Extraordinary questions are the impetus of exceptional answers.
Truth Be Told: "Behind the Set"
When Neil Sedaka walked onto the set for our taping, he was warm, personable, kind and very complimentary. After our formal introduction was made, he told me he had seen my show on the PBS affiliate on Long Island, thoroughly enjoyed it, and after watching it, knew that was all he needed to reconsider his initial decision to deny our request for an interview. Standing in the wings of the set, he asked me, "Who writes the questions? They are extremely interesting." I replied, "I do". He then said, "Well, if you ask me questions like the ones you asked when I watched your program, we're gonna have a great time." I validated his remarks, smiled and told him, "I am hopeful you might find our time together to be one of your most favorite conversations about your music, life and career. I'll do my very best to make certain."
The crew and I decided to approach this shoot differently from any other to date. It was the norm for me to sit in a comfortable armchair directly across from the artist. However, this time, Neil would be seated at the piano, so that he could chat and, if he so desired, play a segment of a piece of music as an example. I would be seated on a stool to the front of the keyboard – aesthetically, the camera angles looked impressive.
At that point, Neil leaned over to me and mentioned that he'd much prefer being shot from the other side, rather than from the side where we had placed the cameras. After a moment, before I could respond, being the supreme gentleman that he is, he decided he didn't want to create too much of a problematic situation for everyone and told me he would make the best of it. When someone is as gracious as Neil is, it is my nature to accommodate him to the best of my ability no matter what it would take. After some dialogue with the director, I passed along to Neil that to move the cameras, the piano and the rest of the set, it might take close to an hour. As long as the added 60 minutes to the half hour taping wasn't going to be a factor of concern, of course, we would do whatever would be necessary to make him feel most comfortable.
Truth be told, that extra hour gave the two of us the opportunity to talk about music, ourselves, family, and religion, thus illuminating the fantastic bond which occurred prior to the taping and, I believe, became apparent to the viewer when the interview finally was broadcast.
Sidebar: Since that interview, every December, I receive a holiday card from Neil and his family. He is quite the gentleman, indeed.