Friday, August 24, 2007

Maxed Out for Peter Max

I once read a magazine article when I was a kid, entitled, “Mr. Sinatra Has a Cold.” It was a piece written by Gay Talese about a recording session for which Frank Sinatra could not stay, due to a head cold and sore throat. I completely sympathized with that; anyone who uses voice to make a living—whether a singer, talk show host, or telemarketer—could run into rough times, sitting things out for a cold to blow over.

Famous people can get away with that kind of thing.

We had a famous guy booked for the show today.
You may have heard of him—Peter Max, the painter. Max has painted for Presidents, airlines, and an entire generation. But he’s just another mortal, and on this day, he was a tired mortal.
Peter Max missed his wake up call, and did not call in for the show.

With two minutes remaining before the segment is to begin, we frantically call the back-up number for the publicist who arranged the interview.

“Mr. Max is supposed to call us, and the segment starts in two-minutes,” I tell her.
“Well, he’s supposed to call you,” she replies.
“Yes, that’s what I said,” and respond urgently, “and he hasn’t. Do you have a number for him, please?” I ask.
“Lemme call him,” she sighs.
“Please ask him to call this number,” I answer, giving her the toll-free number into the control room.

45-seconds to go.
Peter Max is a missing Pete.

Once the BizRadio Network Orchestra has started the music for a segment, there’s no turning back. The mic is open, and the clock is running, and I cannot tell Buddy, my Producer, to just get someone else.

Peter Max is no where to be found, and the clock is ticking. A discussion on the important of Max’s artwork, the management of his branding, and his perspective on other topics of interest…all lost, for want of a wake up call.

A segment on the finer points of business in fine art is abruptly converted into a tap-dancing session on how the Bank of China is reacting to the subprime mortgage meltdown in the US, as we fill for time, Peter Max supplanted by Earl Scheib.
It’s not a pretty picture.

As soon as the segment is over, I call the publicist; her voice mail connects. I hang up, and text-message her cell phone: “Peter Max did not call BizRadio. Must move on to next guest. Sorry we missed you.”

The news break is finished, the Orchestra is intro-ing the next segment, market futures are starting to react to durable goods figures just released…and I see my cell phone light up out of the corner of my eye.

It’s a text message from the publicist, “Any way to do it quickly?”
I can’t text and talk at the same time…and my next guest is already on the line.
Three minutes into a discussion of the next-generation of Air Traffic Control systems, Peter Max calls in on a second line…

But the moment has passed, the opportunity closed.
The paint has dried.
Not exactly the same level of drama as Frank Sinatra catching a cold.
Maybe Peter Max was looking at a painting of a clock by Salvador Dali.

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