came along just at the right time, and I think it will be a great deal of fun."

News for 4/8/2006

'Criminal Intent' Makin' Whoopi

Goldberg takes recurring role as villain

Whoopi Goldberg has not often played the villain in her career, your opinion of "Eddie" or "Made in America" notwithstanding.

But she'll get to do just that on NBC's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" later this season. The Oscar and Emmy winner will play a "foster mother gone very bad" in an episode scheduled for May sweeps. It will also feature a crossover appearance by "Law & Order" veteran S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren.

"I love the show and have wanted to come on forever," Goldberg says. "I told the writers, 'I want to be dead-eye bad,' so I hope they're ready for my 'Criminal Intent.'"

Goldberg's character, Chelsey Watkins, will become a nemesis for Chris Noth's Detective Mike Logan. NBC is keeping quiet about the details of her particular brand of evil, though executive producer Fred Berner allows that "she'll be the baddest" of bad guys in the "CI" universe. The part is projected to be a recurring one for Goldberg.

The role is Goldberg's first network prime-time gig since her sitcom "Whoopi" aired on NBC two seasons ago. Her other recent credits include the HBO special "Whoopi: Back to Broadway" and voice work on the movies "Doogal" and "Racing Stripes."

An airdate for her episode of "Criminal Intent" hasn't been set.

News for 5/19/2005

The following article appeared in the May 2005 issue of Essence Magazine

News for 4/5/2005

Whoopi Is Back on Broadway

By Jay Bobbin

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - Leave it to Whoopi Goldberg to find a way to mark two anniversaries at once.

The distinctive comedian and actress who owns an Oscar, a Tony and a Grammy launched her career in 1985 with a one-woman show on the Great White Way, which was taped and then shown to mark her debut on HBO. She recently returned to the New York boards, and the cable network's cameras also returned to capture her updated solo performance ... resulting in the special "Whoopi: Back to Broadway -- The 20th Anniversary," which HBO premieres Saturday, April 9.

Mike Nichols, who directed Goldberg's first Broadway showcase, also guided the new production. Some characters are the same, but many subjects have changed. Goldberg's creations, such as irrascible Fontaine, take the stage of New York's Lyceum Theatre with alternately comical and poignant views on topics from middle age to politics. The show not only lets Goldberg revisit varied personalities, it reintroduces audiences to the performance style that made her a star in the first place. (Read More....)

News for 2/21/2005

The following article appeared in the Winter 2005 issue of Biography Magazine

News for 1/17/2005

Goldberg, Ullman Return for HBO Comedy Specials

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) Whoopi Goldberg and Tracey Ullman owe much of their success to early and constant exposure on HBO. Both comics will return to the premium cable network in 2005 with new one-one specials.

Taping later this month at New York's Lyceum Theatre, "Whoopi Goldberg: The Spook Show" will be based on her recent one-woman show "Whoopi: Back to Broadway." Goldberg worked with Mike Nichols on that show and the HBO special will be directed and produced by Marty Callner.

Back in 1985, the comic made her HBO debut in "Whoopi Goldberg Direct from Broadway," a special which marked her introduction to many television viewers. Subsequent HBO appearances for the Oscar winner have included the long string of "Comic Relief" specials and the family series "Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child."

Ullman's HBO series "Tracey Takes On..." and her various specials for the network have won nine Emmys. She last appeared on the network in 2003's "Tracey Ullman in Trailer Tales."

For her latest, "The Original Tracey Ullman," the comic will create a variety of characters from her own life. The autobiographical show will take in February at Los Angeles' Henry Fonda Theatre.

"I'm thrilled that these versatile and talented women are returning to HBO for new specials," says HBO Entertainment President Carolyn Strauss. "Though both Whoopi Goldberg and Tracey Ullman have been tremendously successful in a variety of arenas, the unrestricted creative freedom offered by HBO has resulted in some of their best work."

News for 12/31/2004

The following article appeared in the December 13, 2004 issue of People Magazine

The following article appeared in the November 22, 2004 issue of Time Magazine

News for 8/25/2004

Whoopi Goldberg Solo Broadway Show to Have Tryout in Philadelphia

By Robert Simonson

Whoopi Goldberg's upcoming revival of the eponymously titled 1984 Broadway solo show which first brought her fame will have a tryout in Philadelphia before coming to New York's Lyceum Theatre, Playbill On-Line has learned.

The show will run for one week at Philly's Merriam Theatre in October. Dates are yet to be determined. Goldberg will then open at the Lyceum Theatre this fall. The opening will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the original run, which was also at the Lyceum.

In 1984, Mike Nichols was listed under the heading "production supervised by." This time around he will be lead producer. His associate producers are Hal Luftig, Leonard Soloway and Steven M. Levy.

The show will re-create the same material seen in the original, in which Goldberg impersonated a series of characters, including a Valley Girl and a pan handler.

The praised production launched Goldberg. She subsequently embarked on a film career, which began auspiciously with the lead role in "The Color Purple," and reached its pinnacle with 1990's Ghost, which won the actress an Oscar. Other films included "Sister Act" and "The Player." She also hosted her own talk show for a time, played a recurring character on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and has frequently hosted the Oscar ceremonies and co-hosted the annual "Comic Relief" comedy specials. Recently, she was the star of a short-lived sitcom.

Since her solo debut, Goldberg has returned to Broadway in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

News for 7/15/2004

Slim-Fast Sheds Whoopi Goldberg After Bush Riff

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Comedian Whoopi Goldberg will no longer appear in ads for diet aid maker Slim-Fast following her lewd riff on President Bush's name at a fund-raiser last week, the company said on Wednesday.

Florida-based Slim-Fast said it was "disappointed" in Goldberg's remarks at last Thursday's $7.5 million star-studded fund-raiser at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

"Ads featuring Ms. Goldberg will no longer be on the air," Slim-Fast General Manager Terry Olson said in a statement, adding that the company regrets that Goldberg's remarks offended some customers.

Republicans have expressed outrage over the fund-raiser for presumptive Democratic nominee John F. Kerry and his vice presidential running mate, John Edwards, in which entertainers lined up to skewer the president.

The New York Post said of Goldberg's appearance at the event: "Waving a bottle of wine, she fired off a stream of vulgar sexual wordplays on Bush's name in a riff about female genitalia."

A spokesperson for Goldberg declined immediate comment.

Slim-Fast is a unit of Anglo-Dutch food-to-detergent group Unilever Plc .

News for 10/27/2003

The following article appeared in the September 15, 2003 issue of People Magazine.

News for 9/3/2003

TV's New 'Whoopi' Takes on Race, Terror and Bush

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Whoopi Goldberg's new NBC sitcom features an Iranian immigrant unhinged by terror alerts, a conservative black lawyer with a hip-hop-talking white girlfriend and jokes about President Bush mispronouncing "nuclear" (as NEW-kyoo-ler).

So far, NBC hasn't blinked. In fact, says the Oscar-winning actress, executives at the General Electric Co.-owned network think she could even be "a little riskier."

"They're fearless about what it is we're trying to do. We haven't heard from anyone saying, 'No, you can't do this,"' she said.

That also goes for some of the more unsavory aspects of the character she plays on "Whoopi" -- Mavis Raye, a tart-tongued, menopausal former singer turned hotelier in New York City who smokes like a chimney and drinks on the job.

The series pilot opens with a cigarette joke. A hotel guest admonishes Goldberg that "second-hand smoke kills," to which she retorts, "So do I, baby, walk on!"

Goldberg's on-screen puffing already has drawn the ire of anti-tobacco activists. But she is unrepentant about her character's nicotine habit, an extension of a real-life vice.

"I think people are smart enough to be able to say to their kids, 'Now you see this is not the greatest behavior Whoopi could be having right now,"' she told Reuters in an interview.

"This is a show about real people. And real people do have these flaws. Is (Mavis) going to have them forever? Maybe not, but she's damn well going to start out with them. ... I mean, she's not shooting dope. She's not killing anybody."


"Whoopi," which debuts on Sept. 9, marks Goldberg's first stab at her own prime-time series since the short-lived 1990 CBS sitcom "Bagdad Cafe," in which she played the proprietor of a diner-motel in the California desert. She also was a regular for five years on "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

An Oscar winner for her turn as a spiritual medium in the 1990 film "Ghost," Goldberg, 47, said her return to the small screen comes at an ideal time.

"I'm a little bit older now, and I like the idea of being in a steady gig," said the actress, who acts as executive producer as well as stars in "Whoopi." "There's not a lot of offers coming my way, either. You get into that awkward stage of late 40s, and things slow down."

Cigarettes notwithstanding, her new show draws much of its humor from subjects that may strike some viewers as just this side of taboo for prime-time network TV.

The comedy features an interracial couple consisting of Mavis' buttoned-down, decidedly un-hip brother, Courtney (Wren Brown) and his white girlfriend, Rita (Elizabeth Regen), who dresses and acts "like a sister."

"She's introduced me to rap, hip-hop and just a whole world I've never known," Courtney exclaims on the series pilot, to which Mavis dead-pans: "So, she's teaching you to be black."

Goldberg says the Rita character merely reflects one of many cultural mixes that have grown so common in society.

"Lots of parents in the suburbs are raising black children and don't know it," she said.


The show also co-stars British-born Iranian comic Omid Djalili as Goldberg's sidekick Nasim, a hotel handyman from Iran who immediately takes offense whenever anyone mistakes him for an Arab.

Nasim: "I'm not Arab. I'm Persian! It's so obvious. You can't tell the difference?"

Mavis: "Hell, no, I can't tell the difference. You people all look alike to me."

Later, Mavis confides to Nasim that "your people do scare me .... I mean I see three of four of you guys on an airplane, and I'm off." Nasim replies he feels "exactly the same way about the Portuguese."

Goldberg says such exchanges, aside from hopefully winning laughs, are intended to deconstruct some of the fears that pervade post-9/11 America.

"Omid's character is a guy who has his own fears about being here and about what's going on," she said. "Everybody has their finger pointing, and that's really what we wanted to say, that we've all got fears of something."

Indeed, in episode two, it is Nasim's paranoia about an unattended briefcase in the hotel lobby during an "orange alert" that leads police to blow it up. The briefcase turns out to have been a present from Rita to Courtney.

But Goldberg insists she's not making light of terror alerts. "These are the things that are happening in our lives," she said. "It's part of the world that I live in. It's the world that I can comment on."

As for making fun of Bush at a time when other performers' criticism of the president has caused their patriotism to be called into question, Goldberg is likewise unapologetic.

"We're all patriots. We all want the world to be a better place," she said. "I don't have any problems with it and will continue to have as much fun with our president as every comic has since comedy began."

News for 8/14/2003

'Whoopi' Sitcom Begins Production in NYC

NEW YORK - Whoopi Goldberg grew up here, lives here and, whenever she can, wants to work here.

"You get to be a certain age, you just want to be home, girl," Goldberg, 47, said Wednesday as her new NBC sitcom, "Whoopi," began production for the fall season.

"Whoopi" will be filmed at the 14-acre Kaufman Astoria Studios in Long Island City. Goldberg said the decision to film the show in New York "was a real stipulation" for her.

"You can't get this feel anywhere else," said Goldberg, who plays Mavis Rae, a former singer turned New York City hotelier.

"Whoopi" is the first sitcom to begin shooting in New York since "Spin City" ended its run in 2000. The studio has also produced "The Cosby Show" and "Cosby," and is the home of "Sesame Street" and "The Sopranos."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who welcomed the "Whoopi" cast to the studio Wednesday, said the show will bring 250 jobs and about $13 million a year into the city's economy.

He joked that he'd be happy to be a guest star.

"Whoopi's going to have to talk to my agent," Bloomberg said.

Goldberg said the sitcom will mostly be filmed indoors, but that some exterior shots of the city are being discussed. "Whoopi," which will be filmed in front of a live audience, will air on Tuesday nights.

Goldberg was asked whether she would be in violation of the city's smoking ban in public places with her character, who is a smoker.

The actress-comedian said she was ready to pay the fines, which range from $200 for a first offense to $2,000 for multiple offenses. "I have my checks ready," she quipped.

She won't have to pay- the actors will be smoking herbal cigarettes, allowed under the city's smoking ban because they don't pose health hazards.

News for 2/6/2003

Whoopi Goldberg Interview from the February 10, 2003 issue of Newsweek Magazine.

News for 12/10/2002

Whoopi Goldberg to Produce, Star in New NBC Series

BURBANK, Calif. (Reuters) - Academy Award-winning comedienne Whoopi Goldberg has signed a deal to star in and executive produce of a new comedy series for NBC, the network said on Tuesday.

Goldberg, most recently seen on television as the featured celebrity on the syndicated game show "Hollywood Squares," which she also produced, will work with TV production company Carsey-Werner-Mandabach on the show.

The network said no plot details have been determined yet, and it did not target a date for the show to premiere.

The actress, who has Tony, Emmy and Grammy awards to her credit, starred in the short-lived 1990 sitcom "Bagdad Cafe" and was a regular on the syndicated drama "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

She also hosted a syndicated talk show in the early 1990s and has been a frequent host of the annual Academy Awards show.

NBC is a unit of General Electric Co.