- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Griffin’s ‘D’ day

Few top-flight celebrities will admit to their inevitable descent from the A-list. Comedian Kathy Griffin knows she’ll never get there, so she embraces her status as a self-proclaimed D-lister.

It has its perks.

“It’s actually something I embrace and enjoy,” the brassy comic says during a recent phone interview to promote her new hourlong Bravo special, “Kathy Griffin: The D List,” airing at 9 tonight on the cable channel.

“Other people like to raise the bar; I like to lower it,” Miss Griffin says. “I can always leap over it and say, ‘I’ve won.’”

The program essentially boils down her stand-up routine into celebrity-obsessed nuggets.

Taped at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood, “The D List” recalls her real-life encounters with Whitney Houston, Anna Nicole Smith and other notorious celebrities or quasi-stars. Some of the stories could use some editing, and Miss Griffin’s stand-up style has more asides than actual punch lines. But those hungry for gossip will simply sit back and say, “ah.”

Not everyone enjoys being on the receiving end of her barbed wit. Yet most, such as MTV reality darling Jessica Simpson, have told her she can fire at will.

Miss Griffin says her knack for knocking the powerful, or anyone for that matter, began on the home front.

“I came from a family where you’re called on the carpet for anything,” she says.

Her relentless needling may have had a negative effect on a career that can’t take a direct hit. She complains that some talk shows are leery of bringing her on because of the things she has said.

She, refuses, however, to name those shows. Even D-listers have their priorities.

While Miss Griffin’s shtick depends on celebrities behaving badly, she also draws material from the reality-show ranks.

She eagerly embraced the genre before the rest of us did and even starred briefly on an MTV show, “Kathy’s So Called Reality,” which kept a running commentary on the sundry happenings on various shows. However, she says the genre is getting a tad too dumb for her tastes.

“Some of them are still fantastic. I love ‘America’s Next Top Model,’” says Miss Griffin, who tried on reality for size by participating in the first “Celebrity Mole” on ABC and also by hosting NBC’s “Average Joe.” Too many contestants are, as she indelicately puts it, “morons.”

“I’m tired of seeing just stupid people hooking up,” Miss Griffin says.

The reality-show culture rewards the intellectually indifferent, she adds. Case in point: the episodes taped a short time after September 11 on CBS’ “Big Brother”.

“Nobody ever mentioned missing reading the newspaper,” Miss Griffin notes — not even a contestant who lost a relative in the twin towers.

“On the first season of ‘Big Brother,’ they all argued about whether Lincoln was the president. That drives me crazy.”

Miss Griffin’s stand-up routines changed forever thanks to her appearances on NBC’s “Seinfeld.”

After her first-time visit, she riffed about her experience on an HBO comedy special. That led Mr. Seinfeld and company to bring her back to the sitcom as a character who mixed it up with Jerry, then got her revenge by turning her harangues about him into a one-woman show.

“It’s how my act evolved,” Miss Griffin says.

The comedian makes no apologies for her celebrity-driven stand-up. People want to know the truth behind all those glamorous faces, like a certain Texas-born beauty with a reality show on E!

“When I met Anna Nicole Smith, I couldn’t take my eyes off her,” she says. “Is she really like she is on the show? She is.”

Folk’ returns

Showtime is giving the Bravo network some competition when it comes to homosexual-based programming.

The network is bringing back its original series “Queer as Folk” for a fourth season, beginning April 18, Associated Press reports.

The season’s 14 new hourlong episodes — focusing on the relationships, careers, loves and challenges of a group of homosexual men and women living in Pittsburgh — will continue to air on Sundays at 10 p.m.

“Queer as Folk” stars Michelle Clunie, Robert Gant, Thea Gill, Gale Harold, Randy Harrison, Scott Lowell, Peter Paige, Hal Sparks and Sharon Gless. The network’s new series, “The L Word,” which quickly earned a renewal by Showtime executives, tells love stories from a mostly lesbian perspective.

Arresting new DVDs

The granddaddy of reality television shows isn’t “The Real World” or “Survivor.”

It’s Fox TV’s “Cops,” which this week is releasing a trio of new DVDs featuring never-before-aired footage.

Each of the show’s three new DVD titles, “Bad Girls,” “Caught in the Act” and “Shots Fired,” includes previously aired material as well as 17 minutes of footage too raw for television standards. By raw, we mean a melange of profanity and nudity from people who really should know better. The titillation factor might draw some to these DVDs for those outtakes alone, but it’s the depressing humanity on display that supplies the most guilty enjoyment.

The show, which has filmed more than 500 episodes, first hit the air in 1989. The DVD releases retail for $14.98.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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