The great thing about being a living legend is that you can pretty much speak your mind without major repercussions. I was reminded of that Thursday night when I found myself chatting with Ed Asner at a party celebrating the upcoming season at the Fitzgerald Theater. Asner's in town for his one-man performance as Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
By way of saying hello, I asked him what he thought of the announcement earlier in the day that Mary Tyler Moore would be getting a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild.
Asner, 81, hadn't heard the news and, based on his reaction, he didn't really seem to care.
"She's changed," said Asner, who was once president of SAG and received its lifetime achievement award in 2001. "She's a Republican." Asner was now in his "I hate spunk" mode. "Last time I saw her, she said Sarah Palin was a great lady."
Asner, a highly vocal liberal, wasn't done. He slammed CMT for not picking up the sitcom "Working Class," which he starred in with Twin Cities native Melissa Peterman. He said he believes there was a conspiracy behind 9/11. He flirted with KARE's Diana Pierce, despite the presence of her boyfriend. He hissed about former NBC entertainment chief Brandon Tartikoff who canceled his critically beloved drama "The Bronx Zoo."
He was also highly entertaining, most notably when he shared a story about Walter Mondale.
Back when Jimmy Carter was in office, Asner was invited to the White House. At the last minute, the prez couldn't make it, so Asner was shuttled to Mondale's office. It was a hot day and Asner was sweating bullets in his three-piece suit. Much to his surprise, Mondale's fireplace was roaring.
Mondale's explanation: "Ed, this fireplace is the only thing in the White House that the vice president has any control over."
Asner didn't stay too long. He was off to have dinner with former wrestling superstar Verne Gagne. Unfortunately, I wasn't invited.