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Robert J. Sawyer on TV
JUMP TO: The Agenda | Rivera Live | Sci-Fi Buzz | Pamela Wallin | Canada A.M. | Saturday Night at the Movies | Midday | Imprint | Prisoners of Gravity | SPIN | Benmergui Live | Early Edition | @discovery.ca | 2020 Vision | Radio
The Agenda is an hour-long nightly prime-time current-affairs program hosted by Steve Paikin. The show devotes the entire hour to a single topic, featuring the kind of lengthy interviews and in-depth discussion rarely seen on TV. This episode, which aired on April 12, 2007, dealt with neuroplasticity the brain's ability to rewire its own components to perform new tasks.
Rivera Live is hosted by famed American broadcaster Geraldo Rivera. Rob was a guest on this show in June 2000, talking about the future ramafications of the completion of the sequencing of the human genome.
The Sci-Fi Channel
Sci-Fi Buzz is the news program produced by the American Sci-Fi Channel. A terrific team from Dick Crew Productions followed Rob around the 1996 World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles, preparing a feature profile of Rob and his work for this program. Sci-Fi Buzz had also interviewed Rob when he won the Nebula Award in April 1996 the little picture in the top row shows an ecstatic Rob the moment he received the award.
The bottom row shows Rob's autographing at the convention and Rob schmoozing in the SFWA Suite with author Joe Haldeman and Rob's longtime editor at Ace Susan Allison.
Pamela Wallin is Canada's top-rated talk show. It appears every weeknight in prime time on CBC Newsworld, Canada's equivalent of CNN. Rob's been on this show twice now, each time for the full hour of the broadcast. In one installment, Rob was talking about the future of communications with Catherine Murray and Wade Rowland (that's Pam, Rob, and Catherine in the top row); the other time, he was talking with fellow author Tad Williams (that's Rob, Pam, and Tad in the second row of pictures). Pam is a fantastic interviewer (and former anchor of The National, CBC TV's nightly newscast).
Canada A.M. is Canada's most-watched morning show Canada's counterpart of Good Morning America; it airs on CTV live from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. weekdays on Canada's national commercial television network and they always send a limousine to pick Rob up!
Here's Rob being interviewed by co-host Dan Matheson about Rob's novel Frameshift. The great thing about Dan as an interviewer is he actually personally reads the books before the show.
Saturday Night at the Movies
Saturday Night at the Movies is the most popular program on TVOntario; it's been hosted for over twenty years by Elwy Yost (father of Speed screenwriter Graham Yost). Every week, two uncut, commercial-free movies are shown, with commentary by in-studio guests. In October 1995, Rob was the sole guest for a double bill of The Thing (original version) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. TVOntario has repeated this broadcast every Halloween since.
Midday airs every weekday at noon on CBC television. It's famous for its in-depth coverage of books and authors. Here co-host Brent Bambury interview Rob about The Terminal Experiment.
TVOntario and CBC Newsworld
TV shows are always looking for interesting backgrounds to interview Rob against. Imprint, Canada's national book-news program, which airs weekly on TVOntario and Newsworld, did a feature profile of Rob in 1997. They interviewed him in a variety of laboratories at the University of Toronto's Institute for Aerospace Studies and at Canada's federal Atmospheric Environment Service.
Prisoners of Gravity
TVOntario and Selected PBS Stations
Prisoners of Gravity was a spectacular half-hour weekly series devoted to science fiction and comic books produced by TVOntario. Host Rick Green (now of The Red Green Show) was supposedly marooned in a communications satellite, but he dialed up authors and artists down on Earth for video interviews. Rob was the single most-frequent guest on this series, making sixteen appearances over PoG's five-year run.
Rob often talked about things other than his own work. For instance, in this episode on "Artificial Intelligence," he's discussing HAL from Arthur C. Clarke's 2001.
Space: The Imagination Station
After co-creating and co-producing Prisoners of Gravity, Mark Askwith ended up as a producer at Space: The Imagination Station, Canada's science-fiction cable channel. He frequently includes Rob in Space's daily SPIN ("Space Information and News") program. (Early in 1998, SPIN was renamed Space News.)
The bottom two frames are from SPIN's coverage of the book launch for Rob's ninth novel, Illegal Alien, held at Toronto's Bakka Books Rob signing on the left and reading from the book on the right.
Says Mark Askwith:
"I have interviewed over 600 writers since 1986, and one of the most thoughtful, provocative, and articulate authors I have ever interviewed is Robert J. Sawyer. Rob has a degree in Radio and Television Arts, and he knows how to deliver what producers want. This knowledge of media, coupled with his wide-ranging and thorough grasp of science and science fiction, makes him an ideal guest.
Benmergui Live is a weekday daytime talk show on CBC Newsworld hosted by Ralph Benmergui, with in-studio experts fielding phone calls from all over Canada and questions from the studio audience.
Rob is a frequent guest on this popular show. In this installment Rob and Ralph (joined by bioethicist Maureen McTeer via satellite on the monitor) discuss the ramifications of the cloning of the sheep Dolly.
The Canadian media often call Rob when there's a breaking science news story. Here Rob is interviewed via satellite from Toronto for Early Edition, CBC Newsworld's early-evening newscast, produced in Calgary. Rob is explaining the importance of the discovery of putative Martian fossils in an Antarctic meteorite to anchor Ann Petrie.
The Discovery Channel
"Robert J. Sawyer is not only a brilliant writer but also an insightful broadcaster who is as compelling to watch on television as he is to read in print. He has mastered the skill of turning his powerful visions of the future into relevant and thought-provoking commentary on the major issues facing us today."
The Discovery Channel has a Canadian version, and every weeknight it does an hour-long science-news program called @discovery.ca the only show of its kind in the world.
In 1996 and 1997, Toronto special-effects expert Michael Lennick produced many segments on various science-fiction topics for this program, and he used Rob as a commentator fifteen different times. All of Michael's interviews with Rob were videotaped in Rob's home that's his Nebula Award trophy and one of his five Aurora Award trophies behind him.
The Discovery Channel
The success of Rob's interviews with Michael Lennick on @discovery.ca led to Rob getting his own regular segment on that series in the 1997-1998 season. In each segment, Rob took on the role of a person from the year A.D. 2020 in "2020 Vision". @discovery.ca co-host Gillian Deacon interviewed Rob about an aspect of life in the future teleportation, cloning, male pregnancy, brain implants, virtual reality, and more. After the interview, Jay Ingram, @discovery.ca's other host, led Rob and three academics in a panel discussion about the issues raised in Rob's futuristic scenario. That's Jay on the left in the wide shot, and panelists Michael Higgins (a religious-studies professor), Pauline Mazumdar (a medical doctor), Rob, and hidden behind Rob, computer scientist (and former Scientific American columnist) A. K. Dewdney.
Rob is also frequently heard on radio, having made over 200 appearances to date. Here he is being interviewed in April 1998 about artificial intelligence by Peter Kavanagh for CBC Radio's most-popular program, This Morning.
Other radio appearances made that same year included a full hour (along with Leonard Nimoy) on Talk of the Nation's "Science Friday" on National Public Radio, and an hour on Talk Back on the Talk Radio Network, plus two hours each on KINN in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and WLVL in Lewiston, New York; full hours on each of KEYL in Long Prairie, Minnesota, KUKI in Ukiah, California, and KFH in Wichita, Kansas; forty-five minutes on each of WGY in Albany, New York, KFYR in Bismark, North Dakota, and WBAA in East Lafayette, Indiana; and half-hour interviews on KIXL in Austin, Texas, KPAY in Chico, California, and KSIM in Sikeston, Missouri. Rob was also heard that year on CFRB in Toronto, Ontario; CHAY in Barrie, Ontario; KSMA in Santa Maria, California; KILO in Colorado Springs, Colorado; WXKB in Estero, Florida; WVLK in Lexington, Kentucky; WCHB and WQBH, both in Detroit, Michigan; KDAL in Minneapolis, Minnesota; WHTT in Buffalo, New York; KNEWS in Portland, Oregon; WKDR in Burlington, Vermont; and others.
"Robert J. Sawyer has twice been my guest for the full two hours of KINN's Afternoon Alamogordo. His books encompass so many topical themes, there's never a lack of discussion ideas. Having him on the air is like hitting the warp-drive button: times goes way too fast. Robert Sawyer's the perfect guest: a writer with great ideas, thoughtful topics, and a future vision that can't be ignored."
"I did over 2,000 author interviews during my time at WBAA and Rob has the distinction of being the author I interviewed most frequently. It was always a pleasure to discuss the ideas behind the books with him. He is also the only author whose books I've always read from cover to cover prior to the interview."
"I haven't had this much fun in a long time! Forget the Psychic Friends Network Sawyer provides a realistic look at the future. He's a great guest whom we hope to have back many times."
"A pleasure having you on the air. You should be doing radio or television yourself your personality comes through via the microphone, and you have an infectious enthusiasm."
"At last count, I've interviewed Robert J. Sawyer seventeen times, covering ten novels and various awards. He's always entertaining and extremely well-versed in the science behind his stories, whether it's alien messages, computers, dinosaurs, or murder."
More Good Reading
A guide to the clips on Rob's TV demo tape