Since 1985, I’ve done over 10,000 interviews, with notable people, not-so-notable folks, some you’ve never heard of, some downright infamous.
In most cases, I had anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes with my interview subject. Time to have a cup of coffee, make some small talk, do the interview, and sign some autographs, and say our goodbyes.
But every now and then, I would have a lot less time for the interview. In some cases, only a minute. So today, some short takes.
How would you prepare, if you were told you could interview Jay Leno, about his new children’s book — but for only exactly 90 seconds? Here’s the entire tape from 2004 — I brought my wife Hillary with me that day.
In 2011, another celebrity children’s book author — actress Julianne Moore, at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC.
In 2006, another book, another celebrity — this time, I got 26 seconds with the great former NFL quarterback Warren Moon.
And then, at the 2008 National Book Festival, former NFL running back Tiki Barber.
Also in 2008: legendary CBS newsman Daniel Schorr.
I got almost a minute and a half in 2006 with Apple co-founde Steve Wozniak.
I’ve saved my favorite short-take interview for last.
It, too, happened at a National Book Festival in Washington in 2008. As I was standing in the Media tent, looking out at the crowds, I spotted a familiar face. Actually, I saw the smile first, and recognized it — and knew I had to try to get a minute with .. Dustin Hoffman.
I hurried over to him, and said the stupidest thing anyone can ever say to a celebrity.
“Are you who I think you are?”
Luckily he was very gracious, very kind. And he agreed to a quick interview, on the condition that I talk to him like just a festival-goer, not a celebrity. That’s why he adopted a bit of a different voice. But here’s my sixty seconds with Dustin Hoffman.