Q&A: Al Roker | Rock Candy

Q&A: Al Roker

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In advance of a Little Rock stop next Thursday on his "Lend a Hand Today" charity tour, where he'll broadcast from a surprise "small" Little Rock charity throughout the "Today Show" broadcast, America's favorite weatherman talked to me, over the phone, about his infamous Speidi interview, man candy, Katie Couric and more.

This won’t be your first time to Little Rock, will it?

You know, I think it is actually.

So tell me a little about the “Lend a Hand Today” tour. This is your eighth year?

Eighth year. We're going around the country. This coming Monday we start in Los Angeles. Tuesday Portland. Wednesday Galveston. Thursday Little Rock. Friday we end up in Charlotte, North Carolina.

And you’re surprising people?

Yes. We do five cities, five charities, five days. We let you know the city, but we don’t let you know the charity until that morning. You just don’t get tired of doing this. We could probably do one every day and still just scratch the surface. And we’re not going to the charities that everyone knows. We’re going to the smaller charities and they’re just as important. This is what the country was built on — volunteerism, charity.

I've got to ask you about the Speidi interview. Was this a "Network," "I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore" moment, or this getting blown way out of proportion?

Look, I’m quite frankly surprised at the amount of interest in it, but I think the reason it’s taken on a larger than life, it’s not because of these two people. They’re the flavor of the minute. Right now, in this time in our country, we’re kind of looking at “what is celebrity?” There’s a lot of great people who’re well known because they’ve done really good things. Whether they’re actors or singers or politicians or athletes or fire fighters or police officers or soldiers — they’ve done something. They didn’t find notoriety for being on a fake reality show and behaving badly. I think people are kind of saying, "Wait a minute" and "enough." 

Is Willard Scott as crazy as he seems on TV?

Williard is Willard. He speaks his mind. What you see is what you get. That’s why he’s so terrific. He’s literally like my second dad. I adore that man.

You’ve had a lot of game show experience — from hosting "Celebrity Family Feud" and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" and appearing on "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune." What, in your mind, is the greatest game show ever?

That’s a tough one. I must admit my favorite is “Family Feud.” Not because I hosted it. I loved that show. And Richard Dawson. I just thought it was the quintessential game show. As simple as it gets.

“Man candy” seems to have become one of your go-to catch phrases.

Not just for anything.

It has to be special.

Absolutely.

Have you thought about branding? Maybe making little Al Roker man candies? Ah, you’re overthinking it.

Have you seen any noteworthy man candy lately?

We had a guy on today, Ryan whatsisname who’s in the new, what’s that movie? Uh…

Ryan Reynolds?

“The Proposal” Yeah, Ryan Reynolds. He’s a piece of man candy.

It’s seems like you stay pretty busy with Al Roker Productions. Is there an overarching theme? You’ve got a diverse array of shows—lots of food stuff, a Miss USA reality show, the DEA docu-reality show.

I think that’s a secret to our success. We do a whole lot of different things. And modestly, I think we do them well. We don’t want to be pigeonholed.

So what’s the future?

Who knows? If I could do that, I’d be a weatherman. Oh wait… (laughs)

So it’s been a little while, but do you miss Katie Couric?

Oh sure. Anybody you’ve worked with for a long time you miss. I miss Bryant Gumbel. But people move on and then you get a new set of playmates in the sandbox, but that doesn’t mean you don’t miss you’re old pals.

One last question, what’s the weather in my neck of the woods gonna be like this weekend?

This weekend it’s looking a little unsettled.

Really? For Father’s Day?

Bummer.

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