How do you describe sitting in a chair in VH1’s headquarters in Times Square being interviewed on live TV about the Razzie Awards? Surreal, insane, dumbfounding, and above all else, totally awesome.
In late December, The New York Times (seriously?) did a story on me because I was giving up my movie addiction, having seen 1,377 movies in theatres over the last four years. No, that is not a typo.
Except for anonymous Internet commenters, people seemed to enjoy the story, and I thought that was the end of my limited notoriety.
A few weeks later though, I received an e-mail from Laura Lichstein, co-executive producer of VH1’s “Big Morning Buzz Live with Carrie Keagan” (say that three times fast). She asked me if I would be interested in coming on the show to give my perspective about one of the awards shows, considering I had seen everything. Was I interested? Oh, of course. It’s VH1.
When I was in high school, VH1 was the greatest network. While my classmates were obsessing over “TRL” and the latest videos from Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync, I was into VH1’s adult contemporary selections like Natalie Merchant’s “Kind & Generous.”
The “Top 10 Video Countdown” (now expanded to 20) was my Friday afternoon. To this day, I am still mad that Alanis Morissette’s “Thank U” video debuted at five, while most videos debuted at 10 or nine. You can’t tell me that’s not bull—.
But for shows like “Top 10 Countdown,” “Pop Up Video,” “The List,” “Cover Wars,” “Behind the Music,” “VH1 Legends,” it would be an honor to appear on this network that basically was four years of my life.
I found myself at VH1’s headquarters to meet with Laura and senior producer Andrew Goldstein at 1515 Broadway in Times Square. While sitting in the lobby, I allowed myself a mini-geekout session about being at VH1. This is (possibly) the place where they ranked the countdown.
I told my story to Laura and Andrew as they came up with ways they could integrate me into the shows. I had admittedly not seen or even heard of the show until VH1’s e-mail, so they filled me in. “Big Morning Buzz” is an irreverent hour-long morning show with celebrity interviews, fun segments and the latest on pop culture. My kind of show.
Andrew and Laura seemed bemused (terrified?) by my story and the fact that I brought with me my entire 2012 list and 2012 rankings – 1 to 397.
About three weeks later, I heard back from “Big Morning Buzz,” and they wanted me to come on to talk about the Razzies which “award” the worst in cinema. Was I still interested in talking on the show? Was I? Is Natalie Merchant’s “Ophelia” an underrated gem? (The answer is yes.)
Andrew sent me a list of the nominations and asked me to reply with my thoughts. I don’t know what he expected, but if you get me talking about movies, I can’t stop, so I sent him back a term paper. I don’t know if Andrew was happy that I basically wrote the segment for him, freaked out, or both. But by Monday, we had a segment together, and I would be talking about Tyler Perry, “Twilight,” a movie called “Oogieloves” and “Battleship.” At this point, I allowed myself to tell my friends and family about my appearance. They were excited – and a little terrified – that someone, let alone a national cable network, would put me on live TV. I can’t say I blame them.
There was one part of my segment that truly scared me. “Big Morning Buzz” wanted to put my memory of these movies to the test by picking five movies from my list and asking me to describe them. Even though my memory is in the 99 percentile (I’ve been tested), 1,377 movies is a lot of movies, and some of them were very obscure. Some of them I couldn’t tell you about while I was seeing them. I spent Tuesday having my co-workers quiz me and by studying my list and making sure I remembered every movie, with a one-liner to boot. If I had studied this hard in college, I might not have been on academic probation.
Later that afternoon, Andrew e-mailed me and said due to lack of time, that part was out. Seriously? Luckily the movies he had picked to quiz me on were that not interesting. I mean, “Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg”?
The big day arrived, and I found myself on a 7:30 a.m. train to the city, ready to talk movies, but also very nervous. I can talk about movies with anyone, but on live TV? Yikes.
Everyone at VH1 put me at ease when I arrived, thanking me for coming and acting like I was doing them a favor. You’re the ones who put me on TV. I should be thanking you!
I got my hair and makeup and asked that they film me in standard, rather than high definition. (They asked me what kind of look I was going for, and I said the “Big Morning Buzz” look. I don’t know what that means either.) I met with Laura, who complimented the shirt I had picked out, saying it was very VH1. I explained it was the only clean shirt I had.
I went over my segment one last time with Andrew. A few weeks ago, I had found out that Andrew was a former writer for WWE, which instantly made him a) my new best friend and b) the coolest person in the world. It seemed like we talked more about WWE than my own segment, but it helped put me at ease. I got to watch them rehearse and met and chatted with Carrie, the host of the show.
I sat in the green room getting nervous, afraid to eat anything for fear of having to go to the bathroom on live TV. After watching a morning recap of the biggest news (Bradley Cooper had four girls in four nights in France), an interview with the star of “The Walking Dead” and a sushi chef taking forever to show his craft, they said it was my time.
I chatted with Carrie and Jason Dundas, the co-host, during the commercial break, which helped calm heightening nerves. Jason seemed intimidated by my prolific moviegoing. Who could blame him? And then the red light flashed.
Click here to see the segment unfold.
I’ll let you decide how I came across on TV and whether it was a good segment, but I had a lot of fun and I thought it came off well. My ball of nerves was for nothing as I didn’t have to go to the bathroom and I don’t think I said anything too stupid. The crew seemed to really enjoy it and Carrie and Jason both offered me compliments as we continued our debate on who we thought would win Best Picture at the Oscars. I picked “Lincoln,” Carrie picked “Argo.” Lesson learned: Morning show hosts know best. My friends and family loved the segment, and I got many likes on Facebook, which come on, is really the most important thing.
And just like that it was over, since I had an 11:20 a.m. train to catch back to Westchester. But I enjoyed my brief foray into TV, and I am glad that seeing 1,377 movies was not all for naught.
– Sam Barron