I have to admit, that after having come to NYC so many times now, I am fairly familiar with the city, its vibe, its pace, and it good and bad features. But, I always seem to overestimate my ability to endure the hours that Katie keeps with her job at CBS This Morning.
Day 10 started at 3:30 AM…a quick shower, a glance at the weather app, and we were off for a quick commute into the city from her home in Scotch Plains. I was awake. There is no way you can sleep with Katie at the wheel.
Katie has always been an “aggressive driver.” However, there is something about doing a daily commute to and from the city that has turned her into something akin to riding on a Starfighter as it dodges its way through the gaps of a Death Star in Star Wars. No…that isn’t scary enough. Think of riding on the back of one of those guys who flies with a wing-suit, through a tiny notch of a gap in a canyon, at 200 mph…with someone shooting at you…on crack. Get it?
I was wide awake by the time we got to CBS.
We are proud parents. Our kids have all gone on to do interesting, fun, amazing things. But, anyone (including her sisters) would have to admit that Katie’s job is unique. While it is true that there are more than 100 people involved with getting CBS This Morning on the air, with about as many rungs on the Union Ladder to reach the top, there aren’t many jobs on the show that are so visible…all of the time…without really understanding the “what do you do?” aspect of the job.
However, every Friday, we get validation of two things…Katie works on the show, and she is still in New York, 3,000 miles away (or 3,428 miles the way we came).
Every Friday, they do a montage of the “Week that Was,” and roll the credits for the show. There are a LOT of credits…but I almost always screen grab Katie’s name, and decide if I want to keep it on file…as a memory of some news that week. I used to do this every week…it is old hat now, and since the political season started (what was it…3 years ago???) it is hard to get a capture that doesn’t have one of the mooks running for President on it. This one was during the Government Standoff in Oregon…so there was a “local connection.”
So…Production Assistant. What does she do?
In the easiest terms possible, Katie is responsible for the text/graphics that appear on the bottom of the screen as the show progresses. It begins with Katie “loading the show,” which has her setting up all of the graphics, checking them for accuracy and position, and putting them in the cue, so that they can be fired onto the screen on command by one of the directors. It is very, very, very high paced and stressful…especially since the order of the elements often changes on the fly as a segment goes long, or there is “Breaking News” that can blow up entire segments in real time. It is easiest to just show you…
So…there are perhaps as many a 100 elements in a 2 hour broadcast. And to put this into the “Pressure Perspective,” if you make a mistake at work, almost nobody, or a small number of people ever know. If Katie makes a mistake…like say, getting this guys name wrong…
Now…if she screws it up, nobody may notice…or MILLIONS of PEOPLE may notice. But you can guess that Michio and his Mom will notice. So…yes…loads of pressure.
It is a blast to watch the team work. And every time we go, we get to see something else that we haven’t before…like the VERY COOL (warning…Geek Portion of this Post Coming) Virtual Wall Thingy (not the technical term) that Jared showed us.
So…in the old days, if you wanted to superimpose something that wasn’t really there on the TV screen, they had to use a “Green Screen” which allowed them to mask an area, and superimpose the image on that screen. Weather guys still use this at the local level…with sometimes hilarious results.
However… now, with an amazing boom camera, loaded with “Magic,” you can lock in to an image, and then fly in graphics over the top. Jared showed us in real time…superimposing over the World Map that used to be behind Walter Cronkite in the main studio.
Jared was also pretty damn proud of the dolly rig for his boom camera, making a point to show me the difference between the “crappy pole thing” that they have over at ABC, instead of this circular mount that allows easier movement of the camera around the floor (and a handy place to store your snacks).
Shot of the rest of the morning flowed, as we watched the live broadcast, the fixes and re-edits for the Mid-West and West Coast additions (several live segments change), and then the post production/pre-production for Saturday Morning, much of which is pre-taped and edited the day before the show airs on Saturday.
The Main Studio Wall is covered in CBS News Artifacts…including the very hat that Jordan Spieth wore when he won his first Masters Tournament. It is is a glass case…so the sweat cooties don’t leak out on Captain Kangaroo.
The Main Control Room…where the the action happens. Yes. There is a LOT going on.
On commercial break… Gayle cracking up the crew…and Norah’s 14″ stilletto heels.
The Team…Charlie Rose doing one of what could be three different shows in a day…CBS This Morning, his own show for PBS, and then often doing the Evening News or covering an event. He is said to sleep in 20 minute super naps. Amazing…and still the best interviewer on TV.
I am always amazed by how quickly technology changes from the “coolest thing ever” to something left in a hallway to be recycled. I would love to go to the landfill where this stuff ends up…
PHASE II…Meeting Uncle Dave and Miwa.
A scant 8 hours after we hit the road to the Big Apple, we moved on to Phase II of the day, hooking up with my best friend, Dave Faux. Dave and I go back to the days when he worked for me for our monthly music newspaper, the “Northwest Music News,” in the 1990s. I won’t go through the entire story…as that is worthy of several blog posts of their own…but I will say that to go from being a writer, to publicist for local bands, to getting a degree in “Religious studies” to doing a stint as a Fulbright scholar, and THEN switching to getting law degree and becoming the Legal Council for the Dramatist Guild, with an office on Time Square…is…well…nothing short of miraculous.
To me, Dave is my best friend. To my kids, he will always be “Uncle Dave.” And because of this distinction, I am “Uncle Path” to his beautiful, bright, entertaining daughter, Miwa.
This trip, being stretched to the limit with time and plans, we had to suffice with a lunch and some catching up at the beautiful Bryant Park, a postage stamp in comparison to Central Park, but close to Dave’s work, and loaded with fun stuff to do. Lunch at the Grill at Bryant Park was amazing…and “cloth napkin fancy” with air conditioning that was more than welcome in the sweltering 90 degree humidity.
Katie lived with “Uncle Dave” and Miwa when she first moved to New York during her internship at CBS. A fast and lifelong relationship was formed.
The famous lions outside of the New York Public Library, on the East end of Bryant Park. This is the most amazing library you will ever visit. It is a must…if for no other reason, to see where they filmed the opening scenes of the the first “Ghostbusters” movie.
PHASE III…the Death March
OK. I’ve been called out before on using the term “Death March,” most often by our friend “Mo” whose father actually survived the Bataan Death March in Worlds War II. But if you haven’t walked miles of NYC streets in the heat…with just 4 hours of sleep under your belt…while waiting for a 5 PM “Wedding Dress Fitting Appointment” to come…you simply can’t feel my pain. My feet were worn out…my clothes sticking to me…and my eyes were pounding with the need to sleep.
We took a meandering course down 57th and into the Broadway district…
The most sought after tickets in NYC are to “Hamilton.” In fact, attending it has achieved cult-like status. Ironically…right across the street from the Hamilton theater is another place with “cult-like status.” Or…maybe just a cult.
A personal aside here…bordering on the TMI range of stuff you probably don’t need to know. I am not a fan of public restrooms. I am a very regular guy who prides himself in the 7:15 Express every morning. The train never came. Too weird of a schedule. Too many lines. Every time I found a quiet restroom (I tried several) the toilet was out of order, or there was no toilet paper, or there was a long line. This only added to my suffering as the day went on. OK. Back to the general narrative.
I made it through the wedding dress fitting…the only male in the entire establishment…without sleeping. But, the second I hit the seat of Katie’s car (after enduring another walk and long subway ride back to a shorter walk to her parking lot) I was out like a light. Forget that the journey took more than an hour and a half through holiday weekend traffic…and Katie was driving like a madwoman to find any gap of advantage to put her 15 feet in front of any other driver trying to do the same…
I. Was. Out.
We finally got home around 8:30 PM…after a fun, but grueling 17-hour day. Holyfreakinshirt…I honestly don’t know how she does it.
I love visiting NYC…but there is no way in hell I could live there. The line from the song is correct… “If you can make it there…you’ll make it anywhere” (paraphrases), is accurate. I could “make it.” But, the pace, the smells, the crowds… there is a reason that they built Central Park as a “respite from city life.”
We were ready for a day of “Chillaxing” and meeting another new/old friend in a small, quiet New Jersey Town…