If you’ve seen even one episode of M.A.S.H. you probably have some level of fondness for Alan Alda. Well, I’m pretty fond of him. And it grows every time I see him in something new. Scientific American Frontiers, The Aviator, and now The West Wing (one of only three running TV shows worth watching). Me and everyone else who thinks Jimmy Smits’ Santos is stiff and yucky are rooting for Vinnick to win the White House. Yes, I know a Republican Pres. is unlikely, but Alda’s character is much more intriguing and would breathe new life into a show that’s been dragging in recent years.
As much as I like to see him on screen, interviews with Alda are even better. He’s very bright and a great story teller and he presents insights and commentary that make his interviews more than just actor Q&As, but conversations with a genuinely thoughtful, engaging person.
Hear him with Terry Gross and watch the (very lengthy) interview for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Unlike Terry, the ATASF interviewer must be some kind of intern because he’s nervous and uninformed, but Alda is fascinating anyway. In the last few minutes he describes his wife:
“She’s much smarter than me. Whenever we’re at a big dinner table, no matter who’s at the table, I find her to be the most interesting person there. I hear her say things that I’ve never heard before. I find myself saying the same things over and over again but I never hear her say the same thing twice.”
Now that’s a lady to shoot for.
It’s rare to discover the guy who played your favorite sitcom personality turns out to be as great as his character.
Same goes for David Byrne, but you already know how I feel about him.
Update: Continuing on his book tour, Alan eats rice krispies treats with the slightly obnoxious Josh Kornbluth. Here he talks about what I’ve always considered the most underrated of human traits: active listening.
I'm getting better at listening. Not really listening is not really being there. When I didn't listen as well as I do now I deprived myself of an enormous amount of pleasure. Because when I listen to you, more of you comes out, and then I get the real you. And then the real me comes out. And then we get something that's way more fun between us than just exchanging information.