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kottke.org posts about dickcavett

Mailer, Cavett, Vidal, and Flanner

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 15, 2007

On his NYTimes blog, Dick Cavett remembers having Norman Mailer on his show along with Gore Vidal and Janet Flanner. It was a notorious episode; a perhaps more than slightly drunk Mailer lashed out first at Vidal and then everyone else in the room but couldn’t keep up with the jeers and witticisms flying at him from all angles.

Mailer: I said that the need of the magazine reader for a remark he could repeat at dinner was best satisfied by writers with names like Gore Vidal.

Flanner: All those writers called Gore Vidal.

Vidal: I know. There are thousands of them, yeah.

Mailer: There are two or three.

Cavett: Who are some of the others?

Mailer [with a dark look]: I don’t know.

Cavett: Who wants to host the rest of this show?

Mailer, years later, told me that it was at this point that “in the face of the Cavett wit and Flanner’s deft interruption” — adored by the audience — and in consideration of his alcohol content, he realized that he was not being skillful at mounting a sustained argument.

In an interview a number of years ago with Cavett, Charlie Rose showed a clip of the incident:

The video should cue up at the clip in question, but if not, skip to 29:00 in. Highly entertaining reading and viewing.