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‘He never stopped being amazed’ by his success

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Frank Costanza couldn’t go one episode of “Seinfeld” without having a screaming outburst at his family, but the man who played him was the complete opposite as a parent in real life.

Ben Stiller, 54, shared memories on “TODAY” Thursday of the parenting style of his father, comedy legend Jerry Stiller, who died at 92 earlier this month of natural causes.

“First of all he never, ever yelled at me once in my whole life,” Stiller told Savannah Guthrie. “He kind of kept it all under the surface. He was very overprotective and loving.”

Ben Stiller and his father Jerry Stiller arrive at the Help Haiti benefit honoring Sean Penn hosted by the Stiller Foundation and The J/P Haitian Relief Organization, in New York on Feb. 11, 2011.Charles Sykes / AP file

Stiller remembered the first time he walked to school five blocks away from their home in New York City as a kid in 1974 only to see a familiar presence.

“My dad was nervous so he followed me,” Stiller said. “He literally followed me in a car to the point where the police stopped him because they thought that he was stalking me. He was that nuts.

“He wanted nothing bad to happen to his kids. Sometimes that could drive you crazy as a kid because you need to sort of live your life, but he was always there for us whenever we needed him.”

His father’s death prompted an outpouring of support from his fellow “Seinfeld” stars as well as comedians and fans from around the world.

“He would’ve loved it,” his son said. “He would’ve felt good … it filled him to be able to perform and connect with people and be able to make them laugh. He was a kid from the Lower East Side, grew up very poor, and to have the big career that he had, I think he never stopped being amazed by it or appreciating it.”

Even after all his son’s success, Jerry Stiller’s protective nature toward his children extended well into their adulthood.

Stiller, who talks more about Jerry in the upcoming edition of Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist, remembered his father’s reaction to a bad movie review he received about 15 years ago. He and his family happened to be living in the same New York City apartment building as his parents at the time.

“A movie came out and it got a bad review that I was in, and there was a note slipped under my door the morning after from my dad saying, ‘I read the review in the (New York) Times, don’t worry, I’m gonna write to the guy and take care of it.’ That was my dad.”

Stiller also reflected on his father’s loving 62-year marriage to his late mother, Anne Meara. The two starred together as a comedic team in the 1960s and worked together again in their later years on “The King of Queens.”

Stiller shared a sweet vintage clip of them singing “Do You Love Me?” from “Fiddler on the Roof” together during a television appearance.

“They found each other and they were there for each other. Not to get too sappy, but I feel like they’re connected again,” he said.

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Why Nicole Avant Made Doc About Her Father – Variety

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When Nicole Avant was growing up in Beverly Hills in the 1970s and ’80s, her father, Clarence Avant, was one of the most connected and successful African American power brokers in the music industry. He launched record labels, owned radio stations and became a key figure in politics and the civil rights movement.

The Avant home was always buzzing with a stream of Hollywood and Washington insiders coming and going. “I knew that he was very powerful because the phone rang constantly and I always heard him fixing something or giving advice,” says Nicole, who made her producing debut with Netflix’s “The Black Godfather,” a documentary about her father. “And then I did see him on ‘Soul Train’ one day, and he was giving an interview with Don Cornelius. …That’s when I thought, ‘Oh, he must be a big deal because he’s on television.’”

That point is driven home by the documentary, which features interviews with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, David Geffen, Jamie Foxx, Sean “Diddy” Combs and the late Bill Withers, whom Avant signed to his Sussex Records while the singer was still working as an aircraft assembler.

Nicole Avant, who is married to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, says she had plans to shop the doc around before her husband snapped it up for the streamer. “I actually had this idea in my head since I was a little girl. I really did,” Avant, who served as Obama’s ambassador to the Bahamas, says on this week’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket.” “I had told Ted, even when I was dating him, there’s this idea I have for this film, and I said to him, ‘I’m going to take it to HBO.’ Once I started getting the interviews and everyone started confirming, Ted said, ‘Do you really have all these people saying yes?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, for sure.’ He said, ‘Let me take a look at it again.’ And then at that point, Ted is a part of the family, and he saw a solid film, and he saw an important film, and he actually wanted to tell the story just as much or even more than I did.”

What do you want people to know about your dad?

I really wanted people to take away that it’s important to have a strong sense of self. It’s important to keep moving forward. It’s important to pay back. It’s important to move the needle. Also, it’s very important to take risks in life. Sometimes you’re going to fail. Sometimes people are going to say no. So what? It’s a part of life. You keep going. You pick yourself back up again.

What did you learn about your dad while making the documentary that you didn’t know already?

I took it for granted how hard his childhood was and how abusive it was — having a stepfather, really beating up my grandmother in front of him and in front of the other children. My dad didn’t really have a childhood, and he took care of seven kids because everyone was working and they were so poor.

How hard was it to hear those stories?

Very hard for me. And it made a lot of sense when everything did fall down for him and everything blew up at one time and we lost everything. I think everything triggered to his childhood again of not having things he didn’t have or anybody to really rely on.

Tell me about a time in which someone really big turned up at the house and you were like, ‘What is this person doing here?’”

The one time I was very star-struck was when Whitney Houston showed up one day and I had just been listening to the “Greatest Love of All.” I’d sing it in the car like I was Whitney Houston. I was floored; I stood at the front door and I thought, “Oh, my God, this is a real celebrity. This is a big deal.”

If you were to make a scripted narrative about your dad, who would play him?

Forest Whitaker could play him because he knows him and he could “get” him actually.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Hear it in its entirety below. You can also listen to “The Big Ticket” at iHeartRadio or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.


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Even Prince William Has To Deal With This Classic Family Dinner Challenge

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There’s no question about it: lockdown has changed our lives and transformed the way we work. And that goes for royals, too. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have adapted, taking their royal duties online, via a number of zoom calls. But not everything has changed… On his latest call, Prince William revealed that even he has to deal with this classic family dinner challenge.

Speaking to representatives of the PEEK Project, a Glasgow-based charity, on May 20, the Duke of Cambridge said the success of his family meal depend very much on “what’s on the table”. Joking with community chef Charlie Farrally, Prince William agreed that dinner time can be very challenging: “If parents put something on that children love, dinner time goes very well,” he said. “But if you put something on the table they don’t want to do, that’s another ball game.”

PEEK Project, Possibilities for Each and Every Kid, have been working throughout COVID-19 to provide balanced, and hot meals for families in need. The Duke of Cambridge praised them for their work and pointed out the immense pressure that parents are under as well.

The PEEK project has been supported in it’s work throughout the pandemic by the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal. Were it not for lockdown, the Duke of Cambridge would have been in Scotland this week to meet representatives at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Obviously, this couldn’t go ahead face-to-face, but he still spoke to the chefs, volunteers, and the CEO via a video call. “I hope when I find myself up in Glasgow in the near future I can come and see you guys in person and congratulate you,” he added.


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Ozark’s Esai Morales to Replace Nicholas Hoult As ‘Mission: Impossible’ Villain – Find Out Why

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Esai Morales, known for his work in Ozark and How to Get Away with Murder, is joining the cast of Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8, director Christopher McQuarrie revealed on his Instagram on Thursday (May 21).

However, Deadline is now reporting that Esai, 57, is actually replacing Nicholas Hoult in the movie in the villain role for the films.

The reason why Nicholas is being replaced? The Coronavirus pandemic has delayed production of tons of movies and television shows across the globe. As a result, the “delay put Hoult in conflict with another commitment.”

The film currently has a release date of July 23, 2021, but that could change as many films have had to alter release dates due to the global health crisis.

If you missed it, Nicholas just made a super rare comment about his two-year-old son.


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