Last week, I flew out to Los Angeles to do an interview for HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. You can watch video of the interview below. I typically don't enjoy TV interviews all that much, because most of the interviews I've done are on cable news, where you have three minutes to make your point, usually while fighting off another person disagrees with you. It's more about conflict theater than about informing viewers. (There are a few exceptions, like Chris Hayes' show.)
But this was refreshingly different. Of course, Maher aims to entertain as much as to inform. But compared to cable news, an eight-minute one-on-one interview is indulgent. Actually, "indulgent" is a good way to describe the whole experience. Most TV interviews are done by satellite, in which case you're sitting on a stool, by yourself, in a cold, dark room, staring into a bright light. You don't see your interviewer or the person you're debating. Instead, the questions come to you through an earpiece. On the few occasions when you are flown out for an in-studio interview, it's usually coach, a hotel room in New York that's slightly larger than a shoebox, and a generally hurried and stressful experience. And you aren't paid. If you have a book to sell, or an issue you care passionately about, the exposure still makes it very much worth doing.
HBO was much different. You're flown first-class and put up in a five-star hotel. You get an honorarium. You get your own dressing room. And you get lots and lots of prep from the show's producers so you know what to expect. After the show, there's a party with staff, guests, and a few friends of both -- complete with a nice spread of food and an open bar. All in all, a pretty terrific experience. We can't show you my interview itself, but here's the web-only "overtime" segment.