I enjoyed my visit with Zuri Hall and Nathalie Basha on the noon time program Living Dayton to promote my new book Tail of the Dragon. I was very impressed with the production quality and the executive producer handling of Rhonda Roberts to perform their brand of a daytime news/lifestyle program on Channel 2 in Dayton every weekday from noon to 1 PM. The show is a nice mixture of national and regional news mixed with lifestyle segments dotted throughout each episode. It had a living newspaper feel that Zuri and Nathalie are the heartbeats giving it life. I had been looking for a good television program to do the kind of interview that Zuri and I did on October 9th, 2012, that captured the mood and feel of the Great Smoky Mountains as shown in my new book. Living Dayton was the perfect forum with just the right mix of news—which is my background, and personality interaction that is so common with creative arts like book and movie promotion. To see the clip from the episode of Living Dayton click on the link below which goes to the Living Dayton website, or watch the clip that I took some creative liberty with to create a video advertising Tail of the Dragon.
As I was on the set of Living Dayton watching Zuri and Nathalie work my friend Gery Deer who does a lot of work with WDTN television working closely with Executive Producer Roberts told me that the whole set had recently been redone in High Definition. The High Def upgrade gives a program like Living Dayton the color it needs in today’s market, pertinent for daytime television. Gery told me that this was the same set that used to host the Phil Donahue Show prior to moving to Chicago in the 1970’s where the famous Ayn Rand interview took place that I have exhibited at this site. It was interesting to see the set where Donahue started in a day when he built himself into a national name from this same stage. Nathalie and Zuri are on track to do something similar with their new show. Nathalie joined WDTN in January of 2012 as host/producer of “Living Dayton” a one-of-a-kind, local lifestyle talk show. Prior to joining WDTN, Nathalie was working and living in her native Los Angeles as a multi-platform host. Nathalie hosted for E! Entertainment and The Insider, and worked as a red carpet correspondent for GBK Productions and Agenda Magazine’s online entertainment site. Zuri Hall joined WDTN in December of 2011. Prior to becoming producer/host of Living Dayton, Zuri beat out hundreds in the search for the next Face of MyINDY-TV. At WNDY-TV, she represented the station in commercials, PSAs, and public appearances; covered local events, games, and concerts; and interviewed celebrities, from Grammy-award nominated rapper B.o.B. to famed Hollywood director, Rob Reiner. Only one year after having graduated from The Ohio State University on academic scholarship, she won her first Emmy in the “Outstanding Host – Talent” category. So needless to say, I was impressed with the level of talent and quality of the production.
As I was interviewing with Zuri I thought about the gradual transition that I had undergone in the last two years, from a political activist trying to make sense of an impossible situation centering on political theater that put me on TV often and gave me a lot of opportunity to do a lot of talk radio. But much to my frustration, no amount of logic injected into the debates would ever go anywhere. The political system at its core is essentially corrupt, and cannot be saved directly. Over the last couple of summers my long time friend Gery Deer had been trying to talk me into using my other creative talents to reach more people without getting pulled into the black hole of politics. And in many ways, the reason I wrote Tail of the Dragon was to take what I had learned in political activism and apply it in a story that articulated properly the very complicated news stories of our day, because out of all the interviews I had ever done, they end up lost to most people because taken as isolated issues, they are never portrayed correctly upon the tapestry of living that is quite involved, interconnected, and difficult to understand. The best vehicle for grappling with the kind of issues that I am interested in is a novel, and this is how Tail of the Dragon came to be.
Thanks to Zuri in a lot of ways, I can say that this interview was one of the most pleasant that I’ve ever had. I had several realizations during the interview that occurred at the point in discussion talking about the kind of road that the real Tail of the Dragon is, where I realized that I was stepping into a new door, professionally. Even though I had done dozens, maybe hundreds of interviews in the past on other projects and issues that I’ve attached my name to, this was the first interview that I had done over a body of work that I’ve produced designed to attack the big themes, where I could sit back and not be personally attached to the subject matter intimately. It was very nice to sit on a couch with a competent hostess and discuss themes without having to have my name on the line to succeed or fail a political issue like I experienced in my various levy campaigns—where it was my name alone that stood between antagonizing anger, and financial success. As I sat on that couch speaking with Zuri, I realized that I liked it—a lot.
I enjoyed the emotional distance being an author gives to the subject matter and this interview afforded me the proper distance I have been creatively craving for a very long time. Doing that interview with Zuri made me want to write more books so that I could give more such interviews, because the depth of the communication was so much more robust than what I’ve experienced in the past with more targeted, and more emotional issues. It was quite a pleasure to go through all the work it takes to write a novel, to get it published and go through all the production tasks, to have it culminate in an interview with Zuri Hall on a couch reflecting the past of Phil Donahue mixing with the future of these two hospitable hostesses. And when you come upon such doors, you turn the knob and go inside.
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