Posted May 24, 2007
Well, I just interviewed Andy Griffith. That's a real treat for a few reasons -- I'm a lifelong fan, and it's very rare for him to grant interviews.
It's the second time I've interviewed him. I was a radio reporter when he visited Raleigh in 2003 at the dediction of the Andy and Opie statue at Pullen Park. Today's interview was to promote his new movie, "Waitress," which debuts tomorrow at select theatres.
It was one of those satellite interviews. We had a terrible delay, unfortunately, and we talked over each other at the beginning. It happens. Satellites beat everything.
Here's how these satellite tours work: The guest sits in a studio for hours and conducts a series of five-minute interviews with stations all across the country. So, we got only five minutes between the Fox station in Detroit and the NBCstation in Minneapolis.
We talked about the new film, "Waitress." I also asked him about "A Face in the Crowd," the 1957 film in which Griffith made his film debut. If you've never seen it, I highly recommend it. It's a withering early look at the media's role in shaping ("manipulating" may have the better connotation) public opinion. He plays Lonesome Rhodes, a country comedian who emerges into full monsterhood. It's an intense performance. You've never seen Andy Griffith like this before -- a raging, angry megalomaniac.
I could interview him all afternoon, but I had to winnow down the list of questions. I was able to get through most of them. I really wanted to know if he still watches reruns of "The Andy Griffith Show" (he does) and what his favorite episodes were ("Barney's First Car" and "Barney and the Choir"). Griffith clearly credits Don Knotts with much of the show's success, and he grants that the show changed when Knotts left. The show also switched to color, and Griffith says it was like a different show. Don't feel bad -- he prefers the black-and-white episodes, too.
As a native North Carolinian, "The Andy Griffith Show" resonates with me. The mannerisms of the characters, their quirks, their throwaway phrases ("Act like somebody!"), the outlook on life, the gossiping -- it's almost pitch-perfect with reality of small-town life in the South. The plots may demand the concessions of a sitcom, but the atmosphere of the show rings true.