How Mark Malkoff Convinced Kate Walsh, Justine Bateman and Other Celebrities to Let Him Sleep Over
|Courtesy Mark Malkoff|
|Mark Malkoff, left, gets a bedtime story from Phil Rosenthal, who created Everybody Loves Raymond.|
Not wanting to spend thousands of dollars on hotels during his recent visit to Los Angeles, comedian Mark Malkoff instead asked a bunch of celebrities if he could sleep at their places. He picked celebrities because that's what Los Angeles is known for.
Malkoff kept his request simple, bypassing publicists and managers and writing the celebs personally through Facebook or by mail. He'd like to spend the night, he wrote. He'd also like to film video of it, which he'd then post on the Internet. "I couldn't believe it when people started saying yes," he says.
Actress Justine Bateman let him sleep in her tree house. The New York-based Malkoff, who is 36, had a terrible crush on her when he was in junior high. Video of the evening in question shows him staggering awkwardly through her doorway to give her a hug. At one point, they slow-danced.
"Good night, Justine," Malkoff says.
"Good night," she says uncertainly.
The tree house overlooks her pool and the entire city. It's nicer, Malkoff says, than his apartment in Queens. But on a chilly 50-degree night, it wasn't very comfy.
Dave Coulier let Malkoff sleep in his SUV. It was cozier than the tree house.
Not every celeb makes strange houseguests sleep in the driveway or backyard. Camryn Manheim gave Malkoff a proper guest room. "I was wondering if I could sleep with your Emmy," he said to her. "I won't lick it." He snuggled in bed with the trophy. "Did you wash your face?" Manheim asked. Then she kissed him on the forehead and folded the blanket over him.
Mary Lynn Rajskub, of 24, installed him in her little boy's room. "Are you asleep yet? Please, for the love of God, would you nap?" she screamed, as her kids crawled on top of him.
Grey's Anatomy star Kate Walsh even lent him pajamas, which he really wanted to keep. (He didn't.) Malkoff and Walsh watched TV on her bed with her cats and dogs. Walsh is pretty hot, and Malkoff called to ask his wife's permission before he got into bed. "It's totally cool, Christine," Walsh told her. "I'm not attracted to him at all."
Malkoff looks a bit like comedian Stephen Colbert, for whose show he used to work -- same dark hair, glasses, pale skin, slim build, nerdy, peevish aspect. When he smiles (which is often), it comes across as a grimace. He looks harmless. Nevertheless, some celebrities weren't comfortable with him sleeping in their house an entire night. For these nervous types, Malkoff created a subcategory, Celebrity Naps. When he napped at Steven Weber's place, the Wings star gave him herbal supplements and hovered over Malkoff with a kitchen timer as he slept, watching him.
A few celebs made a point of demonstrating that, despite their fame, they are just regular, everyday guys. Martin Kove, who played the bad guy in The Karate Kid, invited Malkoff to play Hungry Hungry Hippos and smoke cigars.
Quite a few took the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: promote their projects and lull Malkoff to sleep. Ed Begley Jr. read Malkoff passages from his book as a bedtime story ("Making compost is the best thing you can do"). So did Lisa Loeb ("Does an otter dream of water? Does a penguin dream of ice?").
Some celebs went above and beyond the call of duty. Begley Jr. cooked Malkoff a vegan dinner, then oatmeal for breakfast. Bateman made him toast. Manheim fixed him a salad.
Other celebs weren't having any of it. Not the sleepovers. Not the naps. Larry King said no. Danica McKellar, aka Winnie Cooper of The Wonder Years, also said no. Rob Corddry, who played a suicidal alcoholic in Hot Tub Time Machine, said, "No way are you staying at my place."
Though Malkoff tried to pick "a range" of celebrities, A-listers are simply beyond the reach of Internet comedians and other mere mortals. No amount of wheedling or grimace-grinning was getting him into Casa Tom and Katie. Not, at least, without incurring a restraining order.
Of the ones who said yes, it's hard to believe they would have done so if he weren't filming. Celebrity sleepovers are definitely the sort of stunt that not everyone can pull off. Malkoff has credentials. Or, at least, he's been on TV -- The Today Show, CBS Evening News, CNN. His shtick is that he does crazy stuff. There was the time he visited all 171 Starbucks franchises in Manhattan in a single day. Or the time he moved into an IKEA for a week while his apartment was being fumigated. Or the time he spent a month on an AirTran jet to conquer his fear of flying. He set a Guinness World Record in the process (and washed himself with baby wipes every morning).
Proving he was not ungrateful, Malkoff bought some celebrities gifts. He gave Phil Rosenthal, creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, a packet of beef jerky, lottery tickets and Budweiser. Rosenthal drank the beer, chewed the jerky, scratched the lottery tickets and won $12. "Damn," Malkoff says now. "I should have brought more of them gifts."
If he occasionally failed to observe Emily Post's rule that a small thank-you gift for the hostess is always appreciated, it is because he was nervous with anticipation. He felt like a kid again -- or maybe like James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio. He felt a tremendous responsibility to the legions of Kate Walsh fans who were superjazzed that Malkoff was getting to do what they only dream of doing: sleep in her bed. Pet her pets. Urinate in her toilet.
Insomnia was an unfortunate side effect of privilege: "It was just so exciting and mind-boggling." After the cameraperson left, he'd drift off to sleep, then suddenly wake in the middle of the night, thinking, "This is so odd."
On principle, Malkoff tries to keep his expectations low, so it surprised him that so many celebs gave him freedom of the house. He didn't expect to be locked in his room, exactly. But he did expect to be told not to go into certain areas. Given no limitations, the curiosity factor warred with the pressure "to be an amazing houseguest." He successfully avoided medicine cabinets, but did sneak peeks into refrigerators (Begley's was the best stocked -- all healthy stuff).
Of the 13 celebs Malkoff called on, perhaps Kato Kaelin, America's most famous houseguest, could most relate. He chose Kaelin for irony's sake. "This is so weird," Kaelin told him, "because you are the actual first houseguest staying at my place."
"He texted me 10 minutes before I arrived and ordered a pizza," Malkoff says. Kaelin, he concludes, could be a motivational speaker, "he was such an enthusiastic, warm guy." No wonder O.J. liked having him around.
And what do the celebrities get out of it? A chance to further their celebrity, of course, by appearing in Malkoff's videos, which he'll be releasing at the rate of one per week over the next three months (on mydamnchannel.com). They also get a place to stay next time they are in New York: Malkoff welcomes any of them to crash on the couch at his place in Queens, should the need arise.Follow us on Twitter at @LAWeeklyArts and like us on Facebook.