Robin Green won four Emmy Awards, three Golden Globes, two Peabody Awards, one Producers Guild of America Award and one Writers Guild of America Award for her work on hit television programs that include Northern Exposure and The Sopranos. She is also the co-creator and Executive Producer on the long-running television series Blue Bloods. Her career in writing began with her first job at Rolling Stone Magazine in 1970 and her latest project is a memoir entitled The Only Girl – My Life and Times on the Masthead of Rolling Stone.

Stay Thirsty Magazine was thrilled to visit with Robin Green at her home in New York City for this Conversation and to find out what it was like to be The Only Girl.

STAY THIRSTY: In your memoir The Only Girl you chronicle your life as a woman aspiring to become a writer and eventually becoming a very successful one. What motivated you to write your story at this time in your life?

ROBIN GREEN: Sarah Lazin, one of the Rolling Stone office-chicks way back then, now a New York literary agent, told me I should write it, that I had a story that should be told. After 30 years in television, I’d done pretty much everything I wanted to do and I’d just turned 70 – a good time to stop and reflect. Plus, it seemed like now or never. Besides, Mitch and I were spending winters on St. John, V.I., long months where I had to do something besides swim. So, I wrote a book.

STAY THIRSTY: Even though you were the first woman to make the masthead of Rolling Stone, you write of always feeling invisible at the magazine. How were you and your thinking impacted by the culture and an era that clearly discriminated against women?

ROBIN GREEN: I felt invisible period, even more so to the women there. I was amazed when Sarah told me that she and other girls in the office watched, admired, envied me. As for the (all male) editors, I didn’t feel the fact of my being female had much bearing, that it was only my work that mattered and that they were glad to have it. In fact, male-domination at the magazine was to be short-lived. Only a year after I left its pages, Sarah and the others rose to editorships and increasing respect and control.

STAY THIRSTY: You recount meeting and working with some of the icons of the l970s and 1980s that included Hunter S. Thompson, Annie Leibovitz, Dennis Hopper and, of course, Jann Wenner. You write about them in The Only Girl with the reverence of a young, aspiring writer and yet your work has eclipsed them all in terms of awards and accolades. How does that make you feel?

ROBIN GREEN: It makes me feel great!!! Just kidding. I remain awed and impressed by all their accomplishments, though I can sense Hopper and Hunter spinning in their graves at the very notion that I’d outstripped them. Jann and Annie, however, are sincerely proud and happy for what success I’ve had – something I know because they’ve told me so.

STAY THIRSTY: To the observer, your life was, in many ways, an embodiment of and testament to the “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” lifestyle of the times. Did that freedom of spirit cool as you grew older or does the “hooligan spirit” that pervaded the Rolling Stone offices continue to burn within you?

ROBIN GREEN: What a great question! Yes, I emerged from the excesses of those years, like so many of us, chastened. But the hooligan flame never entirely went out. I continued to love rock and roll, smoke dope now and then and, most importantly, particularly in the workplace, speak truth to power – though I sometimes got fired for it.

Robin Green

STAY THIRSTY: You have written and produced some of the most-watched television during the past thirty years. How hard was it to switch gears from television dialogue to writing a memoir?

ROBIN GREEN: Writing is writing. Sit in chair. Focus. Still, journalism had to do with thinking. TV with heart. Memoir used every part of me and I loved writing it more than I’ve ever loved writing anything – the sustained effort of it, the patience to wait for the sequence of things to announce themselves as I wrangled 70-odd years of people, places and jobs, success and failure. When the book was done, I loved reading it, and then I loved reading it aloud for the audiobook. There’s only one questions now: what do I write next?

STAY THIRSTY: You relate many stories about your friends and enemies in The Only Girl. Do you feel you did justice to those you loved and those who betrayed you? Do you look back at your early struggles with anger or with a fondness of a moment in time?

ROBIN GREEN: I hope I did everyone justice. If I was hard on people, I was just as hard on myself, honesty-wise. Or tried to be. I look back on my time at Rolling Stone with great fondness – Jann Wenner himself called it a loving portrait. As for TV, some of the scars are fresher, but even there the fond memories far outweigh the bitter ones. I’ve been lucky in all of it.

STAY THIRSTY: You lived a counter-culture life when you were young and later changed the American culture with shows like The Sopranos. If you could do it all over again, which period of your life would you relive and why?

ROBIN GREEN: That first year on The Sopranos, without a doubt! I was working by then with my husband, Mitchell Burgess. We had seen David Chase’s pilot, quite simply fallen in love with it and then quit a lucrative job to join him in writing and producing the show. We and everyone else – actors, other producers and writers, crew – were working in a vacuum, meaning the shows wouldn’t air until they were all in the can, and we were working, all of us, for the sheer, creative joy of it, not knowing if anybody in the world out there would love it as much as we all did – and then they did! That was a great year. And I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to relive what happened next – the limos and award shows broadcast around the world, the hair and make-up and borrowed diamonds.

STAY THIRSTY: In the end you say, “No longer the mute, frightened girl I’d been, staring out harmlessly from under my bangs. I’d found work that I loved; I’d become a woman of means.” What was the one milestone in your life that was most responsible for your change from the “frightened girl” to the “woman of means?”

ROBIN GREEN: The short answer is when, after a year in TV, I’d saved enough money to buy – never mind a room of my own, a house of my own! But the real answer was the day long before that in 1970 when I borrowed a car and drove across the bay to San Francisco to ask for a job, any job, at Rolling Stone, because that was the day that my life as a person in the world began, the day I chose and went after what I wanted. I didn’t get a job that day but was offered the chance to write an article for the magazine and I did, I wrote the shit out of it and after that, well, it all pretty much worked out.


All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.