Part 3 of a 3-Part Series.
“Long-time listener, first-time caller.”
– Opening line from thousands of people who phoned in to The Diane Rehm Show
Like pretty much everybody in the Washington, DC area, where I live – as well as millions across the country – I was a fan of Ms. Rehm’s. She kept me up-to-date on national and global affairs. She led me to discover new authors whom she interviewed. She kept me company via my car radio as I drove to locations for my films over the years. And now – as I read in a March, 2015, article in The Washington Post – she had been speaking publicly about this medical aid in dying business.
By this time, I’d become quite interested in making a documentary about this controversial subject, and I felt sure that a trusted voice should be at the film’s center. Knowing about her husband’s death, my first thought was that I should speak to Ms. Rehm about it. But as I continued reading the Post article, I found that NPR, her program’s distributor, had instructed her to pull back on speaking about MAID in consideration of maintaining an impartial stance on controversial matters. Ms. Rehm was quoted as saying she was “saddened but understood their position.”
Disappointed, I set this medical aid in dying idea aside. I had other projects that were demanding my time and attention. Besides, I didn’t know Diane Rehm. Even if I did, why should a very busy 80-year-old woman even consider committing a couple of years to helping me make a documentary?
Well, as the reader no doubt knows, consider she did! I learned in mid-2016 that Diane would be retiring from her daily radio show at the end of the year, switching to the less demanding requirements of a twice-weekly podcast. The limitations that had been placed on her with respect to discussing MAID would no longer apply. Diane and I had never met, but I began making plans to approach her and, I hoped, convince her to join me in making a documentary about what was an important subject to both of us as well as a growing movement in the United States.
The Diane Rehm Show ended in December of 2016. Shortly thereafter, a mutual friend gave me Diane’s contact information, and I wrote to her requesting a meeting. It turned out that she and I had another friend in common: the noted broadcaster Roger Mudd. Roger vouched for me, as he had been involved with a recent short film I’d made. In February, I sat down with Diane to explain what I had in mind. I guess Roger had said some nice things about me, because, as I was leaving, Diane walked me to the elevator and told me she’d be happy to participate in the film. I was ecstatic, needless to say. Now all I needed to do was find an executive producer, some money, and a crew!