Monday, September 21, 2009

In Our Neck of the Woods

It's not terribly often that "Today" takes its show on the road, so when they do, viewers know to expect something big. And something big they got!

Matt Lauer, Al Roker, and I'd say, oh, a few hundred of their co-workers from Today, NBC News and NBC Sports descended on Arlington last Friday and did the show live from Cowboys Stadium.

Old news.

Here's the new news.

I was lucky enough to be a part of the action, along with photojournalist Marc "Goose" Gustafson and the new Abilene Today team. You recognize one of them – Meteorologist Chris Whited. The other member of the team has yet to be announced. I'll give you a hint: it's a woman (just in case the skirt and heels didn't give it away).

When I heard rumblings of Today coming to Texas in one week (thank you, Facebook) I told the news director, who also happens to be my husband, that I wanted to take the new team to shoot some promotional commercials with Matt & Al. Well, maybe that part was his idea... Anyway, Team Kellerman (pictured at Texas Stadium) got the ball rolling, making arrangements for credentials, contacts, accommodations, writing, pre-producing, mapping and packing.

As prepared as I felt on Friday morning with my briefcase full of paperclipped scripts, stopwatch, still camera, laptop, cue cards and a coffee mug with Matt Lauer's face on it (don't ask) we knew that we'd be at the mercy of live television in a 3 million square foot venue. Oh yeah, and Goose had two cameras, four mics and about 100 yards of cables to tote around. (I exaggerate. I think.)

Basically, we were prepared to just be prepared.

At one minute, Matt would be on a platform over the end zone. At the next, he'd be standing in the end zone with Al suspended 90 feet in the air. All of a sudden, Matt is on a golf cart with Jerry Jones headed for the other end zone. Then he's in the locker room. Then the concourse. It was amazing to watch. Those producers did such a fantastic job. Side note: I wish I had time to write and entire blog dedicated to watching the engineers, production, PR and everyone else cranking out a flawless show. They never get the credit they deserve!

My team arrived at the stadium 5 a.m., with no food, and no water, and NO COFFEE in our systems. The Mystery Anchor was also extremely ill, which will make for a fantastic blog once she starts. We spent three hours hurrying up and waiting, trying to be ready at the drop of a hat to get our video with the Today show folks while trying to take advantage of the down time by shooting our own video and commercials.

Then, came the moment we'd all been waiting for. In between a segment about gourmet stadium food and a segment with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, we had an entire 90 seconds to shoot the six promos I had written. So, I picked my favorite two, grabbed the cue cards out of my bag (which made me feel like a TOTAL nerd) and started hurling out instructions. Matt and Al totally understood where I was going with the promos, added their own flare, and Goose captured it all beautifully.

Then, the birds started chirping, the Today show team headed for the airport, and we headed to Starbucks to caffienate ourselves and begin our long drive back to A-town.

Some fun facts: Chris, Goose and I accidentally showed up in one of the segments. Thank goodness Mystery Anchor managed to remain a mystery. You can read Chris's blog about it here.

We wanted to get some of the video we shot on the air that night, so in order to make it all make sense we interviewed Chris about his day while walking back to the car. Well, at least that's what we wanted it to look like. Watch the video here.

Someone fed us! I will be eternally grateful to a member of Blue Star Media who brought us boxes breakfast from some mythical food area. I'll keep him anonymous so he won't get in trouble for feeding four kiddos who should have thought to pack a breakfast the night before.

See some of the photos we took here. The photos with all of us in them were taken by the programming director at my old station, KXAS, who was also at the taping. I'm so grateful to him for snapping those!

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