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Here's Donny!

The former ad executive, outspoken TV pundit, and lifelong fitness buff sounds off on his new show and the supreme importance of indulging in a cocktail after your last rep.
Ben Fink Shapiro

Some would say Donny Deutsch has it all. Money? He sold his ad agency, Deutsch Inc., in 2000, for a reported $250 million. Fame? In 2004, the creative director made the leap to TV, hosting The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch on CNBC, a success-oriented talk show, and he’s been an outspoken fixture on other shows since, popping up everywhere from NBC’s Today to Morning Joe on MSNBC. Women? He’s known a few. There was, however, one thing missing from his own bucket list: a sitcom. But Donny Deutsch also has a motto: “Just fucking go for it.” (Take note, fellas!) So he did, and he now stars in his own eponymous scripted series, Donny! (which airs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. EST on USA), on which the real-life Donny Deutsch, 58, is reimagined as a trashy talk-show therapist. He's also returning to the radio booth with Dialing Donny, his noontime SiriusXM show premiering March 2, in which he'll offer his unvarnished perspective on women's issues like relationships, careers, and (naturally) sex.

Here, he helps us separate fact from fiction.

How did Donny! come about?

I had been doing TV for a number of years. I had my show The Big Idea on CNBC, then I was doing the “Today’s Professionals” segment on the Today show, and then I did some Morning Joe stuff. But I was kind of hitting a creative wall. I thought, “How do I break out of this?” I was with my production company, and we were talking about doing a daily talk show with a live audience. At the end of the meeting I said, “I’ve got this crazy idea...”

Is there a show that inspired yours?

Curb Your Enthusiasm was the real inspiration. I feel like an idiot even putting myself in the same sentence as Larry David, but as a genre, I would. Somebody told me it’s like a more current male Sex and the City, which I thought was interesting. It has a very urbane quality to it. But I think it is its own thing.

You play a sort of fictionalized version of yourself on Donny! Have you always been playing some sort of “Donny” character?

As an agency head, I was a guy who ended up being seen in the business as a maverick, so you start playing the maverick. On Morning Joe, I’m the guy who fights with Joe [Scarborough], who flirts with Mika [Brzezinski], who’s a little bit more liberal, who tends to be rogue. It’s not that it’s not me; it’s a presentation of me. It’s exaggerated.

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