WISE MEN TALK BECAUSE THEY HAVE
SOMETHING TO SAY ... FOOLS, BECAUSE
THEY HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING.
Plato's quote is a guide for these blogs. I leave it to the reader to decide which applies.
In more than 4 decades of broadcasting, I've interviewed Presidents, various Heads of States and celebrities ... but I have never been more intimidated than when I sat down with Andy Rooney.
I know he doesn't suffer fools ... and I was praying: Larry, please don't be a fool in this interview.
Out of all those past interviews ... Andy Rooney is clearly .. the most engaging.
Our CBS contact, Amy Ritter, was suggesting ...we would get maybe 15 ... 20 minutes tops. We ended up doing almost 40 minutes of interview, and even when the camera was off .. he was inviting .. accommodating ... to the extent that I was trying to back out of the door .. fearing that I had overstayed my invitation. He was gracious beyond any measure.
After the interview, Andy's assistant, Susan Bieber, entered and said, “you must have really liked him.” I replied, Yes .. thinking she was talking to me, but later Photographer Gary Womack said .. You missed it. She making that remark to Andy .. about you.
Outside in the hallway, Susan brought Andy's book: Years of Minutes. She said, this is a gift from Andy. I thanked and saw that it wasn't signed ... so I suggested maybe I could thank him in person and get him to sign it. Susan said, I'll get his autograph and send it to you .. he doesn't know he's giving it to you.
I did get the book and inside, Andy wrote: For Larry Conners, my best friend at KMOV. Andy Rooney. The word "best" had been crossed out ... and replaced with: "only". I couldn't help but chuckle.
There are some things that we did not discuss on video. One subject: Andy made his desk from an old walnut tree in upstate New York; he put ebony dovetails in to keep it from splitting. We also talked about how Andy finally gave up using his Underwood typewriter and adapted to a computer; he said, it is better.. because he use to be up to his knees in yellow script paper where he started and then discarded effort after effort; he likes just being able to push a delete button. I did notice that when he used the computer .. it appears to have one of the most basic early word programs ever invented ... archaic .. but for Andy .. revolutionary.
I did talk to Andy Rooney about the Writing 69th. That was the group of correspondents that wrote for Stars and Stripes during World War 2.
Andy was one of the first reporters to fly with our bombers as they flew over Germany. In covering the invasion of St. Lo, France ... Andy was honored with a Bronze Star. It was a dangerous mission as troops rushed into Normandy ... and Andy says, “I was more stupid .. than brave.”
Some other points in the interview that didn't make air: his remarks about 911 .. and our reaction --- how he's been the victim of an internet hoax --- how difficult it will be to replace him --- his remarks about Mike Wallace --- his remarks about AIDS and the 3 month suspension he faced at 60 minutes --- his kids --- some of these appear on our Web site. I hope you take time to view them .. and I welcome your comments.
Here some quotes you might enjoy from the book Andy Rooney gave me: Years of Minutes:
"What are Mike Wallace, Morley Safer, Ed Bradley and Harry Reasoner really like? Are they as nice as they seem? Well ... as I've said before .. two of them are and two of them aren't."
Dumb Letters Commentary 1982
"You may not think driveways are important, but let me give you one figure. A car parked behind another car in the driveway, with the keys removed and temporarily misplaced, is the third biggest cause of divorce in America today."
Driveways Commentary 1985
"There are more than 350,000 churches in the United States ... one church for every 400 Americans who go to church occasionally."
Church Architecture Commentary 1991
"Why is the tax on cigarettes higher than the tax on guns? Cigarettes don't kill people. Smoking them does."
Cigarette Taxes Commentary 1993
"When anyone comes up to me and says, 'Happy Birthday', I just look them in the eye, and I say, 'You must be kidding".
Birthdays Commentary 1995