Inside the Pundit’s Studio

So, despite ending up on the cutting room floor, I did get a learning experience out of my appearance on “The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch” on Thursday. First of all, as to at least one way they get guests: I got the call Thursday around 10am from The Weekly Standard, which the show’s bookers had called on account of my article on scandals. The taping of the show was around 2:30-3pm. Once I agreed to do the show, they put on an assistant who ran through some pre-interview questions – which ended up being very different from the questions Deutsch asked, although in both cases they mainly walked through the 10-category framework of my article.
They initially offered to send a camera crew to me, but ended up telling me to go to a studio on Fifth Avenue in Midtown (they offered to send a car but given hiw close it was to my office I chose to walk – crosstown traffic can be terrible). The building was one of those utterly nondescript 70s-era Midtown office buildings; the studio had a front desk, a room or two for shooting, a little closet-like makeup room and a couple of waiting rooms – basically, it was set up like a small dentist’s office. I had to sit still through the makeup routine – I had never worn makeup before except on Halloween, but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t that heavy (though I made sure to wipe it all off before leaving, especially since I was headed to court after the taping).
Eventually they sent me in to the studio, which was just a couch facing a camera, with blindingly bright lights above and below on either side. If I turned to the right I could see a monitor showing me – but there was no monitor anywhere showing the host, wherever it was he was taping his part from. I was also surprised by how little direction I got – you would think that, having all but picked me out of the phone book with no idea if I had any TV experience, they would have spent more than a sentence or two with me on what to do on camera (basically just: look at the camera), but then it’s a busy show with a lot of guests. I sat and listened to Deutsch run through intros with other guests, and to the House page hotline message that he ultimately ended the show with, but basically had no idea what the rest of the show had been about or what anyone else had said before me. The whole disembodied nature of the thing lent it a decidedly unreal air – an interview by a host I couldn’t see, no clue what the rest of the show looked like, and when I was done I basically just got up and walked out with nobody giving me any further information. I would have at least thought that there would be something to sign or a cheesy little souvenir or something, or maybe someone saying farewell with an insincere assurance that I did well. But that’s TV for you, I guess.
Live and learn. Now, next time someone asks me to be on national TV…