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Stupid Questions

Ellen. Oprah. Dr. Phil. These are daytime's talk-show giants. But do their résumés boast multiple hit sitcoms, pro boxing matches, dancing lessons, and one degree of separation from Danny Pintauro? Nope. Which is why Tony Danza just might show 'em who's the boss when he launches his syndicated chatfest, The Tony Danza Show, on Sept. 13. Before Danza enters the ring, let's watch him bob and weave his way through a round of Stupid Questions.

You hired Ereka Vetrini from The Apprentice as your sidekick. Did Trump give you any tips on how to fire her should you find her performance inadequate?

He said to use his trademark saying -- which I can't say, because it's trademarked.

Now that you've had a few years to cool down, can you talk about how bitter it got between you and Scott Baio over your dueling Italian-American-man-turned-domestic sitcoms, Who's the Boss? and Charles in Charge?

Sometimes, when you're walking down the street and somebody goes, ''Charles in Charge,'' I go, ''What are you, kiddin'?'' And I'm sure when he hears ''Who's the Boss?'' he goes, ''What are you, kiddin'?'' That's about the only time it got heated.

Why were your jeans so tight on Who's the Boss? Was that to cut off the shame of being a male housekeeper?

You're always after ratings. In my case, it had the opposite effect.

After breaking your back in a 1993 ski accident, you had to be fitted with rods and screws. On a related topic, what's the stiffest performance you've ever turned in?

This morning, I did a test show and I'm still reeling from it.

You were the one driving the cab across the bridge in the opening credits of Taxi. Where were you going?

To the other side. Funny story: I was parked underneath the bridge, with a walkie-talkie, waiting for my cue. A guy got in the cab and was pissed that I wouldn't take him anywhere. Security had to drag the guy out. He thought I was just a lazy cabdriver and didn't want to work.

What's your secret?

Ummm, I try to keep my chin down and my spirits up.

Okay, but I was actually talking about the secret to the Danza 'do. It can be parted, feathered, floppy, or buzz-cut short. Honestly, what don't the Danza 'do do?

If you go back and look at Who's the Boss?, it's really evident that I don't know what the hell I'm doing with my hair. I'm just a man in search of a hairdo.

You starred in 1981's Going Ape! Please rank these primate-centric flicks in order of why-God-why?: Going Ape!, Dunston Checks In, Ed, Buddy, and Bedtime for Bonzo.

I'd have to say Going Ape! comes in first. Remember, at that point in my career, I had three movies -- two of them with the same ape. That's not going to get you into the Academy.

They say that one should never work with animals or children. You've done both. So what rule do you plan on breaking next?

Don't try a talk show.

Originally posted Sep 10, 2004 Published in issue #782-783 Sep 10, 2004 Order article reprints