IN the Watergate era, this might have been called a “modified limited hangout.”
Now, it’s an “apology tour.” And Arnold Schwarzenegger made a grand one last week as he worked through the confessional stops — from “60 Minutes” to Fox, pointed toward Jay Leno — while promoting a memoir that was published Monday by Simon & Schuster.
The book’s title, “Total Recall,” is not wholly apt. As with the partial revelations of Richard M. Nixon and company, it concedes fault and begs much forgiveness. But it forgets a lot of messy details.
Mildred Baena, the housekeeper by whom Mr. Schwarzenegger fathered a son while married to Maria Shriver, is there. But not by her full name, nor anywhere in the 60-plus pages of family and celebrity photos. Martin D. Singer, the legal pit bull who for years has done battle with Mr. Schwarzenegger’s detractors (in his Hollywood years, and as the governor of California) appears not at all.
Whether the book tour and its accompanying mea culpas are working for Mr. Schwarzenegger, who declined to be interviewed about his interviews, is an open question.
“He got to tell his own story in his own way, which is never a bad thing,” said Howard Bragman, a longtime Hollywood publicist who is vice chairman of Reputation.com.
But, Mr. Bragman added, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s trademark arrogance (endearing to fans of “The Expendables 2,” a turnoff to others) also became the story in these Seven Days of Arnold:
SUNDAY, SEPT. 30 “She gave up her television career for you. I mean, wow. Was this just the most unbelievable act of betrayal to Maria?” gasped Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes.” She was speaking of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s bad faith toward Ms. Shriver.
“I think it was the stupidest thing I’ve done in the whole relationship,” Mr. Schwarzenegger answered.
As apology tours go, it wasn’t a bad beginning. He had declined news media interviews in July, when he showed up in San Diego at the Comic-Con International convention to promote “The Expendables 2” and, weirdly, to bemoan his inability to behead and kill rivals in the political arena.
Apparently, the idea was to give Ms. Stahl a clear shot at the next Arnold Schwarzenegger: Contrite. On the mend. Hoping, still, to repair his broken family. But there was just no keeping the old Arnold down.
“I wanted to write a book about me,” he explained at one point. Regrets? Certainly. But “I don’t suffer for anything that I have lost,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.
Twitter lit up, and Joy Behar congratulated him for not groping Ms. Stahl. But 11.52 million people tuned in.
MONDAY, OCT. 1 Publication day, and Gawker struck.
“Arnold Schwarzenegger opens up about his terrible life choices while profiting from his terrible life choices” read a tweet from the gossip site. But Mr. Schwarzenegger had already tweeted of a surprise 1:30 p.m. signing at the McNally Jackson bookstore in Manhattan. Roger Pantano, a bookstore clerk, said that Mr. Schwarzenegger was gracious, even charming, signing books for 150 people in a little more than an hour. Hundreds more fans clustered outside on Prince Street, hoping for a glimpse.
“It couldn’t have gone better,” Mr. Pantano said. “He was smiling the whole time.”
On the “Hannity” show on Fox News that evening, Mr. Schwarzenegger was, of course, apologetic. “I’m ashamed about that past, the mistakes that I’ve made,” he said.
But there it was, that flicker of hubris, hiding just behind his explanation of the decision to tell all (or at least some).
“I’m not going to write a book that just shows the success of Arnold, the great immigrant story,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.
“But it is a great immigrant story, the book,” he couldn’t resist adding.
TUESDAY, OCT. 2 “What I’ve done is just about the stupidest thing that any human being could do,” Mr. Schwarzenegger told Piers Morgan on CNN. The apologies were getting larger, as if the colossal misbehavior was an achievement in itself. But the crowds were growing, too. In the nation’s capital for a sold-out promotional event sponsored by The Washington Post, Mr. Schwarzenegger even had some debate advice for the presidential candidates: avoid details.
“My strength was not policy in 2003,” he said of his gubernatorial debate experience. “My strength was … me.”
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 3 “Total Recall” was climbing Amazon’s closely watched sales list. “He’s going to have a best seller,” Mr. Bragman said in a telephone interview that morning.
By 4 p.m. in the Midwest, the doors were finally jammed shut on a capacity crowd of 500 who turned out for a Schwarzenegger signing at a Barnes & Noble store in Columbus, Ohio.
For those who admire Mr. Schwarzenegger, the tour was assuming an aura of inspiration. For the rest, it was becoming a long week.
On the ESPN Web site, Bill Simmons weighed in with an hourlong taped interview about bodybuilding, hanging out at Elaine’s and the wonder of being Arnold.
“I would never exchange my life with anybody’s,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said on the tape, which was made about a week before the book tour began.
Nobody even mentioned Maria.
THURSDAY, OCT. 4 If it’s Thursday, it must be Minnesota, where Mr. Schwarzenegger’s schedule called for a 5 p.m. stop at the Mall of America in Bloomington. At 1 p.m., about 150 people were already lined up in the mall’s cavernous Rotunda. “We expect it to be one of our larger signings,” said Sarah Schmidt, a public relations coordinator for the shopping center.
A big event in the mall can draw a crowd of thousands, with people lining the walkways on four tiers around the Rotunda. “By 5, it’ll be like that,” Ms. Schmidt said.
FRIDAY, OCT. 5 Back on home turf in Los Angeles, things looked promising. Earlier in the week, a clerk at Barnes & Noble in The Grove shopping center recommended showing up early to get a wristband for a Friday evening book signing. “We open at 9 a.m.,” he advised.
SATURDAY, OCT. 6 A signing at Costco in Huntington Beach, Calif., was on the schedule.
Ahead lies “Meet the Press” and Jay Leno. Then it starts all over again in Europe, where Mr. Schwarzenegger is scheduled to apologize for and celebrate his life at the Frankfurt Book Fair. He will also help present an environmental award in Copenhagen, and attend the European Arnold Classic in Madrid.
This last, a fitness festival, is named, without apology, for the author.