ABC News reported Tuesday that former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was being driven around Indiana on Monday and asked his driver where to stop for lunch. The driver said, “St. Elmo Steak House,” and that’s how the politician came to show up at the “Parks and Recreation” shoot at the restaurant.
- Lisa de Moraes
- The TV Column
Gingrich accidentally winds up with ‘Parks and Rec’ cameo, ABC News says
St. Elmo Steak House, which is in Indianapolis, does not open until 4 p.m., a restaurant marketing guy told ABC News on Tuesday. That was news to Gingrich’s driver.
Anyway, while Gingrich mistook all the trucks and TV production equipment for lunchtime customers at a popular restaurant, the “Parks and Rec” writer-producers at the shoot sat down and slapped together a short scene in which Gingrich would play himself, ABC News was told.
You buying any of this?
“It was great fun,” Gingrich told ABC News, explaining that he’s “intrigued by American entertainment” and adding, like the old sitcom pro he is, that it’s “always fun to do something like that.”
In case ABC News had forgotten, he reminded it: “I had a small role on a Candice Bergen show many years back.”
That “Candice Bergen show” was the controversial CBS sitcom “Murphy Brown” — controversial because Brown, the Washington journalist played by Bergen, was an unwed mother. And back in ’92, then-veep Dan Quayle condemned the fictitious character’s made-for-TV unwed motherhood during one of those family-values debates to which Washington is prey.
In February of ’96, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich played himself on the show, in a scene in which he confronted Brown backstage after she skewered him at a Washington “Presscapade” (think Gridiron) dinner.
“That was quite a speech,” Gingrich told Brown in the episode.
“Oh, really?” Brown responded. “There were some people who thought that writing ‘Newt’ on a greased pig went a little too far.”
Back then, Gingrich was not driving around looking for lunch — he’d come to Los Angeles to attend Ronald Reagan’s 85th birthday party. “Ever since I saw ‘The Wind and the Lion,’ I said [I’d] go to any length to be in the same room” with Bergen, gushed Gingrich after that taping — explaining that lots of people liked the show but not its “ideology,” then-Post writer Sharon Waxman reported at the time.
Richards to return
In his first regular series role in more than a decade, “Seinfeld” alum Michael Richards is set to co-star opposite “Cheers” veterans Kirstie Alley and Rhea Perlman in the TV Land pilot “Giant Baby,” the Web site Deadline reports.
Alley stars as a Broadway diva whose son turns up, looking to connect with her after his adopted mother dies. Richards will play Alley’s limo driver.
Richards was a fan fave on NBC’s “Seinfeld,” after which his own NBC series tanked quickly. Except for a Seinfeld story arc on Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO, he has not had a regular TV series gig since. He did, however, continue to perform at comedy clubs — which got him into hot water in ’06, after an on-stage tirade and racist slur, in response to a heckler, was caught on tape.