What I Skipped This Summer

“The latest space shuttle, the Columbia , disaster. I decided: ‘This is an important story, I know. It’s sad. But in the end, they’ll eventually find whether the foam did it or whatever, and I’ll tune in then.’ Even now, when that’s happening, I’m only reluctantly tuning in. I mentioned this to a friend of mine-actually, someone else who works at The Times -and she said, ‘Absolutely, I skipped that one, too. I get the paper in the morning and think, “God, that’s five less pages I have to read.'”

-Frank Rich, columnist, The New York Times

“There’s a war in Liberia? Oh. I don’t have time to think about anything. I’m busy. I haven’t seen Gigli yet. I’m running a company, and it’s been growing very fast.”

-Jonathan Abrams, founder of Friendster.com

“The cult of The Matrix. If you missed the first one, you’re out for the second one, and the first one just passed me by.”

-Drew Nieporent, restaurateur (Nobu, Montrachet, Tribeca Grill)

“I have no idea what’s going on at Ground Zero. I can’t even pronounce the architect’s name. Leebskine -or something? … I missed the boat on Chechnya.”

-Rosecrans Baldwin, founder and editor in chief, themorningnews.org

“I have to say I find it kind of embarrassing, but I missed the entire Kosovo war. I just never figured it out. It always seemed like there was going to be some Philip Gourevitch article that, in 15 pages, would explain to me exactly what I needed to know, but I never quite hit it. And I’m struggling with Liberia. There are entire moments in the news cycle I miss, like Liberia. I missed all of Survivor , which I have to say was a really huge one. And I feel ridiculous for it. And I missed the first American Idol , and not because I don’t think I wouldn’t have liked them-literally because I didn’t get on the train at the beginning, and then it felt like there was no catching up.”

-Ira Glass, radio host, NPR’s This American Life

” The Sopranos. I had a couple of false starts and tried to get into it, but it was just too much trouble catching up.”

-Pat Kiernan, TV anchor, NY1

“I don’t watch reality TV. I watched the first season of Survivor, but that was about three or four years ago. I was like, ‘I got that,’ and the same with Joe Millionaire -just enough not to be my mother.”

-Kurt Andersen, host, NPR’s Studio 360

“Global warming? Not me. I’m having trouble working up the energy to read another Howard Dean profile. The other day-I’m embarrassed to admit this-I had to have someone explain to me what the Atkins diet is.”

-Cullen Murphy, managing editor, The Atlantic Monthly

“I feel like I should know more about Liberia than I do. I only know minimal about Liberia.”

-Joy Behar, co-hostess of ABC’s The View

“I make a conscious habit of tuning out media show trials, like that of Scott Peterson.”

-Adam Bellow, author and son of Saul Bellow

“I have no concept or interest in gaming, Game Boy, game culture. I feel like that’s something that’s going to eclipse me totally. And my son will probably eventually get into that, but I see other kids with those games and all of that Pokémon-what was that one that was popular a few months ago? Grand Theft Auto? I totally don’t get that. That totally passes me by. I played Pacman, I think, when I was in college. But that’s the last time I touched a video game.”

-Kate Betts, journalist, former editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar

“I’ve avoided every blockbuster. I didn’t see any of the Terminator films. It started off as a fear of not getting a ticket; now it’s a personal preference. E.T. was the first I just missed, then it became obsessive. Once I missed one of them, I decided to miss all of them. When it opens with a $75 million weekend at the box office, I won’t see it.”

-Andy Borowitz, humorist

“That whole Cuomo divorce thing. I have no idea what happened.”

-Nick Denton, publisher of the Web log http://www.gawker.com

“I don’t get any of these references to Six Feet Under , The Sopranos or Sex and the City . This is the sort of thing they ask Heidi Klum on the back of Marie Claire .”

-Michael Jackman, executive director, the Underground Literary Alliance

“I’d never get to work and make those sexy dresses if I followed politics and all that. Botox and collagen-that would be another thing I left out. Raw diets: not interested. Jayson Blair? No, I don’t know who that is. I know Tony Blair.”

-Betsey Johnson, fashion designer

“We carry on too much about the Iraqi war …. I miss all prime-time television and all the shows except Seinfeld , because I work all the time. I’m very involved here during the nighttime, and I am never at home.”

-Elaine Kaufman, proprietor, Elaine’s restaurant

” American Idol, Joe Millionaire , the whole lot-I’m equally ignorant about all of that. I can’t read one more Medicare-reform story …. I never watch TV news, nor cable-TV news …. I don’t do local government anymore. I don’t do soccer, women’s basketball or the Olympics, which I cheerfully avoid every two or four years. No Tour de France either, both because it’s cycling, and because it’s France.”

-Bill Kristol, editor, The Weekly Standard

“I tend to tune out the Laci Peterson story. I had no interest in reading the Hillary Clinton book. I read some of the reviews. I assumed it was just a political speech-not much truth there. The Lovely Bones , I didn’t read. I am at a point where I don’t have time for every book that gets a lot of press. I didn’t read Everything Is Illuminated.

-Lewis Lapham, editor, Harper’s Magazine

“Track suits.”

-John Malkovich, actor

“I just completely missed the Columbia space-shuttle accident. I kept turning on the television, really wanting to see the news, and they kept showing stuff about the shuttle. And I know six or seven people died, but people die every day-and this just didn’t affect my world, and I was not particularly drawn to it for some reason. I totally miss stuff like break-ups, make-ups, or Sheryl Crow and does she have a new album? Or when Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman got separated. I mean, who gives a fuck? If it involves anyone beyond my relationship with my wife, why should I give a fuck? Who cares who’s boning who, as long as they’re not your wife?”

-Steven Millington, general manager at Michael’s restaurant

“When Bush landed on the aircraft carrier in his Top Gun outfit-that is something I not only missed, but just refused to watch.”

-Florent Morellet, owner, Restaurant Florent

“I am skipping reality-TV shows, J. Lo and Ben, and P. Diddy’s purchase of the Knicks.”

-Faith Popcorn, trend prognosticator

“I wouldn’t watch reality television if you paid me. Everyone is allowed a guilty pleasure. But if you indulge every guilty pleasure, you become extremely fat, stupid or you never read Middlemarch .”

-David Remnick, editor, The New Yorker

“All the reality shows I missed totally, and I am very happy-I find them very stupid. It’s fake; it’s a disaster. I don’t understand why people like them. I watched The Bachelor for five minutes, I watched Survivor for four minutes, but I don’t get it. It is not something to spend my time on, to watch these idiots talk on television …. But Rocco’s show [NBC’s The Restaurant ] is very nicely made, it’s very realistic.”

-Eric Ripert, chef, Le Bernardin

“I don’t understand why people celebrate the publication date of Harry Potter …. I haven’t been terribly fascinated by the Jessica Lynch story, unlike my colleagues. It seems to me that it was a production put on by the Pentagon.”

-Troy Roberts, correspondent, CBS’s 48 Hours

The California recall election. I know it’s happening. I know it’s stupid.”

-Hubert Selby Jr., author of Last Exit to Brooklyn .

“If I’ve got a great piece of news about Harry Potter , I’ll print it. But I never have. So I guess I have willfully ignored it. I hate reality television, except for Queer Eye for the Straight Guy .”

-Liz Smith, gossip columnist

“I don’t read magazines or anything. It doesn’t seem to me that you’ve missed something if you didn’t read Harry Potter , for instance, unless you’re 12. I find all of that quite bullying. I’m about 15 years behind on the latest movies.”

-Zadie Smith, author, White Teeth and The Autograph Man

“I refused to watch any of this stuff about Laci Peterson. Being murdered is one of the leading causes of death for pregnant women. It infuriates me how shallow we are that we just cover the pretty blond ones or the pretty white people, and we act like we are making an objective news judgment.”

-John Stossel, co-anchor, ABC’s 20/20

” The Devil Wears Prada -I missed out on that completely. Harry Potter books-I saw the movies, but I didn’t actually sit down and read them. The Producers and Hairspray . Shakespeare in the Park. The 1980’s Flashdance look: It’s ugly and scary. It looks good on J. Lo-that was, like, for a video, not real life. Keep it in the video.”

-Lucy Sykes, fashion director of Marie Claire

“I was never really into HBO’s Sex and the City . I feel guilty for not having been an aficionado of that, and also now I’m getting behind again on The Wire , I think it’s called. I’m kind of angry at the literati for adopting television now on top of every other type of literature that we have to keep up with. It’s just too much. I’m ready to scream bloody murder.”

-Laurel Touby, founder, Mediabistro.com

“Jessica Lynch. I’m not interested, because I saw Wag the Dog . I’m not interested about whether or not Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are going to stay together after Gigli . I saw Shanghai Surprise .”

-Richard Turley, columnist, Avenue

“Here’s a little secret, something that I haven’t told anyone before: I stopped reading The New York Times Book Review . It was always one of those things you felt obligated to read, and then I realized no one cared. I now have 45 minutes more free time on Sundays.”

-Michael Wolff, media columnist, New York

“I know there is a person named Laci Peterson, but I don’t know if she was the one who was killed or the killer. I slightly suspect she was the one who was killed. Or did she disappear? Do you know? … I have been paying some attention to Liberia. Not close, though. You can’t dance at every wedding.”

-Jacob Weisberg, editor, Slate

-Reported by Alexandra Atiya, Jake Brooks, Joey Cohen, John Gallagher, Elon Rafael Green, Lucas Hanft , Nicholas Graham, Ollie Haydock, Noelle Hancock, Michael Mohammed, Lauren A.E. Schuker, Gabriel Sherman, Lucy Teitler and Yana Litovsky

What I Skipped This Summer