The Paul Leslie Hour Episode #57 – Elliot Mintz

This interview with Elliot Mintz was recorded in January of 2011. It is being brought out today as a podcast in celebration of Elliot Mintz’s 73rd birthday.

Elliot Mintz made his name as a radio and television personality, interviewing thousands of people, among them: John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Jack Lemmon, Alan Watts, Jack Nicholson, Salvador Dali, John Wayne, Groucho Marx and many others.  Mintz went on to become a media consultant for everyone from Bob Dylan, the John Lennon Estate, Don Johnson and Paris Hilton.

His eyes and ears have seen a lot. It remains one of my absolute favorite interviews to date and we hope you enjoy listening. 

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The Paul Leslie Hour Episode #6 – Lawrence Grobel

Called “the Mozart of Interviewers,” author Lawrence Grobel is interviewed about his lifelong career as a journalist who has spoken in-depth with people like Al Pacino, Marlon Brando and Barbra Streisand. In his recent nonfiction book, You, Talking To Me, Grobel reflects on what he learned from talking to 120 of the most fascinating people of our time.

Like many interviewers, my introduction to Grobel was through his esteemed book The Art of the Interview, perhaps the best book of its kind. His unprecedented access to many famous people who have granted interviews to very few journalists, along with his honest and entertaining writing style put Lawrence Grobel at the very top. It’s not surprising that Writer’s Digest called him “a legend among journalists.” In this fast-paced interview, Grobel is as good at telling his tale as he is writing them. Listen and become fascinated!

 

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Genius Either Way It’s Flipped

LATE AT NIGHT

It’s fate that some should touch the heights that make a mem’ry fast recall,

The words and deeds that make hearts light, and let the tensions built, desolve,

A comic’s not a name tag worn, nor ever was talent bought,

a showman true, is only born, then hones the talent he has got,

Let the hours slip ’til night, who fears the dark in merriment,

rather laugh in lowered light, then watch some other, lesser gent

Let talent come from where it will, in singers, actors, all renowned

spectators nightly hours fill, with David, Paul and Kalter’s sounds,

those talents many lives enrich, by daring to speak humors script

As Letterman describes “the switch” it’s genius either way it’s flipped.

(A Poem by Daniel L. Buckner)

I was about 9 years old and staying up very late on a Friday.  Everyone else was sound asleep and that was the first time I ended up on “Late Night with David Letterman.”  I distinctly remember the bandleader eating a bowl of Rice Krispies drizzled with Pepto-Bismol.  Clearly I had stepped into another era of my life.

The beautiful thing is that I am not unique.  Letterman has long appealed to those with a taste for humor that is off the beaten path.  No David Letterman would mean no Jimmy Kimmel and no Conan O’Brien.  There has been plenty written about the man’s contributions to comedy, but to me it has always been Dave’s curiosity about people that I found so interesting.  Moreso than some of his celebrity interviews, I recall him talking to a young kid who found gold.  Or his exchanges with his mother known to the public as “Dave’s mom.”

I’ve learned about interviewing from some of the best and have been able to interview truly great interviewers like the late Joe Franklin, Bob Edwards, Larry King, Bill Boggs and Elliot Mintz.  I don’t pretend to be in any way culturally relevant.  I’m still learning, but there is no doubt in my mind that the reason I interview people is because of David Letterman.

David Letterman is frequently over-looked as an interviewer.  I recall my conversation with his announcer Alan Kalter, when he talked about his first impression with Dave.  “He was a listener. And he still is to this day. Uh, he’s a great listener when he interviews the guests on the show, as you can tell. He’s also a good listener if you meet him in the hall or if he sits down with you and says ‘What’s new?’ He listens to everything you say and then asks the appropriate questions.”

I write this little tribute to the Worldwide Pants crew as the very last episode of the show is being taped.  Hard to fathom the impact Dave, Paul & Co.  made to millions of people, but also the people who helped create the magic and the music of every episode.

The people who created The Late Show are a lot more open than most people in what they call “show business.”

I’ve been a fan of Paul Shaffer and his 2 albums, in particular “Coast to Coast” for years.  His CBS Orchestra is arguably one of the best bands in the business and  this is not really a secret.  I set out years ago to help tell the story of the band, going back to when it was called “The World’s Most Dangerous Band.”  I was able to interview Steve Jordan, the original drummer back in the early days of 1982 when Letterman was first starting in late night.  I recall my interview also with Anton Fig, known to many as a great drummer who is also a composer who created one of my favorite albums, “Figments.” And of course Will Lee who along with Shaffer has been there since day one and never left.  I spoke with almost all of the horn section, some who have gone onto other things.  There was the enthusiastic Alan Chez who encouraged me to stuff myself on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  There was saxophonist Bruce Kapler who will forever be associated with Christmastime to so many.  Aaron Heick, saxophonist and composer of songs like “Drifting Upstream” and “Desert Lullaby,” and of course their leader, the multi-instrumentalist  incredible Tom “Bones” Malone, a man who personifies what it is to be a gentleman.

But there are other people I got to meet, the former warm-up comedian and booker, Eddie Brill who I had the fortune to interview after interviewing the one-of-a-kind announcer Alan Kalter.  The people behind the scenes who gave so kindly of their limited time, like Executive Producer and CEO of Worldwide Pants,  Rob Burnett, who somehow finds time to also write scripts and make movies…or CBS Vice President of Late Night Programming Vinnie Favale who has an unlimited amount of passion for so many things, including his musical “Hereafter.”

I didn’t get to interview the entire band, but I did try my best so there are no regrets really.  There is only one regret I have.  It was back in 2008 and I was in New York City having interviewed arguably the biggest New York legend—Woody Allen.  I was stopped on the street and asked to answer 3 trivia questions (the most memorable being about Kalter’s hair color) for tickets to see a taping of “The Late Show.”  I answered all the questions correctly, but sadly my flight would not allow me to attend the taping.  The tickets were given to my friends who would stay behind as I returned home.  I truly regret not staying.  Meeting Woody Allen and then seeing a taping of Letterman?  New York dreams.

When I interviewed his good friend comedian Tom Dreesen he said to get a good look because we won’t see Dave again.  Perhaps David Letterman’s most attributed and repeated quote is “There is no off position on the genius switch.”  Maybe I’m being mawkish, but I can’t imagine so much wit, creativity and humor just suddenly turning off. 

Late at night, 11:35 PM to be precise, on television sets across the country, the recognizable sound of Alan Kalter  and the CBS Orchestra has been heard night after night…a sure sign that you’re about to be entertained.    Although the show is ending there are stories and as I have learned many incredible characters that are here to stay.

***

Special thanks to: Eddie Brill, Rob Burnett, Tom Dreesen, Vinnie Favale, Anton Fig, Aaron Heick, Steve Jordan, Alan Kalter, Bruce Kapler, Frankie Keane, Will Lee, Tom “Bones” Malone, Susan Shreyar-Miller and…of course Henry Jordan and David Yoder.

Bob Edwards: Radio Talk Show Host & Interviewer

Bob Edwards has interviewed 50,000 people and counting in the fields of the Arts & Entertainment, Politics, Literature and Journalism.  His style of interviewing is more of a conversation and this fact has lead many iconic people to come back to him again and again.  However, what makes Bob Edwards so remarkable is that he approaches all interviews with the same curiosity.  He believes we all have a story.  It’s a true joy to have Bob Edwards share his story this time, with all of us.

 

Meeting Garfunkel

 

And if my silence made you leave, then that would be my worst mistake.

So I will share this room with you, and you can have this heart to break.

-Billy Joel, “And So It Goes.”

As some of you know, my interest is primarily in interviewing lyricists and composers—the great songwriters.  I am ombillically connected to Simon & Garfunkel, perhaps thee great duo in American music.  My mom, who tends to have the best taste in music, loved them, and saw them when she was in college.  The year was 1969 and the place was Buffalo, New York.  Those were years with war and strife, but she loved the songs and the harmonizing.  “’Bridge Over Troubled Water’ was a song of hope,” she said.

Paul Simon is known by many as the primary songwriter of Simon & Garfunkel, but it is Garfunkel I have tried for so long to interview.  Certainly, Paul Simon will go down in history with the great songwriters like Irving Berlin and Cole Porter who are remembered as the few who could write songs with lyrics and melody of equal brilliance.  Simon belongs in the small and prestigious class of living legends of American song, among them Billy Joel, Stephen Sondheim and Jimmy Webb.  They write songs that are immortal.  In one verse, you are transported to that other place.

So why Mr. Garfunkel?  Isn’t Paul Simon the writer?   It started with a different kind of writing, Garfunkel’s own. It was his book of prose, Still Water that caused my curiosity.  You get the idea that Garfunkel is someone with a very inquiring mind and a perspective that is very much his own.  Still Water starts out with a series of questions and answers.  The interviewer is never identified.  He is only called “Interviewer” and one wonders if it is Garfunkel asking himself the questions he wished an interviewer would.  From there the reader dives into his prose.  Through his prose, Garfunkel shares perspectives from a very full life, it is a life he seems to express a lot of gratitude for. 

It’s my belief that much of his very interesting life came as a result of interesting choices.  We could start with the books he has read.  I believe reading expands outlooks.  Stephen King has said that in order to be a good writer, one must read.  Garfunkel has read his share of books.  In fact, he keeps a list of the 1,195 books he’s read, starting with The Confessions by Jean Jacques-Rousseau in 1968.  The most recent entry from October 2013 is The Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz.  He lists his favorites, which include a lot of biographies.  The books he reads show he has a very inquisitive mind.

Some of the perspectives in his book Still Water clearly come from his travels.  Simon & Garfunkel performed in many places around the world, and at the recent solo concert, he told us of the joys of singing at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England—his favorite.  Aside from his solo and Simon & Garfunkel tours, his desire to travel has been different.  You may think of the lyrics “and we walked off to look for America” when you hear of Garfunkel’s journey by foot from his apartment in New York all the way to the Pacific Ocean in Washington State.  My decision one day to walk on the Gulf Coast from Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana was only over a tenth of the 4,000 plus miles Garfunkel walked, but I speak from experience in saying Garfunkel probably gained new insight and there is a kind of intense introspection that a long pedestrian voyage can bring.  It can only be likened to meditation.  But he didn’t stop with America.  He walked across Japan and in spurts he has walked across Europe—starting in Ireland and so far reaching to Greece.  He plans to pick up where he left off and continue on to Istanbul.  Writers must experience the world.  He’s seen it from an atypical vantage point and the distance afforded him the time to think about it.

It was in 2004, ten years ago, that I decided to try and interview Garfunkel.  I wrote to his manager Bridget and expected to receive no answer.  To my surprise, she wrote a very kind reply and said that he was taking a break, but we could look at doing a telephone interview down the road.  She had Garfunkel’s publicist send me a copy of his ninth album, Everything Waits to Be Noticed.  The album is unique in Garfunkel’s solo discography because it features songs Garfunkel co-wrote, a first for him.  I listened again and again and found a collection of great songs, in particular one called “Perfect Moment.”  The interesting lyrics begin “I met you once before the first time,” and ends with the wistful lines “For a moment, you are mine. Just for a moment, you were mine.”  The song stands up among the catalog of songs Garfunkel has recorded and that’s saying a lot—given his penchant for recording the legendary Jimmy Webb’ssongs and the immaculate Some Enchanted Evening, which feature his take on the American Songbook, something he proved he could do as well as Rod Stewart.

But Bridget gave me another great gift.  She tried to interest me in her client Bruce Hornsby.  Now, I was familiar with The Way It Is album and loved it, but hadn’t really listened to much of Hornsby’s newer stuff since the 1990s.  I’m embarrassed to say the copy of Hornsby’s Halcyon Days sat there for a few months before I listened to it.  When I finally listened to it, it really blew my mind.  I became a solid fan of Hornsby’s digging deep into his catalog and I would later find out, Garfunkel was a fan too.  I read interviews through the years where Garfunkel would praise Hornsby, including in a very interesting piece that appeared in American Songwriter. 

In 2003, my friend Brent Griffis and I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to see Simon & Garfunkel perform in Atlanta, Georgia along with a special appearance of a couple of songs by the Everly Brothers.  I am so grateful we decided to go, as I recall it like the other people who saw it.  We all felt it was transcendent.  That’s no exaggeration!  The hair on my arm stood straight up when Garfunkel sang “Kathy’s Song.”  Was there ever a more beautiful performance of a song?  I had most of Paul Simon’s albums, but collecting Garfunkel’s solo albums increased my appreciation for the man’s work even more.  My friend Frank Reddy gave me a vinyl copy of Garfunkel’s record album Watermark and my admiration for Jimmy Webb’s songwriting grew.   Years later, I had the opportunity to interview Webb and was delighted to ask him about Watermark, which featured all Jimmy Webb songs aside from Sam Cooke’s “What a Wonderful World. All of this inspired my first trip to see Mr. G. sing—and he was backed by an entire orchestra.  I remember it very vividly.  It was November 13, 2004 at the BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama.  I was broke and attending the University of Georgia.  I kept calling the box office and nobody would answer.  I recall the recorded voice on the other end saying the date of the show and “the one and only Art Garfunkel.”  To this day, I rarely hear one of his recordings without thinking of that woman’s voice and those words. How much were tickets?  I left for Alabama and didn’t even know if I would have enough money to buy a ticket, but I felt it was worth the risk of not being able to afford to get in.  Tickets were no longer being sold online. 

I got there and the tickets were expensive.  My heart started to sink.  Then it occurred to me that I was a college student and could ask if there was a student ticket price.  The elderly man behind the desk smiled with both his face and his voice and told me there was and he asked if he could see my student ID.  I gave it to him and he said I owed five dollars.  I said, “Five dollars?”  I thought he was joking, or perhaps trying to make sport of me.  He was serious.  I gave him the $5 and thanked him over and over when he handed me the ticket.  I went inside and awaited excitedly.  Hearing Garfunkel sing with an entire orchestra is something one doesn’t forget.  I drove home very pleased with my decision to venture out.  What a performer.  What a voice.  One and only was the only description for Garfunkel!

I’ve seen Paul Simon solo.  In fact, last year, my friend Wesley Cook invited me on his birthday to see Paul Simon speak about songwriting in an old chapel at Emory University.  It was right up my alley.  After the talk Simon sang and played “The Sound of Silence,” “Slip Slidin’ Away” and “Me and Julio.”  Outside of the chapel, he walked right by us.  I didn’t talk to him, but it did feel surreal.  All of these experiences have been great, but nothing could prepare me for the most recent one.

As I mentioned earlier, I am a big fan of Bruce Hornsby and had pursued an interview with him for years.  It finally so happened that Hornsby was in Atlanta, performing at the Atlanta Symphony Hall.  I wrote Hornsby a letter 5 years ago and although we had attempted to sit down and talk several times, it wasn’t until last week that we finally had our interview.  It was well worth the wait.  Because in a strange way, I was introduced to Hornsby via Garfunkel’s management—I wondered if it would be possible to talk with Garfunkel when he was in Georgia, given that he would be here playing a string of dates spanning about half of the month of February.  I couldn’t imagine how fortunate it would be to land both of them in the same week. No go.  Alas, it was not to be and that happens.  You put your best foot forward and try again next time.

Given how much I enjoyed Garfunkel’s concert 10 years prior, I decided I would like to see his Atlanta show anyway.  I was heartbroken when I found out I wouldn’t be able to go because my Friday was way too busy.  Finding my Saturday evening free a couple hours before Garfunkel’s scheduled show, I decided to make the drive down to Macon, Georgia to see him sing at the Grand Opera House.  Arriving 15 minutes prior to the show beginning, I was lucky to get a good seat. I wasn’t prepared for what would become the best concert I have ever seen, and this is coming from a guy who has seen a couple hundred, starting with seeing the Platters at sixteen (yes, the singing group from the 1950s).  It’s a diverse list featuring some of the biggest names like Paul McCartney, to other very talented artists both new and veteran who are largely passed over by our current radio station playlists.

First there was a pointed announcement from a man on stage to turn off all cell phones.  Garfunkel doesn’t like people taking pictures of the show or texting and I don’t either.  Imagine going to a concert to, well…listen.  It made me realize what a huge distraction all of the iPhones have been upon seeing a concert where people don’t use them.  Then the auditorium went completely black with only a light.  The very skilled guitarist, Tab Laven walked out on stage and I heard a melody I recognized, but it took me a moment to place it.  It was Billy Joel’s song “And So It Goes.”  Tab’s sound was mesmerizing. After a few chords, we heard that unmistakable voice, perhaps the greatest in music.  Garfunkel sang the beginning of the song from backstage and casually walked out well into the song, singing it in a way that would make Billy Joel proud.  I thought about the lyrics in a different way.  “And if my silence made you leave.”  Garfunkel was recovering from vocal cord paresis and the world had been deprived of hearing that gorgeous voice since his last concerts in 2009.  Thankfully, the silence was over.  Of course he sang many of the Simon & Garfunkel songs that were cherished by all, but the great thing about the concert was how much it felt like he was giving of himself.  He read his own prose, which usually correlated with the song he was about to sing.  I thought back to the opening song’s lyrics, “So I will share this room with you.”  Yes, he certainly was sharing the room with us.

Hearing “Bright Eyes” and “All I Know” sung with only Tab Laven’s acoustic guitar and Garfunkel’s voice made me realize what true masterpieces they were.  Other very touching songs included him singing “Let It Be Me” and dedicating it to the late Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers along with sharing his memories of Phil.  He did a stunning rendition of the Gershwin classic “Someone to Watch Over Me,” that appeared on his Some Enchanted Evening album.  He shared with the crowd a list of his five favorite songwriters, which included Stephen Sondheim, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Jimmy Webb and Randy Newman.  I love it when singers recognize the writers of the songs, but it made me very curious if he would sing one of the songs he wrote himself.  He did, and the performance of “Perfect Moment” that appeared on Everything Waits to Be Noticed was one of the highlights of the evening.  It was sung very much from the heart.

The concert was finally winding down and the guitarist left the stage so Garfunkel could take questions from the audience.  I’ve never seen an artist do something like that in a venue of that size, but it worked very well and seemed to excite Garfunkel.  There was that inquisitive mind again.  It was impressive and very open of him to acknowledge that the audience is a crucial part of any concert.  He certainly gained my respect and it was great when helit up upon being asked what was on his iPod.  His enthusiasm for listening included Native American tribal chants, Fleetwood Mac, Chet Baker, James Taylor, J. S. Bach and poets like Dylan Thomas and W. B. Yeats reciting their poetry. Finally, Tab Laven reappeared on stage with his guitar and they sent us all on our way with that hope my mom talked about—“Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

I walked out feeling satisfied, but instantly thinking that I wanted to see the show a second time.  The simplicity of Garfunkel’s voice with a single instrument proved that if you can’t do it in blue jeans under a single light—you can’t do it.

My friend Mike Bridge who lives in Macon was alerted that I was in town and texted me to ask if I would like to grab a bite and a beverage at the Downtown Grill before heading home.  Mike is a great guy and a lot of fun so I decided I would.  He told me that he would be there in about 40 minutes so hang tight.  Not knowing the streets of Macon, I decided to walk off some of my energy and find this spot he suggested, but not before an encounter with a true legend on the street in Macon.  I don’t like to drive.  It was a happy accident.  Had I gone home, I would have been in my car heading home already, but there was Arthur Ira Garfunkel, right in front of me wearing a baseball cap.  I’d been a fan of his for years and there he was.  I strongly dislike bothering people, but I spoke up.  “Mr. Garfunkel.”  He looked over and smiled.  So I just spoke the truth.  I told him that it was one of the best concerts I had ever seen.  He flashed me a Duchene smile, the truest type, where you smile with your eyes.  He said “thank you very, very much.  That means a lot.”  I wanted to ask him about opening the show with “And So It Goes,” and told him I liked the choice.  It was far braver than opening with something like “Feeling Groovy” or “Mrs. Robinson,” not that I don’t like those songs, but “And So It Goes,” is heavy.  He came right out with something with a lot of substance.  He remarked in agreement calling the song “emotional” and I told him he should record it.

I mentioned seeing him ten years prior at the BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama with an entire orchestra and he said “Oh yes!  I remember that show.”    Then I told him that it was even better hearing him with just a solo guitarist, as he took the ticket I was holding.  He signed “Art Garfunkel” carefully and looked me in the eye saying “Less is more.”  He smiled and handed me the ticket back.  I told him goodbye and he said “nice meeting you.”  I walked away and he got into a car.  As the car left, Garfunkel and the young man driving him waved goodbye. 

Did I tell him about interviewing Bruce Hornsby a few days prior?  Did I tell him about how I had interviewed his friend Jimmy Webb or about how I had asked Percy Sledge what he thought of Garfunkel’s take on his song “When a Man Loves a Woman”?  Did I tell him about the time I interviewed John Sebastian  of Lovin’ Spoonful fame backstage, and Sebastian said that Garfunkel’s cover of his song “Daydream” was his favorite cover of all time?  But the question everyone has asked me is if I asked Garfunkel to do an interview.

The answer is no.  First of all, it’s not my style.  I don’t like to put people on the spot.  Certainly, I would love to one day sit down with Mr. Garfunkel, but I walk away from this experience with no regrets.  I had fun.  There were a lot of times where I could have sit out of the dance—driving out to Alabama to see him when I was broke ten years ago, or seeing him in Macon recently.  After the concert, I could have gone home and gotten some much needed sleep, but I didn’t.  Not many exciting things happen when you sit it out.

I’ve listened to the recording of Art Garfunkel sing “Bright Eyes” probably 1,000 times.  Garfunkel is an actor, and I thought his acting in Carnal Knowledge as the reserved and sensitive Sandy was very good, especially since he was sharing the screen with Jack Nicholson, one of the greatest actors of our time.  Then I watched him play almost the opposite character acting alongside Theresa Russell and Harvey Keitel in Bad Timing.  I’ve picked up his book Still Water too many times to count.  I could pick a random page and be swept into the particular piece and before I knew it, I was rereading the book.

Occasionally there are artists who are so steeped in talent that it spills over into multiple areas.  Such an artist is Art Garfunkel.  He can write prose and occasionally he writes lyrics.  He can act.  And you give him a stool to sit on and a microphone to sing into and he will have your undivided attention until the very last note is sung.  No costume changes, no pyrotechnics, just undeniable talent and one of the world’s greatest instruments—his voice. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Art Garfunkel.

We’re Here

 Hey, it’s me.  The past ten years have come and gone so quickly, but the memories collected add up to a lot of stories.  Some of the people who have shared are known all over the world and many of them are known to a few.  There’s one thread that unites them all – my love for what they do or in some cases did.  Ten years worth of interviews?  That’s a lot of talking, but the truth is that for me it’s mostly been listening.

Many of these interviews were broadcast on the radio one time, never to be heard again.  So many people had great things to say.  I would look for interviews with certain people who had created and accomplished amazing things and would find nothing.  More than once artists who had made incredible contributions to our popular culture would tell me this was the first time their story was being told in their own voice.

If there is one thing we all need, other than love, it’s purpose.  My love is my purpose and it’s a true blessing to know what that is.  I help people tell their stories.  Ten years ago, I would have never believed you if you had told me I would interview my favorite movie director (Woody Allen) or that I would have found myself drinking a beer and singing with a personal fave and one of the founding fathers of rock ‘n roll (Fats Domino) in his living room.  Don’t get me started!

The relaunch of this website is a new chapter in my life…a new canvas on which to paint.  Most importantly, it’s my gift to you.  Slowly, but surely all of the interviews from the past ten years will be available on this website.  You can listen, on-demand, to a conversation with Larry King, or read an incredible conversation with Maya Angelou and learn how important dance and calypso music were toher formative years.  It’s a lot of content.  It’s a lot of stories.

Music.  Movies.  Books.  Paintings.  Plays.  These are all various ways we communicate with each other.  What I try to do is get artists and writers to talk about their work.  They in turn are able to communicate with you so everyone can gain a better understanding.  Maybe this in turn will help you better understand yourself.  I know so many of these interviews have inspired new thoughts of my own or a different perspective on how to view the world we call home.

Whether it’s research or plain entertainment, my humble prayer and wish is for you to get something out of your time on this website.  Maybe it’s information or just a moment of happiness.  There have been some incredibly optimisic sentiments shared and the people featured here have been inspirational and I know from the interactions I have had that they have inspired many other people.

You could say things are lining up.  I’ve great people who care about me and make creativity so much fun.  These people are like espresso to me.  They get my imagination and enthusiasm to the highest level.   Then there’s Jeff Pike.  Although we don’t work together as much as we used to, so many of these interviews were made possible because Jeff was in the other room recording them.  My love for radio will never go away and it’s been a joy to collaborate with someone who loves music as much as I do.  I don’t know if I would have hung in there for as long as I did if it weren’t for Jeff.  We sure have some stories to tell.

So we’re here.  I truly believe the story is just starting.  I’m finally becoming the man I want to be.

I’m over the moon that you’ve joined us.  Perhaps we’ll fly there together.  Now that’s a story…

Special thanks to Charles & Wendy.

Larry King: Talk Show Host

 Make way for the King! …Larry King, that is. How did a kid from Brooklyn grow up and become perhaps the most famous radio and television interviewer of all time? Curiosity. This curiosity, has never gone away. Now 80 years old, Larry King still interviews people almost everyday on his talk show Larry King Now.

In this breezy chat, Larry King talks with Paul about his early days in Miami and encourages us all to keep on wondering.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is our great pleasure to welcome the one and only Larry King.  Thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you, Paul.  Good to be with you.

 Who is Larry King?
He is a Jewish man from Brooklyn who got into broadcasting with a life-long wish and pinches himself every day over his success.  He is a father of five:  three grown and two little boys and he is, uh, one of the lucky people alive.

Going back kind of to the beginning, you’ve interviewed sixty thousand people.  I want you to take us back.  What’s your most vivid memory from being a radio personality in Miami Beach?
Well, it was where I started.  It was where I did my first interview.  It was in a restaurant.  Bobby Darin walked in.  He wasn’t booked.  No one expected him and we became friends and that was my first ever major interview.  It’s where my whole career started and spent the first twenty years of my life. 

How did you feel when you were interviewing Bobby Darin?
Well, I was a great admirer of his.  First, I flipped that he came in on his own.  He had listened to the show.  I was just a kid and ‘Mack the Knife’ had been number one, maybe one of the greatsingles ever recorded and I lov music and so I felt terrific.  I asked him a lot of great questions.  He had a poignant moment ‘cause he said he knew he was going to die young.

You’ve interviewed a lot of musicians through the years.  Are you a music fan?
Oh, big!  Yeah, I love music.  Especially Sinatra, the Pops, Jazz, a lot of Country…yeah, but put me down as Sinatra and then the world.

You’re probably known as the most famous interviewer.  Who do you think is the best interviewer or interviewers that’s out there today?
Well, Mike Wallace is very ill.  Mike was one of my favorites and he was a good friend.  He is a good friend but he’s not in good shape now.  I like Ryan Seacrest a lot for what he does, especially hosting shows and asking interviews on the fly.  I don’t like interviewers who interview themselves and there’s too much of that now.  I don’t really see a great interviewer around. 

Well, not just in terms of journalism, as people, what person has influenced you the most?
I’ve had a lot of influences on me in my life.  The great attorney, Edward Bennett Williams befriended me.  Jackie Gleason had a great affect on me; Red Barber the famed sports announcer, Arthur Godfrey.  I couldn’t name one person that was a great influence.  Arthur Godfrey gave me the best advice I ever had which was, uh, that the only secret in broadcasting is there’s no secret.  Uh, be yourself.  The best advice I ever got. 

This question comes from Lana Hughes from the United Kingdom, and she asks:  With all your experience, what has been your most valuable lesson both professionally and personally?
It’s my motto and it’s something I wish more broadcasters would take heed of, and the motto is: I never learned anything when I was talking.
Wow.
To break it down, I leave myself out.  I don’t use the word “I” in interviews.  I askshort questions.  I listen to the answer and I’m the conduit to the audience.  I never learned anything when I was talking.

It has to be a great feeling when you have a guest come on that you’ve always wanted to talk to.  How did you feel when you learned Frank Sinatra was going to be a guest on your show?
Well, it was a great moment.  Jackie Gleason said he would get him for me since Sinatra didn’t do any interviews and he owed Jackie a favor.  I didn’t know it at the time.  Sinatra told me that when he came on and that began a long set…I interviewed many times.  I did the last interview with Frank…last television interview…and we always got along and I found him a terrific interviewee because he had what you wanted in an interview subject.  That is, he had passion, he had a sense of humor, he could explain what he did very well.  He could literally put you on the stage.  You felt the moments with him.  But it was a great feeling just to be in his presence ‘cause I was a kid who use to stand on line at the Paramount Theater in New York and hope to get in to see Frank Sinatra.  I was a great fan of his and to be in his presence and to get to ask him questions and have him reveal things to me and I’ve gotten letters from him over years.  I put a couple of them in my last book.  In fact, I’m looking at one now that’s framed on the wall.  I have a painting that he did.  He loved to paint, Frank. He was a special force in my life and I thank Gleason forever for making it possible for me to interview him.

The first time you interviewed, him were you nervous?
I was excited more than nervous.  It was temporary…it made me nervous for a second but more than that, excited.  I knew a long time ago there was really nothing to be nervous about in an interview because the interviewer controls it.  I mean, I’m the one asking the questions so, once you get past that initial the first time in the White House interviewing a president…naturally, you’re in the White House…you’re a little bit in awe, you realize, you know, that everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time.  That’s true.

Who have you always wanted to interview, but they’ve continuously eluded you?
Well, Dylan…Bob Dylan…he wouldn’t be number one on the list, but I’ve never been able to get him and Bruce Springsteen, you know.  I think number one would be Fidel Castro.  He led his country for more years than any leader ever led a country.  Forgetting politics, he was a revolutionary, he was in prison, he was a baseball player.  He never was in it for money.  He continues to…I went to Havana two years ago to try to get him…We had meetings with people, still haven’t got him but I have not given up.

You mentioned Bob Dylan a second ago.  When people like Bob Dylan are known for not doing interviews, would you say that makes you want to interview them more?
Sure.  Of course.  Someone who doesn’t want to do interviews…of course you wonder why they don’t want to do interviews.  Why wouldn’t someone want to talk about the profession they’re in?  Ninety-nine percent of the people I know always enjoy talking about what they do.  They might not want to talk about who they’re married to or who they’re sleeping with or about their personal life, but I never met anyone that didn’t want to talk about what they do so Dylan has been a puzzle to me.  Brando didn’t do interviews either, but then I did two interviews with him and found him delightful.

What goes through your mind when an interview starts to go bad or the subject won’t talk?
You know what goes through your mind, this is really true Paul…it ain’t brain surgery.  All you can do is all you can do.  It’s frustrating.  You like to make more things happen but it’s…Tuesday will become Wednesday.  It’s not the end of the world.  You do the best you can.  All you can do is all you can do.

Who has been the most entertaining person to talk to?
Comics.  I like doing comedy, I do comedy myself.  People who make me laugh are entertaining.  Rickles is entertaining.  Mel Brooks, the list is endless, Jerry Seinfeld, Carl Reiner…funny people are the best for me.  I love to laugh. 

 Have you ever interviewed someone and you just knew during the interview that you were going to become a great friend with that person?
No.  There haven’t been many that I’ve become great friends with because usually, an interview is passing in the night…they become acquaintances.  Those who became great friends….Sinatra became a very good friend, I would say.  Gleason became a great friend.  Mario Como became probably became the closest.  He was governor of New York and I got very close to him but generally that doesn’t happen, you know.  It’s a moment in time…they’re the guest, you’re the host and you do the best.  With politicians it’s not a good idea to become a good friend. 

You’ve always been a guy who has embraced technology.  You have over two million people following you on Twitter, and now the new chapter of the Larry King story is that you’ll have a show on…and everyone can visit this website…it’s spelled:  ova…
No…o-r-a…
Ora…
Ora, yeah…”ora” means “now” and it’s funded by Carlos Slim…the Mexican who is the richest man in the world and who was a fan of mine.  I spoke to him at an event of his and we got along.  He came to my house for dinner.  I interviewed him and we got the idea…he came up with…we both came up with the idea, “Larry King should not leave the airways,” so…and I’m not a technology freak but I aware that what’s going on in the world is going on so I know that social networking is the future and we’re going to do a internet television network.  My show will be back.  I’ll have more details on it as time goes by.  We’re setting up the platform now so I’m very excited about it. 

It’s going to be interesting.  What is the best thing about being Larry King?
Uh…the best thing is fatherhood.  You know, success is one thing and it’s really nice but having two young boys who you take to school every day and you pick up at night and you’re seventy-eight years old and you’re in reasonably good health having suffered a heart attack twenty-five years ago and had bypass surgery and you’re still around.  You got a young wife and you live in…I’m looking out now on my pool and my guest house…I’m in Beverly Hills…(Laughs)…it’s not bad.  That don’t mean everything’s right and that you don’t have some bad days and you don’t have some arguments and disagreements.  That’s life.  But boy….and I got it pretty lucky.  Paul Newman told me once, “Any…any successful person who, in discussing their life and career, doesn’t use the word “luck” is a liar.”  I was lucky…I was lucky that Ted Turner liked me.  I was lucky that I made the left turn, the right turn…lucky that someone advised me to go down to Miami.  But the best thing about being it is fatherhood.

 The great thing about the internet is that this interview can be heard anywhere in the world.  For anyone who is listening in, do you have any parting words of wisdom?
Bertrand Russell, the great teacher, philosopher, and Nobel Prize winner was once asked:  “Dr. Russell, what do you know?  You’re ninety-five years old.  What do you know?”  And he said, “The only thing I know is that I don’t know.”
(Laughs)
And the truth of my life is, “I don’t know,” has led to everything that’s happened to me because I have never, ever lost my curiosity.  So the word of wisdom I would give to people is: Don’t stop asking.  Don’t stop wondering.  And the best word you can ever use is “why.”  Good luck!

 TRANSCRIBED BY LORI DOMINGO