I grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska. Every day, I get in my car and travel to Norfolk for work.
The founding fathers named this town after the North Fork of the Elkhorn River. When they submitted the name to the federal government, it was spelled Nor'Fork.
But somebody out east screwed up, thought they were naming the town after Norfolk, Virginia.
That's why it's pronounced Norfork, but it's spelled Norfolk. (We can tell the interlopers from the natives in one word.)
So what does this have to do with award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr.?
Everything, when you work for a daily newspaper that's often confused with the one in a city the size of Norfolk, Virginia.
Before I became the business editor, I was the entertainment editor at the Norfolk (pronounced Norfork, lest we get confused) newspaper. In that position, I interviewed everyone from country stars Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert to celebrities like Weird Al Yankovic and Bill Engvall.
So I didn't think it was odd when our newspaper received a fax announcing the release of Cuba Gooding Jr.'s movie "Dirty" and that he would be available for interviews.
This was 2005. The actor's incredible performance in the movie, "Radio," was still fresh in everyone's mind. I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to feature him in the paper's weekly entertainment tab. (Not only that, Cuba Gooding Jr. had been one of my favorite actors since his minor appearance in "Coming to America.")
I called the publicist's number (located on the fax) and told her we'd love to feature Cuba on the cover.
"Great!" she replied. And we planned the interview to take place just days before the big premiere.
Now, all of my celebrity interviews have been done over the phone (with the exception of Max Carl, lead singer of Grand Funk, former .38 Special). I didn't expect this one to be any different.
The day before the interview (four days before the movie's premiere and three days before the paper's entertainment edition is published), the publicist called to confirm our arrangement.
I asked, "Now, do you want me to call him or do you need my number so he can reach me?"
A long pause filled the line before she said: "He's flying into Norfolk tomorrow for the premiere. We can do a face-to-face interview."
Another long pause filled the conversation. At this point, I realized that after several weeks of planning this big cover-story the publicist had screwed up. I was pretty sure Cuba Gooding Jr. was not flying in to Norfolk, Nebraska's tiny Karl Stefan Memorial Airport.
Oh, how to break it to her lightly?
"Um, you do realize you've set this interview up with the paper in Norfolk, Nebraska, right?"
"Yeah, wait...Excuse me? What?" From the tremor in her voice, I could tell what she was thinking: Oh (insert favorite expletive here) I've just (expletive+ed) up big time.
I felt bad for her. I figured there would be hell to pay for promising the studio, actor, producers that the movie would have the cover of the entertainment section of a major daily like The Virginian Pilot, and then not delivering.
Finally, she said, "I think I've made a huge mistake." (Ya think?) And then she became a little short, "I wish you'd have said something sooner," as if I had misrepresented myself.
Hey, you contacted me.
"He will still be available for this interview, correct?" I still had a cover story to take care of. I'd been promised this interview; I was going to make sure I got it.
But it was obvious she couldn't end the call fast enough. "Well, yes. He can still do the interview, but I'll have to call you back with a time."
Yeah, right. Like that was going to happen. And guess what? It never did.
And that's why you can't read about my interview with Cuba Gooding Jr.
But let this be a lesson to all: Always double check the area code.