Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Bill Cosby moment in the newsroom

We had a celebrity moment this morning in the newsroom, and it was a welcome high.

Metro Editor Marc Masferrer picked up the 7000 line -- our hotline extension in the newsroom -- just like we do a hundred times a day.

Suddenly, I heard his voice change. "Why, yes, Mr. Cosby! That was Wade you talked with. Let me find him!"

Cosby. As in Bill Cosby. We were like kids at Christmas gathered around Marc's desk. Sure enough, Bill Cosby had called back -- following up on a 90-minute interview he'd already had with Features Writer/Columnist Wade Tatangelo.

Actually, when Wade was finally able to give us all the details, it was far more of a wonderful conversation than a typical "star interview." It's rare that anyone of Mr. Cosby's fame spends almost two hours on the phone with a reporter. But as you will see in Wade's Buzz Worthy blog, Cosby is far from typical.

Cosby's bio credits him as star comedian, actor, author, television producer, educator, musician, activist and more at age 73. The peg for Wade's interview: Cosby's two performances Jan. 16 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota.

Wade later confided to me his own adrenalin rush, starting at about 5 a.m. when he woke with a start and realized, "I've got an interview with Bill Cosby at 8 a.m.!" Wade spent the next three hours with a bit of nervous prepping and pacing. He called the number provided by Cosby's publicist, and introduced himself.

Long pause. "It's 8:03. You're late."
A hurried apology by Wade.
"I've been waiting in this phone booth..."
And then a famous Cosby chuckle, and the conversation began.

Later, when Cosby unexpectedly called back to play Wade some John Coltrane (honest!), Marc gave us a great impression of that call. In his best Cosby voice, Marc repeated the casual exchange:

"Hi, this is Bill again. Bill Cosby. I was just talking with a nice young man, and hoped you might have a minute to track him down..."

Photojournalist Grant Jefferies captured the glee of the moment:

"Hey, you should have gotten a phone autograph!"

Whoever said we journalists are a jaded bunch?

-- Joan

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