And that is what makes Inside the Actors Studio so compelling -- because Lipton is so utterly, spectacularly creepy and completely unaware of the fact that he has the sense of humor of a dead man. The interviews are almost beside the point; they are, after all, only as revelatory as the subject will allow. Yes, there have been occasional moments of wonder: Christopher Walken need only sit still for an hour to be riveting, and Paul Newman hides everything behind blue eyes. And the Kevin Spacey segment, due to air March 5, is fascinating if only for the ancient photos of the young chameleon on high-school stages; that, and the man is a wonderful storyteller (once a stand-up, always a stand-up) and impressionist.
Lipton treats Stallone with a reverence once reserved for Olivier: He asks about his high-school grades, searching for meaning in report cards; he even asks him about his birth. And Lipton, when discussing Stallone's body of work, speaks in a language that bears some resemblance to our own, but that, when transcribed, looks as if it were translated from the native Dumbass. "Lords of Flatbush was released in 1974," Lipton begins. "Yet, despite your considerable success, it would be two more years before the appointed time of trial that was predicted by your mother's prophecy. Seven years to the day, you say. It was fulfilled monumentally and historically with a motion picture called...Rocky." Cue audience applause, then the question: "What happened to launch your dream of Rocky?" Welcome to...inside the actor's bum.