Charles Grodin is best known as the star of films including “Midnight Run” and “Beethoven,” but the Connecticut actor is also a humanitarian. He quietly stepped up a few weeks ago to film a public service announcement for Laurel House, a Stamford -based organization that provides resources and opportunities for people living with mental illness. A well-known comedian and tv talk show host, the 77-year-old Wilton resident said he was impressed by the work being done by the non-profit and when approached, agreed to lend his celeb to the cause to raise awareness during September, National Recovery Month. Active on several non-profit boards, Grodin had just returned from a weekend getaway in Maine to visit fellow comedian and actor Bob Elliot, when he Spilled the Beans with Java.
Q: What was it about Laurel House that put you back in front of the cameras?
A: I actually do about 20 events a year and it’s usually because I say “yes” to people when others say “no.” It this case, I said yes but did not fully grasp what it was the organization did. I visited there and was impressed. It struck me that when you have mental issues, you must feel very alone. I have never had problems or dealt with those extremes in my life but realized it must be comforting and helpful to have a place where there are others who understand and can help so you are not so isolated.
Q: What do you think your voice adds to the cause?
A: I don’t know if it is really true or not but I am told my CBS news that my show on its website is one of the most downloaded features. I think it boils down to celebrity calls attention to a cause so I guess I help in that way.
Q: As a commentator and news guy, what do you think when it comes to the state of journalism these days?
A: I don’t think the presentation of news is clear. I read four or five papers a day and too much seems to be written from an insiders point of view. Too many questions are not answered. As far as blogs and social networking, horrible. Too many of the writers don’t know what they are writing about and it is all based on attack. And as far as the political campaigns, I find them impossible to watch. There is no real discussion. It just feels like you are watching big pep rallies.
Q: Speaking of politics, as a Connecticut voter, Murphy or McMahon?
A: I was pulling for Chris Shays. I thought he was an experienced, knowledgeable fella. I’m not quite understanding the WWE and the jobs it created and I really don’t know enough about Murphy other than he is going to be outspent.
Q: There are credible rumors that a sequel to “Midnight Run” is in the works. Have you been approached about reprising Duke?
A: I don’t know that. I had pitched an idea for a sequel and the last thing I heard was there would be a script. But no one said I would be in it and I don’t assume anything. There is also talk of another Beethoven sequel too. As far as Midnight Run, I probably wouldn’t do it because my son said I shouldn’t and I pretty much listen to him.
Q: Would you ever do a movie again?
A: It would have to be something that people would be interested in seeing. I have been with CNBC, MSNBC, CBS the last 17 years. My focus has been more on news and being involved with charities. I don’t go to the movies much. The last one I went to in recent memory was “To Rome With Love,” a Woody Allen movie.
Q: What is something no one knows about you?
A: I was valedictorian of my high school class in Pittsburgh, Pa. But my grade point average was only 3.7. At our school the president of the class was automatically the valedictorian. What is ironic is that when I was class president I was impeached by the teacher. She said I talked incessantly. That was at Peabody High School. It was just closed because it was overrun by a gang. Gene Kelly went to high school there too, although he was older than me. My grandparents lived on the same block as his grandparents.