Inside Celebrity Poker
Who's the best-looking star? The most talented? The most successful? All these questions are up for debate. But which star kicks the most butt in poker? That one gets answered weekly on Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown, and we are hooked. The best part? The winnings go to the stars' favorite charities. We sat down with West Wing star Josh Malina, the show's co-creator and executive producer, to get the scoop.
Can you share a behind-the-scenes moment we won't see on TV?
One really funny thing that delighted me was Maura Tierney played, from ER, and she took a little bit of convincing to decide to play. She walked by and, not for anyone's benefit, I heard her sigh and mutter under her breath, "Why did I do this?" It was just so cute. It was Maura talking to herself. "What did I get myself into?" And then she went out there and played great.
Can you tell us about your poker-playing history?
I started to play in college and would play with friends. I was a winning player then – however, I'm not sure how good the other players were. And then when I graduated from college I met (West Wing creator) Aaron Sorkin and we became buddies over weekly or sometimes twice-weekly poker games over at his place in Manhattan. And that's where I started to take it serious.
Is it true that you used to play poker to pay your rent?
That might be a slight overstatement, but there were definitely times when the acting work was slow and I supplanted my income in a big a way and paid rent on poker winnings.
Any advice for aspiring players?
If making money is your primary goal (aside from the social aspect of the game), then you've got to work at it. You've got to read books about poker, you've got to observe. Especially when you play with the same people year after year. It really plays to observe their habits and their behaviors.
Too Tough to Die
Rumors about punk icon Johnny Ramone being close to death have been greatly exaggerated. "I'm feeling much better now and any other reports were premature," the former Ramones guitarist, who has suffered from prostate cancer and was hospitalized in Los Angeles with an infection in June, tells us. "I have a personal trainer coming to my home three times a week to help me get my strength back." Ramone is also working on his memoirs, which will be co-authored with journalist Steve Miller, and looking for a publisher. "I will tell both my own story and the straight story of the Ramones in this book, with all the rough edges attached," he says. "There will be no whitewashing in this book and there will be no warts covered."
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By MARK DAGOSTINO, MARGI BLASH and ANDREA BILLUPS