The New York Daily News had a "spy" at the open-to-the-press, open-to-the-public Del Close Marathon this weekend at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Gossip columnists Rush and Malloy filed a report based on the news they 'uncovered' at the Chelsea theater, mostly focusing on the surprise cameo made by Brooke Shields at the 2:30 AM show "Match Game 76," previously reported by ETP. The host of that show, MTV Human Giant star Paul Scheer, who was onstage during the show (and previously teased the appearance on his blog), called out the report as "incredibly inaccurate" and "pure bunk." He also adds that the article makes the show come across as "incredibly offensive and mean spirited, when in fact, it was an insane fun goof around."
I happened to be sitting feet away from Shields, and like a lot of the star-struck crowd, I kept an eye on her throughout the show. So I'll just go down the list here and straighten things out.
Rush and Molloy wrote:
"The "Lipstick Jungle" star dropped in at the Upright Citizen's Brigade theater over the weekend to be a panelist during a 72-hour marathon of improv comedy sketches, but "freaked out" when some jokes turned crass, says a spy."
The marathon lasts from Friday afternoon to Sunday night and is 53 hours long. I'll get to the "freaking out" part in a second.
"'Everything was going great until three comics came out, each playing" a dead star, said the eyewitness. "One was playing Heath Ledger as the Joker, and he just kept listing prescription pills he had in his pocket. Another was playing Estelle Getty, and the third was Bernie Mac's ghost.'"
Horatio Sanz played Heath Ledger as the Joker, but no one portrayed Estelle Getty or Bernie Mac in the show Brooke Shields took part in. As reader "thrillhouse" points out in the comments section below the Daily News article, the ghost of Bernie Mac character appeared in a sketch earlier that day, several hours before Shields entered the basement theater. As for the Getty mix-up, the late actress was mentioned by improviser Jackie Clarke, who played one of the remaining Golden Girls.
"That's when Shields' smile faded. "She was so freaked out, her eyes welled up, and she actually bit her nails at one point," says the spy. "When someone pretended to dump Estelle Getty's ashes on ["30 Rock" star] Jack McBrayer's head, Brooke got up and walked offstage. She watched the rest of the show from behind a curtain backstage, with a grimace.'"
This is just downright false. Shields never looked uncomfortable onstage and she definitely did not walk off stage. The only time she moved from her spot in the back of the stage was when a typical "Match Game" ruckus erupted and performers threw beers, doughnuts, water, and various other items at each other and mostly at "30 Rock" star Jack McBrayer. During this mayhem, Shields moved in front of the curtain that separated the stage from the backstage area, holding on to it in case she needed to use it as a Shields. No walking off stage, no grimacing.
"Shields' spokesman said she left to talk to the writers before she was about to go on."
This might just be an error on the part of her spokesman, but there are no writers in an improv marathon. That's sort of the point.
"Not all the evening's performers found humor in the unsavory topic. Comic Seth Morris started to make a Mac joke, but was quickly put in his place by "The Office" star Ed Helms, who was manning a puppet from behind a table. "Ed cut him off quickly and said, 'I'd love to see how you're going to make this funny,' with his puppet," says the spy. "It stopped Seth right in his tracks.'"
Switch that. Ed Helms was the one who brought up Bernie Mac's death, only after "Super High Me" star Doug Benson joked about it earlier in the same show. In fact, Seth Morris hadn't even heard about the comedian's death until Benson brought it up.
What's interesting here is that the internet -- blogs, comments sections, etc. -- means there are plenty of other "eyewitnesses" to confirm or contradict this kind of report, and they now have the means of speaking up if something isn't accurate. Who knows who Rush & Molloy's spy was, but at a minimum it wouldn't have been hard to find another eyewitness to double-check -- from Scheer to anyone at the UCB, which has lots of contact information available online. Or, as Daily News commenter "MadMax 77" writes: "Way to fact check. But I guess fact checking isn't conducive to gossip."
Finally, Paul Scheer has one more thing to add:
"ALSO and most importantly how come no one mentioned that we accused Match Game Host Gene Rayburn of being a Rapist."
Consider it mentioned.