We knew Judd Apatow was an emperor of comedy productions, but I for one didn’t know he was a humanitarian. I got this press release that the Venice Family Clinic was honoring Apatow with a Humanitarian Award at their Silver Circle Gala on Feb. 28, so it sounded like a good cause and a chance to catch up with Apatow.
The small red carpet, only five reporters after the photo pit, offered a chance to get intimate with Apatow. The charity story revealed some of his humble beginnings in comedy. Then it was onto the big news of the new Pee-Wee Herman movie he’s producing, the Knocked Up spinoff he’s writing and directing, and the Oscars which were still fresh news the next day.
Q: We’re not aware of your involvement with Venice Family Clinics so could you tell us what you do with them?
JA: Well, I’ve known about Venice Family Clinics for a long time. The first job I ever had, I worked for Comic Relief when I was 17 years old. I worked there for about five years raising money for the homeless. That was my first job in show business. There was a great man there named Dennis Albaugh who sadly is no longer with us, but he was in charge of how they gave out the money that Comic Relief earned. He taught me about giving and charity and said, “You have to be a good person and take care of your community.” Every year he gave me a list of charities he thought I should support. Venice Family Clinic was one of the first charities he encouraged me to get behind. I’ve been doing it for a long time.
Q: One of the film projects we’re really excited you’re involved with is the new Pee-Wee Herman movie. What will be classic Pee-Wee and what is new about it?
JA: It’s a little early in the process to know. He only made two movies so there’s a lot of open ground for Pee-Wee. It is many years later so there are different stories to tell.
Q: Does it pick up with everything Pee-Wee on Paul Reubens has been through in the last 25 years?
JA: No, it exists in its own world but it’s very imaginative. I think that’s one of the best characters of all time for me. It’s like W.C. Fields.
Q: Does it fall in continuity with he’s had a Big Adventure and has been in the circus?
JA: I don’t know. We haven’t talked about that. It’s more like “The Simpsons” where in every episode he grew up in a different decade.
JA: People were reall taken by those characters. I think people really emotionally connected to the challenges of their marriage and I thought, you know, they were only a small portion of the movie. I’m a television writer so I always want another episode. I always want another 80 episodes. That’s why after Forgetting Sarah Marshall, we said, “What else can we do with this character Russell Brand has created here?” I felt that way about Pete and Debbie from Knocked Up.
Q: Would you want to include the other main characters from Knocked Up and make them cameos?
JA: I’m trying to figure out how to do that. A lot of it just depends on people’s availabilities and the story I’m trying to tell, who fits into that story. There definitely will be other people from Knocked Up in the movie.
Q: Would you be open to reaching out to Katherine Heigl?
JA: Well, I’m not writing it to be a story about Seth and Katherine’s characters. It’s really about where Pete and Debbie are five years later.
Q: But even as a “no hard feelings” cameo?
JA: Uh, I don’t know. It’s too early to know.
Q: What did you think of James Franco last night?
JA: I thought he did a really good job. He’s really a charming guy and they don’t give the hosts that much to do because the show is so long. They seem to be obsessed with keeping it to three hours. When I was a kid it would go 4:15 and I miss it because when you tighten it up, you lose a lot of the spontaneity of the show. It was nice when Johnny Carson could really talk when he came on stage and I really miss the lifetime achievement awards. I think it’s a crime that they don’t put that on the main show. I’m much more interested in seeing Francis Ford Coppola speak than many of the awards. So I would add another hour.
Q: It seemed like they even cut some of the host’s humor and downplayed that.
JA: No, I think as soon as the show starts, they’re already cutting things out to try to end it before the local news. That’s no fun. You have to let people blabber on a little bit. That’s what we want.