May 3, 2010

LKL 25: Brother Leader does not like couches

Posted: 03:23 PM ET

It’s Larry King Live’s 25th anniversary and we want to share with you some of our LKL memories, what it’s like to work on the program and our favorite moments of the past 25 years of history-making television.  During the next few weeks, we’ll be posting blogs from Larry’s staffers as we count down to the program’s 25th anniversary week, beginning May 31st.    

Let us know what you think and don’t forget to rate YOUR favorite moments and enter our sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles to meet Larry in person!By LKL Supervising Producer Michael Watts

When we take the show on the road, a lot of thought goes towards seemingly simple matters.  In trying to create a suitable setting for an interview, the same questions always come up.  Curtains open or shut, plants or flowers, lamp or vase, table or desk?  One question we rarely ask is: couches or chairs?  Chairs are always the furnishing of choice.  They look better on-camera, don’t fill up the shot, and allow us more flexibility during the setup.

But sometimes on a remote shoot, diplomacy trumps all other considerations. So when the Libyans wanted a couch for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s interview with Larry, we set up couches – one for Larry, one for Gadhafi.  Did it look good?  No.  Did we prefer chairs?  Yes.  But the Libyans had their reasons.  Brother Leader, as Gadhafi is referred to, usually wears loose, layered clothing that gets hung on, and sometimes doesn’t fit in, chairs.  Couches didn’t allow for the closeness in proximity we would have preferred between Larry and Gadhafi, but you pick your battles, and this wasn’t one I wanted to fight.

Once the couches were put in place, the Libyans became very particular about them.  Great care was taken to clean the couches, and we were asked not to touch them.  The Libyans themselves would only touch them with a cloth in hand.  They weren’t rude or abrasive about it, but once they were set, the couches were OFF LIMITS.

Fast-forward a few hours – far too many really.   Brother Leader was about 90 minutes late.  Now Larry’s a great guy.  Fun to work with and very tolerant of our various shortcomings, but he hates to wait.  To his credit, Larry handled Gadhafi’s tardiness well.  Finally, we’re told he’s on his way down.

A regal, booming voice fills the room: “Ladies and Gentlemen, His Excellency, the leader of the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Brother Leader Moammar Gadhafi” (or something to that effect, his accent was very strong).  I’ve produced interviews with all the former U.S. presidents, numerous world leaders, but never has one been announced before entering.  I felt like I should clap, salute, do something.    But being journalists, everyone in the room just looked at him – and he looked at the couches. 

To the side of the couches we had set up a chair for the translator.  Gadhafi looked at the couches, looked at the chair, said something to his people in Arabic, and we were then told the couches, the ones we hadn’t been able to touch for hours, were gone.  Brother Leader wanted chairs.  We moved the couches, scrambled to find chairs, adjust the lighting, and did it all in a few minutes. 

The interview went fine from there, Gadhafi made a few headlines; calling for a new nation of Israelstine, and saying the west should try to make peace with Osama bin Laden.  But the thing I’ll always remember from that day is Brother Leader does not like couches.

Filed under: LKL 25

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Cajazz76:24:8   May 3rd, 2010 4:42 pm ET

Brother Leader likes laying with the lizards since he is likened to an asp!

connie mcdougall   May 23rd, 2010 8:51 pm ET

I wanted to vote for the top 25 but, my computer won't allow it, but it has to be Michael Jackson, top 5 of all time. And I never miss a show.
Thanks for all the wonderful years of pure king entertainment.

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