My cousin Katrina Browne (director, producer & writer of Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North), Juanita Brown (co-producer of the film), and I (author of Inheriting the Trade), were interviewed live this morning by anchor Harry Smith for the “book segment” on The Early Show at the CBS studios in New York City.
Coordinating a national television interview is an amazing feat to experience. As long-time readers of this blog know, Katrina and I were originally scheduled to appear on The Early Show in late April but were “bumped” by breaking news: three hurricanes devastated parts of Virginia that day. This time everything went according to schedule.
Katrina and I made our way to New York after speaking at a screening at Yale University yesterday for teachers who teach about Africa in K-12 schools and Community Colleges. CBS flew Juanita to New York from her home in the San Francisco Bay area of California.
We left the hotel CBS arranged for us and walked to the studio. By 7:30 this morning, we had make-up applied (to make sure we don’t ‘glow’ under the bright lights, I’m told), waited in the Green Room–with Lindsay Lohan’s mother and sister and three guys who are finalists in a contest to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame at the All-Star game tomorrow night; the variety of stories on The Early Show is astounding–and met with the producer of our segment, Liz Bacelar, until they attached our microphones and escorted us quickly onto the set for the interview with Harry Smith.
The interview lasted five minutes and nine seconds, which is actually longer than we anticipated–we were told the segment would run 3 1/2 to 4 minutes. And yes, it felt TONS faster than that. What I was most pleased with is that Harry Smith read the book, watched the film, and was clearly supportive of Katrina, Juanita, and me, and our work. He said, “I cannot recommend it highly enough. The book is terrific.” He also put in a plug for the fact that the DVD of the film became available to order online TODAY (which you can do here).
We were then whisked off the set so they could get ready for the guys to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Harry stood in the hallway talking with us for five minutes until a producer actually had to interrupt our conversation to take him back onto the set. He was gracious, sincere, interested, and engaging.
A car was waiting outside to drive Juanita back to the airport to catch a flight to San Francisco. We joked with her about how often she’s flown clear across the country and back to work for five whole minutes. Pretty amazing.
We were told that roughly 3 million viewers watched the segment. Visitors to the book and film websites, as well as to this blog site, skyrocketed immediately after the broadcast. More and more people continue to learn about this project which we trust will result in a deeper conversation about that elephant in America’s living room–race–and how we can continue to find ways to reconcile from the historic damage that continues to linger and cause us pain.
Update: my cousin James offered his perspective on today’s CBS interview at his blog site–Impertinent Questions–within about two minutes of when I posted this.