Editorial: We do not approve

August 12, 2013

The Editors of “Back at this Table” hereby register their displeasure and dissatisfaction with the new charlierose.com.  We acknowledge that Mr. Rose has every right to monetize his content, and we do not begrudge him the minimal advertising his team has added to the videos on his site.

However, we must express our deep dismay at the ugly, inept Web 1.0 redesign his site has recently undergone.  Furthermore, we deplore the loss of Mr. Rose’s archive, which now only extends as far back as November of 2009 (Neil Young’s July 16, 2008 interview being the one perplexing exception.)

Mr. Rose’s online house is in a sad state of affairs.  We sincerely hope that he will assemble a new web team to completely upgrade his web site, and in the meanwhile we hope that the site will revert to its last iteration.

–Bureau Chiefs

P.S. We most wholeheartedly DO approve of Charlie’s taking Aaron Paul to task for wardrobe at 9:53 below:

September 16, 2011: Lisa Randall

September 20, 2011

Lisa Randall is a stone cold bitch if there ever was one.  She’s condescending, domineering, and intimidating.  She’s also a scientist.  And she’s sort of hot.

Is there any wonder she has made five appearances on the Charlie Rose Show?

In this interview, much like the others, she barely contains her contempt for Charlie’s (let’s admit it) far inferior intellect under a thin veneer of politeness.  She gently congratulates him on each of the questions she considers “good” and redefines all the questions she considers inane.  So we get stuff like this:

Conclusion: Lisa Randall really needs to knock back a cocktail or two before any future appearances on CR.  She’ll enjoy the experience way more.  Charlie will enjoy the experience WAY more.  We the viewers will be privy to television GOLD.

April 6, 2011: Is Bob Diamond the world’s most boring CEO?

April 8, 2011

By the Chicago Bureau Chief

Wednesday night’s Charlie Rose was supposed to feature celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.  I was supposed to write an article about it.  But when your beat is Charlie Rose, you go with the flow, you roll with the punches, you sop up whatever the man has to offer.

Even an interview like this one.

The Chicago Bureau Chief has made no secret of his libertarian leanings in the past, so it won’t come as much of a surprise that he rarely enjoys Charlie’s interviews with high ranking government and banking officials.  But it’s usually because of the content and the slant, the sickening, middle-of-the-road, “bi-partisan building blocks of America” drivel that we hear time and time again.  Whether you’re looking for journalism, conversation, or debate, this is not why we watch the Charlie Rose show.

But the reason that at least SOME of these interviews are palatable is because of the personalities.  Charlie, we know, is never afraid to let his real, honest personality shine.  And because of this, his guests usually let at least some of their guard down and let their true colors show.

But for that to happen, the guest needs to have a personality.  Charlie’s many corporate guests have proven to us that just because you’re a high ranking CEO, it doesn’t mean you have to be the blandest guy (or gal) around.  In fact, it’s because of Charlie that I’ve grown to appreciate the impact that a CEO’s personality can have on a corporate culture.

Which makes you wonder how Bob Diamond’s Barclay’s International has had such stunning successes.

What follows is a series of clips featuring some recent appearances by CEOs on Charlie Rose.  Some are bold, some are bland.  But none – not one – approaches the boring milquetoastosity (if I may coin a phrase) that was on display last night.

Overall Score: -7

Sartorial Analysis

Charlie looks good, he’s wearing his go-to business suit, his go-to blue/purple tie, buttoned button cuffs.  In other words, he comes to the table well aware of how bland his interviewee is going to be, and he knows that he better look plain and professional, and that even a single cuff link would outshine his guest.

P.S. My other option for today’s article was Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo talking about the upcoming Master’s.  For 22 minutes.  I chose the more thrilling of the two interviews (and I’m a golf fan).  Needless to say, Wednesday night’s was not a good episode of the Charlie Rose Show.

Cory Booker, April 5, 2011: Mayor Of The World

April 6, 2011

By the Los Angeles Bureau Chief

Cory Booker is running for Mayor of The World.

Unfortunately, Cory Booker is the Mayor of Newark.

Sure, last night on Charlie, he talked about Newark’s massive debt, about cutting “20 to 25 percent of government employees,” about raising property taxes, about the city’s “mushrooming” pension and healthcare costs.

But, my God, did he talk a lot more about “we in America,” “we as a Nation,” “we as a populous,” “my country,” “this great experiment,” “this great heterogenous nation.”  And his ultimate dream, that America “not only heals itself, but also find ways to heal the globe.”

Look.  Cory Booker is an incredibly impressive guy.  Stanford, Rhodes Scholar, Yale Law School, chose to live in a project in Newark, beat an entrenched, corrupt, machine politician after first losing to him, breezily quotes Martin Luther King, Stokely Charmichael, the Prophet Elijah and Philip Roth.  Anyone who has seen the documentary Street Fight can’t help but love him.

I just wish he would have talked about the intricacies of Newark a little more and the vagaries of “true freedom, true liberty” a little less.

Most of this is Charlie’s fault.  Our man, who appears to be fighting a major travel-induced cold, is content to let Booker go on and on about “the human family.”  Because, again, Cory Booker is an incredibly impressive guy.

But Charlie can’t afford to be impressed by his guests.  He needs to push.  To prod.  To call out.  To go deep.  To burrow down.  To follow up.

Sure, The Charlie Rose Show is mostly about people promoting things.

But the host is a journalist.

At least he should be.

Does Adam McKay have Parkinsons’?

March 18, 2011

From Dana Goodyear’s recent New Yorker article entitled “Hollywood Shadows” about the unconventional psychology of Barry Michels:

The writer-director-producer Adam McKay started seeing Michels about four years ago, around the time he opened a production company with the comedian Will Ferrell.  (They make movies and run the Web site Funny or Die.)  He soon discovered that he knew a number of other patients.  “Many’s the time I’ve gone to see him and seen someone I know in the hallway,” McKay said.  “It’s, like, ‘Wait a minute, you go to Barry?’ I’ve seen one of my colleagues here, one of my agents.  It’s like a brotherhood.”

McKay’s presenting problem was a fear of the red carpet and talk shows, which aggravated a neurological condition he has called “essential tremor.”  “My existential nightmare is ‘Charlie Rose,’ ” he told me.  The first time he went on the show, promoting “Step Brothers,” he had a panic attack and started to shake visibly.   “People are, like, ‘Oh, my God, are you all right?  Do you have Parkinson’s?’ You think no one will notice and then you read the comments online, and people are genuinely worried, or, worse, they’re making fun of you.”

Michels gave him an index card bearing the mantra “YOU ARE MARKED TO BATTLE THE FORCES OF JUDGMENT” and one with a drawing of a stick figure radiating arrows to symbolize the internal seat of authority, which McKay keeps in the visor of his car.  Michels taught him a tool called Cosmic Rage, which entailed his shouting “Fuck you!  Fuck you!  Fuck you!” in his head to a roomful of faceless critics.  (Kelli Williams, a patient of Michels’s who plays a psychiatrist on the television show “Lie to Me,” told me that when she does her version of Cosmic Rage she just pretends she’s running lines. )  After McKay finished his next movie, “The Other Guys,” he said, “I decided, I’m going to do every bit of press on this.  Fuck it.” He visualized the worst-case scenario and told himself, If I get shaky, I get shaky, who the fuck cares.  “I did Jimmy Fallon, the red carpet, all the press junkets where you’re filmed a  hundred times, and I did great with it,” he said.  “But for some fuckin’ reason ‘Charlie Rose’ got me again.”  During the show, which also featured Ferrell, he forced himself to engage in the conversation, even as he started to tremble.  He said, “I talked to Judd Apatow about it and he said, ‘That’s because you know President Clinton is watching.’ ” McKay still sees Michels once a week.

The full interviews: Step Brothers, The Other Guys



March 14, 2011

By the Chicago Bureau Chief

This is a story about Charlie Rose.  This is a story about technology.  This is a story about stories.

A Thought Experiment

Let’s imagine for a second that you are Charlie Rose.  You’re the doyen of Manhattan Society.  Why?  Because you know everybody.

You count among your friends the world’s millionaires and billionaires.  Yet you pay yourself a wage barely sufficient to maintain respectability in their circles.  You run your broadcast on a shoestring budget, and even that you have to go begging and schilling for.

You own little: a few tailored suits, an oak table – not even a pair of cuff links.  So what’s your most valuable asset (aside from your charisma)?

Thousand upon thousands of hours of filmed conversations with the greatest thinkers of the past twenty years.  You’ve invested your entire life into them.  You own the most interesting real-life stories narrated by the people who lived them.

There’s little doubt that you want – nay, deserve to convert such a coveted asset into bankable cash.  When TV was the only game in town, there was little you could do about it.  Your broadcast is hardly broad enough for widespread commercial syndication.  Plus, you’re on PBS.  The best you could do was to sell transcripts, VHS tapes, and then DVDs of your conversations.

But then the internet came around.  You’re Charlie Rose.  You’re no dope.  You’re obsessed with technology, to the point that you’re willing to sacrifice your body for a gadget.  You’re aware of every impending development, and you’ve asked all the right people what each advance means for your future.  You know, for example, that online streaming video could mean big business for a man in television.

But let’s not forget: you’re Charlie Rose.  You’re almost a public intellectual.  You’re a celebrity, but only among celebrities.  You come from humble roots in North Carolina and you yearn to cast a wider net.  Maybe it’s not the Common Man who you want to include in your discussions, but it’s sure as hell every last Good Ol’ Boy you can find.

You yearn for popular appeal.  You yearn for elitist inclusion.  Which wins out?  What do you do?

Here’s what the real Charlie Rose did:

A Chronicle of Recent Internet Technology as it Relates to Charlie Rose

January 25, 2005: Google Video is launched.  Its primitive functions offer only to searches the closed captions of various TV programs as well as the TV schedules in local markets.

April 23, 2005: The first video is uploaded to YouTube.

August 9, 2006: Charlie launches his YouTube channel with a five minute “Preview of Interview with YouTube Co-founders“.  It is a provocative move on Charlie’s part to publish this new material on YouTube two days before it airs on PBS.  Maybe.

The project of uploading episode previews, always CR’s primary YouTube strategy, continues to this day.

August 11, 2006: The full interview with YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen hits the PBS airwaves.

October 9, 2006: Google purchases YouTube.

Sometime during 2007*: Charlie Rose’s first upload of a full-length broadcast to video.google.com.  He continues uploading his archive to Google Video for the next two years, clearly feeling that he has finally found a home for his vast fortune of material.  Viewing is free to the internet public.

*video.google.com obfuscates the details such that we are unable to provide an exact date for this upload.

August 24, 2007: Through a special arrangement, Charlie Rose begins uploading full-length episodes to YouTube.  Curiously, this begins with a 1996 interview with Harry Belafonte.  The quality of the uploads is decidedly mixed, the audio consistently losing sync with the video about a quarter of the way through each broadcast.

The effort of uploading full CR episodes to YouTube seems to be abandoned just a few days later, after a total of about 10 episodes have been posted*.  No rhyme, reason, or strategic thought can be discerned in the choice of episodes for this experiment.

*The editors of BATT.com, however, do recall there being many more full interviews on YouTube at one time.

September 20, 2007: The first inter-bureau e-mail including a link to a CR interview on Google Video is sent by the Los Angeles Bureau Chief.  It announces a particularly combative interview that Charlie conducted with Francis Ford Coppola in 1994.

January 14, 2009: Google Video announces that within a matter of months it will no longer allow user uploads.

We Know Not When: charlierose.com launches.  It includes embedded video clips.

July 7, 2009: The first inter-bureau e-mail to include a direct link to charlierose.com is sent by the New York Bureau Chief announcing an interview with Guillermo Del Toro.  It is hosted by Google Video.

July 21, 2009: Charlie interviews the stunningly obnoxious-yet-entertaining Chris Anderson (the WIRED Mag guy, not the other one).  During their boisterous conversation, Charlie laments his ability to monetize his media holdings.

July 31, 2009: Charlie Rose’s final upload to video.google.com

August 1, 2009 – a few weeks later: Charlie Rose goes silent on the internet, Google Video’s 7-month warning proving insufficient notice for his staff to locate a new server*.  The blogosphere bemoans the loss.

*We suspect it was insufficiently personal as well: would it have killed Sergei to call Charlie personally?  Even a text would have been helpful.

August 3, 2009: Charlie interviews Jason Kilar, CEO of hulu.com.  He mentions that Hulu has approached the CRS about being included on the site.

Sometime in August 2009: charlierose.com adopts Flowplayer for video streaming.  Flowplayer, a technology that had just gone public in March of ’09, is a free, open-source software which allows streaming of videos hosted by the client*.  It is also used by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Internet Movie Archive, and Spunkvideo.com.

August 21, 2009: The first inter-bureau e-mail to include a link to a charlierose.com interview with the flowplayer technology is sent by the Los Angeles Bureau Chief announcing a new interview with BATT favorite Quentin Tarantino.

January 3, 2011: Charlie interviews David Carr, technology writer for the New York Times, about technological developments to come in 2011.  Charlie publicly states that one of his technology goals is to create a forum to “continue the conversation” beyond the walls of his studio.

January 7, 2011: is born, a web forum dedicated to continuing Charlie’s conversations where he left off.  It is the passion project of three geographically scattered Bureau Chiefs with a penchant for e-mailing one another links to Charlie Rose episodes.

February 25, 2011: hulu.com begins offering regularly broadcast Charlie Rose episodes.  Each episode is preceded by a commercial.  Commercial-free episodes are still available on charlierose.com.  The future is uncertain.


In the end, this was a story about love.  About Charlie’s love for technology and for his audience.  About our love for Charlie.  And like so many love stories, it’s not clean or clear-cut.  In fact, it’s a total mess.

In addition to charlierose.com, Google Video, YouTube, and hulu, there’s a gaggle of secondary hosting sites all over the world that now hold CR broadcasts.  There’s also the fact that Google Video crapped out before Charlie could get around to uploading all of his old videos, and that Mr. Rose (or Ms. Vega) seems to have no interest in finishing the job.

Like all great love stories though, this one lives on happily ever after, day after day, as we all bask in Charlie’s grace.  Because honestly, he never even had to upload that first YouTube video in the first place.


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