Monday night's On the Record show was jinxed. Here are some examples--in the first segment, when we were talking about the fires in Simi Valley, California, video of the fires in San Diego went up on the screen. Things did not improve much after that.
As Anita Vogel was telling you about the wild fires in the first part of the first segment, my producer in NYC was telling me that we had lost phone contact with our second planned guest-- a fire chief. As Anita finished her report, and I missed some of it because my producer was talking in my ear explaining our guest problems, I tried to ask her Anita question. As luck would have it, she had lost her audio and could not hear me. Essentially I was talking to myself.
So I then was just about to go to our third planned guest--having been told we lost our second guest--when my NYC based producer told me through my ear piece that we had re-established phone contact with our second guest--in other words, the fire chief was on the phone and I could go to him. That was the first 9 minutes of the show. As you might imagine, it is a bit chaotic to listen to guests, ask questions, listen to your producer, via ear piece, about problems and appear to you--the audience--that all is well.
Well...things did not get a whole lot better as the hour progressed.
During the segment on Terri Schiavo (search), more problems surfaced. When I wanted to have you see what Terri Schiavo's husband said under oath, it was slow to get to the screen so I could read it to you. I looked up to read it from the screen only to see me staring back at myself--not a sight that I like to see.
Could it get worse? Yes. Reverend Al Sharpton (search) was a guest and his driver either got lost or was late and thus did not show up on time for his scheduled segment.
We had to rush Terri Schiavo's parents' lawyer to the set--a segment earlier than expected. Fortunately, she was ready to be rushed to the set. As luck would have it, switching the Schiavo segment with the Sharpton one was not ideal This meant the Schiavo segment occurred in our 'hard break' segment which means it must end exactly on time or the computer will simply will cut us off--not an event I want to have happen. It is also a shorter segment which meant that I did not get to ask the lawyer all the questions I had wanted or mentally planned. We had already had enough chaos that having to "re-group" with no notice was not ideal from my viewpoint.
There was also some question whether Reverend Sharpton's driver would ever find the remote location for the interview so we rushed in [criminal defense attorneys] Bernie Grimm and Ted Williams in case we had to extend our legal panel another segment. Reverend Sharpton did make it and Bernie and Ted sat quietly on the set while I interviewed the Reverend. Of course the camera people took tight shots of the set during that interview with Reverend Sharpton since it would have looked silly for Bernie and Ted to be sitting with me while I did a satellite interview of Reverend Sharpton.
In short last night's show was so chaotic behind the scenes that when it was over I wondered if it had gone out "clean" to you. I can tell you that during the commercial breaks we were frantically trying to figure out how to solve our problems.
And, today? Well...my NYC producer is sick. I could tell last night that she was very sick during the show and her voice was not holding up. She was a real trooper under the circumstances. I bet she has no voice today because she had virtually none when she said good night to me after I closed the show. Most of the stress from shows like last night fall on the shoulders of the line producer who is in the control room trying to work out solutions under huge time pressures. My hat goes off to her for handling the problems so well--it isn't easy and especially when she was sick.
Watch On the Record with Greta Van Susteren weeknights at 10 p.m. ET