Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jay Leno, The Softball Pitcher

A softball.Image via Wikipedia

If you missed Jay Leno's inaugural show in the 10 p.m. ET time slot Monday night, consider yourself lucky. I watched and I'm still trying to get his horrible "interview" of Kanye West out of my head. West, as you know by now, had stolen the spotlight from Taylor Swift the previous night on MTV's Video Music Awards and the rumor was that he would use Leno's show, on which he was performing with Jay-Z and Rihanna, to apologize.

What transpired could be used to teach college students how not to conduct an interview. In fact, I will use it in the college class I'm teaching at Belmont University here in Nashville.

Let's go to the transcript...

LENO: Welcome back, everybody. We're thrilled to have Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Kanye West here tonight. But before they perform, this really wasn't planned; we did this kind of last minute. Kanye wanted to talk, so please welcome Kanye West.

Talk about what, Jay? You're not going to tell folks about the incident the previous night? After all, not everyone was watching when Kanye took the mic from Taylor and not everyone saw the clips posted on Web site, Facebook and Twitter. Tell us why he's here, Jay.


Have a seat, my friend. First of all, let me say thank you for honoring this commitment. A lot of times, people -- things happen. They kind of back out at the last minute, or they have a publicist or someone call and say, "Oh, I'm sorry, my client's not available." So thank you for coming and doing this, in light of all the things that have been going on.

Tell me about your day. Have you had a tough day today?
Yes, Jay, he had a tough day. He was rude to a young woman on a nationally televised awards show. He interrupted her acceptance speech so that he could call attention to his own opinion about who should have won the award.

(Weak laughter.)

WEST: Yeah, it's been extremely difficult. I just -- just dealing with the fact that I hurt someone or took anything away, you know, from a talented artist or from anyone, because I only wanted to help people. My entire life, I've only wanted to give and do something that I felt was right. And I immediately knew in the situation that it was wrong, and it wasn't a spectacle or just -- you know, it's actually someone's emotions, you know, that I stepped on. And it was very -- it was just -- it was rude, period. And, you know, I'd like to be able to apologize to her in person. And I wanted to --

LENO: So when did you know you were wrong? Was it afterwards? as you were doing it? When did it strike you, "Uh-oh"? Uh-oh? Yeah, that's what he was thinking, Jay. Uh-oh.

WEST: As soon as I gave the mic back to her and she didn't keep going. (Laughter.)

This next segment is where Jay attempts to make it seem like he's grilling Kanye. He still doesn't specify what it is that Kanye's mom would be disappointed by. He can't, he's pitching softballs.

LENO: Let me ask you something. I was fortunate enough to meet your mom and talk with your mom a number of years ago. What do you think she would have said about this? Would she be disappointed in this?

Would she give you a lecture?

WEST: Yeah. You know, obviously, you know, I deal with hurt. And, you know, so many celebrities, they never take the time off. I've never taken the time off to really -- you know, just music after music and tour after tour. I'm just ashamed that my hurt caused someone else's hurt. My dream of what awards shows are supposed to be, 'cause -- and I don't try to justify it because I was just in the wrong. That's period. But I need to, after this, take some time off and just analyze how I'm going to make it through the rest of this life, how I'm going to improve. Because I am a celebrity, and that's something I have to deal with. And if there's anything I could do to help Taylor in the future or help anyone, I'd like -- you know, I want to live this thing. It's hard sometimes, so --

LENO: Thanks for coming here, and thanks for doing that. Doing what, Jay? Drilling your softballs foul even though you pitched them right over the plate? Barely mentioning Taylor's name?


You're going to sing? Give it a shot?
Yes, he's going to give it a shot, Jay. He's a tough kid. But don't be so tough on him next time, OK?

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  1. Great piece, but you forgot to market it properly....how did that go?

    "Taylor Swift Taylor Swift Taylor SWIFT!"

  2. Great point, Bill. I'm going to give it shot. ;)

  3. Agree with you on the softball nature of the interview, and yes, Jay just like Kanye made it all about Kanye. It never struck me how little they actually mentioned the wrong done to the girl or how big an ass he made of himself, just "you were a bad boy, are you aware what a bad boy you were and are you sorry for it so we can all forget it since some of us think you make great music?" Thats the whole problem with all the coverage of that incident Sunday night, all the headlines read "Kanye" this and that. People say Taylor got great press out of it, but in the end even she was overshadowed by a petty little man that was all about himself from before the show to the last "apology"