Ready For My Close-Up

As you’ve been reading here and here, a crew from the ABC News show 20/20 interviewed us in our neighborhood in Colorado on July 23, 2008 for part of their story on campaign finance reform and how it can hurt the Little Guy. I’m one of the little guys.

The cameraman and sound guy got here in the morning but the 20/20 producer, Patrick McMenamin, had a flight delay. He told us to drive around the neighborhood so they got me all miked up and set me to drive their enormous Suburban. Then I was told, “Talk.”

Hmmm. “Look …. a doggy! My, that tree needs trimming. Oh, I know those people!”

“Um, no, Becky. Talk about important stuff. Tell me how this all started.”

So I did. Do you know how hard it is to drive a Suburban (when you’re used to a Toyota), figure out where to go when you’ve got nowhere to go, follow the rules of the road AND talk about important stuff … all while trying not to sound stupid??

It’s HARD!

As we were driving past the house of one of the other Notorious 6, I saw she had stuck one of her No Annexation signs in her front yard so we stopped. The crew surprised me by interviewing me there on her sidewalk. No idea what I said, but they appeared interested and engaged.

Just as we were finishing, Patrick the producer drove up. He saw a camera crew in the neighborhood and figured it just might be us. So they chatted a bit with him, told him the footage they already shot, and talked about my interview. Because no one was talking about the elephant in the room, er, on the street, I added, “I was all squinty and babbly and probably sounded like an idiot.” The cameraman assured me I was none of those things and, in fact, my — and I quote — “beautiful blue eyes sparkled when I spoke.”

Of course, the cameraman had been out in the sun too long, and he knew I could be distracted by flattery, but still. I will trust him. He is the professional. We’ll see when the show airs if he lied.

Then we came back to the house and they set up the shoot in my bedroom. I still get the heebie jeebies when I think that gazillions of people will be in my bedroom. Gah. But, I had cleared my desk of the usual flotsam and lined up my writer pals’ books across the back, thinking I’d try to give them a bit of national exposure. I carefully arranged not one, but two copies of my book, An UnCivil War, right in the middle.

While I was out of the room, Patrick pulled out one of the copies and leaned it facing out, which I think might look odd. Much like propping a photograph of The Becky right in the middle of things. I laughed and left it because they’re what? Oh, yes, professionals. Besides, that was the least of my worries.

I sat at my desk and faced Patrick as he sat off camera. We talked about stuff, he made me do things over when I sounded stupid, saying, “say that again, but ….”

The sound guy said, “Got any powder? You’re shiny.”

After I powdered, I made them laugh when I said, “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr DeMille.”

The producer said, “They should make a law that you can’t sue funny people.”

I agree wholeheartedly.

We logged on to the Secretary of State’s website and I showed them my frustrations with it. They did close-ups and wide shots. They had me do all sorts of fake stuff too, which was funny …. ‘pretend you’re working on one of your books’ …. ‘pretend you’re filling out one of the Secretary of State’s forms’ ….’pretend to type.’

They didn’t seem to understand that all those things look exactly the same. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. BICHOK, we writers say.

20/20 does some stylized camerawork in their stories … lots of close-ups of papers and fingers and other such things. (Had I known this, I would have gone for a manicure.) The producer had the cameraman do this slow pan, right-to-left, then left-to-right while I stared at the camera. Made the cameraman laugh, but he did it anyway. We’ll see.

Next we went to our print shop where they taped my husband making a No Annexation sign. The cameraman wanted me to walk in “like I normally do and start chatting with Wes. You know, about the weather or something.” We both looked at him in an uber-quizzical manner because one, I don’t normally walk into the shop, nor do I plant myself at the work table unless it’s Pizza Thursday, and two, when I do come into the shop, there’s no chatting about the weather.

So that was pretty funny. And Patrick wasn’t even paying attention. He had his Blackberry going full-tilt. When the sign was finished, he reached over to touch it then looked at his finger like it was wet paint. So I made fun of him because, if he had been paying attention, he’d know it was vinyl and not wet paint on the sign. Like Wes stood there and painted a sign in 27 seconds. Sheesh.

The producer and I chatted some more while they continued to tape Wes. At a quiet moment he whispered to me, “We probably won’t use much of what we did today,” which made me give him my Exasperated Mom Sigh. He’s only 29 so it completely worked on him and he apologized for, um, doing his job, I guess.

All in all, a not-entirely-unpleasant ordeal.

The next evening we were to gather at the house of another of the Notorious 6 for a group interview. He wanted us to reminisce and talk about how this has affected us.

At about 3:00 pm I put our No Annexation signs in the front yard because before the camera and sound guy headed for the group interview, they wanted to take some shots of them. I purposely waited to put them out because I didn’t want to freak out my neighbors. It did, however, freak out my neighbors and within a few minutes they were out in force, asking, “What’s going on NOW?” Too funny.

We were only the Notorious 5 for the interview because one of our cohorts was out of town. While equipment was getting set up, we cracked open some beer and dug into the guacamole. Not knowing precisely when the cameras would be ready, I kept running to the mirror to check my teeth. Too bad I was wearing my contacts and couldn’t see up close! Everyone was glad when I quit eating chips.

A huge downpour nixed taping outside on the patio so we were in the kitchen. The producer asked the same questions of all of us with the camera on each of us in turn. From that, they would decide who they liked best to make each point. He asked our attorney some legal questions, then back to us for a more free-flowing, less structured discussion.

By then the storm was over so we went outside and he taped us eating, drinking, and chatting without sound. More of the stylized photos that 20/20 likes.

The whole thing lasted about three hours.

It was fascinating to see the process from the inside. Now we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed we come across as the mature, intelligent folks we are.

No, seriously. We are!

I don’t know how much of our interview will air on 20/20. The working title is “John Stossel’s Politically Incorrect Guide to Politics.” It could be that two days of interviews — and several more of stress — will be reduced to fourteen seconds on TV.

Obviously, all dates and times are subject to change, but tentatively, there will be a short preview on Friday, October 10, with our segment airing on Friday, October 17.

Have you ever been interviewed? How’d it go? Were you nervous? Did you say things that made you want to bite off your tongue? Did you practice ahead of time?

0 thoughts on “Ready For My Close-Up

  1. Karen C

    All the family and most friends (the smart ones, anyways) are planning to watch your 15 minutes of fame. Hope it is as long as 15 minutes! Thanks for doing your part to carry the freedom of speech banner.

  2. beckycc

    It’ll probably be closer to 15 seconds of fame, but hey, that’s long enough to hold up a banner. Isn’t it? ISN’T IT??

  3. beckycc

    George, I’m afraid your game will be boring because I would never stoop so low as to call my vindictive, litigious, nasty, vicious, spiteful, malicious, contemptible, no good horrible very bad neighbors “weenies.”

    Everyone knows they’re WEENERS.

  4. Kelly Edge

    Hi Becky,
    Found out about your story via the Gus Van Horn blog. Your story has caused me to really read up on the McCain-Feingold act, which I already suspected was a huge violation of our 1st Amendment rights. My husband and I will be watching for you on Friday night and we stand with you!

    Glad to hear you won your case, even though the laws won’t be changed.

    All the best,

    PS: Your neighbors SUCK!

  5. beckycc

    Thanks, Kelly, and you’re right …. McCain-Feingold sucks and so do those neighbors!

    I wish there was a better word than ‘neighbors’ to use for them. Every time I write or say it, I want to add, “but not my immediate neighbors who are all lovely people!”

    Can somebody give me a more descriptive word for these two people? Oh, wait, let me re-phrase ….


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