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Colin Quinn talks about his new NBC show

Colin Quinn talks about his new NBC show. He reveals his master plan to revive the variety show — or just stay on the air

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Colin Quinn
Colin Quinn: NBC

It’s official: Colin Quinn is ready for prime time. But is prime time ready for him? We’ll find out on Monday, Mar. 11 at 9:30 p.m. when the ex-”SNL” anchor’s new series, ”The Colin Quinn Show,” debuts on NBC. Here’s his story, and he’s sticking with it:

NBC’s promos claim the network doesn’t know what you’re going to do on your show. What can you tell us about it?
It’s gonna start with a monologue, not so much about the week’s events as general events. In the middle is going to be a group of comedians I know talking about stuff. It’s got ill fated written all over it, but lemme tell ya, it could work. Then the last thing is going to be a scene, not so much a sketch. It was [executive producer] Lorne Michaels’ idea. We were talking about the old Jackie Gleason variety show where they would have ”The Honeymooners” at the end. We should tape this interview and play it back in a year, when it’s just me and two little kids on the show, and it’s like a family show and a cop show combined.

Everyone says variety is dead. Are you scared to call it a variety show?
I’m not afraid of using that term. I would definitely call it a variety show — only then I always feel the pressure to be able to sing and dance, which I can do neither.

How’d you come up with the title?
We were playing with different ones, and I thought, Screw this, man, the one thing I know is that it’s definitely going to be ”The Colin Quinn Show.” So at least every week, no matter what anyone says, they can’t say ”Hey, that’s misrepresentative.” I’m the only one who can decide if it’s misrepresentative.

Why did you leave ”SNL” two seasons ago?
It was just over. It wasn’t like I was necessarily forced out. But we all had the vibe that it was time to leave.

Lorne Michaels gave you the ”SNL” gig, produced your one-man Broadway play, and now he’s backing this show. What have you got on him?
It’s really amazing, isn’t it? I think in the back of his mind, he can’t believe that I’m not a bigger star. It really bugs him. I think I’m his white whale. I’m gonna take him down.

Your show’s slated to run for three weeks. Why so short?
It just shows the kind of confidence they really have in me. I think the plan is, if I do well, they’re just going to keep it on. Although part of me would love to not have to do it again until September.

NBC is billing your debut night as a ”Dangerous Night of Comedy.” What’s so dangerous about you?
Maybe they mean the audience is in danger. I wouldn’t call myself dangerous, but I like to tell my version of the truth, and apparently, today that can pass for dangerous. If it goes the way I think, it will definitely be on whatever they call the edge these days.

”Fear Factor” is your lead-in. Would you ever do that show?
No! I’m not gonna say yes to that, because the next thing I know I’ll be there, and it’ll be like, ”How the f— did I get into this?” And I’ll say, ”Bruce Fretts, goddammit!”

What’s your greatest fear?
Maybe a gun battle with the Crips. They wouldn’t do that, would they? There are a lot more Bloods on TV anyway. They seem to be more prevalent in the industry.

NBC ran tons of promos for ”Watching Ellie” and ”Leap of Faith” during the Olympics, but I’ve hardly seen any for your show. Are you satisfied with NBC’s ad campaign?
Yeah, I’m not big on promos anyway. They just annoy me. I’m kinda glad they’re low-profiling it. Besides, I’ve got ”Fear Factor” doing all my dirty work. They’re getting the crowd in.

”Three Men and a Baby” was your first movie role, and now you’ve got a show up against Ted Danson’s ”Becker.” Any odd feelings about competing with a former costar?
I didn’t actually work with Ted Danson. I worked with Tom Selleck, and he goes, ”Hey, man, let’s run over the scene before we shoot.” I wasn’t sure if he really meant it or if he was just saying that to be nice, so I didn’t go over there. Then I saw him when we got to the set to shoot, and he’s like, ”Hey, I thought we were gonna work on the scene.” I was like, ”Tom, don’t yell at me. I’m nervous.”

You also appeared in ”Crocodile Dundee II.” How’d that happen?
Pure luck. I was such an arrogant bastard in those days, I actually rewrote the whole second half of that script with me as Paul Hogan’s costar and handed it to them. They were Australian, so they were informal, like, ”Yeah, pal, we’re gonna keep it our way, but thanks.” Anybody else would’ve thrown me out of the business.

Cheri Oteri’s appearing on your first episode. Any other guests lined up?
Jim Breuer’s doing the second one. You might say, ”Where am I finding these people?” My phone book from ”SNL.” I’m still going through the ’95-’98 seasons. Hopefully after that, maybe I can get Kevin Nealon to stop in. When I get to Tony Rosato, you know the show’s been picked up.

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