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Lewis Black talks about Trump, TV pursuits, comedy cruise

Lewis Black refuses to return Donald Trump’s phone messages, partly because he’s holding a grudge against Trump for treating him uncongenially once.

Last month, Black went on "The Daily Show" and mocked Trump’s presidential aspirations — comparing his bouffant to that of Kim Jong Il, and criticizing his business acumen for bankrupting a casino.

"He’d make a terrible president, but we’re done with presidents," Black joked on "The Daily Show." "What this country needs is a crazy, Third World dictator — and Donald Trump has what it takes to be that. He’s already got a plane with his name on it, solid gold buildings and a harem."

"He called," Black tells me. "He had his office get in touch with me. (But) I was way busy. And I didn’t really want to talk to him, you know?"

Black has been holding a grudge since they met at a "book thing" once.

"I was dismissed by him," Black says.

The Donald’s rebuff went against the congenial grain of one celebrity meeting another.

"There’s just a certain way you gotta act" in such instances, Black says. "You feign interest for 30 seconds!

"In part, my response to him right now is: OK, you had the chance. You weren’t interested. What am I going to do? Discuss my jokes?"

But what if Trump wants to cast Black on "Celebrity Apprentice"?

"Then call my agent," Black says.

BLACK’S LAW

Speaking of TV, Black was supposed to be the lead of "Harry’s Law," NBC’s new legal drama by David E. Kelley ("Boston Legal," "Ally McBeal").

Instead, NBC decided to go with a more famous lead star, Kathy Bates.

"It was initially written for me," Black says. "I went through such a rigmarole with them" at NBC.

Black holds no grudge against Kelley and thinks the show works with Bates.

"David’s a great writer. I loved working with him," he says. "David himself said, ‘I don’t think I can get you the part, anymore’ " due to NBC pressure.

"NBC treated me in such a way," during the development process, "I thought, ‘This is unbelievable. … If they’re treating me like this now, imagine what they’ll treat me like if they own me.’ "

A year ago, Black pitched TV execs a show centering around his professorial role in the 2006 comedy film "Accepted." The network brass said they were interested, but then lost interest.

Now, he and friend Kathleen Madigan are pitching yet more TV shows. He’s not holding his breath.

"We’ll see," he says. "My feeling about television is they don’t want me. But every year, we muster up something. They ‘really want to see it,’ they think it’s ‘a great idea’ — then they clock us."

LEW’S UN-FAMILY CRUISE

Maybe Black should take a film crew on his new Caribbean comedy cruise, the way Rosie O’Donnell filmed a gay-family cruise for HBO a few years ago.

That is, Black is staging another — uncensored — comedy cruise in November, after last year’s cruise went so well.

In 2010, "Lew’s Cruise" co-starred Dom Irrera, Madigan, other comics, plus George Carlin’s daughter Kelly, who described what it was like to be raised in the Carlin household.

"We almost killed them with comedy," he says. "We were doing two hours a night, which is crazy."

In 2011, some comics will return. Greg Proops, Canadian comedy star Mike Wilmot and others are joining. Mark Metcalf, who played Neidermeyer in "Animal House," will reminisce about that classic comedy. And Madigan will again call bingo.

"She called bingo, and it was unbelievable. She was hysterical," Black says.

Black strives for two goals with the cruise. First, to stage adult comedy, instead of the normal family-friendly fluff of a typical cruise.

Second, to create a comedy festival "made of people I want to hang out with, and who I think are genuinely funny."

The 500 or 600 fans who go on the cruise comprise a "comedy savvy group of people who never cruise," he says.

"As Kathleen Madigan calls it, it’s like if the Bellagio started to move and floated away."

Sounds fun. But I’m not sure that joke is the right way to market "Lew’s Cruise" to Las Vegans, exactly, since it just tempts me to check into Bellagio.

Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Contact him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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