8- The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 11, 1997
Talented Piven takes entertainment industry by storm
Sily Arts Writer
Jeremy Piven has one of those faces that is easily recog-
nized, but people have trouble putting a name to it. Having
"been seen in countless numbers of movies, television shows
and theater productions, this talented actor should be raking
in fop billing on dazzling marques, inhabiting a lush star trail-
er bigger than most homes and exercising a massive
Hollywood ego by now.
Yet the 30-ish Piven, who has been performing since he
was 8 years old, can still be seen as the supporting character
in most of his productions. From playing Ellen's loser cousin
'Spence on the hit series, "Ellen," to strutting his stuff as John
Cusack's sidekick in "Grosse Pointe Blank," Piven doesn't get
very much of the spotlight. But it's not too big of a deal for
this mellow guy who sees himself as just one of the boys,
stuck with the superficial image that comes with working in
the television industry.
"I hope to ... work with people who like and trust me'
aPiven said in an interview with The Michigan Daily. "That's
what (this business) is all about. And with people who are
passionate about what they do. That sounds pretentious, but I
don't care. It's like, don't take yourself too seriously. Work
really hard, but don't take yourself too seriously. We're all in
this together, for the love of God! I mean, so what if you're a
Ever so modest, Piven has not let Hollywood get in the
way of his attitude or his interests. Sounding like every other
person in this country who is young at heart, Piven
talked about the things he enjoys as much as the next
"I like to play the drums. I like to kick-box. I love
watching movies," Piven said.
Then after some contempla-
tion, he said playfully, .
"And I like smoking
Piven grew up in Illinois, not
terribly far from the annual location
of the world-renowned Hash
Bash (which the
nntnr hn n tonr- .
asked to join the cast of "Ellen."
When "Ellen"'s ratings skyrocketed and the show became
fanatically embraced by the public, the sitcom's overnight
success left the cast in awe, Piven said.
"I think people just enjoy Ellen (DeGeneres). They
enjoy a woman with a strong comedic sense... some-
one they can relate to. And since I've come-on,
apparently people enjoy watching me. So
maybe I'm a variable too;' said
Piven about "Ellen"'s
matter how successful "Ellen"
has been, it hasn't been the best
place for creative input.
"They hired me as
s Spence on "Ellen." Piven, as he
explained the source
of his frustration. "I'm not allowed to put my input into
"I was allowed greater freedom on ('Grosse Pointe Blank')
than I am on TV's 'Ellen,' which is wrong, I believe. If you
hire someone and bring them to the party, you have to be sup-
portive. And when people are supportive, and everyone feels
comfortable, that's where you get people's best work.
"(My character, Spence) is like a physical extension of
my creativity on the show," said Piven, almost sadly. "He's
frustrated. He's trying to figure out which career is right
for him, but he's settled once again on being a doctor. And
he's got this relationship with Paige that is just based on
But at least Piven is proud to be a part of one of the most
controversial events to occur on television: Ellen coming out.
"I think it's great! I'm proud to be a part of it;" gushed
Piven. "I don't think people will be that surprised. I think for
the most part, people saw it coming. And if they have a hard
time with it, they have to open up their eyes. It's different
kinds of people, and (those who have a problem with it) have
obviously been very sheltered. Because, here's a woman that
they've liked for all this time, and it's the same woman. She's
just discovering things about herself.
"It's also a really funny episode when she comes ou6
Meanwhile, as the rest of the world awaits the day that
Ellen Morgan comes out of the closet, Piven is promoting his
new film, "Grosse Pointe Blank," in Svhich he stars with
another Piven Theatre Group alumnus, John Cusack.
See PIVEN, Page 9
actr upes to par-
ticipate in ... some- '
day), where he began Jeremy Piven star
his acting career in a
theater group founded by his parents, The Piven Theater
After studying at New York University, Piven headed out to
Tinsel Town, where he played bit and not-so-bit parts in films
such as "Judgment Night;" "P.C.U.' and "Heat," while being
Divine 9fntervention helps
so does a professional looking resume.
Resume Package for only $7.00
Quirky 'Ellen' brings 'Must-See TV' to ABC,
By Julia Shih
<fDaily Arts Writer
So is she or isn't she ... Lebanese? Why care, as
long as talented comedian, actress and best-selling
author Ellen DeGeneres and her beloved character
of the same name continue to deliver quality laughs
on ABC's hit television series,
Not only does it have an
extremely talented cast and
some very funny and interest-
ing characters, it also has
incredible writing behind it and
ingenious episode premises.
"Ellen" follows the life of one bumbling Ellen
Morgan, a single woman living in the heart of Los
Angeles. Kind-hearted and with good intentions, Ellen
can always get herself into some of the most awkward
and often traumatic situations known to man.
This season, Ellen has been looking at her life and
has decided that she's due for a change. This includes
buying a new house, selling her bookstore to finance
the purchase, entering therapy to deal with her par-
ents' divorce and clumsily handling the crazy charac-x
ters and matters that come careening into her life.
Looks like there isn't going to be a single dull'
moment in her life ... or on the show!
But, Ellen Morgan isn't the
VI E W only character who has all the
fun. Also returning this season
Flmen are Joe Farrell (David Anthony
Higgins) and Audrey Penny
ABC (Clea Lewis), two goofy
ruesdays at 8:30 p.m. employees at Ellen's literary
cafe, Buy the Book, and Ellen's
uptight cousin Spence Kovak (Jeremy Piven), who,
is involved in a volatile romance with her best
friend, Paige Clark (Joely Fisher).
With the addition of DeGeneres, who brings her
trademark intelligent observational humor and wry
wit to the show, this comedy team is to television,
what the Chicago Bulls have been to basketball in
the last few years. In other words, this show is unbe-
lievably stacked and in a league of its own.
One point of interest on the show is the creative
way in which each episode of Ellen opens. Each
week, a new title sequence is presented with guest
appearances by a variety of celebrities. Like
Executive Producer Vic Kaplan says, "It's like the
90-second version of 'The Ed Sullivan Show."'
This season, people can look forward to more hilar-
ious openings such as John Tesh reprising his role as
a color commentator for gymnastics, RuPaul demon-
strating to Ellen how to walk in a formal gown and
Ellen flying into camera view as Peter Pan.
"Ellen" is probably one of the most amusing and
entertaining sitcoms currently on television. It has
an abundant supply of humor, which it generously
deals out, and rarely disappoints laughter-seekers
with each energetic episode.
Unlike NBC's having to use numerous shows to
grab audiences, ABC needs only "Ellen" to create a
night of absolutely "Must See TV"
The University of Michigan
School of Music
Friday-Sunday, April 11-13
Theatre and Drama Production
Michele Shaye, director
* Alice Childress: Wedding Band
Trueblood Theatre, 8 p.m. (Thurs.-Sat.); 2 p.m. (Sun.)
[Tickets $14; students $7] (313) 764-0450
Friday, April 11
Joshua Major, director
Maryanne Kim, music director
" Pasatieri: Signor Deluso (30 minute opera)
McIntosh Theatre, E. V. Moore Bldg., 5 p.m.
Joshua Major, director
Timothy Cheek, music director
" Opera Scenes: "Strauss to Menotti"
McIntosh Theatre, E. V. Moore Bldg., 7p.m.
H. Robert Reynolds, conductor
Timothy McAllister, saxophone
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m.
Ma Xiao Hui, erhu
Blanche Anderson Moore Hall, E. V. Moore Bldg., 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 12
Men's Glee Club
Jerry Blackstone, conductor
David Fryling, assistant conductor
Howard Watkins, piano
" Jacobs-Bond/Derr: Perfect Day
* Praetorius/DePue: Sing dem Herrn
* Bruckner: Ave Maria
" Wilberg: Ubi caritas
" Chesnokov: Spaseniye sodelal
" Sozir (arr.): El yivneh hagalil
" Schubert: Lied im Freien
" Burleigh (arr.): Deep River
" Allaway: Freedom Come
" Jeffers: Solitude
" Lauridsen: Dirait-on
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m. [Tickets $14, $8, $5; students $3 I
Contemporary Directions Ensemble
H. Rober Reynolds, director
" music of female composers
Rackham, 8 p. n.
Monday, April 14
Britton Recital Hall, E. V. Moore Bldg., 8 p.m.
Smo-N Ensembles Recital
Rackham, 8 p.m..
Tuesday, April 15
Theodore Morrison, conductor
James Kibbie and Jeremy Tarrant, organ
eHoiby: At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners
* Warlock: Corpus Christi
" Morrison: Rhapsody No. 2: Easter Joy
Pints of Beer
and Well Drinks
University of Colorado at Boulder
USE SUMMER TO
The cast of "Ellen" offers crazy humor on Wednesday nights on ABC.
S ummer session on the Boulder campus is something special.
With over 500 campus courses to choose from, it's a relaxed,
comfortable learning environment. Classes are smaller. And
when you're not in class, you can soak up Boulder's mellow charm.
Or explore Boulder's backyard, a high country playground that
includes some of the country's most rugged and spectacular terrain.
Summer is a great time to get a jump on the next phase
of your educational goals.
VISITING STUDENTS. Take advantage of CU resources to
complete or enrich your own degree program.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. Take a college course for
experience, to enhance your college application, or to
coa if M'T cisbt ,.n1,t Qwhnnl fnr miTV
The Office Of New
is looking for
for Fall 1997.
You must be available from
August 27 through August 29.
Please pick-up an application