Famecrawler caught Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work at last night’s NewFest, NYC’s LGBT Film Festival and got a chance to hear the 77 year old icon talk about being a mother and a grandmother. The movie hits theaters tomorrow in NYC and LA and follows Joan for a year giving a beautiful and intimate portrait of the brash comedienne’s life going all the way back to her breakout performance on The Johnny Carson Show to now.
She’s seen from a rare view: Vulnerable, kind but strong, funny yet wounded, a maniacal workaholic who will do almost anything (jewelry selling on QVC at 3am, anyone?) yet a person who puts family first. Joan has one daughter, Melissa, from her husband Edgar who committed suicide, a tragedy Joan blames on his being humiliated by Fox when they asked her to fire him as executive producer from her program The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. When she refused, the network fired both of them.
We’ve all seen Joan on camera with her daughter Melissa whether it be discussing celebrities fashion faux pas on the red carpet or vying for Donal Trump’s attention on Celebrity Apprentice, but the film gives a more personal look at their relationship. It also shows Joan in a very heartwarming moment with her grandson Cooper when they deliver meals to less fortunate on Thanksgiving.
Joan tries to spend as much time with her grandson as possible. “I wanted Cooper to know that a grandmother should just be there so I go out to California every chance I can. I’m just there. I don’t want it to be like, ‘Here comes Grandma! Special occasion! I have to sit up and be nice to her.” I’m just part of the fabric of his life.”
He doesn’t care if she or his mother are famous. In fact, it took him awhile to even realize. “He sees me on television, he sees his mother on television, he grows up backstage. He figured out. We went to Disney Land and he was six years old and people were coming up for autographs and he finally figured it out. He said, ‘Grandma, you’re famous,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I am. Do you wanna know why?’ He said, ‘Why?’ I told him that it’s because I make people happy and he said, ‘That’s very nice.’”
Speaking to a mostly gay crowd, Joan showed them her appreciation saying, “I would love to have two grandchildren: one straight, one gay. The straight one can be Melissa’s and the gay one can say, ‘Grandma, you really saw Judy Garland?’”
Joan is happy with the way the documentary came out, but asked for two edit when after she saw the first cut. You would expect her to ask about the removal of her crying or being seen without make-up, but both edits had to do with her family.
“I didn’t like the movie when I first saw it, but I love it now,” Joan said. “The first thing Melissa said about me was negative and I just said, please make the first thing she says about me positive because she really does like me. Then she can go be like ‘F*ck my mother, and die,’ but only after she says, ‘She really is a nice person.’ Another thing is, I am still very angry at Edgar. Furious. I still pass his picture and say ‘F*ck you and die.’ When there is a suicide involved in a family you never ever lose the anger. Melissa got terribly upset and wanted some of the parts to be taken out where I say bad things about daddy.”
If you have the chance, I highly recommend seeing the film.