tv Tavis Smiley PBS April 3, 2013 12:00am-12:30am PDT
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with jeremy piven. he has gone from playing a hard- charging hollywood agent to portray an equally hard-charging entrepreneur revolutionizing retail in a masterpiece here on pbs. jeremy piven, coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had said, there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only about halfway to completely eliminate hunger and we have work to do. tomart committed $2 billion fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can
stamp hunger out. yourd by contributions to pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. > for more information on no one plays fast talking and take charge characters better than jeremy piven. his role as the always aggressive hollywood super agents just about to find entourage -- defined "ent ourage." now he plays a character that went to england and turned the cultural norms upside down by just about inventing the modern
department store as we know it. it is part of the pbs masterpiece on sunday nights. let's take a look at the clip. >> you steal from the store, you steal from yourselves. i started off as an errand boy. i earned a dollar 50s to week. to aay they promoted me stock boy ibm year cried. when they gave me the key to open a store in the morning, that is the day that i won't forget. the manager trusted me. without trust, you can't run anything. trying to say am is, we can't use dishonesty. but i am here for you if you need my help. tavis: hbo to pbs. i am not sure what that means. >> it means i've made it.
this is a great station that has quality programs. tavis: thank you, jeremy. >> i wasn't saying yours. [laughter] walked inot that. go ahead, mr. piven. rew upten, man, i g watching pbs and wanting to be part of it just like hbo. it is so much about the piece itself and we are living in times were the audience is more savvy, word gets out fast. i found a very empowering and cool. i know that i bring with me a certain demographic that may not be watching pbs.
they can see your show and everything else, and that is exciting to me. tavis: what is up with the british invasion? everything that is a hit -- whatton abbey, and this -- is happening? have we always been this enamored? >> i grew up with monty python and all the craziness. it is really easy to hide. you don't have to go face-to- face. these are simpler times and you had to embrace the confrontation. this is kind of juicy for people
to see the simpler times where we are communicating with each other. more: you have done reading about suffrage that i did in preparation for this conversation. >> a true american pioneer in every sense of the word. chicago, i would go to marshall field's. you get a sense of what he created. he transformed the place, came up with the phrase that the customer is always right. camed not have sales, he up with bargain-basement. he thought that if we had these enormous windows and we treat it like a play and we depict a scene, people will come and and it was his theater. he basically took that and ran with it when he started a 100 years ago. it was voted the best department
store in the world. i think he did something right. i don't want to get ahead of myself and telegraph what is going to happen. the but he had a beautiful and prolific and tragic life, a shakespearean type of tragedy. we have been picked up for a second season, and andrew davis is a brilliant writer and he wrote this thing based on wednesday what had's book. he marked out what four seasons with look-alike.
his life is such fertile ground for a series that we could run this for a while. i would have to play him into his 80s, which would be really fun. give me some sense of what some of the takeaways are from his style, his innovative style for entrepreneurs in a sense. >> he knew that in the u.k., they don't have a reference for customer service. the culture can apply. how are you, sir? there is none of that over there. he sensed an opening there and he knew that it's in the pilot. his backers fell out. he needed to find the equivalent
of $350 million today. he started as a stock boy and worked his way up. in over 10,000 hours and knew what he was doing. he will this entire thing to happen. , the powerreat books of now, what ever you were feeling, there is a vibration or energy that is real. he believed in it. british were saying, what is going on with this man? they all fell in line. it is this huge place. there is nothing on oxford
street. it is hard to find someone that is doing it today. i think there are people like richard branson in the world that embraces self-promotion and they embrace it. harry was the same way. i took a chance with the way that i played him, larger than life. he was an art taking the high road. tavis: widely referred to that as taking a chance? >> he loved p.t. barnum and he loves the department store because it was his theater. he was kind of performing.
it is juxtaposed with a very subtle british performances. he ruledto understand, with an iron fist through intimidation. this guy is more like obama. when someone calls him a liar, he is not reactive, he smiles. in public, at least. that is the way that he operates to us. rattle him. he is being and he is a ray of sunshine. he lets all of his doubts and fears, it is written all over him.
a risk junky. he loves gambling and his family. there are so many dualities, it is just a feast. i will screw it up. just imagining that to be that successful then or now, there are people that believe that you have to have a cutthroat quality to them. to be that big and that successful in business. interesting that it is the exact opposite of what you are insinuating. went toon that he london to open a store is that he did not want to compete against marshall field's, this guy that was his mentor. up a shop in to crush that guy.
he was not that guy. that is one of the things i love about him. he respected and loved that this guy gave him a shot in did not want to beat him at his own game. >> he was a partner that they wanted his name to be added to the masthead but they would not do that. >> his ego served him in the way that he wanted his name above the door. i am going to go to another country. i will make it happen over there. tavis: what do you make of that? ofre have been a number british invasions that have come this way. >> the press did not embrace him
from the jump and his partner immediately pulled out. all of that and we get to explore that, which i really loved. and what i can't believe is when you come across a really good idea, you have a moment that you think it has to have been done before. we embraced the american spirit. want indo anything you this life. over there, it is kind of the antithesis, it is about tough love and i don't think it is going to happen for you. you can try, good luck to you. over here, you can do it. we are exploring a little bit of that because i think we both can
that weom each other can learn to be a little more cautious but not get in your own way of the american dream. i think there is something kind of innocent and beautiful about that. >> is there anything that you have taken from having played so ?ell from entourage anything you take from this character? >> i think that we are made up of all the work and everything we have done our entire lives. i had one scene in the pilot, my character was built last and i was thought of as a fringe
player. i am an outsider vs. the old guy. was old movie i did school which was a comedy that people enjoy. you have to put your ego aside, which is one of the greatest lessons i ever learned. this is a very small role in an ensemble piece. but let's look for a lead for you. there were a bunch of variables. give youat they would a shot to do your thing and if you love them, they come to you. scratch to start from and prove yourself again. have you put your ego aside and that part that says, do they have any idea that you think you
are? you put that aside and you climb the mountain, do your thing. character had a lot of dualities because he loved his wife. antithesis. hisbark is worse -- sorry, bite is worse than his bark. this is a guy running the straight and narrow. he is a slave to his demons. everyone thought he was a dog, he is monogamous. they live in different universe is. growing up on stage, loving to be a stage actor, it led me to be able to contribute.
i learned from tim robbins, a brilliant actor and director. forever indebted to him. states,in one of four and happiness, sadness, fear, anger. you are at age 10, you just won the lottery. i performed on stage like that at all time. was emotionally over invested in everything, and the downside of that might be, if there is one, if you create a dimensional character that seems authentic, people will confuse you for this character. that is kind of what happens to me. i am not playing the victim in any way, shape, or form. but it is difficult to shake. i am not an abrasive money- hungry --
tavis: erascible. >> yeah. tavis: let me follow you there. it does that mean that you are the processning that you use for the roles that you pick? >> absolutely. it without a doubt. is, hey, we out need a fast-talking agent character. let's make jeremy an offer. the easy way out is, let's do that. but it is not that interesting. harrys fascinating about is, to make this choice where he is always smiling and beaming in taking the high road, in preparation for this role, i
knew that is where this guy had to live and that is where the stakes were. he ultimately, you see that really is completely different. theyet, from the outside, audience might think that this character is enough like him that i know he will be able to play it. now they can take a look at something and say, i am not buying it. or they are capable of doing this. get themit takes to in, i will take. have i seen that it is hard for some people to separate those past eight years from my next project? there was a review were that said three things. miscast and in the next paragraph, he said, but i
see why they came to him for this role. said, in fairness to jeremy, this is the next role he has gotten so i might be having a tough time letting this go. i applaud his honesty in his confusion because he lays it out there. you said i am wrong, but you see that they came to me. i stopped a long time ago. for my mental health. i just do what i do and that is yet. -- that is it. understand, this is inside of your head. help me understand how or why you have the choice to do something where pbs is the delivery system.
upm not asking you to suck to pbs, but why is this the right space for you? it is a very different audience? >> the straight up honest answer, it's cliche, but it's all about the piece, the work, the role, the opportunity. tavis: the matter of distribution -- >> it doesn't matter. doing an off-broadway situation where you can play a role that you have not done before, you go and do that. and you embrace that. thee that produced it, brits work with less and make it look like a lot more. everyone is on top of their game. they promoted the hell out of
it. we average 8.5 million people a week in the u.k. downton numbers. over here, i don't know what is going to happen but you can't get ahead of yourself. each week, it gets better. it really is about the peace. all you try to do as an artist is get better. tavis: how cool as it to play with a guy from your home town? >> is awesome. by accent has been homogenize, but there is an accent. go, what is that?
it's a chicago accent. they said they never do that again. this is the irish? they were so confused. the history ofy the city, chicago is of neighborhoods and there are so many irish folks that it was probably the dominating sound. it came down to what we know today. >> do you know how to promote this? have beent is all i doing. tavis: i am letting you go, go. >> it was made in the 10
episodes and pbs turned it into a two-hour pilot and they are making a episodes out of it. person that i don't think lights up the screen on this. downton abbey is the country, this is the city. it's on blu-ray. come to my home, we'll watch it together. what you want me to do? tavis: you did it. on masterpiece sunday night with our friend jeremy piven, i am sure these loyal viewers are watching it. >> then why the hell am i here? tavis: we wanted to tell you think you and congratulations. that is our show for tonight. until next time.
ande good morning, ladies gentlemen. you are at the beginning of something amazing, the best that london has to offer. don't imagine it. >> we are going to show the world how to make shopping thrilling. i want merchandise that people will desire. merchandise people that don't know they will desire until they see it before the rise. glamor. we and need to put on a show. we are making history here. they should be batting down the doors and swarming all over us. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with eva mendes. that is next time, we will see
you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had said, there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only about halfway to completely eliminate hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more.