Beth Littleford takes the mic -- With her ''Interview Special'' the ''Daily Show'' correspondent has B-list stars shaking in their boots

By Dan Snierson
Updated March 19, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

While Barbara Walters spends Oscar night fawning mercilessly over Celine Dion, Susan Sarandon, and Elizabeth Taylor, Beth Littleford — The Daily Show‘s soothingly sarcastic correspondent — will be asking the questions inquiring minds really want to know.

To Minnesota governor Jesse ”The Body” Ventura: ”Professional wrestling — let’s be honest. Is it intentionally homoerotic?”

To Boy George: ”We all look back on the ’80s and laugh at what we were wearing…. Do you cry?”

Bolt the door and hide the publicists as Comedy Central’s 2nd Annual Beth Littleford Interview Special takes deadpan aim at Walters’ soft-focus shtick. ”Celebrities get sick of taking themselves so seriously and churning out the same sound bites over and over,” says Littleford, 30, who will also subject Jerry Springer, David Cassidy, and Dionne Warwick to her no-questions-barred abuse. ”So here’s a chance for them to let loose, and I say, ‘Goddamn it, get on the party train!”’

Train ride…or train wreck? Littleford’s jugular lunges often yield deliciously uneasy moments: This year’s special boasts freaky admissions from George (let’s just say he wouldn’t be against inappropriately relating to President Clinton) and Ventura (he’s staunchly anti-underwear), though the can’t-miss segment is a painful chat with unironic Vegas staple Cassidy (who, chafing at pesky Partridge Family-themed queries like ”Did it really come together when Mom sang along?” threatened to walk). ”Of course we’re going to have fun with that!” scoffs Littleford, who makes few apologies for her B-celeb nettling. ”It’s The Partridge Family, for God sakes!”

Still, it takes a gal with major chutzpah to ask ex-Klansman David Duke, ”What’s the best way to get stains out of a white sheet?” (Awkward silence, anyone?) ”Beth has an inventive, pioneering spirit,” sums up Daily Show host Jon Stewart, ”and the ability to recognize salient ridiculousness and exploit it for her own personal gain.” Says the improv-circuit-groomed Littleford: ”I just go in the zone, where I’m free of censoring and trepidation…. Actually, I’m less incredulous about what I’m asking than the fact that they answer these questions.”

Her gutsiness hasn’t gone unrewarded: She’s been guest-starring on ABC’s Spin City as Stuart’s weirdo girlfriend and this fall she hits the big screen as a bitchy reporter in the dramedy Mystery, Alaska. But for now, she’s just focusing on the Oscar-night showdown with you know who. ”I want Babs to know I’m breathing down her neck,” snickers Littleford. ”And, baby, I have no shame.”