Interviewers could learn from Larry King. Plus: Finding good TV; Barbara Shelley; Hank Aaron
By Gary Abernathy
Larry King’s style was easygoing, like a Biden interview
Sad news that Larry King passed away. He was CNN’s first star, and for many years his 9 p.m. nightly interview show was must-see TV.
King’s interview style was often derided by “serious” journalists for what they considered softball questions and lack of hard-edged follow-ups. A USA Today profile upon King’s death noted, “…some traditional journalists tended to dismiss him as a celebrity interviewer who didn’t ask tough questions…” Like reporters at a Joe Biden press conference?
In fact, King demonstrated that one needn’t be rude or pushy, or constantly interrupting, to draw interesting and pertinent facts from his subjects. He understood the audience was tuning in to listen to his guests, not him. King had a laid-back style, but his gift was in keeping his guests focused on the topic, always nudging them back to the subject at hand if they began to ramble.
Today, most interviewers want to show off, making sure the audience knows how smart they are and, when it comes to interviewing Republicans in particular (and especially Donald Trump or anyone connected to him), adopting a style of questioning that might as well feature a police interrogation lamp and a pair of pliers. It’s great for inducing arguments and winning praise from fellow journalists, but generally ineffective for getting useful information.
King was 87.
‘Gilmore Girls’ a great show, but Jess? Seriously?
Veering occasionally into the entertainment world…
A few weeks ago, my wife and I began binge watching “Gilmore Girls,” the early 2000s dramady about a mom and teen daughter living in small town America.
This show is surprisingly watchable. Lauren Graham and Alexis Biedel are excellent as the free-spirited mom and daughter, and Kelly Bishop and the late great Edward Hermann are perfect as the stuffy but loveable grandparents. The cast list is too long to praise sufficiently without devoting a lengthy profile to them. This is a show I always heard about but never thought I would enjoy, but it has wide appeal and is very well written.
One caveat: A character named Jess – diner owner Luke’s nephew – has entered the picture and nearly ruined the show for me. The actor playing the part, Milo Ventimiglia, is a fine performer and has gone on to stardom, most notably in “This Is Us,” but the character he plays on “Gilmore Girls” is the most unlikeable, obnoxious punk. It’s almost to the point that when Jess shows up, I want to turn the show off. To the writers and producers: Why? Why? Why?
Hopefully, Jess will occupy less screen time as the series progresses. Otherwise, an outstanding series.
Barbara Shelley died, and yes, you should know her
Barbara Shelley died a couple of weeks ago, and if you don’t know who she is you are not properly cultured. Shelley starred in numerous horror films in the 1950s and ‘60s, alternating between victim and menace, most notably for Hammer Studios, and most memorably in 1966’s “Dracula: Prince of Darkness” with the great Christopher Lee in the starring role. In that film, she was both victim and menace, but then again, isn’t that how the storyline progresses for most vampires?
She was 88. Here’s an obituary.
Hank Aaron was a great player and a class act
Finally, rest in peace, Hank Aaron. For many of us, Aaron is the real home run king, since he broke Babe Ruth’s longstanding record in 1974 without the help of steroids.
Hammerin’ Hank was not only a great athlete, but also a civil rights pioneer and a true class act. The racist atmosphere, especially in some parts of the country, in which he pursued Ruth’s record resulted in a horrible experience for him. He handled it with amazing dignity.
Aaron was 86. Here’s ESPN’s take on his life.