BOSTON – The Democrats have a balloon problem. John Kerry (search) concluded his acceptance speech Friday night, the jubilant convention crowd cheered and the balloons dropped. A few of them. Too few.
"Go balloons," said convention producer Don Mischer (search), instructing the balloon droppers. "Go balloons. Go balloons!" His voice was becoming increasingly frantic — and it was going out over CNN.
"I don't see anything happening," he said angrily. Unknown to him, CNN was running his name and title across the bottom of the screen.
Long minutes after the place was supposed to be a blizzard of balloons and confetti, Mischer was still shouting that it wasn't happening, at least it wasn't right. Viewers saw a lot of balloons, in fact, and Kerry, family members and delegates happily batted them around. But nothing like the 100,000 that had been supposed to cascade down.
At one point Mischer used a profanity to rebuke his balloon-dropping crew. CNN was still broadcasting his voice.
Finally, they all showered down. And Mischer's unhappy moment of TV fame was over.
His stage instructions were available to all major media covering the convention during the week — for their guidance, not for broadcast.
Stephen Jewett, a DNC official involved in podium operations, said there was no malfunction with the balloon drop. The balloons were timed to come down slowly, he said, making "for a longer ending, which was nice."