Last night's show had its usual "surprise." The Washington Post's Ceci Connolly was supposed to be 'on camera' from Iowa (she was at the Senator John Kerry/Carole King political concert.) Seconds before the show started -- and I mean seconds -- my New York producer said in my earpiece: "we can't get Ceci on camera." Another network had agreed to lend us its satellite truck so we could put her on camera but at the last second the other network pulled out. It was understandable in that the other network was still using the truck for a political event it was covering which was running late. Needless to say, it became a "mad scramble" for us and Ceci suddenly became a "phoner." (At CNN it is called "beeper.")
I tell you about the "surprise" only to give you an idea how chaotic live tv can be. The night before Reverend Sharpton was supposed to be on in our "D" segment but got caught in traffic and was late. In the commercial break before the "D" segment, my New York producer told me (again in my earpiece) "we may have to move Reverend Sharpton to the "E" segment because he is not yet in the bureau. I responded, "that's fine...but what do we do in "D" which starts in less than a minute?" She said, "we will flip flop the guests from "E."
I then quickly groped for my notes for the "E" segment and in the back of my mind was thinking 'what if he does not show up at all?" Will my now "D" segment guests also become my "E" segment guests? Is there enough to talk two segments? And, does it make "sense" to have the "E" segment guests precede Reverend Sharpton?'
Of course Reverend Sharpton did make the "E" segment and all was well. He slid into the chair on the set with few seconds to go before we started the "E" segment. Another 5 seconds, and I would have had to do a monologue for 5 minutes and that would not have been "pretty."
Complicating everything was the fact that the first floor of our building was "closed" and getting into the building was a challenge. I am surprised he got upstairs to our set. When I left at 11pm, the lobby was still closed. There were signs and guards saying that the building was being x-ray'd and we could not go through the lobby. I asked the guard how he expected us to leave the building if the area was "closed" with signs and ropes. He said he did not know.
Fortunately, we figured out a way to exit via the cargo elevator. I was not looking forward to sleeping in my office.
Yes, the job can be chaotic -- but it is still fun.
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