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.