Judd Hirsch dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Friday to discuss his new show, “Superior Donuts” which premiers Thursday, Feb. 2, at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS. The show chronicles the lives of local doughnut shop workers in a changing neighborhood.
And yes, there are freshly baked doughnuts on set. Everywhere.
“If you came, you would be terribly tempted,” Hirsch said in studio on Gio and Jones. “We play in front of an audience, and the only thing they can smell is the entire baking factory that we’ve got there.”
Hirsch is one of the most accomplished actors in Hollywood. He is best known, perhaps, for his role as Alex Reiger on “Taxi.” He’s also 81.
Gio and Jones asked him what his secret is for staying and looking young, even in his 80s.
“I always say the same thing,” he said. “I drink white wine and eat green grapes. That’s it.”
That’s it? Brian Jones asked.
“Not every minute of the day,” Hirsch said, laughing. “Every once in a while, I have an actual meal.”
But why a show about doughnuts? Why now?
“Because I knew that it was going to be extremely funny,” Hirsch said. “I wasn’t born to do this, but I got into this at an early stage. I’ve done like four of them or five of them. There’s a certain wonderful feeling you get when you do it. I was doing everything since the last one. I said to my agent, ‘Look, I did the dramas, I did the plays, I’ve done episodic, I’ve been on every comedy program. There’s got to be something I would fit into, a whole series.’”
As it turns out, there was.
“It was almost instantaneous,” Hirsch said. “They called me and sent a dozen doughnuts. So they bribed me. When they told me I was going to be playing with four stand-up comedians, all who are extremely funny – I’m telling you, you got to be there. I met them all. Jermaine Fowler is one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet. I looked at him and said, ‘What are you, 22?’ He said, ‘Twenty-eight.’ I said, ‘Oh, excuse me.’ I think they got me there sort of like as the controller, but I’m the guy who owns the doughnut shop.”
The series is based on the play, “Superior Doughnuts,” which was on Broadway. Hirsch plays Arthur Przybyszewski, while Fowler plays Franco Wicks, his assistant.
“It’s about a despondent doughnut shop owner, Arthur, who is trying to make it in his Chicago neighborhood, which he’s been in for like 40 years,” Hirsch explained. “In walks this kid, more or less, and he hires him because the kid says, ‘I can make this place go.’ And he does. And all hell breaks loose because the kid, he’s going to try in so many ways to screw it up. For some strange reason, he sees something in this kid and actually gives him money and says, ‘Go ahead and try,’ and for all intents and purposes, he screws it up. Chicago will make you screw it up. The neighborhood will make you screw it up. People will come in, we have a cop – everybody seems to find some sort of solace in this place. It’s like the ‘Cheers’ of doughnuts.”
Hirsch also discussed his career and answered questions about Andy Kaufman, his former Taxi co-star who died of cancer in 1984. He was 35.
“He’s as normal as me,” Hirsch said. “I would describe him as rather plain. He did not have energetic silliness. He wasn’t jumping around. This guy was the calmest person I’ve ever met who did what he did. The only way I got to know him was being on the show. I thought, ‘This guy, he’s not a comedian, he’s not quite an actor, but he is kind of like a magician to get you to believe something that he does is the only thing he seems to have lived for.’ He wanted to fool you as much as possible and then say, ‘God, you believed me.’”