10 minutes of career highlights with Harry Connick Jr.

Flip your swagger switch. Puff out your chest. Drawl it out with machismo to burn: “Kick the tires and light the fires, Big Daddy!”

At 0:01 of our strictly timed, 10-minute interview, I remind Harry Connick Jr. — who performs Friday and Saturday (plus Dec. 1 and 2) at Wynn Las Vegas — of a favorite movie line he uttered as cocky fighter pilot Jimmy Wilder in “Independence Day.” Do fans ever remind him of that ode to testosterone before aliens turned his character into sky-high roadkill?

“Ah yes!” he says, clearly tickled. “I do hear that from time to time. I like hearing that.”

We’re galloping against the clock — and he’s a multi-hyphenate performer from New Orleans with a resume that spills over like a ladle full of gumbo on a paper plate — so we get cookin’. Goal: one question/answer per minute.

1:10

Jazzman Ellis Marsalis was your childhood mentor. Did he say to you once you should give up music? “He did, but I’ve known Ellis and that family for over 40 years. He drove us very hard. He would say things that would get in your head, and one was, ‘Maybe you should consider another vocation’ — trying to get somebody to practice.”

We’re lucky you didn’t take that suggestion. “Thanks, Man!”

2:22

Do you remember when you first performed publicly? “I was 5. My dad, who was opening his campaign for district attorney of New Orleans, had a crowd around him. And my mom wanted me to play ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ They had this upright piano in the back of this flatbed truck and I went and played it, and I remember looking over at the people after I finished, and they were clapping. For somebody with my personality type, that was a catalyst, to see when I could get that feeling again.”

3:05

You initially made your name as a jazzman. Was it your goal to bring jazz more into the mainstream? “Popularizing jazz, if I did that at all, was a byproduct of my desire to perform and be known as a musician. But what I always took the greatest pride in is that sometimes on stage we play songs that are very accessible to people and other times we would stretch and play all kinds of stuff, and it became a really interesting challenge to keep the audience interested no matter what I did.”

4:04

Was your “When Harry Met Sally” soundtrack, which won you a Grammy, the career turning point? “It was huge. Prior to that I had only done a couple records that sold maybe 15,000 for each, which was a huge deal to me. But when that album came out, it sold a million records very quickly. I went from pretty much complete obscurity to, ‘Hey, aren’t you that guy?’ ”

5:27

You’re a musician/actor/talk-show host/Broadway performer. Did you envision branching out in so many directions? “I knew I was a piano player and a singer, and I knew I wanted to be an actor because I had done plays in high school and really liked it. But I never thought about hosting my own show or writing scores for Broadway. Those were opportunities that came about on my path. I’m so blessed. I’ve done things I’ve really wanted to do. And all the things I’ve done, whether it’s ‘Will & Grace’ or movies or Broadway, I really get into 100 percent.”

6:16

It was nice to see you on the ‘Will & Grace’ reboot. Will you be back, or is your character’s relationship with Grace finished? “If you find out, let me know! They are so secretive out there. If I am coming back, they haven’t told me about it yet. Oh man, I love doing that show.”

7:29

When you did that stint on ‘Law & Order: SVU,’ I thought, OK, now Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) has found somebody. Are you disappointed it didn’t lead to anything permanent? “Spending time with Mariska in any capacity is always fun. The unfortunate part is I have a day job so I couldn’t stick around too long.”

8:38

What’s it like hosting a daytime talk show? “I love it. There is not one show where I say, ‘Aw, we gotta go do this again.’ I’m in love with the whole process. I wrote all the music for the band. I do all the research for the guests, I see all the movies, read all the books, study them. We do have celebrities, but we never intended for it to be a celebrity-driven show. It’s always been about everyday folks and people who’ve done extraordinary things. It’s exactly what I had hoped it would be.”

9:31

What’s still out there to tackle? “The thing about my career is that things have kind of presented themselves organically so it’s not like I have a big checklist. I’m sure that 10 years from now, I’ll be doing something I didn’t expect to be doing. I like the spontaneity of it all.”

10:13

Phew! I just hit my 10-minute mark, Gotta go. Or actually, you do. Thanks, Harry. “My pleasure, man.” Time to kick the tires and light the fires, Big Daddy.

Contact Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@reviewjournal.com. Follow @sborn1 on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Tim Burton's imaginative artwork coming to Las Vegas
Tim Burton's imaginative artwork coming to Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday poultry with Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine
Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine explain the different types of poultry available for the holidays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Spring Preserve kicks off its Holiday Express
Springs Preserve hosts its Holiday Express, which includes a train ride, visits with Santa, SNOW, and a village winter wonderland.
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like