“Can we talk?” Joan Rivers adopted those three words years ago as a catchphrase in her stand-up act, but when someone asks her that question, she usually says yes.
So, when Fancast asked her if she would talk to us about her newest show, E!’s weekly ‘Fashion Police’ (premiering Friday at 10:30/9:30c), the 77-year-old comedy legend agreed not only to talk about the show, but about a bunch of other subjects too, including her co-”police” (Kelly Osbourne, Giuliana Rancic and George Kotsiopoulos), her critically acclaimed documentary (‘Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work‘), and a reality show she just finished filming with daughter Melissa.
On the up-to-the-minute ‘Fashion Police,’ Joan leads a timely discussion of the week in celebrity fashion – from fab to faux pas. It’s a role she’s been playing on TV for years, and Fancast wanted to know: What qualifies Joan Rivers to comment on other people’s clothes?
How long have you been doing red-carpet and fashion commentary for all of us?
Probably about 14 years.
Let’s get right to the issue of qualifications. Other than your longevity as a fashion commentator, what qualifies you in particular to be a fashion policeman?
What qualifies you to say, ‘I don’t like what somebody’s wearing’? But more than that, I think running and designing a jewelry company for 20 years! I’m laughing at you because I think of all the a–holes who are out there on the red carpet commenting – I’m sure they’ve never been asked, [so] what are you asking me for? I’ve always loved fashion. I worked all through college designing windows at Lord & Taylor, so I was a window display [designer] and I probably would have gone into that. And when I hosted the Emmys, I was the first to wear six different dresses so that every time I came out [it was in something new]. I just always adored fashion.
Do you consider yourself particularly fashionable?
No. I consider myself very smart. I do it all with jackets and jewelry.
What are your criteria? What are you looking for when you pass judgment on what other people are wearing?
You should wear the dress, the dress shouldn’t wear you.
What does that mean?
It means you should look at the woman and realize she’s beautiful and [then] her dress is wonderful, not just, “Look at that dress!” January Jones (‘Mad Men’) is a perfect example, from the Emmys.
So, you concur with others who felt the stiff, blue gown she chose that night was a disaster for her.
A total disaster.
Well, explain this to us: How does it get to the point where a celebrity shows up at an event such as the Emmys with something like that on? What went wrong with the process?
Six gay friends said, “You look good!”
How does it feel to be back on E!, where you and Melissa hosted red-carpet specials for years?
Everyone forgets, we left them to go to TV Guide Channel, so everyone says, “Oh my god, E! took you back!” Are you out of your mind? It was a very happy reunion.
For a long time, you and Melissa were the act, doing it together on the red carpet, but she’s not a part of ‘Fashion Police’. Will we ever see the two of you doing this together ever again?
Melissa and I just did a new reality show. It starts in January, and it’s going to be called ‘Joan and Melissa: Mother Knows Best?’ – with a big question mark. It’s going to be for WE.W e just wrapped last Saturday night and I think it’s terrific.
But what about seeing you two on the red carpet again?
The red carpet! Ugh, enough! Everybody’s out there, you’re fighting for your life, the PR people decide who talks to whom…. Who needs it?
Were they steering people away from Melissa and you?
No, no, no, but you have to be…. I can’t explain it, but I remember once saying to, I think it was Nicole Kidman’s publicist, ‘Please! It’s Passover!’ And that’s when I thought: This is enough!
Did the Passover gambit work?
It did work! You have to reach them on a religious level.
What about the fellow fashion policemen in your new show? How are you getting along with them?
It was Melissa’s idea to bring in Kelly Osbourne. It was a wonderful idea and I love her. Kelly brings in the young. The voice of reason is definitely Giuliana. And I love George – he’s funny, he knows what ‘rushing’ [pronounced rooshing] means. [The term is used to describe the gathering together of ruffles on a gown.] But he’s also not full of himself.
How did Melissa come to recommend Kelly?
Melissa’s interviewed her over the years and always said she was very bright and funny.
Your documentary has been a surprise hit this summer. The critical acclaim has been unanimous. Why did you do it? Was it to promote your career?
No, the reason was that ['A Piece of Work' director] Ricki Stern’s mother is my best friend. We have country houses near each other in Connecticut, and Margie, who is the funniest white woman in the world next to me, said, ‘Ricki’s looking for a project. Would you like to do this?’ And I say yes to everything.
And she didn’t have to invoke Passover to get you to say yes?
No, but she did serve matzo that night!