Ten Minutes With Abigail Pogrebin
A producer, writer, and twin
Abigail Pogrebin has been a producer for some of the biggest names in television journalism—including Charlie Rose, Bill Moyers, and Mike Wallace. In addition, she has authored two successful books: Stars of David and One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin. And she appeared on stage in a Stephen Sondheim musical at the age of 16. Litchfield County is where she unwinds with her husband David Shapiro and their two children.
Did you start out wanting to work in television? I was an English and theater major at Yale and thought I would become an actor until I faced the reality of such a life and switched to journalism.
You’ve worked with some amazing people. How did you break into producing for television? During summers when I was in college, I interned for Fred W. Friendly, a legendary producer who was responsible the groundbreaking “Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now,” which revolutionized television reporting. I was a researcher and when I graduated I worked for him as a producer in public television.
Why did you switch from television to print? My final television job was as a producer for “60 Minutes.” I was married and had my first child and I felt that the extensive traveling was cutting into the time with my family.
What was it like to be in a Sondheim show? I knew every score to every show he ever wrote, so I tried out for Merrily We Roll Along and made the cast. I got to act and sing, although I don’t have a great voice. The show only ran for 16 performances, but the score lives on and the old cast members still keep in touch.
Your mother co-founded of Ms Magazine. Were you aware of the impact she and Gloria Steinem had on women in the 1970s? I was never an activist but I was aware that my mother was a public figure and had helped to change the lives of many women.
What was it like growing up with an identical twin? Robin and I pretty much fit the mold. Being a twin is like having the ultimate partner in life. We have had a very intense, powerful, but complicated relationship. Except for a bump in the road when we became adults, we have always been close and not at all competitive.
Both of your books are composed on interviews. You manage to get people to reveal so many personal things. My mother interviewed people, and it was not uncommon for people to be grilled at the Pogrebin dinner table. I thought it was normal to ask people questions and get them to answer.
Does your day-to-day routine change when you are in Connecticut? Absolutely. Litchfield County is magical. It slows my heartbeat down, which is not easy to do when you’re a neurotic New Yorker like I am. It’s transformative—the pace, the peace, the things you see. Every moment here is precious.