As only he could, Rich Eisen made the transition from talking about Shohei Ohtani to Pootie Tang on Thursday’s edition of The Rich Eisen Show.
And yes, while it is the 22nd anniversary of the critically acclaimed film, which was adapted from a comedy sketch that first appeared on The Chris Rock Show, Eisen brought up the 2001 film because one of Thursday’s guests starred in the cult classic comedy.
That would be none other than famed broadcaster Bob Costas, who starred as himself, and in the film, did a sit-down interview with the character Pootie Tang, who is a satire of the stereotypical action heroes who appeared in old blaxploitation films.
Eisen was curious how Costas got involved with the movie, considering his previous experience came in films like BASEketball (1998) and The Paper (1994), in which he played minor roles in both. Costas explained that he received a phone call from Chris Rock, who he jokingly said was “knowing of my extensive filmography,” which got a few chuckles out of Eisen.
“Chris Rock calls. It’s Chris Rock, so, of course, I say yes,” Costas explained to Eisen. ‘The title was a little uh interesting, especially in 2001, but hey, it’s Chris Rock. As it turned out, it was very loosely scripted. I sat with Pootie on the set of my then-HBO show, and it framed the whole movie, the beginning scene, and the end scene. There wasn’t really a script; it was just get a couple of these things. We ad-libbed almost all of it. And got all of it in two takes. In 45 minutes, we were done.”
Costas said it took one take each to get those scenes down. And he ad-libbed a series of background credits that Pootie Tang had, including crocheting and pottery, to show what a well-rounded individual he was, Costas said.
“When you have perfection, even [Martin] Scorcese would just say cut,” Costas joked.
In the first years after the release of the film, Costsas said he could be in a jetway getting on a plane or in a diner somewhere, and someone might say, “Bob, Wa-Da-Tah, my brother. Wa-Da-Tah!”
“And I would just have to respond, ‘Yes, my man, [I’m] gonna sine yo pitty on the runny kine,'” Costas said.
As for how Rock got his number, Costas revealed that he’s just one of those guys who can get any number, kind of like former President George H.W. Bush, who called Costas and approved of his opinion(s) on Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron the morning after the former broke the home run record.
“And then, just to make small talk, George H.W. Bush then says, ‘You know, Bob, I’m just sick about what they did to our pal, Ted Williams. They froze his ass down there with some cryogenics down in Arizona. I’m just sick about it, Bob.’ When a former president says that, I’m trying not to laugh,” Costas recalled.
Rock and Bush did not call Costas on the same day, but there were plenty of laughs to go around.