Thursday, April 7, 2011

What Happened to Nat Hentoff? And George Gilder? And others?!?

While working on a cool project this winter, I began to search for significant old interviews I had conducted. Sadly, I must report that I ended up empty-handed on some very important interviews that a wiser journalist would have kept safely archived somewhere.

I interviewed legendary writer Nat Hentoff almost two decades ago for an article on pornography. He is brilliant, fearless about saying what he believes is true, so the interview had lots of great stories and comments on America's hypocritical and juvenile attitudes toward pornography. Little of it made it into the final article, and one particularly good story he told me was cut from the article by my editors, but such is the life of journalists.

Around that time, I also interviewed conservative technology futurist George Gilder and, separately, then-Senator Paul Simon (Democrat from Illinois). Gilder gave me some great ideas and expectations for what to expect from the then-new commercial internet. Simon talked about legislation regarding content of entertainment programs.

Around the turn of the century, I kicked off my weekly TVBarn column on science-fiction television by interviewing Kerry O'Quinn, co-founder and former co-publisher of Starlog and its family of magazines. (Oh, and a record producer, events producer, writer, and many other hats, this talented man has worn.) We talked about religion and science fiction, two topics about which I knew he had much to say. The sad thing about any good interview is that many good and interesting parts get "left on the cutting room floor," as they say in the film world, during the course of putting together a final article, which usually is more narrowly focused than the sometimes wider-ranging topics covered in an interview. Such was the case with my chat with Kerry.

All of those interviews – Hentoff, Gilder, Simon, O'Quinn – plus many dozens of others are gone. It's my fault; I saved the notes for a while, but eventually tossed them in one spring cleaning or another, thinking I wouldn't need them again. Now when I want them, as I work on a fun project that was unforeseen and would have been unforeseeable by me a decade or two ago, those interviews are gone. Even the very shortened published versions are gone. And I'm left kicking myself.

The project, by the way, is teased in the image above. That's all I'm saying for now. But more will be revealed on this site in a month or two.

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