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Inside the Actors Studio
Inside the Actors Studio logo
Format Talk show
Starring James Lipton
Opening theme Angelo Badalamenti
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 16
Running time 60 minutes; 120 minutes
Original channel Bravo
Original run August 14, 1994 – present
External links
Official website

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 internationally by CABLEready and is broadcast in 125 countries around the world reaching 89,000,000 homes [1]. It is currently taped at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University's New York City campus [2][3][4].


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 Studio and New School University in 1994, with Paul Newman, a former Actors Studio president as its first guest, and soon became Bravo's flagship program [2]. At first taped at the New School's Tishman Auditorium in Greenwich Village, New York City, blocks away from Actors Studio's home in the theater district in midtown Manhattan, and shifting subsequently to its present location, Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University's New York City campus.

And as per the studio, it deliberately used a slower pace in the interviews as compared with a typical celebrity interview, thus cameras usually record a couple of hours' of conversation, later edited to an hour, a trick used by Groucho Marx on his 1950s quiz show You Bet Your Life. The result, as a New York Times article puts it, "In Mr. Lipton's guest chair, actors cease being stars for a while and become artists and teachers." Though sometimes, some interviews go longer, like that during Steven Spielberg 1999 visit, stretched to four hours, and was later shown as two episodes of one hour each. The interviews are guided by Lipton's trademark index-card questions known for well-researched details of guest's life, often startling some, like on one such occasion, Billy Crystal told Lipton, You know you're scary, don't you? [2][3].

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.

James Lipton with guest Angelina Jolie. The majority of the show is held as a one-on-one interview.

Since its premiere, Inside the Actors Studio has had over 200 guests, with Dustin Hoffman being the 200th guest in June 2006 [5]. 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. Based on the show, James Lipton published a book titled "Inside Inside" in 2007 [1].

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 French 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, with French subtitles [6].


(Alphabetically by first name)























Taken before a taping of Inside the Actors Studio at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University

Ensemble guests:

  • Casts of Law & Order (creator Dick Wolf, Chris Noth (Law & Order; Law & Order: Criminal Intent), S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order))
    • Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) had to leave before his interview during the taping because of an illness he had that day, he was edited out of the introduction since he was not able to be interviewed during the show.

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 Katharine 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.

Further reading

  • Inside Inside, by James Lipton. Pub. Dutton, 2007. ISBN 0525950354.
  • Inside the Actors Studio. Pub. Shout Factory, 2008. ISBN 1603991271.


  1. ^ a b "Lipton takes readers inside ‘Inside the Actors Studio’". Oct. 19, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c WARREN BERGER (March 14, 1999). "All the School's a Stage; Stars Talk Shop and the Film Community Listens". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b JAMES BARRON (September 22, 1996). "The Studio, A Place Of Legends". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Carnicke, Sharon Marie (2008). Stanislavsky in focus: an acting master for the twenty-first century. Taylor & Francis (Routledge). p. 52. ISBN 0415774969. 
  5. ^ "Dustin Hoffman to be 200th guest on 'Inside the Actor's Studio'". USA Today. 6/15/2006. 
  6. ^ ALAN RIDING (September 10, 2002). "ARTS ABROAD; Venturing Outside Actors Studio (to Paris)". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ a b c Bravo Writes a New Chapter with Development of Scripted Series and Live Weekly Topical Show
  8. ^ James Lipton, Lover of “Family Guy”
External videos
Inside the Actors Studio

External links

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