I hit the ground running on Tuesday. About 45 mins after landing in Burbank I was in Pasadena speaking on a panel to PBS publicists about how to make our tour better. It was a good exchange of ideas, and I had a great time meeting everyone. Day one began with the lovely Chef Lidia Bastianich and Yul Kwon, who was one of the guest she visits on her new wedding special. I love that she takes you into these different cultures to learn their traditions and foods. Next up was PBS Prez Paula Kerger, who is my favorite executive in the TV biz. She's honest, forthright and she tells it like it is. She is also kind, which you don't always find in network executives. We moved straight into PBS election coverage with the peeps from Frontline, Need to Know, Washington Week and PBS Newshour.
Lunch was American Experience's Bill Clinton film. Harry Thomason, David Maraniss, Barak Goodman and Mark Samels were here to talk about the Clinton legacy and scandals. Great session and so informative. Really enjoyed Thomason's story about how Clinton ended up on The Tonight Show playing the saxaphone. Henry Louis Gates was here with his series Finding Your Roots. His subject was Branford Marsalis, who didn't seem that surprised about the reveal, even though he says he didn't know a lot about his family history beyond his grandparents. There was a clip from the series involving Kevin Bacon and wife Kyra Sedgwick. Her one hope was that they weren't cousins. Turns out they are distant cousins, which was kind of funny. I was shocked by what I learned in Slavery By Another Name. I had no idea this was a part of our history, and it's disturbing how few people do know what happened in the south after slavery was supposedly abolished. It's a film you should see. Michael Fienstein was here for American Songbook II, and he did a cabaret/press conference combo. Clever and talented man, that one. The day ended with a performance by the incredible B-52s who were phenomenal.
Day two began with Frontline and The Interrupters. I was impressed by the positive changes Tio Hardiman and Ameena Matthews are making in the lives of gang members. These are people who really are on the front line. It's good we have people like them in the world. I've only seen clips from Johnny Carson: King of Late Night but I'm so in. Angie Dickinson and Drew Carey were here to talk about the man and his legacy. They had some great stories to share, and Drew credits Carson with making his, and several other comedians and actors, career. Independent Lens featured three films for Black History month. Angela Davis, Shukree Hassan Tilghman, Talib Kweli and Sharon La Cruise had through-provoking ideas and films to discuss.
OK, so for lunch the lovely Benedict Cumberbatch was here via satellite for Sherlock II, along with his co-star Laura Pulver. That man is pretty, even with blonde early Elvis hair. I'm telling you Sherlock II looks ten shades of awesome. My friends who have seen in it across the pond say it is even better than the first season. Many of the questions focused on a particular nude scene Pulver did, which is creating crazy stuff in newspapers across the pond. That's all well and good, but in May when we're going to be writing the stories none of it will matter. And there's a really good chance PBS won't even keep that scene in. Besides they were bogarting my time with Benedict, who said all the craziness is just great publicity for the show. That man is a hoot. Endeavor is new prequel to the Inspector Morse series. I think young Shaun Evans, who plays Morse is one to watch. Gillian Anderson, Douglas Booth (very easy on the eyes) and Vanessa Kirby were here to talk about Great Expectations. I'm really looking forward to seeing that one. You guys know how l love me some Charles Dickens.
Next up was the Koala. While they look cute and cuddly, they aren't. Still, I had a hard time paying attention during the session. They had a koala on the stage and he was so damn cute. Nova was here with their new show Hunting the Elements. I love it with science types get so passionate. Anna Deavere Smith killed with her performance from Let Me Down Easy. That is one talented chick. Great Performances brought in Tony Bennett for a performance and Q&A. That is still one sexy, talented man. Love, love, love him. And he's a great story teller.
It's only day two of tour and I'm already exhausted. But I won't complain much, because it was a great two days.