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This is why I was also OK with throwing the entire conceit of “Dinner With Daniel” out the window when I heard Michael preferred to meet for coffee rather than a meal. I read in the New York Times the other day, the article — what’s that game on NPR? Something suffers, I guess — if you call it suffering. He said you were “the only person he could think of that had the darkly obsessive personality necessary … I think that maybe when I laugh, or I make jokes about things, it’s smart ass or funny or twisted. Short of an occasional Letterman appearance, Keaton rarely does sit-downs — and is famously a private person. Seems like you’re not a kind of guy who does a lot of these sorts of interviews. But I say that I actually — I admire all this stuff, too. Anyway, there’s an article about these types of shows and blogs and trying to appeal to a younger audience. Michael: I just think it’s fantastic — and yet I’m not usually a participant [in interviews]. Daniel: Tim Burton had this sort of interesting response to this whole thing. He and I used to laugh a lot, when we were on the tour. That was a life-changer, that was literally a life-changer. I thought if I do it again, I might get myself stuck. We got to know each other because I always thought he was good, and I guess he must have thought I was good, then we were both living in the valley, so occasionally we would go out and shoot basketball or play tennis, hang out a little bit. I mean, really, if you think about it, all sports can be … Actually, this is my favorite Jack Nicholson story. Michael: So one morning Nicholson comes in, sits in the makeup chair. Daniel: He probably wants to talk about movies; you want to talk about politics. ” I had to talk about that for a minute and then say, “Hey I want to talk to you about this environmental thing, [laughs] but by that time, he’s thinking, Oh man, that’s a drag, I want to talk about movies. I just remember at the time thinking I wanted to get away from what I’d just done on Night Shift. (And that was John Hughes, by the way — people don’t know that he wrote that.) So I said no [to Splash] so I could set up this framework right away where I could do different things. Kind of that great combination of witty and kind of silly-slash-dumb-slash-smart, like Steve Martin. Daniel: But it’s not like you have to watch every day. If you’re a dope like me, you get every sports channel you can get. Daniel: I guess that could be transfixing, too, in its own little meditative way. ” [Both laugh.] Michael: And you have to backpedal a bit, like, whoa man, I thought we were going to talk about a whole bunch of other stuff. “Man, you’ve got to keep making movies, how come you’re not doing it? Michael: I’m doing this movie — really an improvised movie — where he sets it all up in the outline and says, “Here’s what happens … Daniel: You know, I actually went online and watched some of your old stand-up. You explain how he’s throwing a clock “to see time fly” — but then you leave their boneheaded world and keep “reading” the comic as if, inexplicably, Bazooka Joe and his doltish friend are suddenly having a deep metaphysical discussion about [space-]time continuum and Einstein and parallel planes. Michael: [laughing] Oh yeah — no, that was actually a really funny piece, I loved that piece. But I probably deserved to get whacked in the butt. Daniel: So in preparing for this, there’s all these movies you were in that I wanted to go back and take a look at — but what would you guess would be the one I sought out? ” Daniel: Oh, so like Curb Your Enthusiasm but the movie — Michael: Yes. Michael: Well, I have no idea what we’re going to do yet. Michael: It depends on how far you went, but if you went back really far, probably Night Shift. And when you did his show, you did everything from pull cable for the cameras, to running the trolley, to dressing up in the black-and-white panda suit for 25 bucks. Michael: What people don’t realize is what his crew looked like — they almost all had hair down to their lower backs, one guy just dripped with patchouli and marijuana smoke, worse than Tom Petty. At the time, I was going back and forth [from Pittsburgh] to New York — driving my ’65 Volkswagen bug — trying to be an actor, or to write, and I’d just started doing improv. And I find there are a few places where I like to meditate more than in other places. Michael: I worked on a Navajo reservation when I was 21 and that’s where I really got into it.
It was the same as another prominent actor, Michael Douglas … But I did talk to Michael Douglas [the actor] about it. I got the gig, and they said, “You’ve got to have another name.” And I was like, “No I don’t.” And they said, “Yeah, you do. The truth is I’m trying to figure out how John Cougar Mellencamp did it, because I like my name, I’m proud of my name. What's up with putting his name and dates up there?