Lily Tomlin talks about people, traveling, shows and New Jersey

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Lily TomlinIn The Cookie Jar Exclusive-The Lily Tomlin Interview.

 When talking female comedy, women comedians are a select group; Whoopi Goldberg, Joan Rivers, and of course Lily Tomlin. Lily is making a return to New Jersey to the Count Basie Theatre on March 26th and took some time to talk to Entertainment Editor Cookie. Here, she speaks with him about her iconic movie and television roles, what she has coming up, and what she has planned for her New Jersey fans.

Lily, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me. You’re just back from Sydney, Australia correct?  

Yes I am! I rode in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade! Lily as ErnestineAfter riding on a float in the parade, I went up to the reviewing stand and was sitting with three drag queens! I felt so small, I actually felt like Edith Ann in the little chair all over again!
 
Before “The Witches Of Eastwick” and “The First Wives Club”, there was you, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton in the iconic “9 to 5”. What do you remember the most about that experience?
 
This is the thing; I knew both Dolly and Jane already, and when we were all cast, we each thought we were  an “arm of an extremity” so to speak. Dolly and Jane both thought they were the relatable ones, and I of course thought I was! It really was such a blast doing the movie.
 
When we went to the premiere for the musical, (Dolly Parton wrote the music for the theatre adaptation of the hit movie), it was totally surreal; they looked so much like us! I mean, Megan Hilty sounded and looked just like Dolly and Allison Janney (playing Tomlin’s character Violet) wore an exact replica of a smock I wore in the movie! Jane, Dolly, and I could not believe how much they sounded and looked just like us.
Within the past few years, you came out publicly and have since been a champion for gay rights. Where would you like to see the fight for equality the LGBT community go in the not too distant future?
 
I really feel so great about the community. I look back on the AIDS crisis up until now, and see such change. Back then, there was such separation, especially between men and women in the community. I see such a difference now, everyone is on the same side so to speak. The community has really come so far.
 
You’re coming to entertain the people of New Jersey at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, N. J. on Saturday March 26th. What do you have planned for your Jersey fans?
 
Oh I’ve played in New Jersey before and I love it! I’ve played all over New Jersey-Rutgers, Trenton, and of course the Count Basie before. Of course, Ernestine & Edith Ann (two iconic Lily Tomlin characters) will be making appearances at the show. These characters are two that are really so alive for me. I mean, as long as I can keep them saying something relevant, they will definitely make an appearance! Ernestine continues to make appearances in commercials -even now.
 
You’re known for playing strong women, from Candice Bergen’s boss’s Kay on “Murphy Brown”  to Eric McCormack’s boss Margot on “Wil & Grace”. More recently you had a hilarious turn as Roberta on “Desperate Housewives” and an unforgettable run as Marilyn on “Damages”. Is it tough to play such powerful and domineering women on screen?
 
Well Margot (on “Wil & Grace”) was tough, as was Debbie (the President’s social secretary on “The West Wing”), but Kay on “Murphy Brown” was a pussycat! LOL!! I really love playing such complex characters; I mean, Marilyn (Tomlin’s role on “Damages”) had her own granddaughter killed for goodness sake. 
 
When I was doing “The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe” (Tomlin’s Tony-Award winning one woman show in which she played 12 different characters), iconic actress Helen Hayes came backstage and said to me “I haven’t envied an actress in years.” Actors live for stuff like that!
 
Many people have recently tried to reinvigorate the “variety show” format with minimal success if any. What do you think made “Laugh-In” work during it’s run that is not happening with the shows of today?
 
When I joined “Laugh-In” (in the third season) the form was very “square” and it was truly the end of the era. Familiarity is what brings audiences to a show week after week; once the chemistry is right, writers can write for that. In terms of a variety show, for the writers, it’s like writing an hour of material every week! People used to watch The Ed Sullivan Show, Milton Berle, etc and it was a very different time. I will say though, “Saturday Night Live” continues to work because it is live, and it is also on late night on Saturday nights.
 
You recently completed a guest turn as an “extra special guest judge” on the LOGO hit. “RuPaul’s Drag Race”…
 
Oh it was great fun, and I’m so happy that Ru asked me to do it, I love him! Although I must say, I’m not very good in a judging position; these girls can make costumes in three hours and work very hard! I am so happy that Ru has taken such an art form to the mainstream; the show is hugely popular.
You’ve won the Tony, the Grammy, and the Emmy; what else is on the horizon for you? Are you going to complete the “G.A.T.E.” (Grammy, Academy Award, Tony, Emmy) and go for the Oscar?
 
Recently Lisa Kudrow shot a short for Showtime called “Web Therapy”. It’s largely improv, a very skeletal script, along the lines of “The Larry David Show”. She’s a therapist and I get to play her mother! Meryl (Streep) is part of it also, which is great! I loved Lisa on “The Comeback” and her new show that she produces, “Who Do You Think You Are” is great also, I actually told her that I would love to be on it.

Lily TomlinIn The Cookie Jar Exclusive-The Lily Tomlin Interview.

 When talking female comedy, women comedians are a select group; Whoopi Goldberg, Joan Rivers, and of course Lily Tomlin. Lily is making a return to New Jersey to the Count Basie Theatre on March 26th and took some time to talk to Entertainment Editor Cookie. Here, she speaks with him about her iconic movie and television roles, what she has coming up, and what she has planned for her New Jersey fans.