Da Doo Blog


Interviews are tough to do – for both the interviewer and the interviewee. And it’s a fact of life that sometimes the facts get a little bashed in the process. You hope, though, that when you’re being interviewed the essence of what you’re saying is respected.

Sadly, that’s not always the case. Recently, both Bill Lauch and I had occasion to regret giving interviews to a writer.

It’s not that the writer got everything wrong – but he got a lot wrong. And worse still, his tone was sensationalistic – something that I’m confident in saying, would have appalled Howard.

You can’t control everything, I know. But I’m my brother’s sister, and I’m a bit of a control freak myself. That’s why we started this site in the first place. Among other things, there was a Wikipedia entry that gave Howard a different surname at birth. I had to prove that I was right and that the unseen person who kept overriding my change was wrong.

The piece that upset me is not mean spirited. In fact, I think the writer meant it as a homage. He just got so much wrong, some small things and some larger. There are descriptions that make good copy but are just off. There are events that never happened.

I don’t want to stop giving interviews and neither does Bill. But I think we’ll have to learn to be more selective in who we talk to, and more circumspect in what we say. I believe that journalists should be free to write what they know to be true. But they can’t cut corners and they can’t massage events for dramatic tension.

The internet is a great place, no doubt about that. I have been thrilled with the reception this site has gotten and the people who have found us here. Howardashman.com has done exactly what I’d hoped, it has clarified and amplified Howard’s contributions to musical theater and to the renaissance of Disney’s animated musicals. And, it has introduced Howard, as a man, to many new fans and friends.

But please, be careful what you read and be careful what you write.

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Posted on: April 11th, 2013 by Sarah Ashman Gillespie 4 Comments

4 Responses

  1. John says:

    I’ve read the article you’re referring to. Someone had posted it on your Facebook account before you removed it.

    I think you’re doing a disservice to the public by not clarifying which events and descriptions are inaccurate. I know you don’t want to refer to the article so as not to give it more attention but if you just Google ‘Howard Ashman’ you can find it on page 5 of the results. This means that people will easily find it when they search about Howard and they will take what’s written at face value.

    Personally, I think you need to set the record straight.

    • You’re right. SInce Bill was with Howard during the Mermaid junket (and helped with his meds, thought not half as dramatically) he would like to write about his memories of those times. He’s working on it and we’ll publish as soon as he’s done. Besides the inconsistencies that Bill found, my real issue was with tone and the pictures painted.

  2. Andi says:

    I’m guessing I know what article you’re referring to. Thanks for this post — it’s good to hear from the source! :)

  3. John Verderber says:

    It happens to the best of everyone– even Sondheim! Back in 1976, a Times reporter portrayed him as a curmudgeonly, unenthusiastic, bitter guy with a Japanese manservant named “Lu.” And that was the NY Times!

    Just pick publications carefully, I guess. Or at least, the interviewer.

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