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Billy Crystal (Fox Theatre April 27) on a 'When Harry Met Sally' sequel, 'The Comedians' cancellation, Jimmy Kimmel's hosting

This was posted Thursday, April 20, 2017 by Rodney Ho/ on the subscription-only side of his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Billy Crystal is not bringing a traditional stand-up show to the Fox Theatre April 27.

Instead, he has brought along actress Bonnie Hunt ("Cheaper by the Dozen," "Jumanji," "Jerry Maguire") to do a Q&A with him for part of the show. He met her while dedicating a theater in New York City for the late Robin Williams.

"He was a brother to me," said Crystal, who hosted Comic Relief efforts for years fighting homelessness with Williams and Whoopi Goldberg. "Bonnie was also a great friend of his. We were on a panel and we hit it off. In a way, Robin brought us together."

At this point in his career, his fans know the highlights of his resume, from playing the first major gay character on TV on "Soap" to his stint on "Saturday Night Live" to "When Harry Met Sally" to "City Slickers" to his multiple Oscar hosting gigs.

This format, which includes clips of Crystal through the years, allows him to touch upon all of that and more. Hunt has a few set questions but she will change things up every night. "It never feels stale or set up or predictable," Crystal said.

Crystal loved doing Bravo's "Inside the Actor's Studio" with James Lipton. And he did a similar format with comic David Steinberg at the Atlanta Symphony Hall in 2003.

"People really like the intimacy of it," he added, "the fun of it, the accessibility. It's a different feeling than a concert show. I've been thrilled."

And the show goes far longer than typical stand-up shows. Some have gone as long as two and a half hours. "When we say good night, people want more," Crystal said. "We've tried to cut back but then we miss stuff. We play it by ear every night."

Here are other topics Crystal addressed:

Shooting the 2012 film "Parental Guidance" in Atlanta: "I've been coming to Atlanta since I was a little kid. We have a lot of family there including my aunt and uncle who were doctors at Grady. I always love going down there. The people are so warm and charming. The movie people were great to us."

Any regrets of any projects he's done? "No. Whether it did well or didn't do well, it doesn't matter. Sometimes things don't work out at the box office. The joys are unbelievable. The lows are very hard to deal with. When I look back, there was something good in everything I've done. That way, I don't dwell on it."

Regrets on something he turned down: "I'm the guy who turned down 'Toy Story.' Then boom! Mike Wazowski and the 'Monsters' movie came along. Alright! I got mine. It made me a hero to my grandchildren."

Is another 'Monsters' film coming? "I don't know. I'd love to do one if it's something truly different. I loved making them. They're amazing works of art. The concept is still magical to me as someone who was afraid as a kid of what was under my bed or in the closet."

On the short-lived FX series "Comedians," canceled in 2015 after one season and featuring him playing a darker version of himself on a variety show paired with a wacky Josh Gad: "I loved doing the show. I thought it was getting better and better. I'm proud of every episode we did. I felt we needed more support from FX at the time. We even offered to do fewer episodes for a second season. The quality was getting so good."

On a project he's proud of that he hopes folks will cite more often on his resume: Directing "61," the Emmy-nominated HBO film about the Roger Maris/Mickey Mantle home run chase. "I'm really proud of '61.' I was nominated by the Directors' Guild as best director. I got to re-create that amazing summer when I was 13 watching these two having a season of legends. That was a great thing."

On the new SunTrust Park for the Braves: "I was surprised they did that when I heard they needed a new stadium. You can't forget your fans. The thing is if you win, they will come."

On the Funny or Die mock "When Harry Met Sally" sequel starring Crystal and Helen Mirren: " The concept was, 'Sally is gone. Harry's in assisted living.' 'Don't tell me anymore. I'm doing it!" It happened out of Halloween. My grandson went as a vampire so that's how the grampire thing happened. This was a way to do a Harry and Sally sequel. My daughter [ Lindsay Crystal ] directed it. She's a producer on 'The Daily Show.' "

On an actual 'When Harry Met Sally" sequel: "It was never going to happen. [The late creator] Nora [Ephron] was very firm in saying, 'I believe in happily ever after. They're happily ever after.' "

On the Funny or Die 'City Slickers/Westworld' merger: "It was great to bring back that VCR joke. And I loved seeing that Mitch character have some edge where he's killing everybody."

On a 1994 trip to the Fox: "We had a 'City Slickers 2' screening there. Ted Turner owned the production company Castle Rock. The crowd was unbelievable. He was there with Jane [Fonda.] Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn was there, too. We had the greatest time."

On Jimmy Kimmel handling the 'La-La Land/'Moonlight' snafu: "Jimmy was very funny. Those moments can be chaotic. I've done nine Oscars. Almost every one, something happens. I thought Jimmy did a great job. We talked before the show. We went over jokes. I think he's somewhat under-rated on his talk show. He's consistently funny, a really good interview. He knows who he is."


Billy Crystal

8 p.m., Thurday, April 27


Fox Theatre

660 Peachtree St. NE




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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.