The Peabody- and Grammy Award-winning comedy legend guest-stars on the hit CBS sitcom Thursday, May 2, as “Professor Proton” … a veteran TV-show host recruited by Sheldon and Leonard (Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki) to make a personal appearance. Long an acquaintance of “Big Bang” mentor Chuck Lorre, Newhart told him he’d do the role if it was for more than one shot, so the plan is for at least three.
Though he says he’s been approached to do other shows — as he ultimately did with “NCIS” and “Desperate Housewives” in the recent past — the famously low-key Newhart isn’t a fan of canned, or pre-recorded, laughter. “Those shows, I don’t even consider,” he confirms to Zap2it, “but it’s also about the quality of the writing. And obviously, the quality on ‘The Big Bang Theory’ is among the highest. It’s just smart. They give the audience credit for intelligence.
“I’m not an appointment-television kind of guy,” Newhart adds, “even when my own shows are on. If I happen to be in the room, I’ll be like, ‘Oh!’ And I’ll sit there, and sometimes I don’t know how it ends. I can see I’m in it, but I’m just like any other viewer: ‘I wonder how they’re gonna get out of this,'”
Amy Poehler recently cited “The Bob Newhart Show” of the 1970s as one of her and her family’s favorite programs while she was growing up. “Isn’t that nice?,” a clearly gratified Newhart says. “I’ve heard performers mention that I was an influence, Ellen [DeGeneres] especially.
“She’s mentioned several times that she watched me do stand-up on the Johnny Carson (‘Tonight’) show or something, and she said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ And boy, has she done it. Then again, I was influenced by people … so if I’m influencing others, great!”
Chatting on April Fools’ Day, Newhart says April 1 doesn’t necessarily hold any special meaning for him. “I mean, I work with fools — and thank goodness for fools, because they’ve been very good to me, in two different series. I always said Larry, Darryl and Darryl (of the ’80s series ‘Newhart’) were right out of ‘Deliverance.’ How they got into Vermont, I have no idea.”