Last Wednesday I attended LateNet with Ray Ellin, held at the Gotham Comedy Club in NYC. Ray's guests were 1994 Olympic champion in figure skating Oksana Baiul, Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy, and comedian Kyle Grooms. Stay tuned tomorrow for a full video report from the show.
Oksana, looking very Marilyn Monroe-like, spoke about her experiences winning the Olympics in Lillehammer, her subsequent move to the U.S., the very first word she learned in English (can't print it here), being on the Late Show with David Letterman, her three-and-a-half-month rehabilitation stay for drug and alcohol abuse, rehearsing for Cold As Ice (a Broadway musical where she will play a Russian skater, gasp!), her attempts at finding true love (she's been engaged four times), and she's quite the storyteller! (I know, I was surprised too.) For example, she explained that after she won the gold medal, there was a delay in the medal ceremony with Nancy Kerrigan (silver medalist) and others looking irritated that they were waiting for Oksana to appear. Someone spread a rumor that she was crying uncontrollably in the men's locker room (happy tears) and that she couldn't pull herself together fast enough. On LateNet, Oksana set the record straight and told the audience that she was told to wait in the locker room because the Ukrainian team leader had to rush to the Olympic village to get a tape of the Ukrainian national anthem. Apparently, no one expected that she had a chance in hell of winning so no one thought to bring the music. You have to hear her tell it, trust me.
Whatever preconceptions the audience had of Oksana, she definitely won them over with her honesty, humor (at times raunchy) and endearing command of the English language. Ray was also an excellent host who brought out the different sides to her personality that we don't normally get to see.
Leonard Nimoy was equally entertaining and I learned a lot about the alleged feud between Nimoy and William Shatner, the Star Trek prequel movie that he's in, a possible appearance on Mission Impossible IV, directing Three Men and a Baby, meeting future president John F. Kennedy in a cab, his short singing career, and his new book of photography called The Full Body Project. Nimoy also told a funny story about the time he was admonished by a Japanese translator that the character of Mr. Spock is very much like a samurai, and thus, a Japanese actor should play Mr. Spock. How do you respond to something like that? You'll have to watch the show to find out. And comedian Kyle Grooms had the audience rolling with his take on the presidential election, at times playing Barack Obama.
Portions of the show are currently available for viewing on DailyComedy.com. (photos below, backstage with Oksana and makeup lady, Leonard Nimoy wih Ray Ellin, and Kyle Grooms with Ray)