My old roommate – and avid fan of live television history, particularly late night talk shows and game shows, is in town and he’s had a jam-packed visit thus far.
Of major note, attending Tom Brokaw’s speech at USC last Thursday was quite amazing. Mesmerizing. We were probably ten feet from him and he gave a 45 minute speech before taking questions. The speech was mostly on some of the parallels between 2008 and 1968 and how we’re all thinking the world is so horrible now, but when he broke down the major news stories that he covered that year it pales in comparison.
He also sprinkled in some nice stories, such as being the first reporter to cover Reagan at the beginning of his political career and the last to interview him at the end. “It worked out pretty good for both of us didn’t it?” Reagan said to him. We had been to the Richard Nixon Presidential Museum & Library earlier in the day, as my old roommate is a presidential buff, and it was interesting that Mr. Nixon. The history around that time would factor into Brokaw’s remarks rather heavily.
Questions for Brokaw got kind of intense. I didn’t ask any, but those that did had questions that were rather long/complex. Many were about about the issues that Brokaw sees in the U.S. now or the impact of the internet on journalism. He talked a lot about how people isolate themselves in various small groups in which they are comfortable – the result tearing apart communities and the country. Not just racism still existing in some forms, but also cultural and other such differences segregating.
I was surprised to learn that Brokaw is from small town South Dakota – his wife was from the same town. He still visits regularly and had originally left there for California at the start of his career. He lives in New York now, but his daughters went to college in California and live in San Francisco.
Afterwards, we went to late, late dinner with a friend from school who was also at the Brokaw event. We headed to a rather famous Italian place named Dan Tana’s that is known for being a major Hollywood hangout. It was very interesting – smaller than I’d expected, with “Godfather”-style mafioso interior, with big red stuffed booths and such. We ended up chatting there for a couple of hours. My old roommate heard some tales about our program and such. He also learned about the friend’s experiences working in Hollywood, where he started back when he was 18 as an intern on “The Young and the Restless” of all shows. I had the fettuccine Alfredo with chicken and it was quite divine.