Image Credit: Lifetime TelevisionIf you’re a fan of Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET), chances are you adore Fred, the guardian angel-turned-legal assistant played by Ben Feldman. After Fred’s smooth karaoke rendition of “Baby, I Need Your Loving” in last week’s episode (watch it below, the track is available on the show’s soundtrack out now), we decided it was officially time to get to know Feldman — with an EW Pop Culture Personality Test.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is one of our standard questions, but it’s particularly apropos here: What is your position on karaoke?
BEN FELDMAN: I despise, I hate, I’m terrified of karaoke, and I wish I wasn’t because everybody I know who’s awesome loves it. But it really scares the crap out of me. As did that scene. I’m not really a singer, and I have so many friends who are really great singers. You do a good job, and you’re awesome, and everyone’s like, “Alright, cool.” But you do a bad job, and it’s like a really awkward feeling, and I’m really scared of awkward feelings. Fortunately, I got to do it in the studio beforehand, so I was lucky. That song was handed to me the night before. At like 9 p.m., they sent me an MP3 of the song. They’re like, “This is what you’re going in to record tomorrow for inevitably millions and millions of people to hear.” I just listened to it like 30 times and did my best to imitate the Four Tops. What’s funny is that I hate karaoke, and thus far, I’m averaging a karaoke scene a season. They did one last year, and it was even more embarrassing ’cause it was rap. It wasn’t like a famous rap song, it was one of those rap songs that TV shows have in their back pocket if they need something that sorta sounds like a popular song but isn’t. I’m rapping, and I’m like lovingly staring into Stacy’s eyes but singing this ridiculous rap song and gesticulating like a lunatic. I’m not gonna do any more karaoke this season [Laughs], but I can almost guarantee that you’ll see it in Season 3. [He says the cast is “cautiously optimistic” about being renewed, and adds for producers who may be reading this that he’d love to do a film or guest on “shows that make my grandparents wince” during his hiatus.]
When do you yell at the TV?
Okay, most recently I would probably say I was yelling at the United States when they were losing to Ghana [at the World Cup]. Usually, if I’m yelling at the TV, I’m in a bar. If I’m by myself, and it’s not a game, I often find myself scolding reality stars that can’t hear me through the television set. My girlfriend’s gonna get so mad at me for blaming this on her, and she would argue that I’m the one who watches the shows, but regardless, if it’s something like The Bachelor, I’ll find myself being like, “Ohmygod, you’re such an idiot. What are you doing? You’re such a fame whore. Get off my screen.” You know. Stuff like that.
Do you and Brooke Elliott [who plays Jane on Drop Dead Diva] talk about The Bachelor? I know she’s a fan.
I haven’t had a whole conversation with Brooke. Kate Levering, who plays Kim, is a giant Bachelor fan. I saw last season, and that was it. That was enough for me. I kinda just watched because it was ridiculous to me, and then, of course, cut to Jake [Pavelka] is on our show. [He guest stars on the Aug. 22 episode.] Kate made me watch The Bachelorette this season, and now, if it’s on, I’ll watch it.
Who are you rooting for to end up with Ali?
I think my general rule for all of these shows is I always root for the most ridiculous, embarrassing, douchey character. Whoever’s gonna be the most entertaining. If they’re psychologically fit and intellectual and healthy, you won’t find me rooting for them. It is entertainment, and they know it’s entertainment, and they sign about 85 contracts before they put themselves in front of millions of people. They get what they deserve, I think.
Did you talk with Jake at all about the show, as a fan?
Not as a fan. I talked to him as a fellow person who does things in front of cameras. Rather than watch the show, I’d rather watch a documentary on the making. I had questions for Jake like, where do all the producers go? What do you guys do when the cameras are down? Can you get out of the house? Are you allowed to use your cellphones? Those are the things that fascinate me.
Was he forthcoming with information?
Remarkably candid, in fact. [Laughs]
Anything you’d care to share, sir?
No. He plays for the Diva team, and I gotta be a good teammate. But I learned more than I thought I would talking to Jake.
Fair enough. We’ll move on. Is there a chick flick you’ll admit to liking?
I kinda try to avoid them. But other than ones that I’ve been in [laughs], maybe The Devil Wears Prada because Meryl Streep was so awesome in it. I only saw it once, but I feel like I could’ve watched it again. But that’s all I got for ya in the chick flick department.
What movie do you have to watch every time you spot it on cable?
A Few Good Men. For some reason, I was weirdly obsessed with that when I was young. Anything that Aaron Sorkin writes, I could watch a million times. One of the few shows that I’ve watched in repeats was The West Wing.
Did you ever write a fan letter to anyone when you were young?
No, but I kinda did when I was not young. They made The Graduate into a play [in 2002], and I did that in New York. I went in for my final audition, and I was still in college, and I didn’t really know celebrities. I’d never felt like I connected on a human level with a famous person. I went in and auditioned with both Kathleen Turner and Alicia Silverstone on a Broadway stage. I guess I thought it was so cool that I sent them both letters that were, like, maybe a little too aggressively romantic. I think I included a rose. It was just a “Thank you so much. I had a wonderful time. And blah, blah, blah.” I kinda put it behind me and forgot that I did that embarrassing thing, and then I was in The Graduate, and Alicia had my note up on her mirror [in her dressing room]. So it was kind of a happy ending, I guess. But, you know, she’s married.
That was smooth.
Thanks. Maybe it helped get a job. It might have been even smoother than I thought.
Is there a piece of pop culture memorabilia from your childhood you wish you still had?
Absolutely. My mom was good friends with one of the movie critics of The Washington Post, and after Batman, I was obsessed with Jack Nicholson. I was a weird kid. [Laughs] I was obsessed with Jack Nicholson. Like I watched Prizzi’s Honor when I was like 11. But when she interviewed him, she told him he had a giant fan, and she showed him a picture of me at 10 years old, sitting and bowing down to his star on the Walk of Fame. And he lit up and he signed a Batman book and wrote, “To Ben, Ha Ha Ha. Uncle Joker, Jack Nicholson.” It was like the coolest thing I’ve ever owned, probably to this day. It’s probably in a box somewhere. I’m glad I’m thinking about it now. When I get back to L.A. [Diva films outside Atlanta], I should look for that thing because it’s supercool. He signed it all huge over a giant picture of him as the Joker.
What is your geekiest possession today?
My geekiest obsession that I’ve lost twice is my Kindle. I’ve been like this weird walking advertisement for Kindle for the last year and a half, and for the second time, I left it on an airplane a couple weeks ago, and I’m kinda freakin’ out, because I have to read real books, and it’s not cool.
No one returned either of them?
The first time around, I bought a new Kindle immediately. That was back when they were like a bazillion dollars. Then like a couple months later, Amazon called and said, “American Airlines sent us your Kindle. Would you like it back?” Then I had two Kindles. Then I gave that one away, had this one, lost this one. And I don’t think this one’s coming back.
I asked because I lost my iPod Touch this week.
You had an iPod Touch? Why don’t you just commit?
I have Sprint.
Oh, Sprint. It’s really frustrating though, isn’t it? Where’d you leave it?
[Story ensues.] I filed a lost and found claim. I want to give New York a chance to have a moment. But no one’s going to return it.
Every once and I while they do. The day I left my Kindle in the plane, my dad left his watch at the airport. It was like this really, really nice watch. I’m still Kindle-less, and I feel like almost once every couple days, he writes me an email reminding me that they sent him his watch back and that it looks great on him right now. I get emails from my dad, and the subject line is, “What time is it, you ask?” It’s really annoying. But if I was in New York, I would Kindle it up in the subway. That’s the greatest thing in the world, that thing. You can carry it everywhere. That’s the only thing I’ll really geek out on.
Do you have any guilty pleasure TV that you watch, besides The Bachelor and The Bachelorette?
Now I’m the Bachelor Guy. At the top of the interview, it’s like BEN FELDMAN WATCHES THE BACHELOR. Is The Soup guilty? No, it’s ironic cool… The Real World. I’ve watched every single season since I was a kid, and I continue to, even when nobody else does. Real World, I’m stickin’ with you.
What has been the strongest fan reaction you’ve seen to Fred? The first time he left in season 1, I emailed one of the show’s publicists and was like, “Tell me he’s coming back.”
You’re the person! I was told there was somebody at EW who was a big fan that was bummed out.
Yeah, that would be me.
That’s so funny that it’s you. I think it was then. I think it was my mom who forwarded me, the day after I left for maybe the 16th time on the show last season [Laughs], the reactions on the website. It was pretty cool. One after the other, it was like, “Dear Lifetime, what are you doing? Bring Fred back.” I love that Lifetime took the blame. It had nothing to do with Lifetime, but they were catching a bunch of flack from the fans. Then they would write messages that had nothing to do with it. “I think that Grayson’s character should blah, blah, blah,” and I’d get all the way through and at the very end, it’d be like, “P.S. Bring Fred Back.” I felt the love when I left. Usually the best way to feel the love is to go away. [Laughs]
What’s next for Fred? At the end of the song, he and Stacy shared a look.
We were making googly eyes. Fred’s still got some time to grow and a ways to go. Go ahead and write that rhyme down. He’s gonna date some ladies, but it’s always gonna come back to Stacy. I think Stacy’s his love, and anything else is just a distraction.
Speaking of distraction, do you and your friend [Eduardo Porto Carreiro] still have your wine label, Angelica Cellars? I just read about it on Wikipedia.
I do. In fact, just last night I went out with some friends in Atlanta to a super fancy restaurant and we opened a bottle, and everyone was super impressed. It’s something that I love a lot, and it takes a lot of work, and [laughs] a lot of money spent on mine and my buddy Eduardo’s part. I think a lot of people are like, “Well, that’s a cute hobby.” And then they’ll drink it and realize that it’s more than a hobby. It’s a genuinely good wine. It’s a fine wine. [Visit their website and online store.]
Well done. Last question: Since Fred used to work in heaven, I’m gonna borrow this question from Inside the Actors Studio: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
I won’t repeat what Sean Penn said, but it was maybe my favorite answer ever. You can look that one up yourself. It was a little dirty. I guess, “Open bar.”
“And we’re stocking your wine.”
[Laughs] Exactly. “Open bar, and we’re pushing your wine.” That would be really cool.