Friday, March 2, 2007

Behind the scenes: My interview fell asleep

By Gary Cogill

After more than 7,000 interviews with actors, directors, political candidates, book authors, chefs, any and all types of celebrities—a guest actually fell asleep during a live broadcast today on "Good Morning Texas."

Am I that bad?

Chuck Liddell, current Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title holder, was in Dallas on behalf of Warner Bros. pictures to help promote the release of "300," the new "Spartan" combat movie.

Liddell is not in the film (nor is he even associated with the film), so it was more than a stretch to even have Liddell on the show. But as a film critic, I'm more than curious, and had seen the film the day before. (For the record, it's ultra-violent and interesting.)

Liddell showed up in our green room a few minutes before the interview around 9:30 a.m. I was immediately informed that he was mumbling and not terribly coherent.

Welcome to live television.

Still, I'm confident in my ability to make a difficult conversation work.

I was wrong this time. Here's exactly what happened:

The Warner Bros. representative brought Liddell in with one of our producers. He needed a little help getting to the couch to settle in.

We were in the middle of a two-minute commercial break. I looked at him, and found he could barely communicate. Liddell looked shaky (at best) and could barely open his eyes.

"Is he ill? Does he need medicine?" I wondered.

With all these things are going through my head, I turned around and looked at co-host Brenda Teele about 20 seconds before we went live on the air and rolled my eyes, meaning: "Oh, my God; this could be difficult."

Three. Two. One.

"Welcome back everyone, he is the current UFC..."

As I introduced Chuck Liddell and asked the first question, his answers were almost too distorted to understand. I needed an interpreter.

More importantly, I'm starting to panic. "How can I end this one-way conversation?"

And then it happened.

In the middle of another question, Chuck Liddell fell asleep on the air. He closed his eyes, breathed a little sigh, and I asked him if he was OK.

He woke up quickly, and started mumbling some more answers—most of them not making any sense.

I'm no doctor, and I have certainly stayed out much too late on occasion before going to work, but this was different—and odd—and I felt a bit sorry for good ol' Chuck Liddell.

Listen: I'm not interested in beating him up over this, knowing full well he could certainly beat me up any time he likes.

It happened. It didn't make much sense. And he didn't make much sense during our sleepy little chat.

Chuck, here's an open invitation to return to "Good Morning Texas" at your earliest convenience for Round Two.

I'm interested in "300," and I'm interested in your fighting career.

Next time, get some sleep before the show.


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