Solomon’s curse

You’ve heard the phrase “he had a face made for radio”?

Perhaps Deborah Solomon, who writes a weekly interview column for the “New York Times Magazine”, has a personality made for print.

Solomon interviewed Steve Martin at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on Monday night during a stop on the promotional tour for his new novel An Object of Beauty.

Afterward, the 92nd Street Y sent an email apology to all attendees along with a $50 ticket refund.  The email said, “We planned for a more comprehensive discussion and we, too, were disappointed with the evening.”

Steve’s new work of fiction takes place in the art world, and Solomon spent the bulk of the interview talking to him about just that.  Art.  And specific artists.

Steve is an avid art collector, and Solomon writes art criticism, so the two of them were having a bang up good time.  The problem?  The 900 people in attendance were not.

Solomon said the Y didn’t tell her what they wanted from the interview.  But any good facilitator is going to know her audience and gear her questions to their interests and motivations.

Solomon’s mistake?  She simply had the conversation with Steve that interested her.

Solomon’s reaction to the Y’s email?  “I think the Y, which is supposedly a champion of the arts, has behaved very crassly and is reinforcing the most philistine aspects of a culture that values celebrity and award shows over art.”

Maybe.   Or maybe they are respecting their audience, who buys memberships to their yearly lecture series, and will be there long after Solomon is gone.

Point of interest — when I saw Steve Martin on the 92nd Street Y calendar, I was at first anxious to attend.  But when I noted that Deborah Solomon was conducting the interview, I decided to skip it.

I saw the two appear together at the Times Center a couple of years ago.  Her interview there angered the audience in a very similar fashion.

Lesson learned.

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7 responses to “Solomon’s curse

  1. Love this post! There are two sides to every story! I would tend to trust your input because… well you’re Carla! … And because you’ve seen the interview redux at the Times Center.

  2. I adore Steve Martin and just purchased his book, the audio version, I am soooo looking forward to this weekend to read it.

  3. Solomon was there to interview him about the book, not his movies or comedy skits. I guess the audience was looking for the “Wild and Crazy Guy”. I can see both sides, but I don’t think Solomon was too much off base here. Maybe if she took a minute or two to talk about his movies and past SNL endeavors, it might held the audience.

    • I can understand that she wanted to discuss the book; I just question how deep she went into the ‘art.’ Remember, the audience was made up of Steve Martin fans, not art fans. She needed to strike a better balance.

  4. WOW!! Very interesting read. I haven’t heard of this story until now.

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