January 30, 2011
(Dick Cavett onstage at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, CA this past December, at an event sponsored by Writers Bloc. Cavett’s special interview guest was Mel Brooks.)
By Terry Keefe
During the varied runs of his television talk show, Dick Cavett arguably conducted in-depth interviews better than anyone in the media before or since.
From 1968 to 1975 on ABC, and then later from 1977 to 1982 on PBS, “The Dick Cavett Show” hosted a literal who’s who of both America and the world. The guest list included Marlon Brando, Woody Allen, Groucho Marx, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Noel Coward, Salvador Dali, Mel Brooks, Katherine Hepburn, and Ingmar Bergman, to name just a few.
The show was unique in its time, but even more so today, in that the host and guest rarely engaged in stuffy Q&As designed to promote the latest project, nor was the format a non-stop quip fest. Cavett had conversations with his guests, real conversations which sometimes lasted an hour or more. If you want to see what, for example, David Bowie would have been like to speak with during the early 70s, watch his sometimes manic, often rambling, but always 100 percent authentic dialogue with Cavett.