Yeah, you probably do. If you read GreenCine, you've certainly read about the passing of French actor Michel Serrault. But also dying, losing his battle with Leukemia was former talk-show host Tom Snyder. I had always had big problems with Snyder as an interviewer, however his influence and impact on the chat-show format and concept is indisputable. For one thing, without his 1970s The Tomorrow Show, who knows what late night would have become? The 12:30 hour became one that networks found profitable with programming that wasn't simply reruns. His show, in many ways, specifically opened the door for David Letterman to create Late Night after Tomorrow was canceled but NBC didn't want to give-up owning that time period. And, as importantly for at least a brief period of time, it allowed for the existence of Later With Bob Costas, one of the most entertaining, interesting, informative and well-researched half-hours of talk-show television in my memory. (The Later franchise was totally bastardized post-Costas, turning into just another late night comedy/talk-show, only to find a small semblance of integrity when Carson Daly took over and tried to resume the two-easy-chair conversation set-piece with Last Call. But then Daly proved to be unable to actually sustain a long interview in interesting fashion, and the show became too entertainment oriented, added a desk and a bad-joke monologue, moved to LA, and became the tripe it is now. But I digress ....)
My problem with Snyder was always hard to put my finger on, but in a way, I think it was that he always tried so hard to appear genuine that to my eyes, he never was. His huge guffaw and simple desire to appear like he and his guest were long-time friends having a simple conversation, all mixed with consistently softball questions often presented with an aggressiveness to make them seem not so, just rubbed me slightly wrong. I never saw him during the Tomorrow days (canceled in 1982, I was not 11, and so was my bedtime probably), but I did watch his post-Letterman CBS The Late Late Show from time-to-time depending on his guest.
But I'm not really interested in focusing on what I didn't like about Snyder because as an avid TV viewer, fan and student, I totally recognize that a huge part of the television landscape -- and more importantly, the nature of interviews and interviewing -- comes straight from the work he did. In fact, in my own way, I probably was influenced by and learned a lot from Snyder's style when doing interviews myself: preparing with as much knowledge as possible about the subject but without questions or a script and trying to simply start that rolling conversation ... seeing where it takes you. He also was never afraid to interview anyone, and, unlike say ... oh, I don't know ... Larry King, for example ... he was very rarely unprepared or uninterested. He would also very rarely follow-up an interesting point by completely changing the subject.
So R.I.P. Tom (and Michel). What does it mean that you and Bergman passed at roughly the same time? I don't know ... but maybe that this was a Sunday where some of the last remnants of the innovations of the cinema and television broadcasting both faded away.