HBO’s Sheila Nevins Is Loving Every Minute of Her Book Tour

"I'll go anywhere to sell this book," says the president of HBO Documentary Films. "I have no shame."

From the looks of the crowd at Michael’s today, I suspect there were plenty of big doings being finalized in betweeen bites of Cobb salad. Attorney Bob Barnett was with Huma Abedin, Charlie Rose was huddled in conversation with Marie Josee Kravis on Table Four while CBS 48 Hours Mystery’s Susan Zirinsky and producer Josh Gelman were chatting in the window at Table One.

I was joined by the one and only Sheila Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films and, thanks to her new book You Don’t Look Your Age… and Other Fairy Tales, someone who can now add to her long list of credits New York Times bestselling author. HBO has a room christened The Holy Shrine of Sheila that houses all the hardware she’s won over the 35 years she’s been there. The haul includes 32 Primetime Emmy Awards, 34 Emmys for news and documentaries and 42 Peabody Awards. But who’s counting?

Sheila Nevins and Diane Clehane

Sheila is having the time of her life making the rounds–and believe me, she’s left no stone unturned–to talk about her book. “I’m so used to selling other people’s wares. I am having so much fun with this.” She’s been on Charlie Rose, The View, Metrofocus, CBS This Morning and CBS Sunday Morning, The Talk (more on that later), NPR, SiriusXM and appeared at the Berkshire Film Festival. “I’m a bhooker–a book hooker. I’ll go anywhere to sell this book. I have no shame,” she told me between bites of her burger.

Just last night, she Skyped with a radio show in New Zealand. She’s done book signings in stores between television appearances and has met the masses at the new behemoth Barnes & Noble in Scarsdale, where she packed the house and wound up Skyping with an attendee’s book club a few days later. She’ll be signing books at Bookhampton on Thursday in East Hampton. And on July 30, she’ll be the keynote speaker “Deal With It,” a women’s conference in Beverly Hills hosted by the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

The process of writing the book (on her ipad) and talking about it have been a revelation for the industry icon. “I didn’t have an identity outside of HBO,” she told me. “On a documentary, there are 50-60 people you share the credit with–justifiably so. I wanted to see if I could be creative on the outside. The book is my story, my writing. I paid for [the recording studio] myself. I can say I did it by myself and I feel more confident having done it.”

Her observations from road are as colorful as the content of the book. “Everyone is twelve years old,” said Sheila. She recently spoke to a group of young women at Refinery29, where one woman told her “there’s a guy who’s hitting on me.” “I told her to say, ‘I hope I didn’t hear you say what I think you said, because I respect you too much.'” After Sheila’s talk ended, the same woman approached her to go over it again. “I told her I wish I had that line.”

After her experience on The Talk, Sheila realized, “I’m good, I can do this.” She was sequestered in the green room for about an hour before going on, alone with 7-Up and bowls of potato chips and popcorn. “I had no idea who was on the show. They come and mic you five minutes before and you’re seated at the table [on set] and then women [on the show] come in and you act like you’ve known each other your whole life. Sharon Osborne was my best friend.”