Even though this is the first time Pat O’Brien has attended BEA, he’s not intimidated at the prospect of being surrounded by booksellers he’s never met before to talk about the highs and lows of his 35-year career as a sportscaster for radio and television and a celebrity journalist. “I’ve faced Charles Manson. I’ve faced depression. I’ve faced death,” he says. “I survived all that. Standing in front of people I don’t know is what I do for a living. Booksellers are going to read I’ll Be Back Right After This and they’re going to like it.”
I’ll Be Back Right After This (St. Martin’s, Aug.) is, O’Brien says, “a textbook on how to land a charmed career, how to keep a charmed career, and how to get through a scandal.” In 2005, voice recordings of O’Brien drunk-dialing a woman who has never been identified and leaving sexually explicit messages for her were widely circulated and written about in the tabloids, which provided fodder for late night television comedians. It was, he says now, “a minor sex scandal compared to what’s going on now,” but it temporarily sidelined his career.
O’Brien says that he wrote his memoirs, which he describes as “Forrest Gump Meets Days of Wine and Roses,” to set the record straight about his “rise and fall and rise again,” after going into rehab for alcoholism in 2005 and again in 2008. “I’ve been blessed with a charmed career; I’ve had a career no one else had had,” O’Brien says of his professional life, which expanded beyond covering sports for CBS for 16 years to anchoring celebrity news programs for about a decade before joining Fox Sports Radio for three years. “I’ve met literally everybody. I met the Beatles.” He also, according to I’ll Be Back Right After This, did acid with Timothy Leary, drank with Mickey Mantle, and hung out in Bobby Kennedy’s living room with Muhammad Ali.
O’Brien currently hosts a podcast, on which he interviews celebrities. Disclosing that he is embarking on a new venture in the fall about which he cannot yet provide specifics, O’Brien, who describes himself as being in recovery, currently spends “a lot of time” counseling others. “When people, when celebrities, are in trouble,” O’Brien says, “they call me.”
The book, O’Brien says, is more than just another memoir by somebody rehashing a colorful past: it’s also a “playbook” for life. While “if you like celebrities, it’s all in there,” O’Brien says, “In 35 years in sports and entertainment, I’m going to meet people.” Rubbing shoulders with famous people is heady stuff, O’Brien admits, but he adds, “What really matters is what you think of yourself, not what other people think of you.”
Today, O’Brien emcees the APA Author Tea in Room 1E10/1E11, 4–5 p.m.