Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Shaking Hands With George


IMG_9408My post a while back about stalking Maureen Dowd was anti-climactic because I never actually met MoDo. At best I got a curious and/or nervous look from here as to why I was taking a pictures. The person I did manage to meet was George Stephanopoulos. Like any celebrity, he is smaller than he appears in television, which is mighty small indeed. Despite his bushy eyebrows, he has never lost that boyish whiz-kid look he had as one of Bill Clinton’s inner circle.

IMG_9340Producing his Sunday morning show requires a fair amount of physical energy. The show is recorded in the smaller of the third floor studios of the brand new Newseum right next to a large staircase the runs up and down the height of the building. Right after the Roundtable segment, while the panelists are moseying over to the green room for the web post-interview, George and an assistant race up the stairwell to get to sixth floor for the Weekly Funnies segment.

I had been standing outside watching all the guests go by when he came out for the next segment. As he went past, to break the awkwardness of me staring at him, I said, “I really love the show.” I felt like a groupie hanging around the back door of a Hannah Montana concert.

IMG_9403He stopped and said “thanks” and continued on up the stairs. Once he gets up to the roof terrace (and these are tall floors), he sets up overlooking the Mall of DC. From there he points out a landmark and introduces the late show comic clips. After that, he does the closing remarks and the show wraps.

But that doesn’t mean he is done. I wandered back through the museum looking at some of the exhibits and when I got back down to the third floor I noticed a group hanging outside the door to the studio. I glanced into the studio and saw George sitting at the desk talking to the camera.

IMG_9400I wandered over to see what the crowd was for. Before I could find out, the door opened and a guy wearing tons of badges ushered them in and I wagon-trained along. I don’t like looking like a tourist even when I am being one. Even though I had a camera case over my shoulder, I had dressed for the day in pleated khakis and a nice earth-tone button down shirt. I looked positively Al Gore-ish.

This group that was on a private tour was also dressed pretty nicely for a Sunday morning in Washington. They turned out to be a group of VIPs from a company that owned several network affiliates. Everybody tip-toed back into the electronics filled back of the studio with all the cables and cameras. In addition to Snuffleupagus (as cruel bloggers call him), there was the guest wrangler and three or four production people.

IMG_9416George was doing drop-in interviews with local stations. The producer was on the phone and would tell George who they were going to talk to next. George would then sit there repeating the name and city of the local anchor he was about to talk to. The camera man would count down the feed and then George would turn on the charm. He’d make news-show happy chat with the local newscaster and pimp the panelists and topic for the day’s show which obviously hadn’t aired yet in that market. While I was in there, he talked to LA, Atlanta, and Miami.

Between the drop-ins, he would walk out from behind the desk and schmooze with the big wigs. The topic of the day was (and still is) when will Hillary throw in the towel. He would just shrug and reply to the effect of “when she is good and ready.”

I tried to stay as inconspicuous as possible. As he came around shaking hands and being introduced to everyone, it became inevitable that he would reach me. I just stuck out my hand and introduced myself. He said, “That’s right, we met outside.” He had remembered me from the hallway.

Once all the on-air promotions were done, the tour continued on over to the master control room, but I ducked out the other direction before anyone could notice me and call security.

The whole time I was there, George was nothing but polite and professional to everyone. That included senators, news columnists, corporate guests, and me, a nosey blogger that had wandered in off the street. Say what you want, but I say George Stephanopolous is a class act.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: When have you wandered into someplace you didn’t belong and were you caught?

7 comments:

baltimorediary said...

I'm actually pretty good at this sort of thing. The key (for me, anyway) is acting like you practically own the place. Speak with a little authority, maybe even ask for stuff, small favors, that sort of thing.

Elizabeth said...

Wow, you're brave! I would never have the guts to do that! I read Stephanopolous's book that he wrote a couple years ago, it was pretty interesting.

Alex said...

Security people are just people and people in general can sense when you feel like you don't belong. As baltimorediary points out, acting like you're supposed to be there is the key.

cathouse teri said...

I always try to act like I'm supposed to be there. No matter where I am. And it's true. People believe it. And after awhile, so do I!

I liked this story. And I'm sure George's last name wasn't that easy to type.

Anonymous said...

my mother, aunt and i went to NYC for new years eve three years in a row - you have to get there really early in the day and sit there in the cold and you can't leave to go to the bathroom but we didn't get there till around 9pm - the first year we snuck into the middle of the square with a private group of MTV partyers (wagon-trained onto the group) - we got pretty good at sneaking to the middle of times square

Anonymous said...

sorry - that was me... mo

Jeff said...

Cool story. That's great that you were able to get all those pictures without getting busted.