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Not My Job: We Quiz Tom Hanks On Bad Neighbors

BILL KURTIS: For our first completely at-home edition of WAIT WAIT, we invited back an old friend, movie star and occasional WAIT WAIT guest host Tom Hanks.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

By the way, Tom asked if he could join us via Zoom for the whole show, not just his segment. And let me tell you something. It is pretty hard to concentrate on your job when Tom Hanks, two Oscars and a dirty volleyball are all staring back at you the whole time.

KURTIS: Here's an extended version of our virtual visit with Tom Hanks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

TOM HANKS: It's good to be back to the source of the finest reviews of my career.

SAGAL: Actually, this is the first time you've been on the show since you did that about three years ago. And did, in fact, people reach out to you? Because they reached out to me, and they basically said, Peter, when are you leaving again?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So what did they...

HANKS: We all have those things in our checkered careers, don't we? Go on Netflix and look for "Bonfire Of The Vanities," and you'll know how I feel.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I have to ask on behalf of a - I think a concerned globe. How are you feeling, Tom Hanks?

HANKS: We are just fine and dandy. We had all of the flu-like symptoms. My wife, Rita, was a little worse off than me. She had a very high temperature. And we were isolated so that we would not give it to anyone else.

SAGAL: Right. Now that you've had it, aren't you supposedly, like, immune? You're superheroes. You can walk amongst us and be immune. Or is that just nonsense?

HANKS: Well, a lot of the question is what now, you know? What do we do now? Is there something we can do? And, in fact, we just found out that we do carry the antibodies.

PETER GROSZ: Ooh, wait. So can we harvest your body? Can we harvest your blood?

HANKS: Yes.

GROSZ: Oh.

ADAM FELBER: Have you been approached?

HANKS: We have not only been approached. We have said, do you want our blood? Can we give plasma? And, in fact, we will be giving it now to the places that hope to work on what I would like to call the Hank-ccine (ph).

GROSZ: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: Oh, please.

SAGAL: There could be no better ending to this international catastrophe...

GROSZ: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...Than if the cure turns out to be the blood of Tom Hanks.

FELBER: That would be the best.

SAGAL: Would that not be? 'Cause we've always thought it would do us some good somehow.

HANKS: I'm not trying to hog it with a copyright or - you know, I'm not going to the patent office.

GROSZ: You thought he was Jimmy Stewart, but he's also Jonas Salk.

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: Tom, let me ask you the obvious Hollywood question.

HANKS: Yeah.

FELBER: If there is a sequel, would you consider being in COVID-20?

HANKS: Yes, I would. I would answer all the questions left unanswered by COVID-19. And by the way, how many franchises do you have that go on that long? The "James Bond" thing, "Fast And The Furious" (ph) and the COVID series.

GROSZ: Can I say, for all of America, can there just be one of these, please? My lord.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: We love you, Tom. I do not want to see the second one of these.

SAGAL: You hosted "Saturday Night Live." You sort of ushered that show back into production in the middle of all this. And a question arose that I have seen coursing through social media, and I can pose it to you now. Tom Hanks, was that your real kitchen?

HANKS: No, that was my abandoned office that is 10 minutes away from my home.

NEGIN FARSAD: Can I ask you what do you have against your own kitchen that you went into that other kitchen?

HANKS: What you're seeing down there truly is my taste in decoration, not my wife's taste. Yes, it is me, baby. That is my big masculine man cave, and you should've been able to tell by the fabulous one-button-only cappuccino espresso maker that was back over my left-hand shoulder.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSZ: Dark mahogany cabinets - right? - sort of a rich...

HANKS: That is my crib, and I am proud of it.

SAGAL: What was funny was so many people were like, that is no way that is, like, an A-list movie star's kitchen. So could you, for the - just for the benefit of those people, lie to America about what your real kitchen is like?

HANKS: My real kitchen?

SAGAL: I assume it looks like the dining hall at Hogwarts.

HANKS: No, no.

SAGAL: It has an artsy...

GROSZ: It's the "Ratatouille" kitchen with all those, like, stoves. It's black and gold.

HANKS: Do you know - have you seen "Downton Abbey"?

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: All those people that work downstairs making bread and stuff like that?

GROSZ: You have Mrs. Patmore in your...

HANKS: I'm not sure what their names are. I don't know how long they've been working for us. But they are really busy down there. And if I had done "SNL" over their shoulders, it wouldn't have had the same impact.

SAGAL: What is your life like during lockdown? Are you doing the same as the rest of us, just in your house, reading books, spending your time taking Zoom meetings?

HANKS: I find that something different has happened about every 20 minutes. I've done the Marie Kondo-izing (ph) of much of my life, I must say. I found this microphone. That's one thing. I didn't even realize I had this microphone.

SAGAL: Lucky us.

HANKS: It was in the original box, so I pulled it out. But I got to say, if I win one hand of Solitaire, I immediately try to see if I can get two in a row.

GROSZ: Right.

HANKS: So I'm busy.

SAGAL: Yeah, sure.

HANKS: I am very, very, very busy and occupied.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Yeah. Well, Tom Hanks, it is such a pleasure to talk to you every single time we get to do it. But there are rules. So this time, we have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: It's A Terrible Day In The Neighborhood.

HANKS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Your most recent film to come out...

HANKS: OK.

SAGAL: ...Was "A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood." You played Mister Rogers, the nicest neighbor ever, so we thought we'd ask you about some of the worst neighbors ever. Answer 2 out of 3 correctly, and you'll win a prize for one of our listeners, the voice of anyone they may choose on their voicemail.

HANKS: Well, I was actually hoping the prize would be they get to substitute host WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME once again.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Just because you won that once doesn't mean we let everybody do it. Bill, who is Tom Hanks playing for today?

KURTIS: Diana Combs-Selman of Fort Worth, Texas.

SAGAL: All right. You know the rules, Tom.

HANKS: Let's do this, Diana.

SAGAL: You've been on both sides. Here we go. You might be excited if your neighbor won the lottery, but not the neighbors of a British man who won 10 million pounds in 2003 and then did what with the money? Was it, A, he bought the house next door and created Britain's first rat sanctuary and petting zoo; B, he added an additional 15 stories onto his house; or, C, turned his yard into a demolition derby racetrack?

HANKS: I'm going to go with the 15 stories. Did he block everybody's view with his money?

SAGAL: No, he didn't. He actually turned it into a demolition derby racetrack.

HANKS: You know, there's a lot of things a person could do with 10 million pounds. That's about the most sensible thing you could possibly do.

SAGAL: I think so.

HANKS: Mash up some cars.

SAGAL: All right. You still have two more chances.

HANKS: All right. I'll take a little longer on this because...

SAGAL: Yeah.

HANKS: I know you need to pad this show out. So...

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: I've been listening in, and I think there's a lot of cuttable material.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right. A concerned mother in Northern California called animal control on her neighbor in 2015 after she noticed what? A, that the neighbor's parrot was teaching her kids how to swear; B, that the neighbor's cat really seemed not to enjoy being dressed up every day with a hat for a kitty tea party; or, C, that her neighbor's dog really seemed to look and act like a person in a dog suit.

HANKS: These are far too possible, each one of them. Parrot, cat or dog.

SAGAL: Yes, those are the three pets.

HANKS: You've heard the story of the parrot who did swear far too much and insulted its owner until, in anger, the owner grabbed the parrot and shoved it into his freezer above his refrigerator. And then when - after leaving it in there for a few minutes, he opened the door, and the parrot was very contrite and said, I want to apologize.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: My language was - I should not have used it. It was rude of me, and I hope you can forgive me. And then the parrot said, and by the way, just what did the chicken do?

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: In honor of that joke, I'm going to vote for the foul-mouthed parrot.

SAGAL: You're exactly right, Tom.

GROSZ: Hey.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: That's the one. The neighbor claimed that the parrot was shouting obscenities in Spanish. The parrot's owner said the parrot doesn't even know Spanish.

OK. All right. This is for the win now. Here is your last question. Once upon a time, a man named Bob kept complaining to his neighbor about the condition of his ugly unpainted wooden fence. What did the neighbor do? Was it, A, he tore down the fence, so his neighbor, Bob, could enjoy him and his 70-year-old wife practice nudism; B, he got some paint, and he just painted the words, look, Bob, I've painted my fence on the ugly old wood; or, C, he tore down the fence and put up five concrete highway barriers?

HANKS: Who would complain about 70-year-old nudists? I don't...

GROSZ: (Laughter).

HANKS: I think - oh, wait; I see some hands here on the Zoom conference.

FELBER: Yes.

HANKS: I'll go with the, hey, Bob, I painted my fence.

SAGAL: That's exactly right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

HANKS: That sounds like...

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: That's what he did. It's very - in huge, 5-foot-high letters across the 40-foot-long fence, hey, Bob, I painted my fence.

HANKS: And that's a bad neighbor? I think that's kind of...

SAGAL: I think it's pretty clever.

FARSAD: It's fun.

SAGAL: He's been immortalized. Bill, how did Tom Hanks do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Tom pulled out a win. And we're going to give him a free cup of his favorite drink at WAIT WAIT - a cup of Postum.

HANKS: Oh. Because we're on Zoom, I can see the crates of Postum behind Bill Kurtis with a K.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: He's got them stacked up back there.

SAGAL: I have one last question for you, Tom. And, by the way, I'm assuming it's OK to talk about this. My understanding is you were in Australia filming a movie about Elvis Presley in which you play Colonel Parker.

HANKS: That was the thought. We never - we were about to start shooting, and then the - by that time, the rest of Australia had started making rules and regulations. And so we never actually got to start shooting.

SAGAL: That's a shame. It's...

FELBER: Did you have the accent all ready to go for Colonel Parker?

HANKS: He was a - (imitating Colonel Parker) well, let me - there was a - you go online, you might be able to see it. There's a fabulous interview 10 years after Elvis' passing with Colonel Tom Parker and Ted Koppel. And they're talking about the time with Elvis. And Ted Koppel said - he said a thing about, you know, you kept Elvis in these kind of, like, you know, "Rock Around The Clock" bikini movies. And was that a choice that you made? And Colonel Tom Parker said, (imitating Colonel Parker) well, let me correct you, Ted.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: And then he went on and said, (imitating Colonel Parker) Mr. Presley could've done any film that he wanted to do, but provided that there was a credible offer on the table. And we were told that a role was up for him in which he could have won an Oscar and which I said, well, if you pay us a million dollars to do the movie, when Elvis wins the Oscar, we will give the money back.

So that's the - that was the nature of the - that's some of the - there's some of the deep research that goes on. So we'll see. All of show business has to figure out what goes on, much like radio. I mean, you guys must miss going back to those Soviet confines, the Chase Auditorium in downtown Chicago.

SAGAL: (Laughter) The funniest thing I heard about - when I got back after you had hosted the show was hearing stories about how you came into our workspace and you looked around and you said, this is it?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You work here?

HANKS: We all think you guys are like radio shows from the 1940s, you know, with an orchestra standing by and all these on-air things. I didn't realize you essentially had rooms suitable for bullet-point presentations.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: And, you know, all we needed was the golf pencils to take our driver's training tests.

(LAUGHTER)

HANKS: That was the kind of room that is, not to take anything away from the geniuses at Chase Bank Auditorium, but...

SAGAL: I'm trying to let you go here, so let's do this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

SAGAL: Tom Hanks is an award-winning actor and substitute public radio host.

Tom Hanks, we are so thrilled that you deigned to stop by and talk to us.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

HANKS: Oh, thanks for having me back, guys. Thank you very much. Always a great pleasure. Take care, everybody.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

FELBER: Bye, Tom.

KURTIS: Bye-bye.

HANKS: I'm leaving the Zoom meeting now.

KURTIS: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THAT THING YOU DO!")

THE WONDERS: (Singing) You, doing that thing you do. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.