• Lies and the lying liars who launched Air America • The slow-motion train wreck that was supposed to take down Rush Limbaugh • You can call me Al and Rachel and Marc’s radio colleague once upon a time They were among the luckiest documentary filmmakers ever. “Left of the Dial,” was a documentary that … Continue reading What’s Left of the Dial
These Are Days – 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, Cat Stevens and Salman Rushdie
• Idle googling turns up not one but two Natalie Merchant profiles • Idle gossip about her and Michael Stipe had to be addressed, I guess • An unplanned blog post. Surprise! The ROTR will return to hibernation. In a spasm of boredom the other day, I googled my name and up came a YouTube … Continue reading These Are Days – 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant, Michael Stipe, Cat Stevens and Salman Rushdie
Oye Cómo Va, Carlos?
• From Woodstock to the Waldorf, I’ve been in Carlos' fan club • His Hall of Fame Induction • Tea time in the lobby By the time I got to Woodstock in August of 1969, all I knew about Santana was a nugget picked up in some alternative music paper: the band was managed by … Continue reading Oye Cómo Va, Carlos?
Country According to Al Green
• Lyle Lovett and the Reverend Al went down old town road decades ago • Wasn’t hard to get Green to sing in a Grammy interview • Funny how time slips away This post is “dedicated” to Bob Mugge for making a film that boosted my appreciation of the soul legend Al Green. My longtime … Continue reading Country According to Al Green
• Austin’s annual music festival makes for a pretty routine CNN piece • The biggest name to interview there was Matthew Sweet. But that’s the point * At least I survived another visit to Texas without being hauled into court Me & Texas just haven’t always gotten along. There was that time a sneaky prosecutor … Continue reading SXSW
A Beach Boy’s Life
• Not an ideal time to interview an idol of mine • Under the spell of a quack, Brian Wilson visits CNN • This piece was no fun . . fun . . fun It’s most unfortunate for me that the two times I was in the close presence of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, … Continue reading A Beach Boy’s Life
• Now it can be shown: Art Garfunkel bails on an interview • He opened up to the NY Times, then shut down at CNN • I didn’t set out to ruin his day I wrote about Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon’s erstwhile partner, a year ago January in a piece about unpleasant experiences I had … Continue reading Assignment: Garfunkel
Not On Walden Pond
• A transcendental television moment with the Eagles' Don Henley • The difficulty of making a green new deal with a determined developer. • Sour grapes about no Concord stand-up I can’t possibly complain about a career that took me around the world, let me meet and talk to fascinating people and rewarded me handsomely. … Continue reading Not On Walden Pond
Happy Birthday, Barbra
• Why she found Grammy world friendlier than Oscar land. • The Prince of Tides junket revisited. Can you spot the error? • Shooting her “through the grease.” I lumped Barbra Streisand into a category of diva, along with Beyoncè, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, and the Spice Girls in a blog … Continue reading Happy Birthday, Barbra
Elvis had the Flu
• But a 1994 interview went forward anyway • Brutal Youth, boxed sets and bootlegs • You’ve heard the story, now see the video In a blog post here last year, I told the story of what a trouper Elvis Costello was when he showed up for an interview with a temperature over 100 and … Continue reading Elvis had the Flu
New York Locked Down
• The Siege (1998) presaged 9/11. • One of its writers has a new novel due out that predicts a pandemic and quarantine • How life imitates art . . and can make prophets out of artists The Siege was a box office bomb, if you’ll pardon the expression. But -- as one of its … Continue reading New York Locked Down
Missing a Role Model
• Danny Schechter, the News Dissector • In 1973, I wanted to work for him. In 1997, I focused CNN on him • In 2020, I miss him I was driving a cab in Boston in 1973, after my first taste of doing radio news in Toledo, Ohio, ended abruptly. I listened to WBCN-FM, as … Continue reading Missing a Role Model
• This one goes out to the band I love • My date for an early R.E.M. concert has a Rapid Evaluation Mishap • I finally get to interview them . . after they lose their drummer The first time I saw R.E.M. perform live, my date pronounced them D.O.A. My arrival at network radio … Continue reading R.E.M.embered
What’s Left of the Dial
• Lies and the lying liars who launched Air America • You can call me Al and Rachel and Marc’s radio colleague once upon a time • The slow-motion train wreck that was supposed to take down Rush Limbaugh They were among the luckiest documentary filmmakers ever. The photos and clips in this post are … Continue reading What’s Left of the Dial
Whitney Houston, Rock Star?
• Maybe if by "rock" you mean something else entirely • In a 1998 interview, the heat was on • A gorgeous visage . . . revealing what? This is not about Whitney Houston's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It's just triggered by it; it reminded me I have a CNN … Continue reading Whitney Houston, Rock Star?
Back in the USSR
• Fresh new evidence shows the Billy Joel trip was no Russia hoax. • Good Morning America introduces a new – and “special” – correspondent • Some really awful music, through some really awful transmissions When I wrote about The Piano, Man, in Russia last year, the blog post was mostly words and photos; just … Continue reading Back in the USSR
Shadow and Light: Marty Scorsese
• The Irishman and the Dalai Lama – the director’s dualism • Talking peace and love with the guy who brought us Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino • In 1997, Hollywood and China were engaged in a moral trade war If you’ve seen Martin Scorsese’s latest, The Irishman, you know he’s still at the … Continue reading Shadow and Light: Marty Scorsese
Joe Pesci, Pop Singer
Mob guys don’t “sing” – but Cousin Vinny did “The Irishman’s” standout performer – or one of them – releases an LP He’s funny. “I'm funny how? I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?” I was concerned Joe Pesci might shoot me in the foot. He was making a record store appearance … Continue reading Joe Pesci, Pop Singer
Badgering a Beatle
• Was I too hard on George Harrison in a 1987 Good Morning America interview? • He didn’t have to invite Paul McCartney onto Cloud Nine . . but I had to ask about it • Watch him give me the stink-eye I’ve told the stories of my Beatles encounters already, but I recently unearthed … Continue reading Badgering a Beatle
What the Hell is Interactive Music?
• Predicting the future . . . and getting it wrong • How’s your home CD maker deck performing? • The drawbacks of analog crystal balls In the early 1990s the music industry was on the verge of an existential crisis. And not everybody knew it. Analog recording had given way to digital and while … Continue reading What the Hell is Interactive Music?
Deconstructing the News Conference
• 32 years ago, news conferences were different. Or not • You can tell it’s 1987 by the big hair • Alert: This is a thumb-sucker. A think-piece. Deep, very deep In 1987, an executive producer at CNN was frequently calling in ABC Radio News’ Reporter-on-the-Road (me) to hold forth on TV about such matters … Continue reading Deconstructing the News Conference
Courtside with P. Diddy and MJ
• Ballers, shot callers and boldface names • A field study in celebrity culture • Finally, something not about hockey The last time I really cared about NBA basketball was probably the day Michael Jordan retired for good. It’s not my favorite sport (can you guess which is?) although I do enjoy the March madness … Continue reading Courtside with P. Diddy and MJ
Sun Ra – I Invaded His Space
• Space is the Place. So was a rooftop in West Philly • An Introduction to filmmaking in the 1970’s. • Behind the scenes of Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise Picking up a part-time gig here and there was a part of my budding career in radio in the 1970’s. The pay for newscasters at … Continue reading Sun Ra – I Invaded His Space
The Who’s Tommy
• Fifty years of that deaf, dumb and blind kid • And I thought I felt old at the 20th anniversary celebration • Hope I don’t die before the 60th I can’t say that “It could have been 1989 in Madison Square Garden the other night.” Because, clearly, it wasn’t. This was September 1, 2019. … Continue reading The Who’s Tommy
• TV news once took Darwinism to a silly extreme • A pox on the medium gave Pax TV (R.I.P.) a far-fetched idea about hiring • Who was their HR guy, Jeff Probst? I despise so-called “reality TV.” Not just because it is supposedly “unscripted” and resulted in the elimination of jobs for writers in … Continue reading Reality Bites
• Michael Bolton showed me how to generate a smash hit • I lobbed a lot of softball questions at the pop star • Can’t anyone here play this game of giving him a decent pitch to hit? The pop star was popping up. And hopping mad. It was driving him crazy, his long blond … Continue reading Bolton Bombed
• Oh, I believe in Yesterday there's a curious throwback to a Paul McCartney flub. • Did screenwriter Richard Curtis nick a 28-year-old laugh line from Paul? • There are no spoilers here about the movie, Yesterday In an interview I did with Paul McCartney in 1991, he made a slip of the tongue that … Continue reading Hey Dude
The Old College Try
• My short shifts as a network TV sports analyst • Who can forget “Friday Night Hockey?” Many, probably • At least I got it right about a hockey movie College Sports Television (CSTV) was launched in 2003. It carried, among other sports, live college hockey games. I just had to apply for work there, … Continue reading The Old College Try