Interviews are tough to do – for both the interviewer and the interviewee. And it’s a fact of life that sometimes the facts get a little bashed in the process. You hope, though, that when you’re being interviewed the essence of what you’re saying is respected. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Recently, both Bill Lauch and I had occasion to regret giving interviews to a writer.
It’s not that the writer got everything wrong – but he got a lot wrong. And worse still, his tone was sensationalistic – something that I’m confident in saying, would have appalled Howard.
You can’t control everything, I know. But I’m my brother’s sister, and I’m a bit of a control freak myself. That’s why we started this site in the first place. Among other things, there was a Wikipedia entry that gave Howard a different surname at birth. I had to prove that I was right and that the unseen person who kept overriding my change was wrong.
The piece that upset me is not mean spirited. In fact, I think the writer meant it as a homage. He just got so much wrong, some small things and some larger. There are descriptions that make good copy but are just off. There are events that never happened.
I don’t want to stop giving interviews and neither does Bill. But I think we’ll have to learn to be more selective in who we talk to, and more circumspect in what we say. I believe that journalists should be free to write what they know to be true. But they can’t cut corners and they can’t massage events for dramatic tension.
The internet is a great place, no doubt about that. I have been thrilled with the reception this site has gotten and the people who have found us here. Howardashman.com has done exactly what I’d hoped, it has clarified and amplified Howard’s contributions to musical theater and to the renaissance of Disney’s animated musicals. And, it has introduced Howard, as a man, to many new fans and friends.
But please, be careful what you read and be careful what you write.