Carl Reiner on His New Memoir, Holding Steve Martin's Baby and His Love of Zooey Deschanel
He tweets. He Tivos. He's excited about the video components included with the eBook version of his new, self-published memoir, I Remember Me. Carl Reiner may be 90, but the comedy veteran who lent his writing, acting and directing talent to seminal titles including Your Show of Shows, The Steve Allen Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Jerk and the Ocean's Eleven trilogy (not to mention fathering actor-director Rob Reiner), remains on the lookout for new projects to both create and appreciate every day.
How are you feeling now that I Remember Me has made it to completion?
I'm very happy to have it out, because I've gotten a little feedback from people who have read it, and they had a good time with it. And my whole thrust in life is to entertain, and I think this book might do that to certain people.
It's really filling in from my very first memories of anything, when I was very young. I'd walk around the block every day on my daily walk and something would pop into my head. I'd say, "Ooh, that's something I forgot about but I oughta write about." As a matter of fact, when I was ready to send it out, the last day, somebody sent me a photo of something I never remembered there being a photo of. There was Henry Fonda, myself, Barbara Rush, Eddie Fisher, Tippi Hedren, Joan Staley and President Truman. And it was a story I had forgotten about. And so I quickly said, "Hold on; I'll send ya the book a day later," and I doctored it up and flipped it in where it belonged.
I have stories about every major icon and presidents; I've met an awful lot of presidents -- actually I emceed Eisenhower's birthday ball, his 75th birthday ball -- so I have a lot of pictures with the presidents. Anyway, I'm thumbing through the book; I'm looking at a picture of Jerry Lewis, George Burns, Jack Benny, Albert Brooks, Jackie Cooper, Hedy Lamarr, right down to Dinah Shore, Sidney Bechet, Judy Garland...
Do you attribute forgetting moments to just a wealth of information? It's hard to know what will bubble up at the surface at any moment?
I've lived a long time, and the only thing that works well is my head. I'm gonna be 91 in about a month, but I just took a major flop in my hall yesterday. I just happened to turn around the wrong way and twist something, and I didn't hurt anything, but I went flying through the air, and I said, "Oh, well this is it!" I have everything working well from my neck up, but the rest of me goes slow.
The funny thing is after I got this book out, I said, "What do I do now?" I woke up every morning with the urge to go to my computer and work, and so I started another book, and it's one that I can't wait to get up to. It's a really crazy one.
Nonfiction or fiction?
This is fiction, but I don't want to tell about it, because it's so original and so crazy that when I finally announce it people will say, "That's nuts!" It really is. I'm two-thirds through it.
Does the writing process get easier or more difficult as you go along?
It's funny, people will throw things at you if you say it's a pleasure. People like to know that you suffered when you write. No, I enjoy writing very much. As a matter of fact, [I Remember Me] flew out of me.
It's a beautiful, hardcover book with a beautiful picture; they're also doing an eBook that will be used on computers, and it's got everything in there, including my singing, dancing, pictures of the kids playing Little League baseball, my wife singing. Luckily I was somebody who took an awful lot of movie photos of my children as they were growing up, you know, with the wind-up 8-mm camera, so they have a lot of stuff of my early days, all our pets, our dogs. It's an eye-opener. So the combination of the book, which is a good-looking book they've put together, and the iPad, it's exciting.
Do you find different parts of your comedic brain to be at work for acting versus directing versus writing versus family life?
I don't compartmentalize my life. I decided recently that I do all these things -- I'm hyphenated: I'm a director, writer, producer, you know, talk-show host -- but what I really am is a master Master of Ceremonies. I emceed a lot of big events in my time, all those guild shows: the Directors Guild, the Writers Guild, and Producers Guild shows, and I'm able to think on my feet. I never prepare. But the biggest kick I get is to say, "Look at this guy! Watch him work!" to people and they laugh. I feel that's what my job in life is, to point to things that are entertaining.
You're a talent scout?
I'm a talent scout!
Up next: How many Emmys does he have, really?