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Mr. TV: Can We Talk?

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She's an outspoken comedian, an Emmy-winning talk show host, a best-selling author, the “center square” and an entrepreneur, with a jewelry line that keeps the phone lines buzzing at QVC. She has worked the infamous Red Carpet in Hollywood and was recently crowned the winner of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice. And she is the host of TV Land’s upcoming How’d You Get So Rich?, which premieres this Wednesday at 10 p.m. Naturally, I am speaking about Joan Rivers, with whom I had the chance to talk for this week’s column.  

I have to begin with Celebrity Apprentice. Your feud with Annie Duke was the cheesiest catfight I have seen since Krystle and Alexis went at each other in Dynasty. Was it real? Every single knock-down, drag-out moment. You could not have scripted that. People just don’t realize what an exhausting experience that was. Wait a minute…I need to lie down!

What made you decide to do it?
When they proposed for Melissa and I to do it together, I thought that would give it an interesting twist.   

Given how upset Melissa was anytime anyone would say a cross word to you, she clearly has her mother’s back.
Family first, that’s what I always taught her. Everything else is secondary in a cutthroat business like this. It’s what keeps you sane.  

Speaking of cutthroat, you have been knocked down more times than anyone I know in this business. Yet, you always come back fighting. How have you managed to survive all these years?
I just love this business and will do anything to stay in it. I am determined and I am open to all possibilities. I remember all the dives I entertained at. I remember working as a gag writer for Candid Camera. I recall when QVC approached me at a time when home shopping was considered dreck, and that was 20 years ago. And I really don’t think anyone was banging down the door to stand on the Red Carpet interviewing people. But if you have the attitude that nothing is beneath you, there are opportunities.

Was there ever a time when you thought your career was over?
Once a day, at least. I don’t think anyone really feels secure in this business.

Did you always want to be an entertainer?
From the moment I was in the womb. I actually wanted to be a dramatic actress; we already had a comedian in the family.  But, hey, it ain’t over yet.

Tell me about your How’d You Get So Rich?
Well, have you seen a house that makes you salivate? Have you ever wondered how the owners became so rich? I am going to take you all over the country—not just in New York and L.A.—and tell you the personal stories of the people who made it big. You can’t believe some of the stupid things that have made these people filthy rich.

What’s next for Joan Rivers?
Well, I am heading back to Las Vegas for the first time in 14 years. I was recently “roasted” for Comedy Central (which airs on Sunday, Aug. 9 at 10 p.m.). And I have a new reality series I am pitching. Stayed tuned and I will tell you about it soon.