I've always preached that one of the keys to writing success is to obsessively compare yourself to Kenny Herzog and think about your shortcomings in comparison to his. Kenny Herzog is a guy who's been published everywhere and occasionally talks to me on twitter. He has a list of famous people he's interviewed, so let me give you my list which is much shorter than his is. I'm also including people who might not fall under the definition of famous but they're all "famous" to me.
Category One: Famous People I've Interviewed
1. Jamie Escalante-The inspiration behind Stand and Deliver for the JMU Breeze
2. Kris Humphries AKA Mr. Kim Khardashian. I was attending a summer session at the University of Minnesota when I heard from this guy I was hitching a ride to class that he had been invited to some party Kris Humphries was throwing with friends and family. Without any prior experience writing for the Minnesota school newspaper or so much as a conversation with the editors (it was 6 pm at the time), I immediately bolted to that restaraunt after class and snagged Mr. Humphries up for an interview approximately a half hour after he was selected Number 14 in the NBA draft. One of the big highlights of my career. I also was incredibly lucky that he became even more famous afterwards. More on the story is here
4. Connaitre Miller-Director of Afro-Blue, a group that rocked it out on the reality TV show The Sing Off, for the a capella blog.
5. Oren Brimer-Filmmaker for Front Page Films, Field director for the Daily Show-I was bored one day and started browsing College Humor's web pages and wanted to know who the heck all these people were that were making these comedy videos that were flooding the internet. I spent a good 45 minutes talking with Oren on the phone as an exercise in quenching my thirst for curiosity about internet filmmakers. Fortunately it wasn't a complete waste of Oren's time, because I did have some luck finding a newspaper to publish it pretty soon thereafter. Oren has since become a producer for the Pete Holmes show.
7. Jazz Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis-It was a brief interview for the NBC DC Scene blog (or "Blahg"). I interviewed him at the same time as one other reporter who had all these pointed political questions to ask him, so that was kind of squeamish. I can't remember the degree of publication at this point but there was at least a preview of it on the DC Scene Blahg
8. Ari Lewis of The Maccabeats-The Maccabeats are the biggest thing to rock the Jewish world since Matisyahu and the guy from the Beastie Boys who just died. They are an Orthodox Jewish a capella group that's been invited to the White House and the Parliament to sing. I spent a lot of time in a close-knit Orthodox Jewish commuity in Richmond where one the Maccabeats was raised. I knew his parents and siblings and seeking to write an article about the Maccabeats, I decided to go with Ari Lewis.
9. Frank Calliendo-Formerly of Mad TV and The Frank Show on TBS-This was a big deal for me at the time. I
set up the interview through his agent and first spoke to his brother on the phone. I happen to know
something interesting that was never printed because he said "off the record" so I'll have to keep that secret
10. Pullitzer Prize winning writer Dave Barry-He's here in Washington every year for a treasure hunt I participate in. I've interviewed him twice. The first interview was hastily dumped on NBC's blog 4 months after I interviewed him and the interview got aggregated by Washington City Paper in a most amusing way. The second time, he was used as a secondary source on an article for Connection newspapers on the scavenger hunt's winning team. I also bumped into him at an airport and said "Hey, you're Dave Barry, I've interviewed you twice" and he still didn't recognize me
11. American record holder and 1976 Olympic participant Matt Centrowicz Sr. and World Championships bronze medalist Matt Centrowicz Jr. (and 4th place finisher in the 2012 Olympics)-Centrowicz Junior would have been an Olympics bronze medalist if the Olympics were held in '11 instead of '12. A great article on the father-son tandem while I was on my way out the door of the Connection Newspapers, but hesitated because I didn't think it would become localized enough. I later found a place for the article at Arlingtoncounty.com. The article is currently published at Pacers New Balance
12. Seseame Street's Abby Cadaby and Gordon (Roscoe Orman) for AOL Patch in Fort Meyer-Abby Cadaby is a puppet, by the way. And she's really cute.
13. Greg Garcia, creator of My Name is Earl and Raising Hope-I'm reediting this list because I just landed an interview with Greg Garcia tomorrow for Northern Virginia Magazine. He comes from my hometown so there was a lot of impetus among the newspapers in the area I write for to get a Greg Garcia interview.
[Update: Greg Garcia was a really cool guy. I even met him at the Memorial Day Parade (it's also thanks to Garcia, that I know there's a such thing as a memorial day parade) for a photo shoot and I needed to use a phone on the fly so I could locate him in the parade. My phone went dead, so a waitress at a nearby bar (named Shani) allowed me to use the map feature on her phone and when I told her it was to locate Greg Garcia, she was really excited so I asked Greg to autograph something for her. He also told me how his show "My Name is Earl" would have ended. I'm one of the few people on the planet who knows that]
14. Sam Reich, director-in-chief of CollegeHumor and Elaine Carroll, actress-A while ago, I interviewed Oren Brimer in an effort to get to the white whale that was College Humor. I once discovered that one of his actresses and his wife was a Richmond native so I randomly e-mailed her and was put in touch relatively quickly with CollegeHumor's publicist who was superpsyched to get Elaine in her hometown newspaper. I honestly didn't think an actress like that would care but they pushed pretty hard for me to get published and I got to talk to both Reich and Carroll. Reich, the actor, I was more familiar with, was a humongous amount of fun to talk to, and he even listened to my crazy screenplay idea. I asked him how come so many different actors appear in his videos. Is his circle of friends that wide? and he said "I have a lot of sleepovers." I published the Elaine Carroll interview in the Times Dispatch of Richmond but I'm still looking for a home for the Sam Reich interview. Any takers?
15. World-Class miler David Torrence-This interview is currently in process. He's a friend of a friend and I chatted with him on Facebook a couple times. He's definitely an interesting guy and finished 5th or 6th in the last 3 World Championship/Olympic trials. He's also a national record holder in the 1000 meter run.
16. Congressman Jim Moran-Got some quotes from him for Arlington Connection when Senator Webb spoke at an Arlington Chamber of Commerce lunch and got a picture with him. I have seen him multiple times.
17. Christine O'Donnell's campaign manager-Got a secondary source from him at a Newt Gingrich rally for AOL Patch last December. I think I might have also interviewed Gingrich's campaign manager or his Virginia campaign manager. I sat at a bar with him and talked to him about what it was like to have her parodied on SNL and such too.
18. Jamey Turner, world-renowned glass harp-This person was on the Tonight Show four times and plays the saw as well as the glass harp. I can't take credit for the initial story, however. At a newsroom meeting at the Connection, one of the interns suggested writing a story on a guy at the end of King Street who played a glass harp. We didn't know much about him and we walked all the way down King Street (our office was on the other end of Old Town) and the two interns decided to break for either lunch or another story, so I asked if they still wanted to explore the story about this guy and they shrugged it off. I got a fantastic story out of it
19. Patrick Burn, location scout for films and TV shows such as House of Cards, JFK, Nixon, the Firm, J. Edgar, Bourne Identity, and National Treasure-I found Burn in a circuitous way. I was on a media list for DC and they were shooting a film that I was thinking of attending but it was last minute, so they told me to call the location manager about where they were filming that day. When I started talking to Burn, I realized he was worthy of a story.
Famous people I've interviewed that are currently looking for an outlet:
20. David Wallechinsky, world's foremost Olympic historian-In my Olympics articles, I've always referenced this guy's books and everyone else references his work. I tracked him down and he agreed to an interview. We had a highly fascinating chat and a former editor advised me that this was a national story. I went everywhere with it: The LA Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and no one bit in time. A couple people said they were interested but the news cycle was no longer timely. I started several weeks early. It was a shame, but next Olympic cycle, this guy's in.
21. Ben Relles, founder of Barely Political-When I was writing for Reel SEO (an e-magazine that writes about YouTube trends, I e-mailed their site seeking some clarification and then wound up speaking to Ben himself. I then scored an interview. Relles was the person who created the Obama girl character from the 2008 presidential election and has one of the most viewed comedy channels on YouTube including the Key of Awesome. He's currently the head of YouTube's Next Lab. The initial publication I interviewed the person for changed their mind about the demographic.
Famous people I've sort of interviewed
22. Nick Clooney-George Clooney's dad but more than that, he's a television game show host, broadcast journalist, and film historian. We had a lengthy 70-minute conversation but there's little reason to brag here because the article did not get published through my own fault.
23. Olympic gold medalist and world record holder (as of last week: congratulations Aries!) in the 110 meter Hurdles Aries Merritt. I asked him two questions on a media teleconference call that I never used for a blog but possibly other people used who were in on the call.
24. Chris Gethard-A fascinating Kaufmenesque comedian who I tracked down on twitter the morning a big piece was written about him on Cracked.com and talked to him for a good 45 minutes. I planned to write the results of the interview on the blog if he'd tweet it out, but I lost the file upon which the interview took place and this is my first time admitting it out loud. Yes, I lost the file. Chris is getting bigger now and gets a lot of coverage on Splitsider over his new book, so this would have been good. Sorry Chris. I interviewed him around the time I made the first version of the list, and I asked him how he compared himself to the other famous people I interviewed and he was very humble and said at the very bottom, I think he even put himself below country board members but I hope he seems himself higher now.
25. Chris Pratt, Parks and Recreation-I covered him when he shot here and took pictures. I asked him approximately 1 and 1/2 questions, none of which went into the article, but the pics and the story was the most important part and I got a picture in.
26. American mile record holder Alan Webb-Webb is a semi-famous person I sort of know through other people (he's a good friend of a good friend of mine) and always wanted to interview him. I used him as a tertiary source on a track meet he attended but his quote got cut from the final article. Wonder if that still counts. I later asked to interview him in 2007 when he was ranked #1. He said "sure" to an email interview but I sent him the questions too close to the world championships and he lost the championships, so he was probably not in the mood to participate
People who've rejected me for an interview (no hard feelings):
Tennis player Johnny Isner (nice guy, though. I caught him on his way out), Jake Hurwitz of College Humor (also a great guy. Just had a busy schedule), Who's Line is it Anyway's Greg Proops (a colleague of mine at DC Scene interviewed him first), Author Joel Garreau (as far as I know), the prince of Bhutan (this was at the D.C. folk life festival and I garnered interest from a local paper. I was a number of people who requested an interview with him and got turned down because he doesn't do interviews. For some inexplicable reason, NPR got to interview him, which made the whole incident kind of wierd), SNL cast member Jay Pharoah