Getting the Pictures

November 13th, 2006

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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Entry Filed under: tv episodes


  • 1. constance anthon  |  November 14th, 2006 at 7:40 am

    Hi Josh, Can I get a copy or transcript of your interview with Anne Liebovitz. When will the interview run again if at all?


    In Oakland

  • 2. benevolent webmistress  |  November 14th, 2006 at 4:27 pm


    You can watch Josh’s interview with Annie right here on his blog. Just check out the links at the end of this posting. I don’t believe we have the program transcribed so that’s not an option we can offer you. But you can also watch it again this Friday at 10:30pm on KQED 9. Here’s the detailed schedule page complete with email reminders.


  • 3. marianna  |  November 15th, 2006 at 11:21 am

    I came in at the middle of the show, and was wondering if Anne commented on what I can only guess was bizarro world, i.e., when she filmed Cruise and Company in Colorado. I heard they were there for a week!!!
    Did Annie mention anything about the buzz surrounding Suri looking like she was wearing a baby toupee on the cover photo????
    Just curious
    ALSO I wanted to say to Josh, I was SO IMPRESSED with his interview of Helen (it’s the first time I’ve ever tuned in to the show, I was never impressed with the clips I saw enough to tune in before)
    That interview was outstanding, she was so engaged I thought it would go on for a hour!!! Great job Josh

  • 4. Hali McGrath  |  November 17th, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    Deat Josh,

    YOU ROCK!!!!

    I’m so grateful for the show with Annie Leibovitz, she is a huge hero of mine and I thought you were the perfect interviewer.

    Thank you (and the whole team at the show) !!!!


  • 5. Josh Kornbluth  |  November 22nd, 2006 at 8:20 am

    Thanks for your kind comments!! … And no, Marianna, I didn’t ever get up the courage to ask Annie about the Suri shoot — though I kind of figured she wouldn’t be able to reveal any juicy details anyway. …

  • 6. Jackie Blumenthal  |  November 24th, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    Great picture of Dame Helen Mirren.

    She is also MY favorite actor of all time! Your webmistress and I must connect sometime to discuss this incomparable thespian master.

  • 7. Josh Kornbluth  |  November 27th, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    Hey, Jackie — glad to hear from another member of the Dame Helen Fan Club. But didn’t you think there was something weird about the last episode of Prime Suspect? Nothing to do with Mirren’s performance, which was wonderful as always — but it got so choppy, especially near the end, as if they’d actually meant to do at least one more episode but ran out of money or something. …

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