I was responding to a message from a friend whose advice and feedback I highly value. As I wrote my response, it occurred to me that I was also addressing issues that had been raised by other good friends whose advice and perspective I value highly. I decided to re-post my response here so folks could get a better feel for what we're trying to accomplish.
We plan to feature everyone who sent in an application. The only issue is if we can't get the artist out of his performance persona and get to the human side of him/her, we probably won't air his interview or performance. As I said, the show is about the struggles and epiphanies that people like you and I and every other artist has dealt with in the pursuit of our art. It is my sincere hope that if we can maintain a modicum of honesty and candidness, without necessarily exposing any deep dark personal secrets, the viewing public will find ways to "connect" with that artist by recognizing the same struggles and epiphanies in their own lives. Other artists "get it", and we've had a lot of positive feedback from them. The challenge is to keep things simple enough, and focused enough, that the average person will pay attention to what's being said rather than how it looks. I know attention spans are short. I know that current thinking stipulates that entertainment comes first, or that spectacle and drama come before the real story, but I want the things our guests say to live in the hearts and minds of the viewers longer than a 5 second sound bite. Several people have told me that the show is too dense, that the interviews are too long, that things need to be broken up into smaller pieces so viewers will take the time to watch them. Fair enough, but if the interviews are any shorter, then the viewer has very little chance to see what the artist is really like as a person. The show becomes kind of a comparison of best practices rather than a window into a person driven to take up the challenge of an artist's life. If there is too much B roll or visual effects, then the viewer gets lost in the visual experience and isn't paying attention to what's being said. In both cases, we make it harder, not easier, to connect with the artist. So I've chosen this retro format because viewers in the early 60's were still fascinated with the concept of television. There weren't a lot of special effects or elaborate sets, so the viewer paid attention to what was actually going on, what the TV personalities said, and how they felt about things. Think Johnny Carson, Jackie Gleason, and Art Linkletter. We have some wiggle room to tweak this format a little bit, but if we go too far, we might as well forget the public service we're trying to provide, and just start shooting infomercials for the artists.