Although news legend Connie Chung mastered the anchor desks at all three major networks plus CNN, it was shooting a single scene with Hugh Grant that finally made her lose her cool. In the latest installment of Andrew Goldman’s The Originals podcast for Los Angeles magazine, Chung reveals that she may have blown her shot at more screen time on HBO’s murder mystery series The Undoing simply by annoying the schlubby thespian.
In episode four, Chung plays an interviewer opposite Grant’s character, but is heard rather than seen for the bulk of the scene. Chung says she was taken aback when she first sat down with Grant to film.
“When Hugh Grant sat down, he was looking all rumpled,” she says. “He’s one of those British rumpled fellows. And his tie was askew, and I am very OCD. So I said, ‘Hugh, straighten up your tie.’ And he goes and fixes it. And then one collar was outside of his suit. And I went, ‘Hugh, fix that.’ And then he was looking like Rodney Dangerfield. He should sit on the back of—like in Broadcast News—sit on the back of your jacket, so that it’s nice and tidy.”
Grant then asked, “Now what?” but before Chung had a chance to pass along another pro tip, she noticed director Susanne Bier was giving her “an evil eye, as if ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’”
Chung, who says she was “underwhelmed” when she finally saw the show, believes that if most of her shots weren’t cut for poking at an ornery Grant, then it might be because she also took it upon herself to rewrite sections of David E. Kelley’s dialogue.
Or, Chung says, “I look so old and so dreadful that the director decided to save me from myself.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Chung recalls what it was like to work with so many industry luminaries throughout her storied career.
For instance, Dan Rather at CBS Evening News in the 1990s: “If I turned my back, I felt like I might be in a scene of Psycho in the shower.”
But things were bound to improve, Chung thought, when she moved on to join Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters at ABC News.
Unfortunately, the environment was “not unlike what Tonya Harding did to Nancy Kerrigan,” Chung says, explaining, “[W]hen I got to ABC, both Diane and Barbara were in the same sort of arena of trying to get these big interviews. So when I tried to go after them, I was told I could not. That Barbara and Diane were the only ones who could compete for the interview and I had to stand down. And I said, ‘Really?’”
David Letterman, meanwhile, was one of the good ones.
Even though she was married to Maury Povich at the time (and still is), she says of Letterman, “I had this thing for him and he had a thing for me and I really think it was inexplicable in that respect, and yet I really didn’t have a thing for him. Do you know what I mean?”
Chung’s non-thing might be explained by the fact that Letterman was “dark” without the cameras and audience. “He is a kvetch,” Chung says. “He’s a goyishe kvetch. He’s anti-social is what he is… Socially retarded.”
Then again, Letterman’s standoffishness could also have had something to do with Connie’s approach: “I would say, ‘Do you want to go out for pizza sometime?’ And he’d say, ‘Maybe,’ and I’d say, ‘I’ll bring Maury.’ And he’d say, ‘No.’”
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