Fifteen Minutes - More Or Less
Alan C. Baird
In early 2001, I was killing some time on the Zoetrope boards, when I noticed that c|net television producer Shirin Etessam had posted a message,
requesting a volunteer to be interviewed for a (now-defunct) show called News.com.
So I figured, "What the heck, send her an eMail."
Much to my surprise, she flew me up to Oakland (from L.A.), after a series of phone chats.
She even sent a driver across the bridge, to bring me into San Francisco.
Cool. I felt like a V.I.P.
I arrived in the morning, but their taping wasn't scheduled until late afternoon,
so I cruised around the city, visiting some old friends from my
Haight-Ashbury-urban-commune daze. They were very patient with my blatant attempts to show off.
Later, we shot at least 30 minutes of video down near the Pier 40 Marina.
I was a babbling idiot for most of that time, but luckily Shirin only needed
about 10 or 15 seconds from me, to plug into a much longer piece about Francis
Ford Coppola and his Zoetrope Virtual
Studio. So during the mid-February CNBC cable/satellite network
broadcast, I actually sounded like a normal human being.
Yup, thanks to Shirin's editing skills, my 29 minutes and 45 seconds of
babbling had been left on the cutting-room floor.
During the late summer of 2002, my wife Anikó received an eMail from the production staff
at Frei Dosszié (Dossier). They
had seen her interview
[English translation] in Hungary's
leading cyber-issues magazine, and wanted to tape a segment about us for an upcoming
broadcast on "Sex & Love." To them, our transatlantic courtship sounded exotic.
I had never heard of Tamás Frei, the host, but Anikó was well-acquainted with his work. He
began his career as a traveling reporter, visiting more than 100 countries, and later
became Hungary's leading war correspondent. Frei Dosszié is produced for one of the
two commercial networks in Hungary, and the program's top episodes have aired in more than
25 countries. Tamás is a two-time Hungarian Pulitzer Prize winner and one of Hungary's
most famous and respected television personalities.
Tamás certainly impressed me: he speaks four languages fluently, and has interviewed Nobel
Prize winner Nelson Mandela, Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, German Chancellor Helmut
Kohl, the Maharaja of Jaipur, computer mogul Bill Gates, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Antonio
Banderas, Sharon Stone, Danny DeVito, David Duchovny, David Copperfield, director Oliver
Stone, tenor Luciano Pavarotti, and the entire cast of Desperate Housewives... among many others.
So a foreign celebrity was visiting our home. Our interviews didn't take very long to shoot, but
we spent the next nine grueling hours with László Balassa, Frei's director of photography.
László was in charge of shooting the segment's background footage and went to extraordinary
lengths to get it. I vaguely remember him hanging outside the window of our car while taping some
roller-coaster views on the hairpin mountain curves up in Angeles Crest. He was grinning madly
and shouting, "Faster, faster!"
The segment aired in Hungary on November 4, 2002, and my Budapest in-laws had a *lot*
to talk about for the next few months.