Tuesday night President Obama gave the State of the union address in Washington, and we would tape a live show of post-speech analysis at 11pm. We’re not often live, and when we are, as we happen to be a relatively small crew, it’s all hands on deck.
Prior to Tuesday we had two of our guests lined up, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. She would be joining Charlie from a studio in Newton, MA. (Her name might be familiar if you’ve read anything about LBJ. More recently, she has been in the press thanks to the multiple Oscar-nominated film, “Lincoln,” which is based on her book, Team of Rivals.) Walter Isaacson was also booked (author of the most recent autobiography of Steve Jobs), and would join Charlie at the table.
I happened to be Mr. Isaacson’s contact and would make sure he arrived at our studio, made it to hair/makeup, and was situated at the table before 11. Part of my day was also spent coordinating travel for our other two guests, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, who would join us live via remote from Washington. Our line producer is the one who will book a studio (or in this case, multiple studios) when we have guests off-site. It is a multi-step process with various things to consider: when a studio is available and at what price, what time to open the satellite window, how to establish that the guests will be able to hear Charlie in studio and vice-versa, and many other things that are outside of my realm of basic understanding.
I’m afraid, however, that I’m getting ahead of myself. Rewind to the morning.
I arrive to work everyday around 9:30. I knew heading in I would be cutting clips first thing because our first segment of the day was with Carolina Herrera (this week is Fashion Week in NYC), and two composers she worked with on her latest show, Tom Hodge and Javier Peral. Following them was a panel on the state of the economy with the author/scholar of Catholicism, Garry Wills.
Cutting clips was a duty I inherited at Charlie Rose by sheer virtue of the fact that I know how to edit. My first job out of BC (that I began in August after graduation) was at the local CBS affiliate in Portland, Maine. I worked there for a year, lived at home, and cut on Avid Newscutter everyday. I knew from the beginning the job would be a stepping stone, but living at home, saving money, spending time with my parents, becoming a faster editor, learning to run prompter, learning my way around a control room … worth it. And then some.
Cutting clips at CR means working with the producer as he or she decides what outside media they want to have prepared for Charlie to “throw to” during the interview. In Herrera’s case it was footage from her runway show, and a quick and simple montage of three designers who had been on the show in the past years (Ralph Lauren, Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford) talking about the significance of fashion.
After clips are exported (I’m in constant communication with our line prod, Torrey, and the producer to ensure the clips are in order, they’re firing, and they make it down to the control room), I head down to the control room myself with my camera.
I sit next to Yvette in our control room during taping. In this case with the three segments we were down there for about 3 hours. Our director, technical director, camera operator (we use robotic cams), sound engineer, the segment producer, Ross, our production coordinator, and Torrey, are all there during taping. We communicate via headset. My job as we roll is to run the chyron which is the graphic that appears as a “lower third” font identifying the guest when he or she is speaking.
As each segment wraps, I badge into the studio and photograph Charlie with the guest(s). It’s one of the highlights of my job and I’m thrilled to be able to do it. I’ve always loved photography but never thought I would have a camera put in my hands the first month at CR. I assure you I’m an amateur, but it is a growing passion. I’ve been lucky enough to photograph so many fascinating people including Hillary Clinton at the State Department, Dame Judi Dench, Mahmoud Admedinejad, the president of Iran, and this man-of-many-talents, Tyler Perry:
We went live at 11 and had a good show. A few minor cuts and scrapes leading up to it (a problem with the feeds led to a last minute studio change and last minute re-routing of our Washington guests), but everyone made it to where they needed to be and we made it through.
These are long days, but I enjoy the adrenaline rush of going live. We wrapped at midnight and I headed home thinking about the many Tony Kushner clips I would be cutting the next day…