Today's Entertainment

April 27, 2014

The Brainerd Dispatch - Today's Entertainment Magazine

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By Jacqueline Cutler © Zap2it John Oliver's HBO series, "Last Week Tonight," premieres Sunday, April 27. And a month before the show would bow, Oli- ver hadn't a specific clue as to what he would be doing opening night. "It is an odd situation," Oliver says, taking in a majestic view of the Empire State Building. "The jokes we will tell on the first show have not happened yet, but we are building a machine to be flexible enough to trivialize vastly important stories." Though he has goals and a strong concept, Oliver could not say for sure what his show will be because it is predicated on the news. "We did our first technical show last night," he says. "I did GM, the recall of 5 million cars, the ignition problem they knew about. It was between 12 and 303 deaths. They say 12; 12 is their defense." In a month, this could be big- ger news, or it could have faded. Oliver did not know — no one does — but he's relishing taking the news as it comes. "The idea is we can do anything," Oliver said. "We are not going to get told to not do anything. You have to survive by your own moral compass — and mine was probably broken in 1995 — and an innate sense of decency, and mine was probably lost when I was 6." Oliver did a terrific job when he filled in as host of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" last summer, and he credits that stint for leading to the new show. The Sunday show will be "as loose as possible," he says. Oliver isn't planning to do a monologue but wants "pre-taped segments because we have ex- tra time," he says. "We can make it a virtue rather than a curse. It should be possible to be reactive to stories." For instance, given Russian President Vladimir Putin's oc- cupation of Crimea, it's not in- conceivable that he might fancy annexing another country. Oliver ponders the possibilities. "Putin could wake up and say, 'Warsaw looks good this time COVER STORY "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver" premieres Sunday on HBO. John Oliver's new HBO talker reflects on the week 2 – APRIL 27 - MAY 3, 2014 – BRAINERD, MN/DISPATCH of year,' " Oliver says and starts laughing at the prospect — the comedic prospects, not potential wars. "As we have been gaming out hypothetical shows, we are work- ing out which stories go away because the meat is picked off their bones or if there is some- thing to tackle, whether there is still a deeper story," he says. As far as guests, Oliver does not want reality show contes- tants, starlets or the usual red carpet brigade. He does, though, want policymakers. Had the show been on the week he was chatting, Oliver would have tried to have on a Ukrainian ambassador or some- one in the NSA.

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