Get ready for legendary television actor Tony Danza to serve up a heaping helping of all-American (make that all Italian-American) charm to listeners of Brooklyn Paper Radio this week — giving a delectable preview of his upcoming “Standards and Stories” show at Brooklyn College on Sunday.
In a wide-ranging, pre-recorded interview that will be podcast during today’s show at 4:45 pm right here on Brook
“I feel like I am hallucinating when I hear people twist themselves into a pretzel to normalize this guy,” Danza told hosts Gersh Kuntzman of the New York Daily News and Vince DiMiceli, editor of The Brooklyn Paper. “Listen, he’s the president. We hope for the best. But I heard a guy on TV the other day saying, ‘He’s not a racist, he’s not a misogynist, he walked all that stuff back.’ Well, when you play scorched earth, you scorch the earth. Now there has to be some kind of healing. And the healing has to come from him.”
Danza’s fears about the Trump administration peppered his conversation with the boys, who had invited the Brooklyn native on the air to discuss the coming concert.
“It’s a grown-up show,” said Danza, who was born Antonio Salvatore Iadanza, by the way. “I’m a big fan of the American songbook because those songs have such great lyrics. And then I tell some stories to hook them into the songs to create a connection to the audience. There are show business stories, like the time I introduced my mother to Sinatra.”
Introducing a mom to Old Blue Eyes will certainly get her attention, Kuntzman pointed out.
“That’s when she knew I was finally a big shot!” Danza laughed. “And that’s part of the show. I get some laughs and I have a great band. I sing, I tap dance, and then I bring out my secret weapon: my ukulele. I bring it out and it’s like a ray gun.”
Danza said he owed a debt to Sinatra beyond helping him impress his mother. On Sunday, he’ll also recount how the Hoboken crooner assisted Danza from the grave.
“I was doing ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’ [on Broadway] and I was playing the cool bad guy,” Danza said. I was having trouble with the part because I couldn’t figure out if I was supposed to be funny or not. Three weeks into rehearsal and the director is thinking, ‘Come on, Tony, get this already.’ I didn’t want to be the weak link in the show because everyone else was so good.
“So, I was at home working on it, and all of a sudden, I toss my phone down and the music went on by itself. It was Sinatra singing ‘I’m a Fool to Want You.’ And I thought, ‘Wait a second! If Sinatra was alive, this is the part he’d be playing.’ So I played it as Sinatra. The next day, I didn’t say anything, but the director said, ‘Ooh, yeah, more of that!’”
He wouldn’t be the only one asking for more of Tony Danza. He’s a television celebrity. He’s single. He lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. And he’s not financially stressed like Kuntzman and DiMiceli.
“I’m having some fun!” he said. “The city is great. It’s a great time to be me! I talk about that in the show. Being in New York and single, as you might imagine, it’s nice.
Kuntzman reminded Danza, a former boxer, that he doesn’t judge a man “by how many times he gets knocked down, but by how many times he gets up and goes on dates.”
“Well,” Danza said, “you’d be judging me pretty highly. I’m having a good time. And there’s a lot of good will out there. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
The interview with Danza is the latest great “gets” for Brooklyn Paper Radio, which has already interviewed filmmaker Michael Moore, Rock Hall of Fame guitarist Carlos Santana, Counting Crows front man Adam Duritz, comic Andrew Dice Clay, NY1’s Pat Kiernan, and (in less of a “get”), disgraced politician Anthony Weiner.
Brooklyn Paper radio is recorded and podcast live every Thursday at 4:45 pm — for your convenience — from our studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, right here on BrooklynPaper.com, on iTunes, on Mixlr, and of course, on Stitcher.
Catch Tony Danza’s “Standards and Stories” show at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Art (2900 Ave. H at Nostrand Ave., (718) 951–4500), Sunday, Nov. 20, at 3 pm. Tickets, $36–$55, www.brook