Sundance Dispatch: Joan Rivers, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera

Joan Rivers sounds off on Conan's "win," she's happy Leno will put her to sleep.

January 26, 2010, 7:54 AM

Jan. 26, 2010— -- Joan Rivers still doesn't hold anything back.

At the Sundance Film Festival promoting her new documentary (or "doc," as she gleefully called it, aristocratic accent on full blast), the comedian tore into NBC and said what she really thinks of the Jay Leno-Conan O'Brien brouhaha.

"First of all, Conan, it was a win for him," she said in an interview with ABC News Now's "Popcorn With Peter Travers" Monday. "He was going down the tubes, he's not that funny, and now America loves him and he's got $40 million. I'm thrilled that Leno went back to 'Late Night' because he put me to sleep and that's good at 11:35. I didn't want that in prime time.

"I just found the whole thing disgusting," she said. "I wish I had been a fly on the wall with the lawyers to see what was really going on. Jay Leno, can you imagine what was raging in that room? It would've been great to see all that."

Rivers also sounded off on this year's crop of Oscar contenders.

"I loved 'Inglourious Basterds.' [It was] shocking, amazing," she said. "I loved 'Up in the Air,' hated 'It's Complicated.' I like Alec Baldwin because he'll do anything, he's funny. But Steve Martin can't act and that hurt me.

"With 'Precious,' I just thought, 'Oh, get a job MoNique," she joked. "Just stand up and get a job."

Turning serious, Rivers said, "I think she's brilliant in that movie. She's going to win the Academy Award, she has to."

Then she cracked on the photo of MoNique's unshaven legs on Golden Globes' red carpet:

"Maybe it's like a statement, she's not going to shave her legs until Haiti is fixed," she said.

Ah, Joan: few in Hollywood dare to be as irreverent as she is anymore, especially those in her demographic. Her day-to-day life is the subject of the film "Joan Rivers -- A Piece of Work," which chronicles the comedian's life. She wasn't shy about admitting how the whole project came to be.

"I had nothing to do with it," she said. "It was my best friend's daughter [who made the movie.] My career was in the toilet, as usual, so she begged her daughter to do something with me. They followed me around for a year and a half hoping I would die."

Rolling over and playing dead is the last thing Rivers wants to do. She's determined to work until the bitter end.

"I'll never retire! F**k off. Never," she declared. "In this movie, my ex-manager said, 'It's like a drug for her.' He's absolutely right. I love the business. I'll go anywhere, I'll get on any plane, I'll do any part of it."

As long as she's laughing, Rivers said, she's living.

"If you laugh at it, you can deal with it," she said, "and if you don't laugh at it, you can't deal with it. I did 9/11 jokes on 9/12 and it got us all through. I would've been laughing in Auschwitz. That's how I deal with it."

Ryan Gosling Does Ballet?

Rivers wasn't the only star strutting through Sundance Monday. Ryan Gosling, famous for his roles in "The Notebook" and "Half Nelson," and now starring in the indie feature "Blue Valentine," talked with "Popcorn" about one of his new passions.

"I'm taking ballet classes at the YMCA," he said, extending his arms as if he intended to pirouette out of his chair. "It's good for my posture."

As for "Blue Valentine," Gosling painted the picture as an "Avatar"-like 3-D thriller -- but with more sex.

"It's an erotic, roller-coaster thriller in 3-D," he said. "I think that the movie's about sex, in the sense that I think sex is a big character in the film.

"It's about this couple," he continued. "They meet and fall in love; then five or six years later, when they have a child and they're married, their relationship's on the rocks. The film is always asking the question, 'Where did the love go?'"

America Ferrera on American Soldiers

You may know her as Ugly Betty but America Ferrera has much more than TV-acting chops.

The 25-year-old star came to Sundance to debut "The Dry Land," an Iraq War film in which she played the roles of star and executive producer. "The Dry Land" deals with what happens when soldiers return from Iraq and how reunions that ought to be sweet sometimes turn wrenching.

In preparing for the film, Ferrera interviewed a host of soldiers and their spouses.

"Seeing how much they wanted an authentic telling of it ... it was touching. It became personal," she said in an interview with "Popcorn."

Ferrera shared one story that struck her:

"One of the women said to me that after her husband returned and she still felt so alone, she allowed herself to have the thought that maybe it would've been better if he hadn't come home," she said. "When they come home, they're still fighting that war inside them."

While Ferrera feels "Dry Land" is an important film, she knows how hard it has been for Iraq War movies to succeed at the box office.

"I think a lot of people just want to be entertained and happy and smile," she said. "It's harder to say, 'I'm going to sit down and make myself confront something uncomfortable.'"

Speaking of being happy and smiling, that's exactly what Ferrera was when the subject shifted to her ABC series, "Ugly Betty."

"This season, season four, is my favorite season," she said. "We've never had lower ratings and I've never been more proud of it. I love being the underdog."

Although she long ago blossomed into a beautiful young actress, Ferrera still gets pseudo-praise from fans who see her on the street and can't believe she plays the girl with the braces and glasses.

"They think they're giving you a compliment; 'Oh, my God, you are so much uglier on the show. You're like, half the size of what I thought you were,'" she said, laughing.

Let's hope she keeps laughing through Sundance, regardless of such comments. That's what Rivers would want, after all.

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