Monday, April 28, 2008

Stalking MoDo

The Newseum in Washington, DC is a newly reopened museum located right on Pennsylvania Avenue. The old location, which closed a few years ago, was across the river in Arlington where it got poor foot traffic being way off the beaten path. The new digs are in a huge new building it shares with a Wolfgang Puck restaurant and high-end condos. The museum itself has all sorts of high-tech gizmos and exhibits. It has two working television studios and one is now used every Sunday for the taping of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”, ABC’s Sunday morning political talk show.

I’ve been a regular watcher of “This Week” since its salad days with David Brinkley and the “classic” roundtable of George Will, Cokie Roberts, and Sam Donaldson. I got an e-mail alert that Maureen Dowd would be on the roundtable and I made plans to see if I could cross paths with her. Some may call it stalking; I call it celebrity fan worship.

The museum opens at 9 a.m. and I was part of a small scrum demanding entrance right at nine. “This Week” airs at 10 a.m. in the Washington area, but the actual taping takes place at nine. By the time I bought a membership, figured out where the studio was, and made my way up there, the first segment was already in progress.

IMG_9420The studio that “This Week” uses is the smaller one in the front of the museum on the third floor with the Capitol building in the backdrop. The Newseum broadcasts the feed on the enormous high definition screen in the lobby, but the sound was turned off. A couple of minutes before the end of the segment, out walked the full Roundtable Panel which included George Will, Donna Brazile, Maureen Dowd, and Matthew Dowd (no relation as far as I know).

IMG_9326Maureen was wearing a charcoal gray skirt with a red top that was flirting with coral or salmon. Her beige high heeled shoes were very simple without veering off into FMP territory. While I expected her to be short, she seemed just a little more full-figured than I expected, not that she was anywhere close to Donna Brazile territory. In the post-show webcast she did admit to eating more cheesesteaks than Obama. For a woman that splits the age difference between me and my mother, she came off professional but not matronly.

IMG_9330They all made small talk with each other on the atrium walkway until it was time to do their teaser. Dowd chatted with George Will and briefly leaned over the railing to admire the news helicopter hanging from the ceiling. For a brief instant the cameras went on and everybody smiled. Then they went into the studio.

IMG_9340There is only one small window into the studio that isn’t blacked out. I later learned that the fourth level of the museum has on overlook into the studio, but the view doesn’t seem to be much better. For the most part, I just watched the feed on the big screen waiting for brief glimpses of Dowd, who seemed a little nervous and didn't get as much screen time as the other guests.

IMG_9397After the segment was over, everybody unclipped their microphones and walked from the studio to the green room back in the staff-only part of the floor. Donna Brazile was still animatedly discussing Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategy. The two Dowds hung back and were talking to each other. Maureen gave me a quick look briefer than a glance and continued on.

My behavior for a smitten stalker was admirable. I stayed in the public spaces. I didn’t approach the guests (except for the senators, who were glad to have their picture taken), and I avoided any disruption of the show’s production. The only request they had was that I not use my flash, so most of my pictures were done with available light. You can see other pictures from my visit in the Flickr set, not all of which feature Maureen.

BlatantCommentWhoring®: On a scale from Mel on The Flight Of The Conchords to Rupert Pupkin, how big of a stalker am I?

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