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Dick Cavett in Huntington

There wasn't anything good on TV Friday night.

So I went to the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington to hear a television great do what he did so brilliantly on ABC in the late 1960s and early '70s: talk.

Dick Cavett was in town to promote a new book, "Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets" (Times Books), which collects musings from his blog onThe New York Times web site.

Cavett was interviewed by Jud Newborn, a curator at the Cinema Arts Centre. But Cavett doesn't really need to be interviewed. Give him a microphone and he'll launch into one witty anecdote after another, about the many movie stars, musicians, comedians, writers and others who were guests on "The Dick Cavett Show."

This guy is a world-class talker, with a funny story about seemingly everyone famous. Cavett had the chutzpah to ask Bette Davis, when she came on his show, how she lost her virginity. (She told him.) He asked Robert Mitchum the secret of  a 30-year marriage. ("Deviousness" was the star's quick reply.) He was with Marlon Brando, after a broadcast, when the actor punched paparazzi Ron Gallela and broke the shutterbug's jaw. He ran afoul of President Richard Nixon after speaking on behalf of John Lennon when the U.S. tried to deport the rock star.

 Why doesn't somebody give Cavett another show? He'd be great on cable. Until then, read his book. For another taste of Cavett's wit, check out the Newsday interview with him here


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