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Trending that caught Doug's eye... celebrity meltdowns

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Joan Rivers

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Joan Rivers

"They can dish it out, but they can't take it."

It's a famous bit of wisdom our dad used to trot out, and we were reminded of it when famously acerbic comedian Joan Rivers made headlines around the world by stomping out of an interview on CNN.

If you've been hiding in a drain pipe since last weekend, the sharp-tongued comedian was promoting her new book, Diary of a Mad Diva, when she took offence at CNN anchor Fredericka Whitfield's line of questioning.

It got dicey when Whitfield described some of the 81-year-old comedian's critiques on her TV show, Fashion Police, as "very mean in some ways."

"It's not mean, it's not mean, it's not mean," Rivers snorted. "I tell the truth. I'm sure I say the same things your viewers say to their friends sitting next to them on the couch."

It really hit the fan when Whitfield noted Rivers is wearing a fur coat on the cover of her new book, which has upset animal rights activists.

"This whole interview is becoming a defensive interview," Rivers fumed. "Are you wearing leather shoes? Then shut up!" Pulling out her earpiece, she declared: "I'm going ... I've made people laugh for 50 years ... You are not the one to interview a person who does humour. Sorry."

You will no doubt be shocked to hear Rivers is not the first celebrity to storm off in a fit of pique. Here's a look at some of our all-time favourite celebrity meltdowns:

5) The sensitive celebrity: Dave Chappelle

The scene of the crime: The superstar comedian is pretty good at walking away. Back in 2005, he shocked the entertainment world by impulsively quitting his mega-hit Chappelle Show midway through production of its third season, walking away from a $50-million contract to go explore Africa. In August 2013, in what was supposed to be part of a big comeback, he walked out of a headlining performance in Hartford, Conn., because he was upset by a loud and heckling crowd. In response to hecklers at the Funny or Die Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Tour, he essentially spent 25 minutes sitting on a stool reading, and informing the crowd he was still getting paid, before marching out. "I don't know what I'm supposed to say for 25 minutes," the onetime TV star was heard grumbling of the time he was contractually obligated to be on stage. Leaving to a chorus of boos, he said: "I forgive some of you, but I don't forgive all of you. You guys have totally ruined my chances of running for Congress or something." At a later show in Chicago, he declared war on Hartford: "I don't want anything bad to happen to the United States, but if North Korea ever drops a nuclear bomb on this country, I swear to God I hope it lands in Hartford, Connecticut, on stage in that (F-sharp) arena."

 

4) The sensitive celebrity: Billie Joe Armstrong

The scene of the crime: At the second annual iHeartRadio music festival in Las Vegas in September 2012, Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer of the famed punk rock band Green Day, took storming off the stage to an entirely new level. He smashed his instruments -- and trashed the good (cough) name of Canada's own petulant superstar, Justin Bieber. At the festival, each artist gets a certain amount of time to play, but when Green Day's performance was cut 20 minutes short to make time for another performer, Billie went ballistic. When a teleprompter warned the band had only one minute left to play, he cut loose with this legendary tirade, which we will modify slightly for a family newspaper: "Give me a (bleeping) break! One minute left. One minute (bleeping) left. You're going to give me one minute. I've been around since (bleeping) 198(bleeping)8. I'm not (bleeping) Justin Bieber, you (bleepers). You've got to be (bleeping) joking. I got one minute... Let me show you what one (bleeping) minute (bleeping) means." Which is when Billie and his band smashed their guitars to thunderous applause and Billie boasted: "We'll be back." They weren't.

 

3) The sensitive celebrity: Justin Bieber

The scene of the crime: Speaking of Justin (bleeping) Bieber, his true Beliebers will recall that during the Brazil leg of his Believe tour in November 2013, poor Justin was in the middle of his hit song Boyfriend when (gasp) a fan in the crowd threw a water bottle on stage, knocking the microphone out of the singer's hand. The bottle-flinging prompted the cranky Canadian to pick up his show and go home in the sense he gave the crowd a death stare, then walked off stage without saying goodbye. His teenage fans in Anhembi Arena -- who had to wait an hour and 20 minutes for Bieber to even show up in the first place -- waited another 30 fruitless minutes for him to return. Bieber quickly became the butt of Internet jokes as a Twitter account was created for the offending water bottler. One of the bottle's best posts begged: "Stop judging me! I just wanted to touch Justin like the rest of you!"

 

2) The sensitive celebrity: Dame Helen Mirren

The scene of the crime: We know what you are thinking. You are thinking: "No, not Helen Mirren!" But there she was in May 2013, portraying Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience, a drama about weekly meetings between the Queen and Britain's prime ministers, when noise from a troupe of street drummers outside the London theatre began to disrupt the play. Which is when Dame Helen, dressed as the Queen, stormed off the stage, out of the theatre, and gave the drummers, part of a festival, a royal tongue lashing. What, precisely, did she say? Well, according to Mirren, she told them "stop, you've got to stop right now, only I might have used stronger language than that. They were very sweet and stopped the minute they knew I wasn't just a batty old woman." Recalled a band organizer: "This little old lady came running out in a green dress, pearls and a tiara ... She was saying, 'Shut the (F-sharp) up, people have paid (F-sharp) a hundred pounds for their theatre tickets.' She said the F-word about 20 times ... she was proper on a rant." Personally, we would have walloped them with a jar of Grey Poupon.

 

1) The sensitive celebrity: Billy Bob Thornton

The scene of the crime: We have picked this incident from April 2009 as our favourite because we heard it live on the radio while driving to work. What happened was the famously odd Billy Bob was appearing on CBC Radio's Q with his country-pop band, the Boxmasters, who are famous for the fact Billy Bob is in the band. It seems Billy Bob was in a serious snit because of heroic host Jian Ghomeshi's introduction, which -- and you will have a hard time believing this -- mentioned that Thornton is a big-shot Hollywood actor. Throughout the show, Billy Bob muttered "I don't know what you're talking about" to all of Ghomeshi's questions. It really got heated when Ghomeshi mentioned Billy Bob's passion for music. "Would you say that to Tom Petty?" he groused, insisting CBC producers promised he would not be asked about his film career. Pressed for details on his musical influences, Billy Bob rambled incoherently about a magazine he subscribed to as a kid called Famous Monsters of Filmland and a model-building contest he once entered. He also slagged "reserved" Canadian crowds, sniffing: "Here, they just sort of sit there... It's mashed potatoes but no gravy." Days later, Billy Bob was booed unmercifully when his band took the stage in Toronto. Again, we would have walloped him with a jar of Grey Poupon. Because what are mashed potatoes without a few (bad word) lumps?

 

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2014 D2

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