Monday, August 30, 2010

Interviewing Dan Aykroyd - not what I expected

It looked like the one-on-one interview I was hoping to get with comedian Dan Aykroyd when he was in town for UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s campaign launch wasn’t going to happen.

But on the day of the event – this past Tuesday – I received an e-mail from Sally Szuster, the federation’s director of public & media relations, letting me know that there would be a media scrum at 6 p.m. She noted that Aykroyd would be on a tight timeline and would have to finish by 6:15.

It didn’t exactly turn out the way I expected. I made it downtown to the Carlu, where the launch was being held, in plenty of time. A reception for top donors was under way, with servers offering wine and hors d’oeuvres in the foyer of the renovated 1930s event space.

Things were running late – that part wasn’t a shock – and we were told Aykroyd would be available closer to 6:30. “We” turned out to be a small group, just me and a CTV cameraman.

I thought the scrum would be in a separate room but, instead, we were asked to wait at the end of the foyer. Aykroyd was ushered past us with a promise that he’d be brought back, and we watched him meeting and greeting and posing for pictures until Camera Guy (who had parked at a meter and was on a tight timeline himself) decided to venture into the crowd and do some filming.

I stayed close behind, not wanting to miss out on the promised scrum.

Sure enough, one of the UJA people decided that it made sense for Aykroyd to talk to us on the spot instead of returning to the less crowded far end of the foyer.

After the CTV spot was filmed, I had a chance to ask a few questions while Aykroyd was on his way from the reception to a pre-event dinner. (For the record, he didn’t eat. “No fressing before the show,” he said.)

Fortunately, I can multi-task – walk, talk, take notes, and juggle notebook and tape recorder, all at the same time.

And fortunately, Aykroyd could pick up right where he left off after each photo op and introduction.

It was probably the most fragmented interview I had ever done.

But Aykroyd was quotable and on-topic, plus he had something to say. (You can read the interview here.)

I didn’t end up using any quotes from the talk he gave later that evening. But – no big surprise here – he was very funny.

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