Eric Paulsen / Eyewitness News
LOS ANGELES – The world is very familiar with Ellen DeGeneres, the comedian and talk show host who grew up in Metairie and New Orleans and went on to become a huge star. But there is another DeGeneres who is making big waves in Hollywood as well – Ellen's brother Vance.
Vance runs actor Steve Carell’s production company and just scored a big hit with the movie “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
DeGeneres is a man who wears many hats. When we visited him in his office at Carousel Productions, on the Warner Brothers studio lot in Hollywood, he was going over scripts for future movie deals.
His first movie, starring Carell, brought in more than $140 million.
While DeGeneres works mostly behind the scenes now, it was a phone call back in 1999 that pretty much got him here.
“My agent called me and said ‘Jon Stewart’s taking over ‘The Daily Show’ and they called and asked if you’d be interested in doing a piece,’ because they were trying out different people,” DeGeneres said.
That one shot turned into two and a half years on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” and a friendship with another 'correspondent' on the show, Steve Carell.
After finding film success, Carell decided to start his own production company. To do so, he called DeGeneres and another longtime friend, Charlie Hartsock. The two now run Carousel Productions.
Even though it may seem like a dream job, Vance DeGeneres’ true love is music. At his house, that love is quite evident, especially in his music room, which is lined with all the guitars he collects.
If you are of a certain generation, you will no doubt remember his New Orleans band from the 1980s: The Cold.
The band was a giant hit locally but never got a big national record deal. While DeGeneres went on to have a very successful career in comedy – writing, producing and his stint on “The Daily Show” – music is still his first love.
“There's nothing more fun than going up on stage and playing music in front of an audience. There’s no other feeling like that,” he said. “I love comedy, I love what I do, I love producing, that’s very satisfying, but when you’re producing and you’re working with writers or directors, nobody stands up and applauds.”
DeGeneres still writes and records music in his music room at home. He is even working on an album.
He is also quite an artist. His paintings hang in various rooms around his home. There are also pictures of the extremely talented cast he worked with on “The Daily Show" and a favorite picture of Vance and his famous little sister, Ellen.
The two grew up in Metairie and in New Orleans. They are close friends to this day, but Vance admits she is always trying to one-up him.
“Just before you came over for this interview, I turned on the ‘Today’ show and there’s Ann Curry interviewing Ellen. You know, she gets the ‘Today’ show and I get Eric Paulsen. Come on!”
You might wonder what's next for Vance DeGeneres, this talented New Orleans boy-turned movie producer. We asked him whether he’d rather be a big star or Hollywood producer or a big rock star.
“Oh, rock star," he said. "Oh, come on."
Who knows? It may happen. Vance would love to do a reunion show with The Cold. If that happens, maybe they can achieve in the 21st century what they just missed in the 80s: rock stardom.