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Kathy Griffin: ‘I lied’ about keeping celebs off my talk show

KATHY -- 'Guests: ChelseHandler Whitney Cummings' Episode 108 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kathy GriffChelseHandler Whitney Cummings -- (Phoby: KevWinter/Bravo)

KATHY -- "Guests: Chelsea Handler and Whitney Cummings" Episode 108 -- Pictured: (l-r) Kathy Griffin, Chelsea Handler, Whitney Cummings -- (Photo by: Kevin Winter/Bravo)

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Updated: February 9, 2013 6:17AM

PASADENA, Calif. — Kathy Griffin’s primetime chatfest on Bravo returns at 9 p.m. Thursday for a second season, and this time, the unpredictable comedienne’s hourlong talk show will air live.

“Let me tell you, that was no easy battle,” the Oak Park native said. “I was fighting for it tooth and nail. I’m a live animal. Love doing live television. I’ve hosted the Billboard Music Awards live. I of course do New Year’s Eve [with CNN’s Anderson Cooper] live. My God, if CNN can trust me with live TV, so can Bravo.”

The season premiere of “Kathy” will feature former “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow, Jane Lynch (“Glee”) and Liza Minnelli — all bona fide celebrities, which Griffin vowed she wouldn’t have on her show when it debuted last year.

“I lied,” she said. “I am so full of crap I can’t believe anyone ever believes me.”

Griffin said she caved in because her celebrity friends asked to be on the show.

“What can I tell you? They called,” she said. “Chelsea Handler called and I said, ‘No, it’s real people.’ She said, ‘I want to come on anyway and I’ll bring Whitney Cummings.’ ” Next thing you know, Jane Fonda is booked and Jimmy Kimmel is on the show learning how to be a gay man.

Rapper/actor T.I. is slated to be on next week’s “Kathy.”

“I’m not afraid to have a guest who was incarcerated,” Griffin said.

What about the mayor of Chicago?

“Of course I would have Rahm Emanuel on,” she said. “Plus his brother [Ari] is my agent. I think I have to invite him.”

What would she ask him?

“I would ask why he almost forcibly moved me away from [Fox News Channel President] Roger Ailes at a [White House] Correspondents Dinner,” she said.

At the dinner, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett asked Griffin if she knew Ailes.

“Being a liberal, I said, ‘Oh yes, I know Roger Ailes and I know his game,’” Griffin said. “Roger Ailes said, ‘You used to come on ‘Fox and Friends.’ I said, ‘That was before you turned so far right.’ ”

That’s when Rahm stepped in.

“Rahm took my shoulders and said, and I quote, ‘We’re not doing this now,’” she recalled. “He stopped the conversation. He’s got a little big of the old school Dick Daley in him, the ‘moxie,’ as my mother would say.∑”

Griffin’s mother, fan favorite Maggie, will be back this season, too.

“She’s 92 years young and enjoying a box of wine as we speak,” Griffin said.

Another future guest might be actor Victor Garber, who happened to walk by Griffin while she was doing this interview at an NBC party Sunday night.

“What the hell are you doing for NBC?” Garber asked Griffin.

“I have my own talk show on [NBC-owned cable network] Bravo, hello?” she said.

“Great, you can promote ‘Deception,’ ” Garber said, referring to his new NBC drama on the eve of its premiere.

“The gays are very into it,” she told him.

“Already?” Garber asked. “It hasn’t started yet.”

“They just like deception in general,” she said.

Garber, who plays Kudrow’s husband on Showtime’s “Web Therapy,” told Griffin he’ll try to make an appearance on “Kathy” when he’s in town next month. They hugged goodbye, after which Griffin’s publicist discreetly swooped in to remind the comedienne she liked Garber’s performance in the movie “Argo.”

“Of course, ‘Argo,’ ” Griffin said like someone who hasn’t seen “Argo.” “I like how my publicist is reminding me of my feelings, which is smart because sometimes I forget them.”

Lori Rackl, TV critic

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