Picks and Pans Review: Up Front With...
Here's the best interview show of the week, the best I've seen in ages. Up Front proves to be amazing simply by making Shelley Winters, that shrieking presence on The Tonight Show, likable. "On Johnny Carson," Winters says, "he presses the right buttons and there I am, a middle-aged blond bombshell acting like an idiot sometimes." She smiles at her interviewer, Greg Jackson. "You're good," she says. "You've made me admit it." Jackson says he doesn't know how. But I'll guess. What's most phenomenal about Jackson's show is that Jackson himself doesn't appear on the screen until the last minute. Unlike every other interviewer on TV, he doesn't try to be a star; he lets his guests star. Unlike Robin Leach, Jackson doesn't call all his guests beautiful, does his homework, asks intelligent questions and spends more than 30 seconds with his subjects. Unlike American Masters or Roger Mudd, when he interviewed Mary Martin on 1986, or Barbara Walters, when she apologized to Baby Doc Duvalier for asking a not-nice question on 20/20, Jackson does not revere and fear his guests; he treats them like plain people who happen to be famous. Jackson's had plenty of interview shows before: The Last Word and One on One on ABC and Signature on the now defunct CBS Cable. So he's had practice and it paid off. After watching his interviews with Winters, Richard Pryor and Joan Collins, I can't wait to see what Stacy Keach, Valerie Harper, Ron Reagan Jr., George Hamilton, Hal Holbrook and five more have to say.