February 28, 2011

Alan Arkin aces the bedroom interview


Everyone’s heard about or remembers John and Yoko‘s bed-in for peace in which they used the occasion of their honeymoon to draw attention to the anti-war movement against Vietnam. If not, in a nutshell here’s what they did: for two weeks during their honeymoon — an event which both knew would be a huge media frenzy — they received journalists into their hotel bedroom in Amsterdam and Montreal for interviews to promote peace. In so doing they probably set the standard for the bedroom interview. At least, the deliberate bedroom interview.

To promote Alan Arkin‘s new memoir An Improvised Life, his publisher made a book trailer which features Arkin in bed as he’s awakened by the telephone ringing off the hook at the crack of dawn. When Arkin answers the phone, on the other end of the line is a morning show DJ all set to do an interview, an interview which Arkin apparently has no knowledge of scheduling. It’s a disastrous interview, the kind of thing publicists agree to (and push for) to get exposure for their books. And it’s the kind of thing that is humiliating for just about any author, much less one of Arkin’s stature — a veteran public figure who’s done a million small-time interviews but who keeps agreeing to do them because they know that’s how the game works. They’re bad enough when done well but pure torture when not. (Even though this one’s bad from the start, Arkin’s a pro so he stays on the line instead of hanging up.) Enjoy.