party lines

Richard Branson Forgives Colbert, Considers Janet Jackson as Ballast

Branson and Reid

Virgin America CEO Fred Reid and Richard Branson.Photo: RD/Leon/Retna

Richard Branson was late to his own party at the Box for Virgin America Airlines’ inaugural flight from LAX to JFK. He blamed, no joke, flight delays. Daily Intel caught up with him and asked about the now-famous incident when he angrily splashed Stephen Colbert with a glass of water during a taping of the Colbert Report. Turns out all is forgiven. He and Virgin America CEO Fred Reid also have plans for hotels in space and fond memories of the time Branson threatened to throw Janet Jackson off a hot-air balloon. It’s all after the jump.

Has Stephen Colbert lost his VIP privileges after that water incident?
Branson: (laughing) I have to think about this. I suspect that we have room in the toilet for him. The back left-hand toilet is where Colbert will sit when he flies on Virgin.
Reid: And the door only locks from the outside.

So everything is good post–water incident?:
Branson: It’s like love. When you have embarrassed somebody, you can also make up.

Who is the next celebrity to have a plane named after them?
We did the Jefferson Airplane, and that was a big hit since they were a San Francisco band. We thought about the Grateful Dead, but then we thought that wouldn’t be a good idea for a plane. We’re still thinking.

Who is sexy enough to make you want to fly on their eponymous plane?
Branson: Well, Brad Pitt is sort of the wrong sex, but Angelina might be good. We can have an Angelina, an Angelique Air plane, I think.

What kind of amenities would be on Air Angelique?
Branson: Well, she has already got quite a big family, so there isn’t very much room for passengers. She has asked me if I can bring back another 50 kids from Africa. So for her we can fill up with a lot of extra kids from Africa.

You’ve conquered the friendly skies, so what are you doing next to expand your empire?
Branson: Well, as you might know, we’re working on space travel, and Virgin Galactic is going into space in eighteen months’ time. Our spaceships will be done in nine months’ time, and we’ll be doing test flights. Then from there we hope to set up a Virgin hotel in space. We have quite ambitious plans for space travel.

Have you ever taken someone in your hot-air balloon only to have them totally freak out on you?
Branson: I took Janet Jackson up once and was trying to persuade her to sign with our record label, and I said I would use her as a sandbag unless she signed, and she signed. We fortunately somehow managed to remain friends. —Shira Levine

Richard Branson Forgives Colbert, Considers Janet Jackson as Ballast