EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Kristin Clifford, a publicist and producer for Planned Television Arts, the company facilitating the satellite linkup press tour, told The Huffington Post that Belafonte did not fall asleep; instead, she said, the audio cut out and they were unaware they were being filmed.
“We were doing a series of interviews, we were scheduled to speak with KBAK, we had done an audio check, everything was smooth, Mr. Belafonte was waiting for the interview to go live, they had his picture up, and the audio on their end dropped out,” she explained. “He was waiting for his audio cue, we all suspected that they were still on break, and we did not have any idea that he was up on there live. So that is why he was not reacting in any way. He couldn’t hear anything, he couldn’t hear the anchor speaking with him, he was not asleep, he was just simply waiting for his cue.”
After hearing from a producer that technical problems were forcing them to cancel the interview, Clifford said they later found the video online.
“We were never informed, we didn’t realize that the picture had ever been on air, that any of the commentary had ever happened with their anchor,” she said. “And we were really disappointed to see it up everywhere, because obviously it’s an embarrassment to Mr. Belafonte, and it’s incorrect.”
Cristi Jessee, news director at KBAK and KBFX, confirmed that there were technical difficulties.
“There was definitely an audio problem, which I think is pretty clear in the video,” she said. “Whether or not he’s really asleep, I can’t really determine.”
As for the commentary, Jesse was confident that the anchor, Leyla Santiago, had clarified that.
After a lifetime of excitement, Harry Belafonte just didn’t find the morning news broadcast on KBAK all that interesting. The famed Calypso singer and activist was scheduled to appear on the Bakersfield, California’s morning news program to promote his new memoir, “My Song.” When they moved to broadcast live from his remote location, the 84-year old was fast asleep.
“Harry, wake up. Harry? Wake wake up!” Eyewitness News anchor Leyla Santiago said, unable to stifle her laughter. “This is your wakeup call Harry… He’s meditating, he’s having a little nap.”
The rest of the news team leapt to his defense, explaining how the TV junket works.
“Let’s just say, the way this works,” one reporter said, “they do a lot of interviews, early morning, and obviously if he could hear us, he wouldn’t be — there was some technical [problems].”
Santiago then insisted that she really loved his book, while Aaron Perlman chimed in about how much they enjoy his movies.
Belafonte was certainly awake while giving recent comments about Herman Cain and the Tea Party.
“The Republican party, the Tea party, all of those forces to the extreme right have consistently tried to come up with representation for what they call black, what they call the real Negroes and try to push these images as the kinds of voices that America should be [looking] to,” he said on CNN. “So we’ve got Condoleezza Rice, we’ve got Colin Powell, they are heroes for some people but for a lot of us they are not. And Herman Cain is just the latest incarnation of what is totally false to the needs of our community and the needs of our nation. I think he’s a bad apple and people should look at his whole card, he’s not what he says he is.