Letting the tape run on Rather

The Television Critics Association's summer press tour kicks off on an educational note, with Karen Herman, director of the Archive of American Television -- a division of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences -- introducing critics to its collection of in-depth interviews with TV legends.

And we do mean in-depth.

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather's runs about seven hours, said Herman, and he was willing to do more.

Given Rather's tendency to give long answers (did you happen to catch him on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show" the night of Walter Cronkite's death?) I asked how many questions he'd actually been asked.

Three, joked Herman, who later amended that: "I think we asked him at least 20 questions."

One of the shortest interviews in the archive, which includes, on the entertainment side, people like Mary Tyler Moore and Steven Bochco, is of the late Tim Russert, of NBC News.

"With someone like Tim Russert, who was younger, we said, 'We'll do a baseline interview,'" and revisit him later in his career, Herman said.

"Unfortunately," they never got the chance.

You can check out the searchable archive yourself at emmytvlegends.org.