How David Letterman managed an interview with Zelenskyy

While the executive producers of “My Next Guest With David Letterman” had previously organized intimate meetings with cultural figures such as Barack Obama, Malala Yousafzai and Cardi B, producing an in-depth talk in a Ukrainian war zone certainly wasn’t part of their repertoire before he was interviewed led by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The idea of ​​interviewing Zelenskyy originated with producer Tommy Alter and immediately sparked Letterman’s enthusiasm when EP host Tom Keaney said, “It’s the only thing I want to do.”

“I think Dave’s immediate reaction was probably prompted by the fact that this is a world event happening in real-time,” Justin Wilkes, president of EP and Imagine, told TheWrap, adding that it’s “quite early in the… war”. “He’s one of the most interesting people on the planet right now, and wouldn’t it be interesting to talk to him and see if we could actually pull this off?”

Determined to prevent a conversation with Zelenskyj, who was not readily available at this point in the conflict and had only conducted several short interviews with journalists, including Christiane Amanpour, the production team began making logistical arrangements, beginning with making contact the office of the President.

Luckily, Imagine, the production company behind My Next Guest With David Letterman, reached out to chef José Andrés, with whom they recently collaborated on the documentary We Feed People, when his nonprofit World Central Kitchen mobilized in Kyiv. Almost immediately Andrés replied that he could get a letter from Letterman to Zelenskyy’s office with the request.

“It was a very typical Dave letter that immediately, I think, caught the President’s attention very quickly, on the one hand because the President, as a former comedian, knew Dave very well and looked up to Dave, but on the other hand also understood what this platform can be .” “An opportunity to really spread his message and that of the Ukrainian people,” Wilkes said. “He reacted very quickly.”

“I think one comedian’s appeal to another comedian to have a conversation — that was kind of the heart of the matter,” Keaney added.

From there, the team worked with the President’s office to figure out how to move safely across the country and to secure the location for the interview – which took place safely underground in a Kiev metro station , where Zelenskyy had previously held talks with visiting dignitaries.

“We spent a good month just calling people and getting a feel for what the people on the ground were doing, what scenes we could shoot that felt appropriate to us, but also logistically with the large crew we had , possible, which was very small,” director and EP Michael Steed told TheWrap. “In that sense, it was quite normal to find the local crew that could work with us, but it was always clear that we were going to a place that was in the middle of a war.”

key art for "superpower"

Ahead of the team’s trip to Kiev, which required a flight to Warsaw, a drive to a small town in Poland called Przemysl, and a 14-hour train to Kiev, the producers downloaded an app that notifies users when a missile is coming . which had become commonplace for Ukrainian citizens.

“By this point, there hadn’t been a significant missile attack in Kiev for quite some time… And then there is one significant missile attack that occurs within a week of the departure date,” Wilkes said. “There was a real moment where everyone, including Dave, called to talk about safety and what we all think about it.”

Despite new obstacles and reminders of inevitable perils, the team never wavered in their decision to travel to the war zone, knowing that Zelenskyy’s commitment to the appointment remained steadfast.

“While it’s uncomfortable and unsettling, it’s nothing compared to what they’re experiencing on the ground,” Wilkes continued. “When the Ukrainian people show that level of resilience in the President’s office, then you will rise to the challenge of meeting them.”

Pope Francis Cinema for Peace

In the special, which was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special Category category, Letterman visited a local comedy club – a discovery the production team has to thank co-executive producer Razan Ghalayini to get involved with Zelenskyy’s comedy explore roots.

“This has been a very important field trip for us to actually create lightness by finding these comedians who, against great odds, sometimes have incredibly dark humor,” Keaney said. “We’ve been dying to speak to people who are involved in comedy, particularly in wartime situations.”

While the EPs admitted they weren’t sure how Zelenskyy would react to a discussion of comedy as a head of state in a war, they noted that the president “opened the door to the issues” and “indulged in moments of genuine, light-hearted ease “He pointed out the importance of keeping perspective in the midst of a horrific situation.

“He has to wrestle with it [it] in the newspaper because he’s coming from comedy, but he knows the seriousness of his situation – he’s one of those two men; He’s both,” Steed said. “To be able to capitalize on that and then have a president who has that background has really been a great and rare opportunity.”

writers strike

Brian Ashcraft is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button