Archive for November 13th, 2006

Getting the Pictures

Since I was going to be interviewing one of our great photographers, Annie Leibovitz, on a whim I brought my little digital camera to the station on the morning we taped this show (which airs tonight at 7:30 and on Friday night at 10:30).

See a slideshow of my photos.

As I entered the building, feeling a bit frantic and nervous as usual, I was instantly calmed by the friendly greetings of security guard Lois Combs and receptionist Naty Panameno. Ever since I started doing this job, Naty has been giving me pep talks each morning, assuring me that my rampant insecurities are entirely unfounded. She also does wonderful humanitarian work, drawing in the entire KQED staff on her various projects. Lois and Naty really help set the tone for the community of us workers at the station, as well as our many visitors.

Up on the third floor, where my cubicle is, I cajoled JK Show associate producer Elizabeth Pepin to let me snap her picture. It is highly weird that Elizabeth is as reluctant as she is to be photographed, considering that (a) she's obviously very photogenic and (b) she is herself a tremendously gifted photographer and filmmaker. (Her beautiful documentary, One Woman's Story, recently had a smash premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival.) When I first auditioned for this TV-interviewing gig, Elizabeth was my "guest"; we talked about her photography, and she put me totally at ease (well, almost totally). And now we work together! (By the way, Elizabeth, if you read this: I'm totally putting together some Mountain Goats CD's to give you -- sorry it's taken me so long.)

Soon it was time for me to go into makeup. What's that, you say? Kornbluth needs makeup? To which I answer: Heck, yes! I mean, if my enormous shiny forehead weren't heavily powdered, the lights bouncing off my noggin would get so bright that viewers would have to squint fearfully at the screen. Plus, I've found that just a little eyeliner gives me a bit more Oprah-osity, not to mention making me look at least six weeks younger. And the delightful person who expertly applies this makeup is Moroccan-born, French-raised Kadidja Sallak. Show me a person who cannot be charmed by Kadidja, and I will show you an extremely inanimate object.

Now it was time to tape the interview, so I strolled into our studio and, as usual, marveled at what a great bunch of folks I get to work with here. Camera operator Harry Betancourt (pictured with happy-go-lucky floor director Randy Brase) is -- like my late father -- from the Bronx, and I kind of look up to him as a father figure on the set. Also doing their best to try -- somehow! -- to make me look good are camera operator Rick Santangelo, lighting director and camera op Jim McKee (pictured in muscle-man pose), and video wizard Eric Shackelford (pictured with video-testing graphic thingie).

AnnieI bet that all these intensely visual gentlemen were as jazzed as I was to see Annie Leibovitz walk in -- a profoundly down-to-earth person, I immediately sensed. She and I chatted as the crew got set up, and then we had the conversation you will see tonight. I was so taken with her relaxed intimacy that I apparently didn't activate my internal memory chip -- thus I don't have much of a recollection of what we actually said, just that our brief time together was immensely gratifying to me. I do know that we talked about the intensely personal photograph collection she's just published, A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005, which limns her most intimate relationships -- notably with her lover, the late Susan Sontag: very, very moving.

Josh & HelenIn the middle of our interview, we took a break to watch a "Wandering Josh" I had done in which I had a brief encounter with the great actress Helen Mirren, star of the addictive Prime Suspect series (now running on our station) and, most recently, the sly and marvelous new Stephen Frears movie, The Queen. Dame Helen was as articulate and gracious as any interviewer could dream of -- and it was a thrill to do even a short stand-up with her. (My Benevolent Webmistress also lets on that Mirren is her all-time favorite actor, so I know I'm not the only person around here who's verklempt about all this.)

Annie's SnapAs we ended the taping, Leibovitz grabbed my little camera -- which, living in hope, I had placed near where we were sitting -- and snapped a bunch of pictures of me, ending with a nice photo of the two of us. I guess it wasn't quite as glamorous as, say, Tom & Katie & little Suri, but fans of pix of near-sighted Jewish people should find much to enjoy in the image.

All in all, a picture-perfect day on the job. ...

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7 comments November 13th, 2006

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