Saturday was media blitz day for The Chest Nuts. Not only did we appear on the local NBC morning news, but there was an article about us in the local paper, too.
Rachel, Diane, Karen, and Lesli and I met at my house at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and were on our way at 6:45 a.m. We were supposed to be at the NBC studio no later than 8:45 a.m. On a light traffic day, it takes about an hour to get into the city so I thought that would give us plenty of time to park and walk. As we pulled out of my driveway, one of my passengers reminded me that this weekend was Lollapalooza in Chicago. Then I began to get worried about making it on time. And sure enough, we hit traffic early in the trip. It was a good thing I had a car full of people to crack jokes about it, because I may have panicked if I was by myself.
At NBC5 Studios in Chicago
Despite the traffic, though, we made it downtown with time to spare. We used the extra time wisely with a stop at Starbucks, and then it was on to the studio. Rachel had some guests staying with her from out of town and they accompanied us into the city, so we had them snap a couple of pictures in front of the NBC building before we went in. Just before we knocked on the door, Kristi joined us on the plaza.
Per my instructions, I knocked on the “secret” entrance to the studio and the door was opened by one of the crew members. We were greeted by a staff member, shown the bathroom and the coffee maker, and then we were told to wait. The back of the studio was nothing like I had pictured it in my mind. There was no glamour or greenroom or craft services or hair and make-up crew. Instead, it was just a long narrow room filled with pieces of equipment and a few computers for the crew. There was a microwave and a coffee maker in one corner and there were a few stale doughnuts lying on a counter. There was also a refrigerator covered with 4 x 6 photos of various celebrities. Soon after we arrived, the producer introduced himself to us and explained that we needed to be quiet since the set was just on the other side of the curtain we could see at the end of the room.
The first thing we all did was use the bathroom, which was about 5 feet behind the green screen used in the weather broadcast. As we were standing there, we saw the shadow of the morning weather woman appear on the other side of the screen and adjust her jacket. We were whispering…okay, maybe we were laughing a little bit, too…about how funny it would be to go up behind the screen during the broadcast and make shadows on the back of it, when suddenly we heard the disembodied voice of the producer call for “QUIET in the back!!” I felt like I was in middle school and had been talking in class as we all clamped our hands over our mouths and tried not to laugh. Eventually we were able to laugh about how terrible it would have been if we had gotten kicked out of the NBC studios within 5 minutes of our arrival.
They let us stay, however, so we settled in for a 45 minute wait. Just before the show started, crew member Kevin appeared with a mike and asked me to thread it up my shirt. After I did that, he attached it to my collar and then attached the transmitter to the back of my skirt. (Note in the picture how Karen is watching to make sure Kevin’s hands don’t stray where they are not supposed to. Thanks for watching out for me, Karen!)
Getting miked by Kevin
Another morning guest was waiting in the “greenroom” with us. He was dressed in a lab coat with an embroidered label that told us his name followed by the letter “MD.” He had a metal briefcase filled with small opaque white plastic bottles labeled with masking tape. He opened the briefcase and set it on a table next to him, and then pulled out a contraption that looked like a small laser gun. Always friendly, Rachel soon engaged him in a whispered conversation and discovered that he worked at the Smell and Taste Research Foundation and that he was there to talk about how much people smelled. The laser-like piece of equipment was a smell-meter that he could use to detect smells in a room.
Dr. Smellgood (names have been changed to protect the innocent) was one of the first guests on the show, so we got to watch his segment from the back room. As we listened to him describe how smelly people are, we began to steal glances at one another and soon we were laughing hysterically. Even one of the crew members was chuckling and shaking his head. The title of Dr. Smellgood’s segment was “The Stinky Truth” and he discussed how much stinkier it is in bars these days now that we don’t have the smell of cigarette smoke to cover up the stink of people—mostly men. He said that men smell worse than women (and attributed that to their less acute sense of smell) and that men’s rooms rank right up there with pig pens and bars as the smelliest places. His solution to the problem? Axe. Let’s just say that TV is not Dr. Smellgood’s calling. He was definitely nervous, and we all began to wonder if he was actually even a doctor as he stuttered and babbled his way through his demonstration of his smell-meter.
Dr. Smellgood and his "smelpers"
I had a lot of sympathy for him, however, because I was definitely starting to get nervous at this point. By this time I realized that there wasn’t going to be any preparation…no one had said anything to me about what the newscaster (Ellee Pai Hong, for those of you in Chicago) was going to ask me, and in fact we had only seen her very briefly when she came back to talk to one of the other guests. (And by the way, she and the weather woman were teeny tiny. They were probably no more than 5 feet tall in their spike heels, and both had hips and waists no bigger than a minute. Since they look regular size on TV, we all began to wonder if we would look like an Amazon walking team standing next to them.)
The segment just before ours was called Firefighter Fitness and consisted of a group of Chicago firefighters demonstrating exercises on the plaza outside the studio. As they neared the end of their demonstration, Kevin came and hustled us outside for our appearance. As we stood there waiting for the producer to tell us where to stand, Ellee Pai Hong came over to us, introduced herself, and then asked me one question about the walk. She wanted to know if we had just done one already this year (she was confusing it with the Avon 2 Day walk). I noted that she was probably thinking about the Avon walk and explained to her the difference between that one and the Breast Cancer 3Day. (I had spoken with a 3Day PR rep a couple of days before to do some media training and luckily she had mentioned that this is a source of confusion, so I was ready with my answer to that question.) After that, Ellee was called back to be on air and that was it—that was all the preparation I got!
After that things happened pretty quickly. The producer placed us next to Ellee and the weather woman, they did a final weather forecast, and then we were on. Ellee was so nice and kind and asked just a few questions about the walk. At one point in the middle of one of my answers the camera man moved very close to us and the camera was within inches of my face. I can tell exactly when that happened when I watch the interview because I lost track of my answer and had to search for a word as I felt the camera get closer and closer to me.
Luckily Randy recorded the show, because I had no memory of what she asked me or what I said right afterward! I think the whole thing lasted maybe 3 minutes, although I completely lost track of time, as well. After we were done the producer asked us to stick around to be in the “crowd shot” at the end of the show, so we did.
After that we all had breakfast and went shoe shopping as we tried to fight off the paparazzi looking for photo ops and autographs.
Oh, wait a minute…that might just have been in my dreams. (We really did have breakfast and go shoe shopping, however!)
Breakfast at Nordstrom
YouTube documentation can be found here. And see the July 24th post for a link to another article that appeared on Tuesday in the Spartanburg-Herald about Alison and Mandy!