Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New York, New York!

by Pa Rock
Drama Critic


It was a helluva day in New York City! We left the hotel at 6 a.m. and walked to Rockefeller Plaza (located at the famed 30 Rock address) where we lined up to watch the Today Show being put together. Then it was on to Grand Central Station where we caught the subway to Battery Park and boarded the "Miss New York" ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Our next jaunt was a taxi ride to the Ed Sullivan Theatre to stand in line to pick up our tickets to The Late Show With David Letterman. The evening was topped off the the 2006 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical of the Year - The Jersey Boys! We slogged our way back to the hotel at 10 p.m.

The Today Show was a comprehensive lesson in the technical aspects of putting on a news-interview television show. It was dark - and very cold - when we arrived and gathered around their little fence that the people hang their signs over every morning. We got there extra early to get good spots, which we learned later wasn't necessary because there were only thirty or forty people who bared the cold to come out for the show, and about half of them were with our group!

We got to watch the cameramen setting up outside of the studio, as well as visit with the fellows who were circling taking pictures of the members of the crowd for NBC - which were offered for sale on-line later in the day. One guy said that he was required to take two hundred pictures, and since there were so few of us he snapped most people several times. We all got some face time on national television because of the small crowd. Patty Marks from my office at Luke AFB in Arizona called to say that she had seen us, and my son Tim in Kansas City emailed to say that we had been on "about four times!" That should just about polish off my fifteen minutes of fame!

We were able to look in the large studio windows and watch parts of the show being filmed. Matt and Meredith were seated with their backs to the window. Ann Curry read the news standing and facing them. Early on Dan Abrams, a guest, was sitting in another area preparing to be interviewed by Matt. He fiddled with his tie - for about fifteen minutes! Can you say "prissy beyond belief?"

Matt and Meredith came outside twice to where we were, and Ann Curry joined them once. After reading their spiels, they worked the crowd shaking hands, exchanging chitchat, and mugging for the cameras. Meredith even shook my hand and posed with Carla. One of the cameramen told us that if we called the stars by their middle names, they might walk over and visit. He said that Matt Lauer's middle name is Todd, Meredith Vieira's is Louise, and Al Roker's is Lincoln. (Al was doing a remote from Detroit. We had seen him boarding a plane yesterday as we were arriving from Detroit.

Two special guests this morning were Daniel Craig (Bond, James Bond) and Brett Michaels. We did get to see Daniel Craig sitting inside being interviewed by Matt, but he didn't come out and work the crowd - at least not while we were there. Brett Michaels came on after we left. Meredith was the primo crowd-worker followed closely by Ann Curry. Matt didn't appear to like the cold and was quick to get back inside.

During the day we also made quick trips through the NBC Store (impressive) and the CBS Store (not impressive).

Grand Central Station was cavernous. It would be a good place to fly model airplanes or play football indoors. My favorite part of Battery Park was the pigeons and the squirrels. They figure in many of my photos for the day. Strange as it may seem, they were all named Bob - even the one that rode the ferry with us and helped me eat a bag of Doritos! There was also a large, badly damaged sculpture on The Battery that survived 9/11 and was removed to The Battery as a monument to the fallen.

We were screened very thoroughly before being allowed to board the ferry, "Miss New York," - much more thoroughly than those pissy TSA people at the airports do - especially the extra pissy TSA people at Kansas City International!

Our boat docked at Liberty Island where most of the passengers got off to walk around the statue. We took pictures from "Miss New York," but stayed on board to Ellis Island. (Being two of four people in the group who had Letterman tickets, we knew that our afternoon would be rushed.) At Ellis Island we visited the main visitor center where much of the immigrant in-processing occurred, and viewed several interesting displays. I also hit the bookstore and dropped some buckage there. Did you know that Bob Hope entered America through Ellis Island when he was five-years-old?

We got to Letterman early, before the line started to form, and took in a quick lunch next door at Angelo's Pizzeria. Carla had to answer a Letterman trivia question in order to get tickets. Her question was "What business in next door to the Ed Sullivan Theatre?" She answered "Hello Deli" which is correct (or we would have not gotten the tickets!), but two other neighboring businesses are Computerland and Angelo's.

The Late Show is filmed in the famous Ed Sullivan Theatre, where the legendary television host and sports writer held his weekly variety show (his "really big shoo") for a couple of decades. It is the theatre where the Beatles made their U.S. debut - on The Ed Sullivan Show.

We got up close to the front of the line after lunch, secured tickets, and received instructions on where to report when we came back an hour later. We lined up again at 3:30 p.m. in pre-determined spots and stood, very closely bunched, until 4:30 p.m. when the studio inner doors were finally opened. While waiting we were constantly "worked" by young production people, many wearing letter jackets that said "World Wide Pants, Inc." They wanted to make sure that we were pumped up and knew the importance of continuous belly-laughing. Once inside we were treated to a hysterical video of Dave working the drive-up window at a Taco Bell and harassing customers. Then a local comedian came on stage for one final warm-up.

Although we were well up in the line, we were shuffled off to the far side that had a camera blocking the view of Dave's desk. I think it was an age discrimination thing! But when The Man burst onto the stage for his pre-show warm-up, he went straight to our hidden corner first,. That was our last good view of him! The two major guests were Salma Hayak and Jimmy "J.J." Walker. Two inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame were also there to read the Top Ten.

Hear this: The best part of the Late Show is Paul Shafer and his kick-ass band. They blew the lid off of the joint during every commercial break! The CBS Band is astounding - well worth standing into line for hours listening to lame humor!

"They ask you, what was the high point?" That was a line from Jersey Boys, and of all of the wonderful things that we did today, Jersey Boys was definitely the high point! The music was, well...The Four Seasons...what more can you say about that! Actually, I can say more because, as mentioned in an earlier blog, I saw the Four Seasons in Vegas on a reunion tour in the early 1990's. They were older men then, and the young men on the stage tonight kicked their butts! Yes, it's true, faux can be better! If Jimmy Walker would have been there, I can guarantee that his assessment would have been "dyn-o-mite!"

It was killer music with a lead singer, Jarrod Spector, who hit every Frankie Valli note, and hit them hard. If you can't make it to New York, buy the sound track. I'm listening to it on an Ipod as I type this!

I'm having a great time in New York City!

1 comment:

Brenda from Mac County said...

Just got through watching the show. Too bad about your seating arrangements, but I doubt you were discriminated against. You were just, unfortunately, in the wrong place in line.
Loved reading this! I was in New York in 2004 with students, and we stayed at the Grand Hyatt and saw a show. Letterman, though, was dark that week. We were there just before the election, and Rockefeller Plaza was getting spiffed up for election coverage.