OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Readers want to mail Ellen, David Brenner tribute

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-03-19T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Readers want to mail Ellen, David Brenner tributeBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Carol Turbeville of Highland, and a number of other readers, have requested an address for sending letters and correspondence to Ellen DeGeneres.

"I know you are a busy guy Phil. But you are my best hope for finding an address for writing to Ellen, since I don't use a computer. Thank you for any help you can provide. Sincerely, Carol Turbeville."

Thank you to Carol and other readers who have waited so patiently for this requested address. Ellen was quite busy last month, as she prepared for her hosting duties for the Oscars telecast. But no matter how busy her schedule, I've been assured she keeps up with her mail and correspondence. It's best to send letters directly to her studio address for her popular syndicated daytime talk show, which debuted in September 2003 and has already been inked for renewal through 2017, extending the show through its 14th season. Unlike sending mail to her personal home address, at the studio, she has a staff of assistants to help sort and open correspondence to expedite her replies.

You can send your letter to: Ellen Degeneres c/o The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Attn: Fan Mail

PO Box 7788

Burbank, CA 91523

USA

Another passing

On the subject of talk shows, the death of comedian David Brenner on Saturday, didn't get much media mention. The lanky, toothy-grinned "Tonight Show" favorite, described in his Associated Press wire obit as having "a brand of observational comedy that became a staple for other standups, including Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser," was 78.

Brenner, who had been fighting cancer, died peacefully at his home in New York City with his family at his side, according to Jeff Abraham, his friend and publicist.

Brenner became one of the most frequent visitors to Johnny Carson's "The Tonight" in the 1970s and '80s, with 150-plus appearances which eventually led to him being named one of the show's popular substitute hosts. (When Joan Rivers, who was also one of Carson's guest hosts for the show, reportedly stumbled upon a list of the 10 names of Carson's likely successors, Brenner, David Letterman, Jay Leno and Garry Shandling were among the names ranked, while she says hers wasn't included.)

Credited as a mentor for Valparaiso talk show teen Michael Essany, he featured Brenner as a guest in 2003 on his E! network series "The Michael Essany Show."

Brenner's agent said despite health woes, the comic worked steadily through 2013 doing standup, including a four-day run in December that included a New Year's Eve show at a Pennsylvania casino-resort.

Brenner's take on his career path, as he described it in a 2000 AP interview, was that he put family before stardom.

He said a long custody battle with a girlfriend over their son, Cole, forced him to curtail his TV appearances and visibility beginning in the mid-1980s, when Brenner lived in Aspen, Colo.

"In a nutshell, I couldn't work more than 50 nights a year (out of town) or I'd be an absentee father," he said. "That was when they were giving out the talk shows, the sitcoms."

In a 1995 interview with the AP, Brenner imagined a different path for "The Tonight Show."

"I really believe that had Johnny Carson retired in the early '80s, then I would be sitting behind that desk," he said. "I don't think there's any doubt."

In a statement, his family said he left a last laugh: A final request that $100 in small bills be placed in his left sock "just in case tipping is recommended where I'm going." Abraham said at the comedian's request, his final resting spot will read : "If this is supposed to be a joke — then I don't get it."

Besides son Cole, Brenner is survived by his wife, Ruth, sons Wyatt and Slade and a grandson, Wesley. To his knowledge, Abraham said Brenner wasn't married to his one-time companion, Olympic skating champion Tai Babilonia, despite reports that she was his widow.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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