'Today' Show Interviews Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle, the frumpy spinster singing sensation who forced the President of the United States to re-schedule a primetime news conference, got to breathe the rarified air of the "Today" show this morning.

"I caught up with Susan Boyle in London," "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira told viewers at the start of the pre-taped interview -- Boyle's first since she shockingly came in second this spring on the UK reality competition series "Britain's Got Talent," losing to some forgettable dance-and-tumble group.

"I'm one of those millions of people that fell in love with you in mid-April...You look gorgeous," Vieira said brightly, cutting to the chase.

" I'm loving the hair... it' a little bit different, right, you got a slight little makeover?" Vieira added. Boyle's hair has been cut and colored; she's wearing makeup, a flattering purple knee-length dress and pumps.

"Just a slight one. I brush up quite well," Boyle said with more grace than Vieira deserved.

"You do brush up very, very well," Vieira said patronizingly, as only a woman in $500, impossibly-high-heeled shoes, who's just been gone over by her hair-and-makeup staff, can patronize.

"The journey you have been on. Everybody around the world suddenly saying 'Who is this Susan Boyle?' Are you having a good time?"

"It's just been unbelievable," explained Boyle, who was catapulted to instant international stardom when her "Talent" performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables" - aka the only '80s bloated B'way blockbuster not written by Andrew Lloyd Webber - went YouTube and was viewed 20 million times worldwide in just a few days.

On the video, Boyle was seen turning the snickers of the "Talent" audience and the eye-rolling of the "Talent" judges as she walked out on stage into wild applause and a standing-O.

"It's indescribable. It's a bit like being plucked from obscurity."

"Obscurity is right!" Vieira said, brightly.

A longer version of Boyle's response to the "Are you having a good time?" question had been released days earlier to The Reporters Who Cover Television to plug the upcoming interview. But NBC only dolled out itty bits of the interview on the morning infotainment show. The rest is being held back, to air at 9 p.m. tonight during the network's "America's Got Talent" - the U.S. version of the show that shot Boyle to fame, followed by mini-meltdown, which landed her in a mental health facility for a few days after she lost out to that "dance" group called "Diversity."

That part of the story obviously wasn't what Viera meant with the "good time" question.

President Barack Obama, looking to plug his health care plan and to shore up his popularity with another of his trademark primetime news conferences, nearly shot himself in the foot when his White House twittered last Friday that he would appear tonight at 9 p.m. EDT-- pre-empting Boyle's U.S. primetime debut.

Fortunately someone at the White House knows a public relations disaster when he or she sees one, and by mid-Monday the president had conceded the timeslot to Boyle, moving his news conference to 8.

"If she were here now what do you think she would say to you?" Vieira asked Boyle, in re Boyle's mother, Bridget, who the singer spent most of her adult life caring for, until she died two years ago.

"Susan, keep going," Boyle responded simply.

"Keep going?" Vieira asked disappointedly.

"Keep going - you're doing really well. That's what she'd say," Boyle elaborated.

"Why do you think she had so much confidence in you?" Vieira asked. Hello? Earth to Meredith? Singing sensation, 20-some million YouTube views? World's most recognizable face? Won game of primetime scheduling chicken with leader of free world? Which part of this story are you not getting?

"I was a little girl," Boyle explained. "I had to get up there and prove to everybody that I could do it. So I applied for 'Britain's Got Talent' and the rest you know."

"Yeah, the rest of the world knows actually," Vieira smirked. Brightly. Which is actually hard to do.

"So when you walked out on that stage and the audience responded the way they did... it was, I guess a little bit of snickering -- is that fair to say?"

"Well, never judge a book by its cover," Boyle snapped, getting some of her own back.

By Washington Post Editor  |  July 22, 2009; 10:43 AM ET TV News
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Comments

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Lisa, did you catch Al Roker's needling of Meredith when she asked about the weather where her kids are? Great stuff.

Posted by: Cosmo06 | July 22, 2009 11:32 AM

Meredith Strikes Again -- egads, where's Jane Pauley when you need her?

Posted by: NYCStudioSale | July 22, 2009 12:31 PM

Thank goodness somebody else noted Meridith's "do me" pumps.

Posted by: grog00 | July 22, 2009 1:14 PM

"..." Vieira smirked. Brightly. Which is actually hard to do.

You seem to have mastered the art. Is your undergrad degree in obnoxious?

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | July 22, 2009 1:55 PM

I think Lisa's undergrad is more likely in snarkyness. The only thing better than her comments on Today is when she writes about the View.

Posted by: ratperson | July 22, 2009 2:24 PM


Lisa writes about The View? OMG! How did I miss that? I didn't think there could be anything better than her "Idol" blog, but I think "The View" might just top "Idol."

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | July 22, 2009 4:14 PM

I was actually relieved Meredith didn't do the usual interview trick and demand Susan fall on her sword and spill her guts for the viewers. She treated Susan like a human being and let her dictate what was off limits. Susan is a shy private person but has a lovely sense of humor and tremendous inner strength. Her humility and lack of guile is refreshing in this plastic manufactured age where celebs are served up on plates for us to pick over like carrion crows. It wasn't the best interview in the world but thank god it wasn't someone who would have just treated Susan like canon fodder. I was pleased to see Susan looking happy, relaxed, beautiful and in control of the situation.

Posted by: Jessie1267 | July 22, 2009 4:36 PM

No wonder I never read this paper.

Posted by: ndficoop | July 22, 2009 4:45 PM

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