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EDITORIAL

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ENTERTAINMENT
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'Get a life'

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TV star Chris Elliott is working on it


By Frank Lovece

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ripheral part of the show, like Larry curred shortly thereafter, Elliott
voice-over artist Bob
hired.

'Bud'Melman. I became useful." And

If the affable Chris Elliott is an example of anything, it's how to become a success by doing everything wrong. First, he skipped college to take a couple of menial jobs. Then, a supposedly good job he had accepted turned out to be an even more menial coffeefetching position. With nothing better to do and few other prospects, he hung around making goofy remarks. Then he won four Emmy Awards.
He shared them, actually, as part of the writing staff for "Late Night With

when a big turnover of the writers oc-

the son of famed radio comedian and

mitted a writing sample and was


Four Emmys later - two for the late-night show, two for prime-time Letterman anniversary specials Elliott was beginning to get antsy.

Elliott

sub-

Ones." Elliott declined, and the pilot didn't sell anyway, but Elliott and fellow ul,ate Night" alumnus Adam Resnick wound up having Mirkin serve as executive producer when the two created 'Get a Life." The series is a weird animal, a sit-

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David Letterman," the NBC quasi-

talk show on which he also occasionally appeared as The Panicky Guy, The morning. Everybody kept telling me

com where a boulder might fall on someone from out of the blue, onlY to be forgotten the next episode as in a Road Runner cartoon. In one, Paper"The first cable special I did got a lot boy Chris has to protect his job from of nice response," he recalls. "One re- an automated vehicle out of "The view said it showed I had'half-hour Road Warrior," the Paperboy 2000. In legs.' I suddenly realized I'm only another, a New York suPermodel coming on'Late Night'for four min- comes to Greenville to Promote her utes every two weeks at like 1 in the Derfume, and she and Chris fall in

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Fugitive Guy, The Guy Under the could


Stairs and Marlon Brando. And now he's in his second season as the star of
"Get a Life" (Fox, Saturdays), the surreal sitcom about a 31-year-old paperboy in Greenville, U.S.A. Along the

do more."

way, Elliott appeared in TV shows like "Miami Vice," movies including "The Abyss" and "Manhunter" (and almost Woody Allen's "Radio Days";
two cable specials.

his scenes were cut), and he starred in

what was he doing right? Nothing,


to hear hirn tell

it. -

'l suddenly realized coming on lrm lor lour Night" "Late minutes every two weeks at like I in the morning: Everyb-ody
c o u td do

divoreed all iove, get married and get uAnnie Hall" in one day, in a nostalgic pastiche. "I knew it would be a different kind of show," Elliott muses, "but only in comparison with what's on television right now. I don't think it's particular-

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-;,Tllt "lilt""'il",l"# rtt,,ltt,ilSH a visit back to New York, where he


has returned to, of all things, plug his

fr o r e -'

sitcom on "Late Night." He started out as a go-fer on the show when it


premiered

day the writers needed someone to was born four


walk onstage modeling a suit made of garbage, and Elliott was available. The bit got a laugh, and little by little, "The writers started to like me because they could put me in their little pieces, and I would come out and their joke wouldn't get a laugh, but then

in early 1982. Then,

one

ffiodaughters years ago, Elliott took

the occasion to leave the writing staff

and go on a performance contract, where he appeared only once every few weeks but kept a regular, albeit

'breen Acres,''Giliigan's Island,''The Beverly Hillbillies,' those types of shows.- It's only surreal because of what people have grown to think of in the lait 10 years as a sitcom." Yet somehow, the show's surrealitY extends to real life. All the Fox press materials call the show "Get a Life!" thoueh no exclamation point appears onscieen. And Elliott can't get rid of it! "somebody just assumed the words 'get a life' needed an exclamation point. I noticed it last year and mentioned it to a few PeoPle at Fox, and thev so, 'OK, we'il get it off.' And I stili k-eep seeing it. Everywhere. Even in mv dreams."

unioue when vou look back

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smaller, paycheck. He enjoyed having the time to spend with his baby and his wife, Paula, a former "Late Dave would ask me something and I'd Nilht" casting coordinator, "But afsay something stupid and f/raf would ter a year of that, I felt I was just get-

STAR VIEI'U

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bits to do, becoming, he says, "a pe- British-import series "The Young

He'd been in discussion with Fox compliment them and say, 'Nice job on the piece.'So they knew that if I Broadcasting about a' sitcom, after wasn't saving their piece, I was at having begn asked by writer-producer David Mirkin to co-star in a pilot for least helping." He started getting more and more an Americanized version of the MTV

get a big laugh. Then Dave would ting fat sitting around."