party lines

Katie Couric, Joan Rivers Talk Money

Tonight is the debut of Joan Rivers’s new mini-series, How’d You Get So Rich on TV Land Prime, in which our favorite proponent of plastic surgery asks that very question of self-made millionaires. Because all the millionaires had let her film in their homes, Rivers chose to host the party in her own fabulous gilded penthouse, which, although the party was confined to just two rooms, was everything one could hope for and more. A hired musician in a tux with tails played at her grand piano, which was topped with framed photographs of Joan with a bunch of old famous people we really wish we could have recognized. A door hidden in a gilded wall revealed the bathroom and a powder room lined with mirrors. (There was even a figurine of an emaciated black person by the sink holding a basket on his back filled with candy hearts. Oh, Joan!) Above us, a giant wooden hound watched over a library alcove. And at the center of the room, beneath an enormous chandelier, stood an actual money tree, dripping with crystals on wire and $100 bills with Rivers’s face on them.

Rich people present included Jonathan Tisch, Donny Deutsch, and the show’s interviewees, among them Slanket inventor Gary Clegg and Jonah White, creator of Billy Bob Teeth, who is worth $50 million and showed up wearing no shirt, overalls, and a set of his fake redneck teeth. Given that we can watch Rivers’s show to see how those people got rich (and Deutsch would tell a rock if it asked), we wisely used our time at Chez Joan to survey the rest of the guests with that very obnoxious question, among others. Below, the results:


How’d you get so rich?
Blood, sweat, and tears. I’ve been working at Fox 5 for over twentysomething years. I just think it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and big balls.
What is rich by New York standards?
I think a few million dollars a year. I think you need to have a house in the Hamptons, a house on Fifth Avenue, a house in Colorado, and of course summers in the south of France.
What do you want to steal from this apartment?
I want the money tree. Because money never grows on trees in my house. So I’d like a tree that does grow money. Also, the chandelier is quite lovely.
Could you live here?
It’s a little fancy for my family. My son likes to skateboard.


How’d you get so rich?
I’m not rich. Have you seen my bank account? Please. Kathy Lee, she’s rich.
What is rich in New York?
I guess you have to make over a million bucks. Maybe have a house and another house. I don’t! I rent. I still rent an apartment. That’s how I roll.
When did you know you made it?
I thought I made it when I made 60 grand in New Orleans. I was like, “I can’t believe this is me!” I mean, I was making $17,000 my first job, and then I got up to 23, and I was like, “Oh my God!” And I thought, “Well, I’ll never make over 50. Nobody makes over 50.” And then I went from 45, which was like “Ya-Ya,” to 60 — it was like the Second Coming. I was done. Game over, I won.
Could you live here?
It’s too big for me. It’s beautiful, but I don’t think so.


How’d you get so rich?
Hard work and QVC. God bless QVC! My jewelry line for twenty years has become the biggest jewelry line on television.
What defines rich in New York?
Rich in New York means you can buy a table for the opera, you can buy a table for the ballet, you can contribute to the Metropolitan. Rich in New York is all about charity. And you must own an apartment in New York. And you must have a house to go to on the weekends. If you don’t, you just hide in your apartment.
You’re selling this apartment, right?
Yes. I’m looking for a rich Russian who will say “Da!” Only two people have seen it. I won’t let anyone in who can’t afford it. We’re very, very careful.
Any buyers among the guests tonight?
No, no. These are Americans. Americans bargain. Self-made people bargain.


How’d you get so rich?
Working hard and not giving up.
When did you know you’d made it?
I think when I became the deputy Pentagon correspondent. Tim Russert called me when I was in local news and asked me to come down to his office. That was a really big step for me.
What defines rich in New York?
That’s a really hard question. It’s funny, I was always taught that you really don’t discuss money, so I don’t really know an answer to that question.
Because people in general don’t discuss money, or YOU don’t discuss money?
I prefer not to discuss it. My parents always taught me it was kind of tacky to discuss money. I don’t know, were other people raised that way? Clearly not at this party.
Would you live here?
It’s a little ornate for me. I’m pretty Plain Jane.

Katie Couric, Joan Rivers Talk Money