Monday, December 13, 2010

We Heart Good Morning America!

The television news industry is a funny business.  Most folks on the outside think it's a lot of fame and fortune and are always surprised to find out that it's not.  Few people realize there's a long row to hoe if you wanna make it to the top.  When we had a chance to see the 'top' from behind the scenes, we have to admit...we were pretty interested in what the view looked like.

Good morning!
Brandi, Andy, Heather and Brett all met while working at KAIT in Jonesboro, Arkansas.  Today, Brandi still works there as a reporter and was able to get us VIP tickets to see Good Morning America while we were in NYC.  Shot in the Times Square ABC studios, GMA is pretty much as high as any television journalist can get!

Could you hold this?
We showed up barely awake bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6:45 a.m. with our hand painted signs in tow and were promptly escorted to the front of the line with our VIP pass...sweet!  After getting the TSA GMA security check, we found ourselves on the front row in the studio audience section...right next to another VIP couple wearing Mississippi State apparel.  Ironic, isn't it?  Heather slyly asked the lady to hold her extra I Heart NY Y'all Loves GMA sign while the camera passed by.  If you were watching and blinked, you probably missed it!

Studio handlers let us take pictures on the kitchen set and we watched the show from television monitors.  We also got to see the teleprompter roll through the studio cameras...only old newsies would spend that time looking for typos in the copy!  Our VIP access tour let us go upstairs and take a closer look behind the scenes...we're still sort of laughing about what we saw.

GMA's newsroom is located on the second floor and is really not a lot different than the studios you'll find at KAIT.  A newsroom is a newsroom is a newsroom.  Sure, things are a little more complex and the interview guests are bigger names, but it's all pretty much all the same.  The control room had plenty of folks sweating out every ticking second and still yet, there was a guy in the corner reading the newspaper and eating a bagel who looked as though he could care less about the whole thing.  The producer was cutting stories and teases when they were over on time and the rundown changed while we were standing there.  We also saw Elizabeth Vargas retouching up her own makeup during packages.  The newsroom studio was covered in dirty cables and there were people waving cues behind tethered studio cameras.  (Where were the fancy robotic cameras...this is the "top" right?)  The light cues were awesome though...all robotic and remote controlled.

You couldn't take pictures up there, but we did get to watch George Stephanopoulos interview Ed Smart (Elizabeth's dad) and watched JuJu Chang and Elizabeth Vargas read the news.  Robin Roberts was off on the day we were there and Sam Champion was doing the weather on location so we missed seeing them.

We knew that scheduled guests for the show were going to be Dr. OzDiary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney and chef Emeril Lagasse.  We were totally surprised when Cam Newton, winner of the Heisman trophy, walked in the room for a coat drive presentation.  Brandi was able to snap a picture of Brett with Cam in the background!  (The two had actually stood together on the Mississippi State sidelines last year when he was being recruited)

Thumbs up Cam!
It was a little awkward when Cam noticed the Mississippi State fans...Heather really wanted to ask where his cowbell was, but Brett advised against it.  After all, we didn't want security to throw us out so soon in the show.

Cam is too cool for school in Mississippi.
Here's a quick look at Cam behind the scenes on GMA:

Dr. Oz's interview turned out to be upstairs in the news studio so we didn't get to see him at all.  But we were literally feet from Jeff Kinney during his interview.  It probably would have been cooler if any of us were middle schoolers and had actually read Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Heather & Brett only knew what it was because there was a Wimpy Kid balloon in the Macy's Parade this year.  We guess even stars get starstruck because Jeff Kinney looked like a kid at Christmas when he got to touch the Heisman trophy!

How did it feel to rewrite Doug and not use color?
The staff at GMA did all the prep work for Emeril's cooking segment.  We liked that they even sprayed the fruits & veggies with water bottles right until the cameras went on to make sure they looked good on TV.  Mr. Lagasse rolled in a few minutes before the break ended and BAM!  He "whipped" up some Simple Chocolate Truffles and Turkey Gumbo in no time!  We missed out on the Gumbo samples, but JuJu grabbed the platter of truffles and personally served us up a couple...they were delicious!

It was a little early for BAM!

Being on the front row does have it's perks!  We did manage to get our pictures made with some of the stars.  Thankfully, Heather is a firm believer in the two camera shoot.  Otherwise, this first pic would have been all we got.

No really, terrible photography lady...We didn't all want to be in this picture.
All in the picture...but George can't keep his eyes open. 
JuJu said to tell Region 8 hi!
GMA was pretty cool, but to be honest...the view from the 'top' wasn't that much different from the cheap seats.