AARP Studios will honor Don Rickles’ life and legacy by moving ahead with the entertainment series Dinner with Don as planned, despite the death of its star from kidney failure on Thursday.
The 13-episode unscripted show features the king of zingers, 90, dining with friends and comedians he inspired over the years at some of his favorite iconic Los Angeles-area restaurants. The star-studded guest list includes Billy Crystal, Robert De Niro, Jimmy Kimmel, Amy Poehler, Vince Vaughn, Paul Rudd, Marisa Tomei and Martin Scorsese.
AARP Studios announced a Sept. 25 premiere date for the series, its inaugural production and Rickles’ final project.
Rickles’ long-time manager Tony Oppedisano’s Winbrook Entertainment and Rickles’ Wynnefield Productions serve as executive producers alongside Stamper Lumber Company.
“All of us at AARP Studios are immensely saddened with the passing of Don Rickles,” said Jeffrey Eagle, vice president of AARP Studios. “Don was known for his biting, acerbic humor and we feel lucky enough to have experienced that first-hand. He was also a thoughtful, kind and generous colleague and friend.
“Don continued to make audiences laugh throughout his life and career and his legacy will live on,” he added. “We send our condolences to his family and longtime industry colleagues.”
The show was announced in March just weeks before the star’s death. The series is designed as “a lively exchange between Don and his special dinner guests, as well as old footage from the guest’s personal archives featuring their work and Rickles’ work whenever possible,” according to a press release.
AARP Studios released a sneak peek of the series on Thursday that featured Sarah Silverman, Poehler, Kimmel, Rudd and Zach Galifianakis. When asked by Galifianakis how he’d like to be addressed, Rickles deadpans, “God.”
The honorary Rat Pack member enjoyed a career that spanned nearly six decades. Although Rickles began appearing in nightclubs during the 1950s, his big national break didn’t come until 1965 when he first appeared on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. His best friend was fellow comedian Bob Newhart, who praised Rickles on Thursday as being “one of the kindest, caring and most sensitive human beings” he’s ever known.
The comic legend leaves behind his wife, Barbara, his daughter, Mindy Mann, and two grandchildren.
Indeed, Rickles’ final tweet was a sentimental tribute to his wife on their 52nd anniversary in March. He said: “You are my life.”