Last night, I was seen by a couple million people or so shilling for my new Snakes on a Plane book on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. It was quite the odd experience for someone who hadn't been on television since he was 17, and that was when I was the captain of my high school's academic team, and it's not that difficult to forget that there's a camera capturing your every move when you're trying to remember who was the President when the League of Nations was formed. This was something new and different, and an eye-opener for a guy who covers TV for a living, I must say. But rather than get long-winded, I thought I would tell this story in picture form. So, here we go!
This is the Lincoln Town Car that MSNBC sent to pick me up. Yeah, just like Herbie Stempel in Quiz Show, only without the NBC logo on the side. Fancy! The car even came with its own driver, Rich, which is good, 'cause I don't know how to drive. Rich was really cool - he knew how to get to the studio without any help.
This is Pacific Television Center, the West L.A. facility where I did my spot. I though they were going to take me to Burbank, but this was much more convenient to my location. Besides, there would be no place for Rich to park there since Leno hogs the parking lot with his 25 cars.
This is Patty, the women charged with the most difficult of tasks - to make me presentable for the air. I'd never had makeup applied to me before, and I can't say I was looking forward to it. But Patty was very gentle with me, and I didn't sneeze once during the process.
Note the protruding bald head, by the way ... scary!
This is the "green room," which of course isn't really green. It's weird to watch a show that you're going to be on actually in progress, especially when they promote your upcoming appearance. It really gives you a lot to think about.
Finally, about 10 minutes before I went on the air, they called me into the actual studio, which is a fairly small room with a chair and a camera directly in front. Here one of the techs is preparing to wire me for sound, as it were. Notice the green wall behind, which was magically transformed into a nightscape, something I didn't even realize until it was all over, distracted as I was.
"Pay no attention to the person behind the black man ..."
This is what I saw directly ahead - a monitor of just me (which I had them turn off because it was way too distracting), a monitor that shows the actual broadcast (which was about 30 seconds behind what the actual interview) and the camera. Note the smiley face below the lens; that's what I was supposed to focus on while I was on the air.
Oh, and this may be a good time to note that Keith Olbermann, who is a SoaP fanatic, was actually off last night. I was interviewed by Brian Unger, whom I believe used to be on The Daily Show. I coped. :)
Patty does a final touch-up ...
I'm all ready to go. Slightly terrified, but ready to go ...
And ... and then I went on. The consensus seems to be that I didn't screw up. If you want to see me in action - and you have a PC with the proper equipment (no Macs allowed, sadly) - you can click on the headline to go to the Countdown page, where there have a link to my interview. But I lived. And as you can see below, I was very, very relieved to have done my thing without saying anything stupid. And on Monday - Geraldo!
A big thanks to my friend Anne, who was my support system and chief photographer for this mission ...