Since this is a holiday week, we're going to open up the allDAY Mailbag a couple days early. We'll be back with more answers next Friday, so if you have questions, send them to us HERE.
On to the questions...
Jason DeCrow/Associated Press
Who is this man next to Meredith?Check out the allDAY Mailbag to find out.
Q: I watch TODAY EVERY morning while gettiing ready for work. I have one burning question: Who is "Lenny," and why is he always on the plaza? Does he have a job, or is hanging out with the TODAY Show gang is job? And why is he always in the front? How does he manage that? I'm really curious.
A: People are always very curious about the unassuming man in the oversized sunglasses who is always standing along the railing on the Plaza. His name is Linny Boyette, and you can make a case for him being TODAY's biggest fan.
He's been coming down to the Plaza every morning since September 1994, and he has only missed a handful of shows over the past 13 years. He rises each day at 3:30 a.m. at his home in the Bronx, heads for the subway by 4:40 a.m., and arrives at Rockefeller Center around 6 a.m.
Linny was born in Jamaica and raised in New York and London. He's not married, has no kids -- as he told The New York Times last year, "No wife, no kids, no stress" -- and is retired from the U.S. Army.
He's a true TODAY institution, a Rockefeller Plaza celebrity, and if you ever come to visit the show, feel free to say hello -- he might even sign an autograph for you.
Q: After hearing the story on the disabled children institutionalized in Serbia, I have been unable to find the information on how to donate.
A: People across the country were deeply affected by Ann Curry's story on the treatment of institutionalized disabled children in Serbia, and we got a lot of emails about how to help them.
To answer this question, I turn things over to NBC News producer Tim Sandler:
Many of you have asked how you can directly help the children in Serbia's mental institutions. Rights advocates say the most effective way is to send monetary donations. The process isn't always easy because of currency and language differences.
UNICEF has a new site that allows people to contribute directly to its efforts on behalf of children in Serbian institutions: www.unicefusa.org/serbia . And in the U.S., Mental Disability Rights International, the group that just issued a report on the conditions in Serbian institutes, continues its work on behalf of the people there. Its web site is www.mdri.org.
Q: I was wondering; with all the effort you put into going "green", has anyone given much thought to the lighting up of the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza? Isn't this an "energy guzzler"? Don't get me wrong, it looks beautiful! It just seems like it goes against everything we are trying to do to conserve energy.
A: There was a lot of concern from viewers about the environmental impact of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. So to answer your question of whether anyone has "given much thought" to this, the answer is, Yes.
The tree is decorated with 30,000 energy-saving, solar-powered LED lights.
And the tree itself has been recycled every year since 1971. For the past 23 years, the tree's mulch (about three tons of it) has been donated to the Boy Scouts of America to use as ground cover to fight soil erosion and to create walking paths.
Interestingly, the main part of the trunk is given to the U.S. Equestrian Team for use as an obstacle jump at its training grounds in New Jersey.
Q: How far in advance are the segments for a day's show chosen?
A: We love the international viewers! Patricia, as you might imagine, the lead time for putting together a segment varies greatly, depending on the subject matter. In most cases, what you see on the air is assigned anywhere from one day to a few days in advance.
Segments with authors of new books are generally assigned weeks in advance, so those are often in the works for longer than other segments.
Special shows, like our Olympics coverage and Where in the World Is Matt Lauer, are put together over a period of months.
In some cases, segments aren't put together until hours -- or even minutes -- before the show goes on the air. Obviously, the first half hour of the show is the most changeable, as overnight and early-morning news can completely alter our rundown.
Sometimes when I report to work a couple hours before we go on the air, one of the senior producers will ask me to produce a live segment on a breaking news story for that morning's show. I'll write a background note and questions, then put together video and graphic elements. Around 6 a.m., I'll go over everything with whichever anchor is conducting the interview to make sure they're up to speed, and then they'll do the interview at the top of the show.
It doesn't happen all that often, but when news breaks like that in the early morning, our senior producers always look to make the top of our show as fresh as possible.
Have questions for the allDAY Mailbag? Send them HERE and check back next Friday to see if we've answered your question.