Monday, October 25, 2010

A Point in the War on Celebrity Interviews

Dear Philip Roth,

Bravo!  I just read the "Out to Lunch" piece on you in November's Vanity Fair.  Good job on flummoxing John Heilpern, the writer of the piece:
Philip Roth met me at the restaurant of his choice, the West Street Grill, overlooking the Green in Litchfield, about 20 minutes' drive from his home in Connecticut.  The famously private novelist had made an eccentric condition of our meeting, however.  I was not to mention what he ate for lunch.
Not that he ordered anything unusual.  (And the popular restaurant is conventional enough.) But, still... This was the lunch that dare not speak its menu. 
I suppose Heilpern thought it an "eccentric" request because after all, the column is called "Out to Lunch," and you're going out to lunch, so why not set the scene and give a little insight into what the interview subject likes to eat?

Personally, I don't know how you felt, but I'm going to hope you feel the same way I do:  It's stupid.  I hate those celebrity interviews that always take place over a meal and mention that some famous actress had a hearty appetite and dug into a steak.  Or that a writer nibbled on a salad.  Who cares?  It's not setting the scene--it's giving the reader another way to judge the interviewee, and we could use a little less of that in our celebrity-focused society.

Hopefully you're setting a precedent for everyone else.  I'm not holding my breath, but at least this was a breath of fresh air.

Thanks so much!
Your pal,

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