A moment of the surreal with Al Roker

July/2004: Media - Late last year, I received an email from a producer at Al Roker Productions about what we do at PeeJ. Immediately, I said "Al Roker has a production company?" before finding the website for his company, and what sorts of shows they do. I had only known Al Roker as "America's weatherman" or by his hilarious one-shot cameo on the TV Guide edition of Seinfeld, where he sees Elaine reading an Al Roker TV Guide, and then hits on her. So when I was asked if I'd interview with Al for the documentary they were in the beginning stages of planning, I said yes, of course. Not only to get the message of the site out, but hey, I actually wanted to meet Al Roker too.

To be completely honest, I never would have wanted to meet Al Roker if he didn't own the production company. Sure, he was a celebrity, but I'm not into celebrity by itself. There has to be something more. The fact that Roker produces hard-hitting documentaries for CourtTV was that "something more." I was, and am still pretty impressed by the fact that he's used his weatherman celebrity and built a production company out of it. On the list of celebrities with meaningful production companies, Al Roker would have come in dead last on my "I bet that guy does!" list. No offense to him, but when you see someone only as a goofy weatherman, you can't imagine the person putting together documentaries. So I thought it would be cool to do the interview, and meet someone who actually used his celebrity for something more than telling Katie Couric if it's going to be sunny.

So I agreed to do the interview down in San Francisco, which lead to the update I did in April about "B-roll" and it's many evils. Consider this the bookend to that update. We arrive at the Hotel where the Roker people had a room set-up for the filming and interview. First off, beautiful hotel. My god. Just beautiful. I felt like I was trespassing and should be kicked off the property. So we get upstairs and the camera-people spend a lot of time setting things up, getting it perfect, the usual meticulous job that camera-people do. I can't imagine the poor spouses of these people, because they are absolutely detail-oriented. Everything gets set-up, and we do some B-roll footage of the website itself, myself at the computer, typical B(oring)-roll shots that have to be done.

Then we eat dinner and wait for The Roker, who was flying in from New York that same night. If his plane were to be delayed, no Roker, because I had to leave that same night. Thankfully his plane was not delayed and he arrived in order to do the interview right on time. Here is where the funny part, at least to me, comes in. The day prior, I got a call from the assistant producer who was in charge of the shoot. Confirming plans, etc, etc, and at the last, she mentions the "hat issue." See, on all my interviews, I wear my hat. I do this because frankly, I always wear my hat and there shouldn't be a problem with this when it comes to the media. I inform her that no, I will be wearing my hat and that I always wear my hat. This becomes key later, if my suspicions are correct.

During the interview, Roker asks me pretty much what I expected to be asked. Usual site background stuff, and then of course he started throwing in common "criticisms." You know, the "Suicide" angle (Which I have one hell of a response for), the "entrapment" angle, the "vigilante" angle, you know, the usual stuff. Easy to answer questions, since I've answered them so many times. The thing about the questions though, is that he was very grave, almost cautious about everything. Very, very serious. Not at all how I would expect Al Roker from his TV appearences. Then, out of the blue, perhaps the oddest experience of my life happens...

Al Roker asks me, very, very seriously, if I'm a nazi.

Yes, Al Roker thought I was a nazi

Not only had I never been asked that by a media source before, but it's Al Roker! Immediately I recognize that during their research, they must have stumbled across the article I mocked on my website, the one by the "Side of beef" in Kansas City where he tries to paint me as a nazi because the handle "AngryGerman" is a tribute to John Rabe, a great hero of China and history. It also explains, at least to me as I could be wrong, why the producer in charge of the story slipped in the thing about the hat. I keep my hair cut fairly short, and you can't tell, usually, if I have any under my hat. I think she wanted to see if I am a skinhead.

Immediately after being asked by Roker in a very serious tone if I'm a nazi, I start laughing. Because the idea of myself being a nazi is positively humorous to me. I'm not a nazi. I have no nazi sympathies. I do not believe in "white" (or any color) "power." I am not a skinhead. I like gay people. Etc, etc. So the idea that someone, let alone Al "TV's friendly weatherman" Roker, thinking I'm a nazi is hilarious to me. So I just blurt out the first thing that comes to my mind, which was of course... "well, you're Al Roker, and I like you, so how could I be a nazi?" I think that's a pretty damn good question. Then, remembering that I'm supposed to be somewhat professional, I switch into a serious answer which is that I'm not, I support Israel, blah blah blah. Still, my immediate response got a laugh out of Al, breaking the ice, which lead to a more relaxed atmosphere. He would later get me back by making faces at me while we were shooting some more B-roll together, causing me to laugh.

All in all, Al shot some tougher questions at me than I had expected, I handled them pretty well, and we got out of there to make my flight just in the nick of time. While doing the interview is great pubicity for Perverted-Justice and the goals and cause we espouse, the most memorable part of the media aspect of the trip, for me, will forever be the knowledge that TV's favorite Weatherman thought I am a nazi. Who apparently fights pedophiles online. I know, surreal to me too.

Life doesn't get any stranger than Al Roker asking if you're a Nazi.

Plug: Check out part of the interview in question as I represent PeeJ on Al Roker Productions presents Katie.com airing Wednesday night on CourtTV.