Not My Job: We Quiz Candice Bergen Of 'Murphy Brown' On Murphy's Law
BILL KURTIS: Long before the fictional newscasters on Fox News...
KURTIS: ...There was the fictional newscaster Murphy Brown.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
The incredible Candice Bergen brought Murphy Brown to life for 11 seasons, and she joined us onstage at Carnegie Hall back in December.
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CANDICE BERGEN: The show would never have been brought back if the election had turned out the way we wanted.
BERGEN: If Hillary Clinton were president, we would never have brought the show back.
SAGAL: So what do you know? Donald Trump created a job.
BERGEN: That's right.
SAGAL: So I'm taking it Murphy Brown is not very happy with the current president.
BERGEN: Oh, well, we've had - really, the man is a gift.
BERGEN: Every day is a gift.
SAGAL: It really is.
PETER GROSZ: That's such a positive way...
FAITH SALIE: Yes.
GROSZ: ...To look at what's going on.
SAGAL: Yeah, I know.
SAGAL: I don't know how many people who are fans of you now know this, but you were, in fact, an extraordinarily famous child because your father was one of the most famous Americans alive, right? Edgar Bergen.
BERGEN: I don't think he was that famous. But he was...
PAULA POUNDSTONE: I think he was pretty famous.
SAGAL: Now, your father - again, for those who don't know - was the world's most famous and successful ventriloquist. He had a dummy, Charlie McCarthy. And...
BERGEN: He was also a famous ventriloquist on radio.
SAGAL: And I have to say, I have - and I mean no offense - I've seen archival film of your father doing his act. And just like people say I have a face for radio, he was a ventriloquist for radio.
POUNDSTONE: Did you grow up really in your early years thinking that you were Charlie McCarthy's sister?
BERGEN: Oh, yes. I was always called Charlie McCarthy's sister. And - but he was far more than a brother. He was like a head of state in our house.
BERGEN: And he had a room next to mine. And every now and then, my father would bring him out, and we would just kind of sit. And once - I mean, I remember once we would have - in the breakfast room, he would put Charlie on one knee and me on the other. And he - when he would squeeze my neck, it meant that I should move my mouth. And he...
SAGAL: He would put you on a knee and treat you as if you were another ventriloquist's dummy.
BERGEN: That's correct.
GROSZ: Charlie must've been so jealous.
SAGAL: Skipping ahead a bit...
SAGAL: In the '90s, you starred in "Murphy Brown," which as much as any other sort of sitcom or TV show exemplified the '90s. It was, like, the - a dominant show. And, of course, it became quite political when Dan Quayle famously went after not you, but your character. Did he know that it was a fictional character?
BERGEN: I don't think Dan Quayle had ever seen the show.
SAGAL: Oh, really?
BERGEN: But he was savvy. The - his handlers had taken the line about Murphy out of his speech, and he reinserted it into the speech. And that's all anybody talked about...
SAGAL: I remember.
BERGEN: ...For the entire six months of the campaign. It was on the front page of every paper. It was in every political cartoon, every editorial. It just didn't let up.
SALIE: Don't those seem like beautiful, simpler times?
SAGAL: You won in the original run five Emmys...
SAGAL: ...For lead actress in a comedy.
SAGAL: And I was going to say that's almost unfair to the competition. But apparently, you realized that yourself. And - is this true - that you'd said, please don't nominate me anymore? You turned it down.
BERGEN: I didn't say please don't. I just didn't submit myself for nomination. I didn't, like, go in and say, please don't nominate me.
SAGAL: Oh, no. No, don't do this. No. Please.
SALIE: And did you take your five Emmys home and then bludgeon Charlie McCarthy with them?
SAGAL: Oh, that's an interesting question.
SALIE: Where is he?
SAGAL: Where is Charlie McCarthy?
BERGEN: He's in the Smithsonian.
POUNDSTONE: Yeah, it's in the Smithsonian, absolutely.
SAGAL: Yeah. As Faith said, do you ever bring your Emmys down there and go, hey, Charlie?
SAGAL: You may have gotten the inheritance, but I got these little babies.
GROSZ: One day, I'm going to break out of this glass, and I swear to god...
GROSZ: I'm going to steal those Emmys.
SALIE: Candice, when you were on "The Muppet Show..."
SALIE: What was that like? Was that, like, trippy nostalgia to go back to talking with puppets or what?
POUNDSTONE: Yeah. Those were your cousins.
BERGEN: Let's just say it was a medium I was very comfortable...
POUNDSTONE: Pinocchio - or grandpa, as you call him...
SAGAL: Well, Candice Bergen, we could talk to you all day about...
POUNDSTONE: All right.
SAGAL: But we have invited you here to play a game we're calling...
KURTIS: "Murphy Brown," Meet Murphy's Law.
SAGAL: Murphy's law, of course, as I'm sure you know, is the law of the universe that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. We're going to ask you three questions about examples of Murphy's law in effect. If you get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners - the voice of their choice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Candice Bergen playing for?
KURTIS: Dylan Watton of Queens, New York.
SAGAL: Here - are you ready to do this?
SAGAL: OK, first question. McDonald's commissioned an internal corporate webpage once to help its employees eat better. But they had to take it down after what inevitably happened? A, the employees all gained an average of 20 pounds over six months...
SAGAL: ...B, it illustrated the concept of poor nutrition with a picture of a McDonald's meal...
SAGAL: ...Or C, it encouraged people to go out and eat at Burger King.
BERGEN: I would say that because they gained 20, 25 pounds.
SAGAL: You think that McDonald's gave its employees nutrition advice, and they all followed it, and they all ballooned like the Hindenburg.
BERGEN: Well, isn't that what happens?
SAGAL: Not in this case. What happened was...
SAGAL: ...They - the webpage they commissioned to illustrate good eating habits used a picture of the McDonald's cheeseburger and french fries...
SAGAL: ...To illustrate what you should not eat.
SAGAL: So the McDonald's corporation quickly took it down. All right. You still have two more chances - not a problem here. Bill Hillmann was gored by a bull in Spain - bad enough. But it happened shortly after he did what? A, was arrested for 27 different incidents of cow tipping...
SAGAL: ...B, wrote a book called "How To Survive The Bulls Of Pamplona"...
SAGAL: ...Or C, put on his new bright red cape.
UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE: B.
BERGEN: Yes, I'll go with the audience.
SAGAL: You're right.
SAGAL: They're right.
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SAGAL: Everybody's right. That's what happened. He didn't read his own book. All right, last one. If you get this right, you win. A big game hunter in Zimbabwe was killed last year when what happened? A, a zebra caught sight of his zebra-print bikini briefs and thought he was a rival male...
SAGAL: ...B, one of his fellow hunters mistook him for a, quote, "balding lion..."
SAGAL: ...Or C, he shot an elephant, and the elephant fell on him.
BERGEN: I guess the elephant fell on him.
SAGAL: That's what happened.
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SAGAL: It's tragic. But at least we know one of them died happy.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Candice Bergen do on our quiz?
KURTIS: She won. Congratulations.
SAGAL: Somewhere in the Smithsonian Institution, a wooden dummy just went, damn.
SAGAL: Candice Bergen stars as Murphy Brown on the show "Murphy Brown," back after a short hiatus. It airs Thursday nights on CBS. She was just nominated for a Golden Globe for the part. Candice Bergen, thank you so much.
SAGAL: Candice Bergen, ladies and gentlemen.
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SAGAL: When we come back, two very tall men - Conan O'Brien and NBA star Aaron Gordon. One of them is good at basketball.
SAGAL: Find out which one in a minute from WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME on NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.