Channel 7’s Weekend Sunrise host Matt Doran is being raked over the coals for admitting to Adele at the end of an interview with her that he hadn’t listened to her new album, 30. Not only was it the singer’s first album in six years, but the network had flown Doran to London for the honour of conducting the only Australian interview with her for the record’s release. Oh, and they had also paid $1 million for the privilege.
Following Doran’s admission that he hadn’t heard the album, Adele, rightfully so, became offended and her record company exercised their right to scrap the interview. Doran insists that he didn’t realise he had been sent her unreleased album via email, calling it “the most important email I have ever missed,” and saying he was both “mortified and unequivocally apologetic.”
Doran is now being massively trolled online for his misstep.
Why does Matt Doran have an Apple computer?
BECAUSE HE’S NEVER HEARD OF ADELE 😬
— Byron Kaye (@byronkaye) November 21, 2021
As someone who has spent close to twenty years interviewing some of the world’s biggest celebrities about their various projects, Doran’s excuses really fall flat for me. I have never, and would never, dream of walking into an interview with anyone without having watched their film, read their book or listened to their album. It is baffling to me that, as a seasoned TV personality, Doran wouldn’t have followed up with his producer about hearing the record first. Why on earth would he be fine with walking into an exclusive interview with one of the planet’s most popular singers — to chat about what she has expressly said is her most personal work to date — having never heard it?
There have been a few occasions in my career when a film studio has not been able to grant interviewers access to the full film ahead of time and sent lengthy production notes and behind-the-scenes clips instead. This happened a few years ago when I was interviewing David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike for their film A United Kingdom and, let me tell you, it was extremely stressful because they are two actors I admire so much. In lieu of seeing the actual film, I made sure I read everything I could find on the project and everything either of them had ever said about it so that I could feel as prepared as possible for our eight-minute junket slot. Thankfully, the interview went well but it was certainly not ideal going in blind like that. It is definitely not something I would ever do willingly.
There are a few reasons why Doran’s situation bothers me and here they are in no particular order.
To start, I’ll state the obvious which is that it is the basic function of a reporter’s job to do their research on the topic or person they are reporting on. While we often rely heavily on producers and production assistants to send us information, it is also a reciprocal responsibility to make sure everyone is prepared and for the host/interviewer to chase up any gaps in their research. Doran’s oversight here just seems lazy and arrogant.
It is also just the height of disrespect to walk into an interview with an artist having not immersed yourself in their work first. When someone has taken the time and poured their soul into a film/book/album/invention/business etc, to show up and have not familiarised yourself with it is a slap in the face to your subject and the hours they have spent perfecting their latest project. Yes, celebrities enter into the entertainment industry knowing they will have to promote their work but again, it is reciprocal and it is just as much our job to do our research as it is their job to answer our questions.
To me, Doran walking into that interview having not heard the album is the equivalent of sitting in the audience of an intimate jazz show and chatting to your mate or texting on your phone. You just don’t do it.
The fact that Doran did not do his due diligence also reeks of privilege, which is probably why he is copping so much hate now. Not only was this the only interview any Aussie outlet was being granted, but it was an opportunity that any interviewer would give their right arm for. Hell, I am not even a fan of Adele’s music but I think it would have been incredible to interview someone so talented and you’d better believe I would have listened to her entire catalogue of songs in preparation for the event.
Furthermore, even without access to Adele, Doran has a job that so many people aspire to, one that he is handsomely compensated for and one that, in Australia, is more often reserved for white men regardless of how mundane they are. Showing up unprepared to such a huge interview makes it all the more infuriating to me that these white men keep being given a seat at the table, only to squander the amazing opportunities that the seat affords them.
And, the thing that bugs me the most about this whole fiasco, is that he ADMITTED to Adele that he had not listened to her record. Now, because Sony pulled the plug on the interview being aired, we will never know how the chat was going prior to Doran’s admission. It’s possible that the singer had an inkling he was going in blind, but equally plausible that his questions were broad enough that he could get away with it (another thing that annoys me about Aussie interviewers is how obvious and pedestrian their questions often are).
However, to get to the end of the interview and then announce that he had not heard even one track from 30 feels to me like he was trying to say “aren’t I amazing? I haven’t even heard your record and yet was just able to speak to you about it for half an hour.” The audacity is sickening. How was he expecting Adele to respond? Was he honestly thinking that she would praise him for not doing the bare minimum for his job? Did he think she would rhapsodise about his flawless interviewing ability, even in the face of unpreparedness?
Again, I have been thrown into a few situations over the years where I have had to fill in for someone last minute and interview someone I knew nothing about. Once, I had exactly four minutes’ notice that this was happening before I was sitting in front of my subject and chatting to them about their life. I did not tell them that until 30 seconds before our interview, I had never even heard of them and, hopefully, they did not notice the large sweat patch I left on my chair as a result of being terrified of being found out as a fraud.
For Doran to saunter into an interview, unprepared and happy to admit as such, speaks volumes, I think, about the type of person Australian networks are adamant about hiring and, sadly, about the type of person Australian audiences insist on seeing on their screens. At very best, I can only hope that this unfortunate debacle opens the floor to conversations about hiring more diverse and dedicated faces across broadcast television.
At worst, I hope Doran never willfully shows such disregard for his position ever again.