Vegetarian Cooking Pigs... and Other Philosophies

Star Dates, Episode 5
Featuring: Phyllis Diller

Star Dates’ premise is to combine Blind Date, Elimidate, Disgusting Date, and any other dating show you can think of. The twist here is to set up dates between a B list actor and a normal (read: not famous, but probably trying to be) citizen. Jordan Black hosts, and brings a healthy supply of sarcasm to the task.

The “Celebrity”

Phyllis comes to Star Dates at 85 years of age, and that fact alone promises to lead to some interesting dates. There is no confirmation yet to the rumor that she was free-basing Geritol prior to each date. I didn’t expect any hot tub scenes on these dates… and actually I was praying that there weren’t…

Diller is probably best known for being the actress whose cackling laugh is most likely to make your ears bleed if listened to without appropriate protection.

What many don’t realize is that Phyllis is far more than a comedienne. For example, she is quite an accomplished pianist, performing solo with well over 100 orchestras nationwide. Her paintings are growing in popularity as well, and the program showed several examples of her work.

A mother of five children, she is also a recipient of the Women’s International Center, Living Legacy Award.

Comedy is where Phyllis made her mark though, and she began her career as a standup comedienne at age 37. She was a ground breaking woman in those days, writing her own material and traveling extensively touring the supper club circuit. Later, she performed overseas for troops during four conflicts.

She has well over 100 movie and TV credits, including most recently appearing in the role as Grandma on the very underrated television show Titus. Highlights of her television career would include The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show, The Bold and the Beautiful, and Blossom. She was a popular guest on Laugh In and The Gong Show.

Movie-wise, she has quite a diverse resume. She has performed in everything from a UK version of [i]Splendor in the Grass[/I, to providing voice over’s for A Bug’s Life. She credited with some very interesting titles, such as the always intriguing, Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog, which some odd reason wasn’t a breakthrough hit when it was released in 1990.

The two time divorcee (last marriage ending in 1975), now has a purse full of little blue pills, and is ready to head out for some fun.

Whom shall she be dating?

The “Normal” Folks

Lenny Rose is a 53 year old Acting Instructor. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, he has been in California for the past 28 years. Lenny lists Eastern Philosophy as an interest. He also confesses that he very much believes in love at first sight, and he hopes that perhaps someday that love might be reciprocated.

There is a Lenny Rose with quite an interesting movie and TV career under his belt, but I cannot confirm that this is the same Lenny, though the timelines would match. If it is, then Lenny has several appearances to be proud of, including a role as Passenger #1 in a Seinfeld episode and recurring shots on Days of Our Lives. It’s on the big screen though that this Lenny shines, with credits including Test Tube Teens From The Year 2000, which surprisingly was made in 1994…

Date number two will be with Dick Noonan, a 67 year old widower, who is a retired Army Lt. Col., was paratroop certified, and served in both Korea and Vietnam. Originally from Omaha; Noonan has most recently served on a committee reporting to the Vice President looking at issues in the military related to women.

Dick comes across as a very distinguished gentleman, and I seriously doubt we will see anything outrageous out of him, so I place my entertainment hopes in the hands of a guy named Lenny… who may or may not have played a co-staring role in Beach Babes 2: Cave Girl Island.

Date #1 – Lenny

Jordan returns to actually host this episode… I still wonder where the heck he was during Kim Fields’ dates… regardless, he arrives at Lenny’s apartment and as always, he has the briefcase and white envelope inside.

Jordan asks Lenny who he would like to date, and he immediately blurts out Rachel Welch. Well, at least Lenny has good taste…

Upon opening the envelope and seeing an old head shot of Phyllis, Lenny response with a hearty laugh, and he says that he thinks they will have a blast together… lets hope he means a blast as in fun… you can’t too careful nowadays. Off to Phyllis’ rather nice estate they go.

During the drive over, Phyllis gets more screen time, and she comments on some of her philosophy on life. She feels that making people laugh is the hardest thing to do well.

Her proudest achievement? “I’ve done it all.” She says, and I have to agree. Acting, stand up comedy, concert pianist, and now painter… she sums it up best when she says, “I’m fearless!”

What is she looking for? “He must have a great sense of humor and be smart.” I don’t know Phyllis, I assume you probably want him to have a pulse as well, but perhaps for the right guy, that is open to debate.

Lenny arrives and Phyllis doesn’t answer the door herself. Instead someone escorts Lenny into a sitting room where Phyllis seems genuinely happy to meet him.

Phyllis begins to ask Lenny about eastern philosophy. He is impressed and asks her if she believes. She says that she doesn’t know anything about it, that’s why she is asking.

Lenny doesn’t know why Buddha is chubby… he points out that he doesn’t know him personally, and I am glad he cleared that up, because I really suspected that Buddha might have appeared in Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge along side Lenny… if it is the same Lenny…

Lenny is already starting to get on Phyllis’ nerves, and I know why. She is too nice to say it, but frankly it is quite clear that Lenny is a bullsh*t’er, and a rather accomplished one at that. The tactics probably work on those acting school students, but he isn’t scoring points with Phyllis.

For example, he comments that he wants to “go beyond concepts”, and explains this idea in a manner that reminded me of a torturous afternoon spent at an Anthony Robbins rally… Gee, yet another way to say “think outside the box”… which of course is just simply a fancy way of saying, “don’t be an idiot”.

Lenny is a charmer though, and to prove that he attempts to compliment Phyllis by noting that she must be an “old soul”… You know Lenny, I am guessing that an 85 year old woman would value the opportunity to not be called old anything… let alone an old soul…

Lenny is also a vegetarian, but he assures Phyllis that he is not a weird one.

Phyllis begins to question him about this, and he replies with what I am sure he felt was a deep concept: “why did God create a world where all beings eat each other?”

At this point, I had to say to myself, gosh, I don’t know Lenny, but when Charlie Cheetah takes down Gary Gazelle on the high plains, I doubt that he is thinking about the higher meaning of such things, and probably just wants to eat… besides, I wasn’t sure how that thought helped explain anything…

Now, don’t get me wrong, one of my best friends is a vegan, and I fully support her lifestyle… I just couldn’t figure out if Lenny was serious, or if he thought he might get to first base by shifting the conversation to vegetables.

Phyllis, much wiser than I, simply responds with, “You could eat leaves.”

Lenny has been taking up quite a bit of the conversation with his gibberish. Phyllis notes this, and says, “You keep talking about things that you haven’t seen.”

She follows up with, “I want to get you a drink and sober you up…”

They arrive at the restaurant just in time, and upon entering, Phyllis is pointing out the fine art on the walls…

Being the renascence man that he is, he laughs at one particular painting whose subject is a headless woman. Phyllis politely points out that the subject in question is the owner of the restaurant’s wife.

They share dinner, such as it is, and Phyllis continues to try to get to know Lenny. She asks, “Where are you going?” as in the usual life goals context.

“A place you don’t believe in.” replies Lenny in his most knowing voice…

From there, Lenny launches into what is literally a several hour conversation with himself involving all manner of topics. Phyllis doesn’t say a word… not one word… a simply glares at the cameraman, as if begging for mercy.

Cut to a confessional scene where Phyllis lets us know that she cannot stand guys who tell boring stories…

That’s not good news for Lenny, who is now digging into the very bottom of his bag of tricks, as this acting teacher begins using cartoon voices to describe pigs discussing vegetarian cooking…

I can’t make up stuff this good people…

Lenny has sweat on his brow, and his voice is getting hoarse, but yet he plods on.

He does pause long enough to slap his own face, and complain that he is running out of energy… but our hopes are dashed when he starts right back up again…

He is debating the consumption of what looks to be a rather large piece of garlic, but he worries that that Phyllis will not kiss him because of it… Ever the philanthropist, Phyllis insists that he enjoy his garlic…

Finally he says, “Well, I think I am talked out…” and a collective sigh of relief is heard throughout the restaurant.

On the drive home we are treated to the standard confessionals, and Lenny lets us know that he is pretty sure that he held his own in the conversation.

Held your own? Well I suppose that is true, though a conversation is generally described as two way communication, and Phyllis staring back at you with glazed over eyes doesn’t really meet that standard.

Nevertheless, Lenny is convinced that they connected.

Phyllis, shockingly, has a different opinion. “He talked my ear off!”

In the back seat of the Escalade, they are now arguing the possibilities of reincarnation. Phyllis lets us know that she doesn’t believe in that, and feels that she has lived long enough now to decide everything anyway.

The date ends with Lenny pathetically trying to sneak in a few kisses, while Phyllis graciously tries to gnaw her own arm off to get away from him… Ah, romance!

Jordan notes that there just weren’t sparks between these two lovers. I am glad Jordan is here to add this important analysis, because it seemed really touch and go there as to if a match was made.

I am really starting to appreciate Phyllis though, and I’ll bet with the right company, she is probably a great conversationalist… let’s hope that Dick can help.

Date#2 – Dick

Jordan arrives at Dick’s house, briefcase in hand.

Upon seeing the publicity shot, Dick shows his extensive military training has not left him. “Ahhh Ms. Diller” he says, “she should be delightful”.

Meanwhile, Phyllis is reviewing the information on Dick, and she is quite impressed.

The meet at her estate in much the same manner as before, and Phyllis immediately comments that Dick is a smart dresser.

The go to lunch, and Dick is doing what all successful Star Daters from the past have done, he is asking Phyllis questions about her, and not mindlessly babbling on like a broken record.

They toast to a lovely new friendship, and while Dick is not exactly an “exciting” personality, he does seem to be a good match for Phyllis, and he comes across as the mischievous grandpa type… always has something up his sleeve.

She asks about his ethnicity, and he replies that he is Cherokee – Irish.

She is quite happy with that combination, and really Dick is a far better looking man than Lenny was, even though he is 14 years older.

Phyllis tells an Irish joke: “Two Irish guys leave a bar…”

/silence for about 10 seconds/

“Well, it could happen!”

Dick likes the joke, and they continue to enjoy several martinis together.

When asked about her next role, Phyllis says that she will taking on a role with the television show Seventh Heaven, and that the role called for a very old woman… She says she’ll try to fake it.

These two are really getting along well, but what really seals the deal for Phyllis is when Dick orders a very large steak for dinner. I suppose that the whole anti-Lenny aspects of that were very attractive to an obviously still traumatized Diller.

Cut to the confessionals, where Dick tells us that he feels she is a very charming lady.

Phyllis is gushing with her praise, “he is an adorable man, he is smart, paid his dues, and he deserves better.” She would love more dates with him, and feels this could be the start of a blossoming romance.

Dick seems to feel the same, and they retire to Phyllis’ house for a night cap and further conversation.

Jordan decides that this could take a while, and the episode ends with him napping in the Escalade.

Next Week:

It seems there is no next week, and no word yet as to if other Star Dates episodes will be made or shown. E! will be conducting a Star Dates marathon this weekend.

I am impressed though, as the Star Dates editors actually succeeded in matching all five stars with someone that they indicated they would like to spend more time with. I am pretty sure that is a performance record unmatched by the other dating shows of this genre.

Let’s hope that there will be more Star Dates in our future.

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