Talking Heads

James Wolcott talks about the end of a pundit show. I couldn't care one less about the specific show he discusses (I saw it, it was horrible), but his description of the inner workings of these shows is fascinating.
If you're lucky, the show tapes in NY, and you're escorted to the set.

If you're not, and the show is based in DC, you're escorted to a small room where you're directed to an uncomfortable chair and fitted with an earpiece. Often there's no monitor, so that you won't get distracted and watch yourself during the interview, and no one else in the room, only a camera that you're supposed to address as if it were a person.

You sit and wait and try not to fidget, as producers enter your earpiece to say hello, only to depart in a burp of static. Often you can hear what's being said in DC, some of it so flattering. Such as (actual instance), another guest on the segment complaining from the DC studio to the host, "Why am I always on with this guy?" Or you might be privy to the future lunch plans of the host and a political consultant as they try to coordinate their busy schedules.

Then the segment begins. You do the best you can, given that you can't see anybody and can't rely on visual cues as to when to jump in, then, since TV time goes twice as fast as real time, whoosh, it's over.

Afterwards a voice in your earpiece thanks you for appearing and you sit there waiting for a producer or techie to come in and unhook you.


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