Some assignments are just better than others. And often, that has less to do with the people who have been kind enough to open their world and let us in, and more to do with location. After all, that simple word didn't become its own mantra without reason.
So, when Dr. Phil's publicist finally approved an interview with the man himself and said Phil only does interviews face to face, this story immediately became a "better" assignment. And it had everything to do with the fact that Phil's world revolves around a soundstage in Hollywood. And in my book, any day I get to board a plane and fly to a different part of the planet is a good day. What a bonus that the part of the planet we were headed to was sunny California -- a definitive location, location, location.
On a beautiful spring day last April, Angilee, the photographer, and I packed our bags and our story-gathering gear, and headed out west. It was to be a quick trip, with most of our time spent on the Dr. Phil set. But, with an 8 a.m. call time -- as they say in the business -- and a two-hour time difference, we did have the night before the interview free to explore the offerings of the city. As it turned out, Hollywood came to us. The premiere for X2: X-Men United was held the night we arrived, and our hotel, which we chose because it was near the Paramount Studios, was right next door to Grauman's Chinese Theatre -- site for Hollywood premieres. So, we spent our time in the midst of the glitz and glamour that is summer blockbusters.
The next morning, after passing a union-based security clearance for our cameras, we set off for our daylong adventure on the studio lot. Other than the wall of sky we parked next to, the lot seemed to be a bunch of warehouses. Of course, the occasional actor in period costume would walk by, and people covered in credentials hurried about. But other than that, it could have been Business District, Anytown, USA.
Once inside the warehouse that is home to the Dr. Phil show, which we spotted only because of the modest blue canopy above the door, the world was even more surreal. Just inside, we were confronted with a makeshift hall created by black drapes. At the end of the hallway was an opening, and once through that opening, the world changed and what millions of viewers see from home every day was right in front of us.
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We sat through two tapings, watched the crew work, and afterward sat down with the man himself to talk North Texas. That experience was everything one might assume -- fast-paced and intense, fun and funny, and overall exhilarating. But in many ways it was just like every other interview we do with the alumni we feature. We explore their particular story and we reminisce. Since Phil is frequently explored in other outlets, we figured it would be better to simply share his memories and ponderings on all things green.
And, as it turned out, Phil wasn't the only alum we met while in Hollywood. The incredibly friendly concierge at our hotel spent some time in the classrooms in Denton. He, too, remembered the Texas Pickup and its fries. And that just goes to show that, no matter the location, Eagles abound.