Once or twice, a reporter came to my home for an interview. One of them was a huge disappointment. A powerful French citizen had been arrested in New York, and I was contacted by the French media as they tried to understand American, and more particularly, New York criminal procedure. After a week or so of this, I was contacted by a reporter from a French radio network, and I definitely perked up. The timbre of her voice was perfect, and ooh la la, that French accent! This was as sexy a voice as I had ever heard. I tried to explain to her what a grand jury was and how a trial jury was selected and the point to our adversary system—concepts not engrained in the French soul. After we had talked for a while, she asked if she could come to my home to interview me in person. Trying to hide my eagerness, I consented; I longed to see this vision. I was at least half-way in love already.
She came the next day. At the front door, she started chattering. To my surprise, she was nervous, but then the cause became obvious. The Brooklyn neighborhood was scaring her, and pointing to a taxi across from the house, said that she was relieved because the cabdriver who had brought her had agreed to remain until she went back to her midtown Manhattan office. The voice was still French-accented and throaty, but lacked that attractive, self-assured, worldly tone from the day before. As I guided her to the living room for the interview, I stole a look at her. Homely might have been a generous description. My thoughts that I might have been starting a Truffaut movie with Catherine Deneuve were shattered. I know that looks can be deceiving, but voices can be, too. On the other hand, she did a thorough, professional interviewing job asking me good questions about how a criminal case proceeded in New York City. She was trying to learn so that she could educate her audience, and I felt I was doing my role as an educator by helping her.
All the interviews for radio and TV were not done in my home or office; instead I was often asked to come to a studio, and I felt as if I were truly important when a network would send a car for me. (This taught me what I already knew: the subway is often a better way to get around Manhattan than an auto, even if someone else is driving.)
The studio interviews were different from the ones in my office because makeup was often applied. I did wonder why if my unvarnished visage was good enough for a camera in my office, it was not good enough in a studio, but I figured the TV people knew best, and I’d sit through a makeup session, which took only a few minutes.
The studio interviews made me more nervous than the office ones. The chance for a second opportunity often disappeared in the studio. In my office, if I mispronounced a word or screwed up in another way, I could say, “Hold it. I messed up there. Ask me that again so I can give a clearer answer.” This seldom happened, but I was relaxed knowing of that possibility. In the studio, it was often live or “live on tape” and that removed any chance for “Let’s do it again.” But while makeup and the elimination of any extra takes made the studio appearance different, it was generally similar to an office interview in that the reporter seemed to be more interested in the prescribed length of the interview rather than the need to inform either the reporter or the audience. (To be continued.)