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Tavis Smiley's interview with Q-Tip runs tonight

February 5, 2009 |  4:38 pm

On the L.A. media blog LA Observed, Kevin Roderick pointed out that Tavis Smiley's recent interview with eternal Beach Boy Brian Wilson was "hard to watch" and possibly the roughest pairing he'd ever seen. I took a gander at the footage and I didn't think it was that bad but it doesn't compare to the free flow that he had with, say, Joni Mitchell, who comes off as a better raconteur than Wilson these days (perhaps Wilson's stories work better in print), especially after her interviewer got her tongue loosened with several doses of golly-gee praise.

Tonight's show brings another pairing that's hard to judge from the two-minute-plus preview clip. On one hand, Q-Tip, whose brilliant solo album lighted up my ears last year, comes off as a soft-spoken guy and that's a personality type that doesn't usually command viewers to keep watching. But, on the other hand, he's got stories galore, like how he was dumped unceremoniously from Arista for not being commercial enough. Who knows whether he'll dig so blatantly into the past though; he seems to avoid such specifics in this clip. Either way, I'm tuning in, if only to keep staring at Q-Tip's fabulous party shirt.

In other Smiley news, the PBS host will be interviewing Ashford and Simpson Friday night. The husband-wife duo recently recorded an update to their 1980s hit, an homage to the president they've dubbed "Solid as Barack." Why didn't I think of that?

-- Margaret Wappler

"Tavis Smiley" on KCET, 7 and 11 tonight. With Q-Tip and Danny Glover.