Maria Shriver’s new series of celebrity-interview specials, Cutting Edge, began on an embarrassing note: a silly, fast-cutting ”let’s watch the star behind the scenes” action montage. The star, of course, is Shriver, who has stronger celeb credentials (Kennedy and Hollywood divisions) than most of her guests, and we get to watch her scoot around in pursuit of hot stories. ”How out there are you?” she demands. ”If they’re mainstream,” she adds, to no one in particular, ”we don’t want ‘em.”
As it turns out, Shriver’s idea of out there is nothing to worry Jesse Helms. In her first special (Aug. 14), the closest she ventured to the cutting edge was Kirstie Alley, the star of the top-rated series Cheers, and Sinéad O’Connor, who has one of this year’s top-selling albums. But Shriver grafted a couple of effective gimmicks onto these mini-profiles: She followed her subjects all over, and let viewers see some of the high-tech clumsiness — the camera crews, the body mikes, and the filming process itself-that most interviewers try to hide.
The results were sometimes hmes hssly self-conscious — when Shriver donned Wayfarers, tossed back her hair, and drove Kirstie Alley around in a convertible, journalistic credibility was left at the curb. But Shriver’s throw-everything-in technique also yielded a couple of funny, telling fragments. Sinead O’Connor’s snappish refusal to let a cameraman photograph her trademark army boots offered more insight into the careful re-crafting of her image than anything she later said-and when Shriver and crew barged in on Alley’s husband, Parker Stevenson, eating lunch in his kitchen, he looked genuinely, amusingly rattled.
The first installment of Cutting Edge was burdened by Shriver’s constant explanations of the somewhat vague title and premise — it wouldn’t kill her to come out and admit it’s a celebrity-interview program, nothing more.
But Shriver has an unexpected way with a tough question, and a gift for unearthing bizarre trivia: Did you know that John Travolta gave Alley a check as a Christmas present after they worked together on Look Who’s Talking? Cutting Edge may not be hard-hitting journalism, but it has its moments. B-