Even with a box set of his collected works recently released — and his role on the hotly anticipated new Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band album coming in the fall — Steven Van Zandt still feels a calling to the silver screen.
Van Zandt, who starred in both The Sopranos and Lilyhammer, says, “I need to get back to TV.” So what he would want to do on TV? He gave us a list of some of his tastes, from documentaries and favorite films to the TV show fellow E Street band member Max Weinberg has been trying to get him to reboot for ages. As one would expect from the diverse and eclectic Van Zandt, the list runs a wide gamut. Read on for Van Zandt’s binge watching playlist.
Baltin: What you have been watching?
Zandt: I’m trying to catch up with all the new stuff. There are a lot of cool documentaries that have come out. I’ve been in some of them. The new Michael Des Barres, Who Do You Want Me To Be?, right now is really catching fire. A lot of people are discovering Michael Des Barres, who is a wonderful character. The documentary is just terrific. That’s been quite popular. They’re making a lot of documentaries.
Baltin: What have been your favorites?
Van Zandt: The Paul Butterfield one [Horn From The Heart] comes to mind. So little had been done about Paul Butterfield and I don’t understand it. To my knowledge there has never been a book about Paul Butterfield. How is that possible?
There’s a good Miles Davis one [Birth of the Cool], a good Motown one [Hitsville: The Making of Motown] with Smokey and Berry Gordy kind of reminiscing. The Funk Brothers [Standing in the Shadows of Motown] of course is another Motown one. There are quite a few good ones.
Baltin: Is there one show you can go back and watch again and again?
Van Zandt: The first season of NYPD Blue I think is one of the most extraordinary series that I wasn’t in (laughs). Sopranos and Lilyhammer aside, NYPD Blue, that first season, Dennis Franz, both of them [David Caruso]. the whole show is just amazing. That’s one thing I went back and saw recently and it blew my mind how good it was.
Baltin: What about favorite movies?
Van Zandt: Love Point Blank, John Boorman’s second film with Lee Marvin. I love Performance, where Mick Jagger himself was transformed. He was never the same afterwards. The Long Good Friday I never get tired of. So many. I never get tried of Raging Bull and Mean Streets.
Van Zandt: Hard to beat Sanford and Son, that era, All In The Family. Then Good Times, quite a few back then that were starting to move into reality a little bit.
Baltin: What show would you like to see rebooted and be a part of?
Van Zandt: Well, Max Weinberg has been trying to get me to bring back Kojak for a number of years. He sees me as Kojak. That’s one of my favorite shows. I would be hesitant to try to compete with Telly Savalas. I just saw the Dirty Dozen the other day. that’s a hell of a movie. I love that. Baretta was cool.