Friday, February 29, 2008

Channel Guide Magazine: State Of The Ullman

State Of The Ullman
Now That She's A U.S. Citizen, Tracey Ullman Turns Her Attention To Her Newly Adoptive Homeland.

By Karl J. Paloucek

She's been many different people over the years, but she's always been inimitably Ullman. Tracey Ullman, onetime star of Tracey Takes On ... and her other self-titled show that launched The Simpsons, returns to TV this month with her new series, Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. Unlike her previous excursions into sketch comedy, this venture features Ullman in a string of short, expertly segued vignettes that bring the viewer on a journey across this fair land. "I've done it in, kind of, YouTube segments, because I think people's focus is going," she explains. "They can only do, like, 30-second to 90-second pieces. And in that way, we manage to get across the nation."

What else is different is the appearance of celebrities on her show -- all mimicked by Ullman, of course. "I haven't done it for years," she says, recalling that the last time she parodied celebs was for a BBC Radio 4 program in the early '80s. "I wanted to be David Beckham and Ariana Huffington. There were some delicious voices like that I wanted to do ... like Renee Zellweger and Tony Sirico, and Helen Mirren and Judi Dench."

Ullman may be skewering the famous, but they're only part of her target that is today's media-obsessed America. "I always think that 20 or so years ago, America didn't have the ability to laugh at itself as much as Europeans, because we're so self-deprecating," she offers. "And the satire was always more acute in Europe. Do you remember when they brought over that British series, Spitting Image? ... I thought, 'This'll never last, this show -- they're not ready!' And you weren't -- and it was cancelled very quickly."

It might seem cheeky to some, a Brit-by-birth coming over here and having a go at us Colonials. But for those folks, Ullman has news: She's one of us -- officially. "I became an American last year," she explains. And while she's happy for what it means for her and her family, she does feel it also gives her a certain license she hasn't had in the past. "It gave me the confidence to go a step further in what I want to say about our country. Because I've been at parties over the years, and a couple of people have said to me [in American accent], 'Yeah, but you know, you're not American. You're British.' I'm sorry. I've lived here for 25 years. I've invested a lot of time and effort in this country, and reaped many rewards. I understand the place and have traveled all over, and I just felt, 'You know, it's time to become an American.' It's lovely to be given that option. Not many places do that."

Tracey Ullman Takes On ...

Tracey Ullman slipped into character numerous times during our discussion, so we thought we would give you a preview of some of the voices to which you can look forward in Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. Your audio tour starts here

As grateful as Ullman is for that opportunity, though, she may be almost as thankful that in the decades she has spent on these shores, America has started to catch up in the acerbic satire department. "It's brilliant, all the satire in America -- Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert," she says. "[Americans have] developed more of a sense of laughing at themselves and being more aware of the rest of the world -- not living in this bubble of patriotism."

But if freedom rings through Tracey Ullman's State of the Union, it rings loudest in her choice of characterizations, which tell us almost as much about her perspective on American life as it does about us in general. She's quick to point out that not all of them are strictly comic -- though she can't seem to help being amusing as she does so. "We have this woman called Irma Billings, who's in Plainfield, Nebraska," Ullman explains. "As we edited the show, we all went, 'I really like her. She makes you feel calm, you know?' You go, 'Where did you get your pants from?' 'They're just pants.' 'Who cuts your hair?' 'I don't know. My haircut's cut.' You know, I like that sort of quality within the show."

"I love the look of her," she says. "She looks like she has a simple life, and does her washing, and wears the same clothes. She's got blue eyes. I got some nice contact lenses, and just a boring haircut, and she's just happier, probably, than anyone in the show. I love people like that. I love being people like that. It's very relaxing. It's quite an unusual thing to be able to be all these people and dress up as all these people. It's like going into an Internet chat room and pretending you're someone else. I get to do it physically, as well, and I find it a psychological experiment."

One of her favorite "experiments" from her new series was inspired by one of the crew from The Sopranos. "I loved being Tony Sirico -- "Paulie" Walnuts -- for some reason. Because I like the way he talks," she says, shifting into appropriate Jersey-speak. "I always love it when actors say that, when they say [back into character], 'I wanna do somethin' different. I wanna show my range. I wanna play a totally different character.' ... You think, 'You can't!'"

On the other hand, playing totally different characters is what Ullman does best, and it ensures that in her projects, she gets a huge amount of screen time, a situation that apparently is motivated at least partly by marriage. "Me and my husband finance these shows, and my husband wants me onscreen a lot!," she says, amused, of her other half, coproducer Allan McKeown. "It's kind of like Andrew Lloyd Webber/Sarah Brightman, Pia Zadora -- you know, those kind of women." She knows it's always going to be this way when they work together, and she knows that somewhere out there must be a few people rolling their eyes. "I know someone's like, 'Oh, gosh, she's such a controlling @#$%,'" she laughs. "And these shows, we did them on such a budget that it's like, me, pretty much, all the time!"

As we spoke, Ullman had just returned from India, where her husband is working on a new sitcom. ("It's all about call centers.") She marvels at the country's bustling economy, and raves about the abundant sartorial opportunities she found there. "I just got some brilliant stuff in India. Brilliant," she says, reflecting a bit on her evolving fashion tastes these days. "Really different, sort of unique. It's very hard as you get older. You've got everything. I find I still am crazy about being an individual. And you have to dress age-appropriately, as you get older. You know, you can't just wear jeans and tight T-shirts -- ulchh. ... As you can imagine -- I just got back from India -- I'm in bloody saris at the moment. In the freezing rain. But I love all the colors and everything."

The woman who imitates everyone is still inimitable. And as State of the Union readies for its premiere, Ullman herself sounds relieved and energized by its possibilities. "It's nice to have a show going out again," she says. "I haven't done it for a while, and it's still as much fun."

When thinking back on her previous shows, it's hard not to ask about the one that inadvertently gave birth to one of the most successful series of all time, The Simpsons. Does she ever get sick of talking about it? "Aw, never," she assures. "It's astonishing, really. To think of what happened to it, and where it went, is quite amazing. I'm so proud of it. I do have a tiny piece of it, and it's certainly paid off more residuals than The Tracey Ullman Show ever did. I always say, you know, I wish I could get three minutes in the middle of their show."

In 1992, she did try -- unsuccessfully -- to sue for a stake in some of the hefty merchandising profits that The Simpsons had been enjoying. If there's any bitterness left over at the outcome, it's virtually indiscernible as she sings the praises of its voice talent and the show's creator. "Matt Groening is a genius," she says. "Knew it the second he came in and pitched the idea to us all those years ago." Still, she can't help but marvel at the amount of ephemera the show has spawned. "It's amazing. The bloody products of The Simpsons -- there's gonna be Simpsons Depends in a minute, as the population gets older. I mean, how many more things can they put The Simpsons on? Simpsons adult diapers," she laughs. "It'll pay for my old age, hopefully."

Tracey Ullman's State of the Union premieres on Showtime March 30.
originally published — March 2008


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Showtime Continues To Rake In The Viewers

Much is to be said about Showtime's continued success, versus, HBO's continuing declining years. Not one new hit show in years, with a pile of flops that include the Lisa Kudrow comedy, The Comeback, and the pornographic, Tell Me You Love Me, which received the lowest amount of viewers for any HBO original series in the network's history. More, and more, former HBO stars are leaving the network for Showtime. That lists includes Michael C. Hall, and now Eddie Falco, amongst others. Included in this line-up, is Tracey, herself, who had a 14-year relationship with the Home Box Office, and was one of the original players who kicked started HBO's original programming gamble, making it a success. When the announcement was made that she was leaving HBO for Showtime, TV Guide criticized the network's decision for letting one of it's most prominent and bankable stars go. This was also in the wake of the continuous flops that the channel was piling up. Things continue to look bleak for the cable premium network provider, with still not a hit series after the conclusion of it's hit series, The Sopranos. With shows like Weeds, Californication, The Tudors, and Dexter, Showtime continues to hit it out of the park.

Showtime president, Robert Greenblatt, who was one of Tracey's main incentives for leaving HBO, has been quoted in this new article, entitled, Pay Players' Hit List:

Showtime this year scored a new series, State of the Union, with comedienne Tracey Ullman, whose 14-year association with HBO included the award-winning series, Tracey Takes On.

“I know Tracey made a great splash on HBO, but I go back to the original Tracey Ullman Show which was on Fox when I was at Fox,” said Greenblatt who was a development executive there at the time. “So I’ve loved her for 15 years. She’s just in a class by herself in terms of doing these multiple characters, and the fact that she wanted to do another show at all was great, and we were thrilled that she wanted to come to Showtime.”

The Ullman project is scheduled to premiere March 30, following The Tudors second season premiere, at 10 p.m.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tracey Enters The "Who Can Do The Best Arianna" Impression Contest!

From Page Six:

WE HEAR . . .
February 21, 2008 -- THAT Robert Evans is hosting a luncheon at his Beverly Hills estate this afternoon in honor of Van Cleef & Arpels and Oliver Peoples. Expected are Eric Dane and wife Rebecca Gayheart, Peter Morton and Linda Evangelista, and Brett Ratner . . . THAT Justin Timberlake paid a visit to his Upper East Side eatery, Southern Hospitality, where he chatted up customers and gave them his recommendations on the menu . . . THAT during the book party for Jacob Weisberg's new tome, "The Bush Tragedy," at Arianna Huffington's Brentwood mansion, Domino magazine editrix Deborah Needleman and Tracey Ullman held a contest to see who could do the better Huffington impression.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tracey Ullman in Esquire!

Thanks to Showtimefan!

Funnywoman Tracey Ullman gives the male readers of Esquire “10 Things You Don’t Know About Women” in the March issue. Here’s what she had to say:

1. On being asked to write a piece such as this, our thoughts immediately become lewd. Hence…

2. The Hitachi Magic Wand is rarely used on the shoulder muscle while gazing wistfully into the distance like the model on the box.

3. We don’t envy the woman in the Cialis ad. What’s in it for her over the next thirty-six hours? Cystitis, probably.

4. Thongs hurt, and your bum digests them.

5. Equality will be achieved when we see David Duchovny’s knob on Californication.

6. We hate the smell of Axe.

7. We really don’t find farting funny.

8. We’d rather you fart than wear Axe.

9. We know that, in the main, men are funnier than women.

10. And we can pee standing up.

Trace looks fabulous in the pic that accompanies the story (Sadly, I can’t find a full-frame one to post here). She’s all glammed up in a black strapless dress and fierce red patent leather shoes. Not being a fashionista, I have no idea if her pumps are Manolos, Louboutins or Jimmy Choos, but they look amazing.

Keep an eye out for her in more glossy magazines as we get closer to the State of the Union premiere next month.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Today, Tracey Expected At Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Party, MSN To Provide Online Access!

MSN Provides Exclusive Access to Legendary Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Party
Published 02/09/2008 - 7:42 a.m. GMT

(PressMediaWire) REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 9, 2008 — Today, Clive Davis will host his annual pre-Grammy party, where he will be joined by stars such as Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Evander Holyfield, Will Smith, Brett Ratner, John Voight, Bill Maher, Carrie Underwood, Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz, Mos Def, Rod Stewart, Miley Cyrus, Rev. Al Sharpton, Chad Kroeger, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Chris Brown, Daughtry, Foo Fighters, Usher and Tameka Foster, Les Moonves, Josh Groban, Lindsay Lohan, Jimmy Kimmel and Sarah Silverman, Rihanna, Pink, Velvet Revolver, Fantasia, Lionel Richie, Feist, Fergie and Josh Duhmel, Edgar Bronfman Jr., The Black Eyed Peas, Gavin DeGraw, Janet Jackson and Jermaine Dupri, Nelly Furtado, Leona Lewis, John Legend, L.A. Reid, Anthony Hamilton, Jackie Collins, John Paul Jones, Raquel Welch, Kim Basinger, Meatloaf, Neil Portnow, Dita Von Teese, John Mayer, Michael Strahan, Lil’ Jon, Larry King, Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna, Mario, Mark Ronson, Naomi Campbell, Natasha Bedingfield, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Simon Fuller, Nygel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, Sean “P.Diddy” Combs, T-Pain, Taylor Swift, Tommy Lee, Tracey Ullman, David Spade, Mayor Antonio Villaraiosa, and many more.

Only on MSN can fans have access to this exclusive evening’s performances, artist interviews and videos. Access to the Grammy’s hottest party is available at beginning Feb. 10.

About MSN and Windows Live

MSN attracts more than 465 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 42 markets and 21 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering compelling programmed content experiences to consumers and online advertising opportunities to businesses worldwide. Windows Live, a set of personal Internet services and software, is designed to bring together in one place all the relationships, information and interests people care about most, with enhanced safety and security features across their PC, devices and the Web. MSN and Windows Live are offered alongside each other as complementary services. Some Windows Live services entered an early beta phase on Nov. 1, 2005; these and future beta updates can be found at Windows Live is available at MSN is located on the Web at MSN worldwide sites are located at

About RCA Music Group

The RCA Music Group includes J Records, Arista Records and RCA Records. The J Records roster is home to platinum superstars Alicia Keys, Rod Stewart, Pearl Jam, Luther Vandross, Jamie Foxx, Mario, Jennifer Hudson, Leona Lewis, Gavin DeGraw, Emily King, Fantasia, and Monica, among others. The Arista Records family includes all-time superstars Sarah McLachlan, Santana, Dido, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Carrie Underwood, and Barry Manilow. RCA Records is home to superstar artists Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews Band, Foo Fighters, The Strokes, Velvet Revolver, Avril Lavigne, Clay Aiken, Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, and more. RCA Music Group is part of Sony BMG Music Entertainment.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

More On Screening! Tracey In Person!

The PaleyFest08 details announced!

The PaleyFest08 schedule is as follows—­please note that events/participants are subject to change:
Elvis ’68 Comeback Special 40th Anniversary Celebration
Friday, March 14 at 7:00 p.m.
In Person: Priscilla Presley, Steve Binder (Producer/Director), and Bones Howe (Producer). Additional panelists to be announced.

Pushing Daisies
Saturday, March 15 at 7:00 p.m.
In Person: Kristin Chenoweth (“Olive Snook”), Bruce Cohen (Executive Producer), Bryan Fuller (Creator/ Executive Producer), Dan Jinks (Executive Producer), Swoosie Kurtz (“Lily Charles”), Peter Ocko (CoExecutive Producer), Lee Pace (“Ned”), and Barry Sonnenfeld (Director/ Executive Producer). Additional panelists to be announced.

The Comedy World of Judd Apatow and Friends
Monday, March 17 at 7:00 p.m.
In Person: Judd Apatow with special guests, personally selected by Mr. Apatow, from his television and feature film projects.

Tuesday, March 18 at 7:00 p.m.
In Person: Adam Baldwin (“John Casey”), Chris Fedak (Executive Producer), Joshua Gomez (“Morgan Grimes”), Scott Krinsky (“Jeff”), Sarah Lancaster (“Ellie Bartowski”), Mark Christopher Lawrence (“Big Mike”), Zachary Levi (“Chuck Bartowski”), Julie Ling (“Anna”), McG (Executive Producer), Ryan McPartlin (“Captain Awesome”), Vik Sahay (“Lester”), Josh Schwartz (Executive Producer), and Yvonne Strahovski (“Sarah Walker”).

Friday Night Lights
Wednesday, March 15 at 7:00 p.m.
In Person: Zach Gilford (“Matt Saracen”), Jason Katims (Executive Producer), Jesse Plemons (”Landry Clarke”), Jeffrey Reiner (Executive Producer), and Aimee Teegarden (”Julie Taylor”). Additional panelists to be announced.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reunion
Thursday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m.
In Person: Amber Benson (“Tara Maclay”), Nicolas Brendan (“Xander Harris”), Emma Caulfield (“Anya”), Eliza Dushku (“Faith”), Seth Green (“Oz”), James Marsters (“Spike”), Michelle Trachtenberg (“Dawn Summers”), Joss Whedon (Creator). Additional panelists to be announced.

Dancing with the Stars
Friday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m.
In Person: Tom Bergeron (CoHost) and Samantha Harris (CoHost). Additional panelists to be announced.

Gossip Girl
Saturday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m.
In Person: Penn Badgley (“Dan Humphrey”), Chace Crawford (“Nate Archibald”), Amy Kaufman (Producer), Bob Levy (Executive Producer), Blake Lively (“Serena van der Woodsen”), Leighton Meester (“Blair Waldorf”), Taylor Momsen (“Jenny Humphrey”), Kelly Rutherford (“Lily van der Woodsen”), Stephanie Savage (Executive Producer), Josh Schwartz (Executive Producer), Matthew Settle (“Rufus Humphrey”), Jessica Szhor (“Vanessa Abrams”), Ed Westwick (“Chuck Bass”), and Cecily von Ziegesar (Author). Additional panelists to be announced.

Monday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m.
In Person: Noah Bean (“David Connor”), Rose Byrne (“Ellen Parsons”), Glenn Close (“Patty Hewes”), Ted Danson (“Arthur Frobisher”), Tate Donovan (“Tom Shayes”), Anastasia Griffith (“Katie Connor”), Ċ½eljko Ivanek (“Ray Fiske”), Glenn Kessler (CoCreator/Executive Producer/Writer), Todd A. Kessler (CoCreator/Executive Producer/Writer), and Daniel Zelman (CoCreator/Executive Producer/Writer).

Dirty Sexy Money
Tuesday, March 25 at 7:00 p.m.
In Person: Greg Berlanti (Executive Producer) and Craig Wright (Executive Producer) with the cast and the creative team of Dirty Sexy Money.

PaleyFest08 Series Premiere: Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union Wednesday, March 26 at 7:00 p.m. In Person: Troy Miller (Executive Producer/Director), Gail Parent (Executive Producer), Tracey Ullman (Creator), and Bruce Wagner (Executive Producer).

Mad Men
Thursday, March 27 at 7:00 p.m.
In Person: Matthew Weiner (Creator/Executive Producer) and the cast of Mad Men.

PaleyFest08 Premium ticket packages will go on presale Monday, February 4 through Wednesday, February 6, 2008. Individual tickets will go on sale to Paley Center Members on Thursday, February 7, 2008. Individual tickets will become available to the general public beginning the following Sunday, February 10, 2008. For Paley Center Members, ticket prices are $50 and $35 per event. For the general public, tickets are $60 and $45 per event.
PaleyFest08 Premium ticket packages presale window from Monday, February 4 at 9:00 a.m. PT through Wednesday, February 6 at 5:00 p.m. PT via TicketWeb at or call TicketWeb toll-free at (866) 468-3399 (service charges apply)

I can’t believe that Sarah Michelle Gellar isn’t doing PaleyFest08, what a b!tch!
Seriously if you are in LA during the time one the shows you watch is doing the festival I highly recommend that you go because they are really fun and interesting! I can’t tell you all the interesting facts I learned from going to the PaleyFest nights in the past!

UPDATE: Sarah Michelle Gellar is confirmed for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer reunion!!!

Seriously? OMG! WTF?

"State of the Union" Screening!

Paley festival sets starry slate
Ullman's Showtime show 'Union' to premiere


The upcoming 25th annual William S. Paley Television Festival will feature the premiere of Tracey Ullman's new Showtime sketch comedy series, "Tracey Ullman's State of the Union."

The March 26 screening and session with Ullman will mark the first time the Paley fest has hosted a series preem. The TV fest hosted by the Paley Center for Media runs March 14-27 at Hollywood's ArcLight Cinemas (Daily Variety, Jan. 24).
More than one option

In addition to the Ullman event, a March 15 sesh on NBC's Peabody-winning drama "Friday Night Lights," and a March 24 event devoted to FX's "Damages" have been added to this year's Paley lineup.

Fest officials also confirmed Monday that its "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" reunion event on March 20 will live up to its billing. "Buffy" star Sarah Michelle Gellar has committed to attend.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Bits: "State" Of The Cheddar

Cheese carver adds Statue of Liberty to repertoire
Film crew documents Little Chute craftsman Troy Landwehr's work as his international presence grows

Troy Landwehr carves a likeness of the Statue of Liberty, made from Wisconsin cheddar cheese, in a temperature-controlled space at the WOW Logistics distribution warehouse in Little Chute on Thursday. The finished product will appear in a segment of "Tracey Ullman's State of the Union" on the cable TV network Showtime. Post-Crescent photo by Kirk Wagner

Landwehr's carving of the Statue of Liberty will be featured on an episode of "Tracey Ullman's State of the Union" on Showtime. Four days of carving will be reduced to a 4½-minute piece that will include video and time-lapse photography. "It'll just be a blur with everything going so fast," Landwehr said. The whirlwind video footage might become an all-too-appropriate souvenir. It's going to be a whirlwind month for the owner of Kerrigan Brothers Winery.

Friday, February 1, 2008