A Japanese documentary team visited Steven Spielberg in the early fall of 1982, around the time he was shooting his “Kick The Can” segment for Twilight Zone: The Movie, which opened in the summer of ’83. This was absolute peak-era Spielberg, and he was only 35. Raiders of the Lost Ark was recent history, having opened 15 or 16 months earlier, and E.T. and Poltergeist had rocked the industry only three or four months before this moment. People thought Spielberg had magic blood back then. Even I thought so at the time. It would never get any better for the guy.
But those sunglasses! If Michelangelo Antonioni had happened along, he would have taken Spielberg aside and told him to throw them in the wastebasket. But that’s Spielberg for you — he’s always been kind of a dork from Arizona.
I nearly did a Sherry Netherland hotel interview with Spielberg in the middle of the E.T. hoohah, but the arrangements were being handled by Peggy Siegel, who at the time was a contentious figure in my journalistic life, and for some insect-antennae reason I was fearful that my time slot was being nudged aside. (At the time I was finishing up an Us magazine cover story about Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore.) So I called the hotel suite where it was supposed to happen and lo and behold, Spielberg answered. I should have just left a please-call message and said thanks, but I explained that I was slotted to speak with him and was wondering about the schedule, etc.
Siegel hit the roof (“How dare you violate protocol by talking to talent without my permission!”) and that was the end of that. She was right — I should have played by the rules.