I bet you didn't know that Rain Man and The Rose wrote a song together, did you?
Tootsie brought Hoffman an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He lost to Ben Kingsley for playing a character he was once considered to play -- Gandhi. Hoffman was recently one of the Kennedy Center Honorees. Today, he talked to Terry Gross about his old films and his new movie, Quartet. The light comedy/drama stars Maggie Smith. Hoffman isn't onscreen with her. He's graduated to role of movie director.
How did my 1982 interview of him helped my career? During it, a mature gent with a cane entered the room and sat down. He was in plain clothing and he had a very cool, seasoned vibe about him. I've previously described it as a Gandalf-like gravity. The cameraman motioned to me that he was OK to sit in. The visitor enjoyed my lively interview with Hoffman. He felt I stood out in the crowd of entertainment reporters. Also, let's face it, I was one of the very few black folks in the junket. Hoffman called him by his first name. After I'd finished my interview, this gentleman took me by the hand into the hotel suite's adjoining room for a short talk. He wanted to quote some of my interview in his piece. He was Arthur Bell, noted columnist for The Village Voice. He had a weekly column called "Bell Tells." He was doing a cover story on Hoffman for the paper. Mr. Bell looked me straight in the eyes like a tall kindly uncle and made me promise that I would concentrate on getting a job in New York City. He said, "You need to be here."
That big sweet journalist did indeed quote me and put my name in his Village Voice feature on Dustin Hoffman. That was 1982. My name was noticed by some people in Manhattan. In 1985, I left WISN TV in Milwaukee to take a job at WPIX TV in New York City. That interview with Hoffman helped. So did the late Arthur Bell. It also helped that I'd done my homework. Let that be a lesson to you.