As you may know, near the end of each episode of Inside the Actors Studio, I ask my guest, "If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?"
This moment feels a bit like that, as I arrive for the first time at the portals of cyberspace, staring apprehensively into the void, with no deity waiting to take up the conversational slack. In De Niro's -- and Scorsese's -- famous words: "There's nobody here but me." And nothing but this ominous silence that, I'm told, I'm supposed to fill.
With what? The question is: how to fill a vacuum without being vacuous?
Where's Will Ferrell when you need him, ready to take over and be the garrulous me that seems to have an answer to everything?
At this moment, I feel as if I have the answer to nothing! Where to start? A friend said I should think of the blog as a diary, but I've never kept one, and, anyway, who gives a rat's ass what's on my mind? No blue cards here, no two weeks of preparation. Just me and...you, I guess, whoever you are.
Someone else told me, "Think stream of consciousness." Which once again assumes that there's someone out there who cares what I'm thinking, consciously, or unconsciously. I find that scary.
Since the day Inside the Actors Studio went on the air thirteen years ago, I've remained steadfastly in the shadows, determined to let the spotlight remain on each of our more than 200 guests. In the edit room, I cut myself out of the show with a machete. Inside the Actors Studio is meant to be a self-portrait -- of the guest, not me. Will Ferrell to the contrary notwithstanding, I suspect that I have less screen-time than any other television host. That's just as well: most of them are much quicker and wittier than I, with more to say. My job is to ask the question and get out of the way, as quickly as possible.
But blogs, I'm told, are about answering questions. In my book Inside Inside, which is being published October 18th, I've challenged myself to answer the same kind of questions I ask my guests, with the same kind of candor. That's why it took two years to write the book. And that's why I confessed (one of many confessions in the book) to this recurring dream:
In my twenties, I had a frequently recurring dream in which I lay in bed in my childhood bedroom on Hague Avenue. The room was exact and unmistakable. The dream always began as I woke in it, opened my eyes and didn't move. All around the bed, on straight-backed chairs, everyone I would see that day (that was a given) sat stiffly, silently, staring fixedly ahead in what appeared to be a choreographed ritual. At the foot of the bed stood one more person, who ceremoniously handed me the mask I would wear that day. Once the mask was between me and the eyes of the figure at the foot of the bed, who was manifestly the other "I," offering today's disguise, I reached up and surreptitiously slipped off the mask I was already wearing -- the one that prevented even me from ever seeing me -- and slid the day's mask into place.
A curiously hermetic nature for someone who would ultimately make a career of trying to draw others out, to the point where the French magazine Telerama described "la methode de l'omniscient doyen" as "mi-confession, mianalyse (half-confession, half-analysis)." My only defense is the one offered by the character in Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel who, when accused of not following his own advice, sniffs, "I am like the signpost that points the way to Paris without ever going there itself." So, there you have it: my first blog, my first confession. Anybody there? Anybody care? I guess we'll see, won't we. Your turn. And please be gentle: this is my first affair.