With John Donvan it is a trifecta: friend, colleague and neighbor. We worked together at ABC News, where he his body of work as a correspondent is prolific, especially for "Nightline" in its most seismic years with Ted Koppel in the anchor chair. Our friendship endures. He lives not much more than a couple of blocks away in Georgetown. He's a good neighbor. He's a lovely writer and a pro storyteller, too. When it seemed right to do a Q&A Cafe with me for the publication of "Innocent Spouse" he was my first choice for turning the tables, and happily he accepted.
But for this Q&A, John is the guest, to talk about all his many roles in life but in particular to focus on his book about Autism, In A Different Key, written with Caren Zucker. We taped it at The George Town Club in March 2016.
I can't say this January 2008 Q&A Cafe was one of Robert Novak's last interviews, but it was in the prime of his last year before being diagnosed with brain cancer, which would claim him in August 2009. He was conservative, controversial, thoughtful, difficult, interesting and a force in Washington for years, especially during the time partnered with Rowland Evans writing their syndicated column and newsletter, the Evans-Novak Political Report. He was a regular on TV. He played a significant role in the Valerie Plame affair, and that's discussed in this interview. (Note: Plame also appeared at The Q&A Cafe)
There is an interesting, if harrowing, story behind my interview with Kojo Nnamdi, the iconic host of his own DC-centric talk show on WAMU/PBS public radio. The Q&A Cafe interview that is linked to here was a second try, because our first attempt, taped at The Georgetown Ritz-Carlton, ended abruptly in near disaster. Just as we started to roll tape the heat of the TV lights unleashed the sprinkler system, which gushed with such force it started knocked equipment onto the stage where we were doing the interview! Everyone ran for the doors. Kojo and I sat still in shock. There was damage to the room but fortunately no people were hurt. We were not invited back by the Ritz and founded our new home at The George Town Club, where this interview at last happened. Kojo is terrific. Enjoy it.
While The Q&A Cafe was at Nathans, we taped one show a week. That was the standard until Nathans closed and we moved to the Ritz Carlton Georgetown and started doing the show on a monthly basis. This is one of the Nathans shows, taped in January 2008. The guest is Connie Schultz, who may be known as a "Senate wife" (wondering in '17 if that term still exists?) -- married to Sen. Sherrod Brown -- but especially in Ohio and beyond, and here as well, she is better known as an acclaimed syndicated columnist, and that was the reason for this fun and interesting conversation. While with The Cleveland Plain Dealer she won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Connie is also an author, including ... and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man.
The timing for this April '08 interview with Washington Post editor Leonard Downie Jr was quite timely -- the Post had just enjoyed its most recent experience with winning Pulitzers! It was a victory lap Downie and also teeing up his retirement from the paper. It also was a taping of the show where we attempted a very lame version of signage. #fail. Its cute to see the little sign, though. We were always such a homemade interview show, very much in the mode of Wayne's World. Proud of that, actually. Grand was not my goal, only a good conversation in a bar.
A rare reverse view of the set, showing the other end of the room. We did the show once a week and taped at lunchtime, and thus had to pull blackout shades down on the windows that faced M Street.
WITH TUCKER CARLSON AFTER OUR INTERVIEW IN NATHANS BACK ROOM.
We're back from a week off and ready to resume daily postings from The Q&A Cafe archives. Our last series was chef interviews. Now we'll switch to media interviews. There have been so many and going back to the start of the program, even before it was on TV, which is why, sadly, my interviews with Art Buchwald, Tom Brokaw, Tim Russert, and Christopher Hitchens are not recorded. I have an audio recording of Tim, but that is all. Nonetheless, there's a trove of interviews with broadcast anchors and print journalists.
Tucker Carlson appeared soon after the show started to be televised on NewsChannel 8 and DC Cable. This was long before his FoxNews career. In fact, he was working for MSNBC at the NBC studio on Nebraska Avenue, which is where the interview started. He'd just come off being a contestant on Dancing With the Stars, and he gave us the behind the scenes scoop.
We talked politics, too, of course. It was 2008. A lot going on.
It was May and we were freezing! I love this pic from my Q&A Cafe interview with Patrick O'Connell, founder, chef and owner of The Inn at Little Washington. We go so far back that Patrick once confessed he sat behind my older sister, Susan, in high school in Camp Springs, MD. The journey of life brought us together years later and a lasting friendship formed. Patrick and his then-partner Rinehardt Lynch were the witnesses when Howard Joynt and I married in Upperville, VA, and both are godparents to our son, Spencer. It goes on and on, but most of all I am a devoted fan of the culinary haven he created in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and his charm and integrity. It was a delight to have him be my guest at a special Q&A Cafe taping, at Tudor Place Museum House in Georgetown. It was to have been a warm and sunny May day, but like any spring day it surprised us with a last blast of wintry wind and rain. We persevered and had a marvelous conversation. I hope you'll find it warms you.
Book a seat today for our first Q&A Cafe of 2016 -- a conversation with two Washington media scions, Washingtonian publisher Cathy Merrill Williams and Graham Holdings board member and former Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth. They are friends, too. The date is Thursday, January 28. We'll tape at lunchtime, with seating at 11:45. The fee is $35 and lunch is served. For reservations please call the George Town Club directly: 202-333-9330.
When I booked Ron Kessler for the first show of the new season of The Q&A Cafe it was for his expertise on the U.S. Secret Service. I wanted to talk about the "Secret Service in campaign mode" as we embark on the 2016 campaign in earnest. He has written a number of books about the USSS, and the FBI, and the CIA. That was a couple of months ago. In the interim, Donald Trump has entered the campaign picture in a big way, and Kessler also claims expertise on Trump. He wrote a piece for The Washington Times, "The Real Donald Trump," based on his relationship with the Republican nominee wannabe.
So, we will talk about Trump -- because he has dominated the political landscape this summer-- and we will also talk about the Secret Service, when Ron joins us at lunchtime on Friday, September 25, at the George Town Club. It should be lively because Kessler, like Trump, is not shy about stirring it up. He is controversial, and often criticized, but he also breaks a lot of stories. We first met when he was an investigative reporter for The Washington Post, which he left to pursue book writing.
Please make your reservations early for this Q&A Cafe, the first of our 14th season. To do so, phone Austin Mason at 202-333-9330 or send an email to GTC Reservations. The fee is $35 for the lunch, all inclusive. Seating begins at noon, the program at 12:30.
Please make a reservation today for this evening's Q&A Cafe -- a look at professional sports, DC and beyond, with the hosts of ESPN 980's "The Sports Fix," Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan. We'll discuss the Nats, the Wizards, the Caps, the Redskins, DC United, but also Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Alex Rodriquez ... and more.
It's a special late afternoon-early evening taping. Seating will begin at 4:30 at The George Town Club, Wisconsin Ave and Volta, and we'll start the show by 5. They plan to have cocktails and a keg, mini hot dogs, hamburgers and lobster rolls, for a fee of $25 all inclusive. Stick around after to watch the last innings of the Nationals game on the TVs in the GTC's pub.
For reservations please call 202-333-9330. Or email GTC Reservations. All are welcome.
Coming Thursday July 16 at lunchtime, "Primates of Park Avenue" author Wednesday Martin.
I'm pleased to announce that on Thursday, May 21, we will celebrate the publication of Chef Patrick O'Connell's new book, The Inn at Little Washington, with a Q&A Cafe at Tudor Place Historic House and Garden in Georgetown. This is a different location for the show -- typically we're at The George Town Club -- but it will be an otherwise routine Q&A in that there will be a long, good interview, a seated lunch and good food (from Susan Gage Caterers).
Seating will begin at noon and the program at approximately 12:30. The fee for the interview and lunch is $60 per person. For all that plus the book it is $115. Reservations are made directly with Tudor Place at 202-580-7323.
This will be so much fun. Don't miss it. Also, in April, a Q&A with Chef Daniel Boulud. We're gonna be on a spring brilliant chef binge.
Chef Daniel Boulud, a culinary force in the U.S. and cities throughout the world, including Washington with DBGB Kitchen + Bar, is our guest at The Q&A Cafe tomorrow, April 24. It will be a lunchtime taping of the show at the George Town Club, with seating beginning at 12:30 and the program at 1pm, with lunch included. The fee is $35, all inclusive. For reservations, please call 202-333-9330 or email GTC Reservatoins This is later than our usual start time.
For more on this remarkable man, please visit the Daniel Boulud website.
Coming in May to The Q&A Cafe, another great chef, Patrick O'Connell. Details here.
How did legal weed happen in DC and who was instrumental in making it happen? Easy answer: Adam Eidinger. He will be our guest at the George Town Club this evening at 5pm. Join us.
Adam, with the DC Cannabis Campaign, was the force behind Initiative 71. He has quite a story to tell, dating back to when he co-owned Capitol Hemp, a head shop that was famously raided and closed by DC Police. This Washington Post story gives some good background: A Protester Looks at 40.
Adam is an activist, an organizer, a community leader, and runs a communications company, Mintwood Media Collective. He's somebody you'll want to meet and hear more about, as he accomplished something quite remarkable in the nation's capital.
Again, the all-inclusive fee of $25 will include two cocktails plus food. For reservations please call the GTC at 202-333-9330, or reserve by email. You will be asked to confirm with a credit card. Seating will begin at 4:30, we'll do the interview at 5pm. The address is 1530 Wisconsin Avenue at the corner of Volta.
All are welcome.
Check out these stories:
Dan Rather came to Washington today to tape The Q&A Cafe and it was a sell-out show at The George Town Club. It will air next Friday on DCN Channel 16. We talked presidents, Civil Rights, CIA, journalism, television, CBS News and, especially, the questions Robert Redford asked as the actor prepared to portray Dan in the upcoming film, "Truth," which just finished filming in Australia.
As if an hour with Dan wasn't treat enough, Greg Menna of District Doughnuts brought a buffet of his treats for all to share. He's looking for a Georgetown location for expansion of his delicious business. Wouldn't you like to have fresh doughtnuts on your street? I would, if they are District Doughnuts.
Marion Barry Jr., who died last night at the age of 78, appeared on The Q&A Cafe twice, the first time long before the program was recorded and aired on cable TV. The second interview, above, occurred in September of 2012. He was very candid, engaging, and amusing, and its worth a watch. We covered a lot of territory. First, though, please read this review of the Barry interview and my remembrance on New York Social Diary
Chuck Todd, host of NBC's Meet the Press, will be the guest at The Q&A Cafe on Friday, December 19. (Consider this my holiday gift to you, fair readers and audience members). Do I need to say there will be a lot ot discuss? Nah. You know there will, including his new book, The Stranger, about President Obama. I would like to say we'll have books for sale, but I don't know at this point if we will, so please buy it in advance, bring it, and I'm sure he'll be happy to sign.
The location is The George Town Club on Wisconsin Avenue at Volta. Seating begins at noon, the program begins soon after 12:15. Lunch is served. The all-inclusive price is $35. For reservations please call the club at 202-333-9330 or email to GTC Reservations.
Chuck first appeared on The Q&A Cafe in 2008, when he was a relatively new on-air political correspondent.
We still have some seats available for the Redskins Bruce Allen next Tuesday, Nov. 18. Please join us. Dan Rather, alas, is currently sold out. We hope soon to announce a date for DC's new mayor.
We taped this interview with Greg Valliere on October 17 at the George Town Club. Our next show is Friday, November 7, with Dan Rather. After that, November 18, the guest is Redskins president Bruce Allen. So much to talk about, and we make enough time at The Q&A Cafe. Join us. 202.333.9330.
DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier appeared on The Q&A Cafe on Friday, September 26, to discuss the job, how its going, how she deals with stress, and, with a new mayor on the horizon, the future. Also body cameras and much more. Our next show is this Friday, October 17, looking at the mid-term elections.
I'm pleased to announce that MPD Police Chief Cathy Lanier will be the guest at The Q&A Cafe on Thursday, September 18. Lanier last appeared several years ago, not long after she was appointed to the job by Mayor Adrian Fenty, and she was a popular and engaging guest. That's to be expected.
Lanier was reappointed by Fenty' successor, Mayor Vincent Gray. What will happen with Muriel Bowser? Will DC's next mayor prevail on Lanier to stay in the job or will Lanier seek another role in her professional life? At one point there was speculation she would run for mayor, but she put that down rather fast. Lanier would be the first to tell you she's a cop's cop.
The Q&A Cafe tapes at The George Town Club during lunch. The fee is $35, all inclusive of food and soft beverages. Seating begins at noon, the program starts soon after and we are usually done by 1:15. For reservations: 202-333-9330.
October 17 the program focuses on the mid-term elections and the economy with guest Gregory Valliere, the chief politcal strategist for the Potomac Research Group.
We have other interesting guests in the pipeline and we will announce them as soon as they are confirmed.
Thank you to Thom Loverro, left, and Kevin Sheehan, right, hosts of ESPN's The Sports Fix, for taking the time yesterday to do an interview with me for The Q&A Cafe. As expected, it was a lively and amusing discussion about DC sports, with the greatest amount of time spent on the Washington football team and its name controversy, less time on the Nationals baseball team and some quick hits on the Wizards, the Caps and Johnny "Johnny Football" Manziel, as well as some other famous names.
We had a good turn-out, and I just want to say here -- when the Q&A tapings resume in September, if you haven't been, do try out our new venue at the George Town Club. If you were a fan of Nathans, you will like the clubby barroom where we tape the interview. It's intimate and the price is right: $35, all inclusive.
What did Thom and Kevin have to say about the subjects discussed? A lot. You'll get your chance to watch them when the program airs Friday, June 27, on DCN, channel 16 on Comcast. A week after that it will be on YouTube and I will post it here.
In the meantime, tune in to Kevin and Thom's show, which is broadcast live daily from noon to 2pm on 980AM and also streamed online.
I'm very happy to announce that author, columnist and raconteur Julia Reed is coming to town on May 21 for an appearance at The Q&A Cafe. Her resume is a road map of cultural markers, from Vogue to Garden and Gun, with The New York Times along the way. If you love good writing, if you love the south, if you love food, you will want to be at this program. She's a southerner who tried New York but who now camps in New Orleans.
Julia was last in town as the featured attraction at the Washington Winter Show. During that visit she did this interview about her book, But Mama Always Put Vodka In The Sangria, for Washingtonian. As you'll see she has a strong connection to Washington.
The Q&A with Julia is on Wednesday, May 21, at The George Town Club. Seating begins at noon. Lunch is served. The all inclusive fee is $35. For reservations please call the club directly at 202.333.9330. The address is 1530 Wisconsin Avenue, at the corner of Volta.
The Q&A Cafe was born in a saloon, Nathans, in 2001 and today it returned -- if not exactly to a saloon at least to a conversation at a bar. We taped the show at The George Town Club, with guest Kojo Nnamdi, and it went beautifully. We sat on barstools and talked; a talk show in a bar. The audience in particular were happy and said it reminded them of Nathans. There will be more soon. Stay tuned. Also, check out the show, next Friday night at 8pm on Comcast channel 16. When it's up on YouTube I'll post the link here on the site.
It was an explosive situation at The Q&A Cafe today, literally, when ten minutes into my interview with Kojo Nnamdi there was a dramatic fury of water and light. Since my eyes were directed at Kojo I did not see precisely what happened, but first there was a watery sound, and then some hissing steam, and then the sprinkler exploded, knocking over one of the lights, which came flying toward the stage. It was all in a matter of seconds. The sprinkler appeared to fall out of the ceiling, leaving a gusher. Photographer Ben Droz, who was there, got these photos.
It all began smoothly enough. Kojo and I talked about his recent journey to Ethiopia and had moved on to discuss his own personal life journey, from Guyana to Canada to New York and to Washington, when BOOM.
Everyone remained relatively calm, but we evacuated the bar of the Ritz Carlton as alarms went off. The biggest issue was the water spraying down on the room. There was a scramble to protect cameras, smartphones, and other items in the path of the deluge. Thankfully, no one was injured.
The Fire Department came by but did not stay. The audience, including the Argentine ambassador and her husband, adjourned to the lobby, where one of the mangers, Heather Foster, passed out the cupcakes donated by Georgetown Cupcake. So, there was that. But they were planning to also serve a nice charcuterie platter, as this was a rare later afternoon Q&A (timed to meet Kojo's broadcasting schedule).
Kojo, near the trajectory of the falling light, remained relaxed. I jumped off the stage. Water poured out of the ceiling onto the liquor bottles, the bar and the floor. I remained at the hotel for an hour after the incident, and stepped back into the bar when they were cleaning up. It seemed only the ceiling was damaged in the area of the sprinklers. The TV may have got some water damage. Otherwise, it was a mopping up project.
Here's the charcuterie platter that never got served. (But it will, when we reschedule the interview, and I'll have that date ASAP. Come in a wet suit!)
Thank you to Heather and Allen Smith at the Ritz for taking care of everyone with comp'd parking and some glasses of wine. And also to the crew from District Cable Network, who got the brunt of the explosion but who also stayed calm.
Happy New Year. I'm delighted to announce our first Q&A Cafe of 2014 will be an interview with Kojo Nnamdi, host of WAMU's The Kojo Nnamdi Show and all-round notable broadcaster, commentator, interviewer and Washingtonian. The date is Friday, January 31.
There are a few things you need to know about this show, especially if you are a regular member of the audience. Per usual, it will be at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown hotel (not West End). The start time, however, is delayed due to Kojo's radio schedule. We will begin seating at 2pm and start the program shortly after. The menu will be Charcuterie & Cupcakes. The price is $40, plus tax and tip. This is a change in price and structure requested by the hotel. It's a Friday - so come, eat, drink and have fun. I guarantee a good show.
Here's a little preview from a Washingtonian interview with Kojo.
For reservations, please phone the hotel at 202.912.4100. You will want to make the reservation with Heather Foster. Or send her an email: Heather Foster.
I'm hoping you'll be open to this change in time and price. I want to keep The Q&A Cafe going, and depend on your support to do that.
As always, I'm grateful to the Ritz for hosting us, to District of Columbia Network (DCN) for broadcasting the program, and to Georgetown Cupcake for their continued sponsorship.
The Q&A Cafe is in its 13th year. In that time more than 300 notable individuals have been interviewed. You can watch a selection of past programs here.
Mark Plotkin at The Q&A Cafe, taped on Wednesday November 6 at the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The main topic is local politics, but Mark also offers opinions on various office seekers, reporters who are friends, on social media -- "it's crap" -- and on what he thinks was really behind his firing from WTOP radio.
If you enjoy this show, there are more full shows at our Q&A Cafe on YouTube page.
Who in Washington doesn't love a good political discussion? And what better time than immediately after the next round of elections which, among other races, will decide the next governor of Virginia. Interestingly, both candidates, according to my Washingtonian colleague Ben Freed, are loathed by voters. And a year hence, Washington will choose a mayor, and Maryland a governor, and there will be mid-terms across the land.
So I've asked Mark Plotkin to come in for a Q&A Cafe on November 6 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Georgetown. Mark may be cocky and controversial but he's also a sure fire political expert, especially about the politics of DC, Maryland and Virginia. He's currently the political analyst for Fox 5 and in the past performed the same role for WTOP and WAMU.
As always, please make your reservations directly with the Ritz by phoning (202-912-4122, 202-912-4121) or send an email to Allen Smith.
Seating is at noon, the taping will run from approximately 12:15 to 1:30. Lunch is served. The price is $35, all inclusive of food and soft beverages, tax and tip. A good meal, a good time, and a whole lot of politics to chew on.
I ask the question in the headline in all serious, because our next Q&A Cafe, on Thursday, May 9, delves into addiction in its many forms. The guest is Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who has written the book "Recover to Live, Kick Any Habit, Manage Any Addiction."
From the book: For most of his early life, Christopher Kennedy Lawford battled life-threatening drug and alcohol addictions. Now in recovery for more than 25 years, he works to effect change and raise global awareness of addiction in nonprofit, private, and government circles, serving as the goodwill ambassador for drug dependence treatment and care for the United Nations.
For the first time, the New York Times bestselling Recover to Live brings together all of the most effective self-care treatments for the seven most toxic compulsions affecting every culture on the planet today-alcohol dependence, drug dependence, eating disorders, gambling, hoarding, smoking, sex, and porn.
Thursday's Q&A will be a chance to explore addiction and also to learn about Lawford and his interesting life as a Lawford, a Kennedy, an author, actor, activist.
The Q&A Cafe tapes at the Ritz Carlton Georgetown hotel. Seating begins at noon. The fee is $38. For reservations please contact Esmaralda Prifold at 202.912.4100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We taped this interview with Bill Marriott April 9 at the Ritz Carlton Georgetown hotel. He has interesting observations on subjects such as growing a business, his life story, politics, the Mormon faith, the new DC Marriott Marquis hotel, the return of Hot Shoppes and the "Mighty Mo."
Our next Q&A Cafe is Thursday, May 9, featuring an interview with Christopher Kennedy Lawford. For reservations, please call Esmaralda Prifold at 202.912.4100. Seating begins at noon, the fee is $38, covering lunch, dessert from Georgetown Cupcake, taxes and tip. Please join us.
The Q&A Cafe, now in its 17th year, is on hiatus until the autumn, when we'll have interviews with Tom Sietsema and Brian Noyes, among others. For now, please enjoy the show each Friday on DC Cable, channel 16, and on YouTube. The two most recent interviews were Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), and Patty Stonesifer. For more information please call 202-333-9330.
Visit this link to view our archive of broadcasts: The Q&A Cafe on YouTube
Emmy-winning CBS News producer, talk show guest wrangler, published author, host of The Q&A Cafe, print & digital journalist, filmmaker, photog, and former saloon owner. Read more...
Here is information for my popular memoir Innocent Spouse...
MEDIA: For book-related inquiries, please contact my agent, Laney Becker, at 212-243-8480