I recorded a TV interview in Oregon last Saturday and it went pretty well, but it reminded of my first time on TV. Glamour is rarely that glamourous.
THE GLAMOUR OF TV
I was on the telly!
A few weeks ago, I did ABC’s morning show in Sacramento to promote a book. It was my first time on TV and I was a little nervous about it because it was live. No tied tongues. No do overs. No mistakes. Eek!
At least I had an idea of what was going to be asked because I was shown a list of questions. I just didn’t know which questions they were going to ask.
The show went on the air at nine and they wanted me there at eight-thirty. I dressed appropriately in accordance with the station’s guidelines. I didn’t wear stripes or white and I avoided short skirts and plunging necklines.
I checked in with reception and a vaguely uninterested bubblegum-popping production assistant came out and asked if I was Simon and I said that I was. That didn’t seem to wow her in any way. And that didn’t help me with my nerves.
I thought I was going to be led to a green room or something, but I was showed into the studio while the weather lady was doing promos.
The studio was a funny little place. There was a different set in each corner and there was a little place for the on-air talent to sit and a couple of rows of seats where the guests sat. The production assistant sat me down and went off to pop gum and assist with production.
It’s one of those things about the magic of TV. It looks bright and shiny on a TV screen, but it’s pretty hokey in real life. First off, the set was made out of unfinished chipboard. It looked really cheap and the craftsmanship could have been better. But on the TV monitors, it looked wonderful.
The TV cameras scared me. They were operated by remote. They glided around the studio with no one at the controls. It was very disconcerting to have these cameras zero in on you and just stare with their giant unblinking eye. It was very 2001. I kept waiting for the TV camera to ask me, “Will I dream, Simon?”
I’d arrived while there was a feed from ABC in New York. So there was a chance to chat with the newsreaders and the interviewers. They were talking about the book and some saucy talk broke out from these seemingly respectable TV presenters. But I was more amazed by how they could drop into character at the flick of a switch. The newsreader was telling me how irregularly he changes his underwear in comparison to his wife while the floor manager is counting him down from five to one.
The second the red light went on, he went straight into the news. Then, when they went to commercial, he carried on with the story. How do people do that?
I’d arrived on a good day. Apparently, it was national chili day. Great, I thought. I’m going to capture the chili eating, single lady demographic. My sales will soar!
In honor of national chili day, they had a local chili making champion on hand and he’d brought his chili with him. So he was off in a corner warming up his food.
It was at that point I knew I’d hit the big time.
We hit zero hour and the morning show started. The floor manager came over and said, “We need to mic you up.” And I said, “Good.” I’d been waiting for someone to prep me for what was about to happen as no one mentioned anything, so I asked for direction. He whispered, “I’m going to put this mic on you and then you’re going to sit down over there because you’re on now. Oh yeah, don’t look directly at the cameras.”
Now? When do I get time to panic? I want, no I demand panic time. Sadly, my demands went unheard and the next thing I knew my face was on a TV monitor.
The interview began and I did my best to avoid looking at around a dozen people staring at me, the android camera jammed in my face and avoiding the gaze of the chili guy stirring his pot.
I had a five minute spot and it was all over in the blink of an eye and I was walking off the set. I think I did okay because no one was frowning at me. Well done me.
Production assistant thanked me for my time, showed me out of the studio then out the front door. I glanced at my watch. It was eleven minutes past nine. They still had forty-nine minutes to fill as I was no longer any good to them. I felt slightly used and abused as I stood in the parking lot. I thought I was going to be treated like a star. I should have been showered with booze and broads. Well, a gift basket at the very least. Alas, I didn’t even get a cup of coffee.
So that was my brush with TV. It was fun in a scary funhouse ride kind of a way. I’m not sure I want to do that again. Oh, what’s that? You want me back? Of course, I’ll do it. Love to, darling. See you there.