Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Shaking Hands With George
My 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.
Producing 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.
He 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.
I 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.
George 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?