Producer Commentary

PROGRAM: Genetic Medicine

AUTHOR: Kathy McAnally

October 2001:

From the very beginning of this project, there were a couple of people I knew I'd want to interview.

One was Nobel Laureate Paul Berg, whose groundbreaking work helped create the field of genetic medicine. I'd spoken with him during the project's early days, and he was amenable to being a part of the program.

I decided to wait until I'd gathered most of the other raw material before scheduling an appointment. When I called in the summer of 2001, Berg informed me that he was tired of hearing his own voice, and no longer wanted to do the interview!

"BUT - BUT - BUT!" I sputtered, envisioning my whole program outline, which had Berg as a kind of narrative voice throughout the program, collapsing.

So I begged, wheedled, and prepared to cry if necessary. Finally, he grudgingly agreed to talk with me and we began tossing dates and times back and forth. A week later, I headed off to Berg's office at Stanford University for my appointment.

When I arrived, his assistant looked momentarily confused, and then let her boss know that I had arrived. I was received very graciously. He then informed me that I had arrived at the right time, but on the wrong day! I was extremely embarrassed and mumbled that I'd come back when I actually had an appointment.

Berg waved me into a chair, rescheduled his afternoon appointment, and gave me a wonderful interview.

That day, I got to know not only a brilliant scientist, but also a very kind, generous, and best of all, exceedingly down-to-earth human being.