Friday, April 14, 2006

Warning About National Television Shows

I'm using this space to vent. This relates to book promotion, but it's about more than book promotion. It's also about having a bad day.

Okay. More than a week ago, I scheduled an interview with a client (let's call the client "Amy") on a national television show for this Saturday morning (let's call the national television show "Early Talk about Today's America"). It was exciting.

This morning, Amy was on a plane from the west coast to New York. I called the producer at the "Early Talk About Today's America" program to confirm the interview. The producer confirmed the interview but explained that the segment had been handed off to another producer. That producer would call me back.

When that producer (let's call her "Beth") called me back, she said she first wanted to confirm that Amy was bringing her dog onto the show. I said, no, Amy was not bringing her dog onto the show. Beth then asked whether I could just call Amy and let her know they needed her dog to be on the show with her. I told her -- three times, before the message sank in -- that Amy was currently on an airplane to New York without her dog, and therefore, no, there'd be no way to ask Amy to bring her dog with her to the show.

Whereupon Beth asked me to ask Amy to find them another dog who could be on tomorrow morning's live TV segment. I called Amy's husband, who didn't go along with Amy, and Amy's husband told me that he knew of no dog. Then Beth told me to find a dog. I'll quote her here, pretty exactly: "Find us a dog. We need a dog. Call shelters. Get us a dog."

I was nice. I simply told her that, with fewer than 24 hours' notice, it was unlikely that I could find a dog (and its obliging human) in New York who could come to the studio first thing in the morning. I also reminded her that we'd booked the interview more than a week ago, and no mention had been made of a dog then. I concluded with the sad message that I wasn't getting her a dog, and my client wasn't getting her a dog.

Then I hung up the phone, put my head down on my desk, and did the right thing: I started networking with every dog person I could think of. I'm a cat person, but yes, I know dog people, too. While I was calling everyone on the planet, Beth checked in to let me know that they'd found a shelter in the area that would lend them two dogs.

The host of the show will mention, at the end of the segment, that both dogs are available for adoption. That eases my conscience a little bit (the thought of "borrowing" two dogs from a shelter, stressing them out, and then returning them to the shelter to live out their final days was a highly uncool one to me, and I'm sure it would have been to Amy, too, if she'd been in the loop for any of this).

So the segment is on for tomorrow. Despite everything, the show will go on.

But I want to reinforce something that I told Amy when we booked the interview. The segment isn't confirmed, for real, until it airs. That's true of any interview you schedule, with any medium, but it's particularly true of national television show interviews.

National television show producers mean well. They're bright. They're fun. They're talented. They're creative.

But, oh! They can be flakes.

And us? We are left, staring at the cereal bowls, hoping to find a quart of milk.

Or something like that.

It's been a long, hard day.