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Inside the Actors Studio is a series on the Bravo cable television channel, hosted by James Lipton. It is produced and directed by Jeff Wurtz; the executive producer is James Lipton. The program, which premiered in 1994, is distributed by CABLEready and is broadcast in 125 countries around the world reaching 89,000,000 homes. It is currently taped at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University's New York Citymarker campus.

About the program

The program began as a televised craft seminar for students of the Actors Studio Drama School, originally a joint venture of the Actors Studiomarker and New School University. It was taped at the New School's Tishman Auditorium in New York Citymarker.

In May 2005, the contract between the Actors Studio and New School University was not renewed. Beginning with the twelfth season, in the fall of 2005, the program has been taped at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University's New York City campus. The show now has a new set with a gritty backstage feel, designed by Will Rothfuss for Blair Broadcast Designs, and The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University has re-opened in new facilities.

Since its premiere, Inside the Actors Studio has had over 200 guests. Of those guests, the very first having been Paul Newman, were succeeded by 74 Academy Award winners: 8 directors; four screenwriters; 61 actors and actresses; and two musicians. For its 200th show, James Lipton became the guest subject of the show. He was questioned by Dave Chappelle whom James picked personally. The show ended with Pace University provost announcing that the college is sponsoring a scholarship in Chapelle's name to his high school alma mater.

While most of the show is a one-on-one interview conducted by Lipton, this is followed by the host submitting a questionnaire to the guest. The questionnaire concept was originated by Frenchmarker television personality Bernard Pivot, after the Proust Questionnaire. The ten questions Lipton asks are:

  1. What is your favorite word?
  2. What is your least favorite word?
  3. What turns you on?
  4. What turns you off?
  5. What sound or noise do you love?
  6. What sound or noise do you hate?
  7. What is your favorite curse word?
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
  9. What profession would you not like to do?
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

The program usually concludes with a question-and-answer session with the students.

In France, the show has been broadcast since 1999 on Paris Première.


Ensemble guests:

Declined/Standing Invitations

  • Gregory Peck repeatedly turned down Lipton's offer to be interviewed ever since the beginning of the show, but he finally agreed to do so. However, he passed away before his scheduled appearance in 2003.

  • When the program was based at New School University, Gary Oldman was selected as the most popular request for which guest should come visit the Actors Studio. As of 2009, he has not appeared on the show.

  • Ever since 1994, Lipton tried to persuade Marlon Brando and Katherine Hepburn to come on the show. Although they were both members of the Actors Studio, neither wanted to interrupt their retirement from show business, whether it would be talk-show or otherwise. Hepburn died in 2003, and Brando died not long after in 2004.

DVD Releases

Select episodes of the show have been released by Shout! Factory. Three DVDs containing a single episode each feature Robin Williams, Johnny Depp, and Barbra Streisand. Two compilation sets were also released. 'Leading Men' features Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, and Russell Crowe. 'Icons' features Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Barbra Streisand.


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