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Around the World and Back

(From Mary Alice O'Rourke, TODAY Special Projects Producer)I am the Special Projects Producer on Today, and this is indeed a special project as it is my very first blog.  In fact, a few of my colleagues have been laughing that I can plan and execute 5 live broadcasts from 5 different continents in 5 days, but I have been stymied by having to write 5 paragraphs on my role here at Today.So here goe

(From Mary Alice O'Rourke, TODAY Special Projects Producer)

I am the Special Projects Producer on Today, and this is indeed a special project as it is my very first blog.  In fact, a few of my colleagues have been laughing that I can plan and execute 5 live broadcasts from 5 different continents in 5 days, but I have been stymied by having to write 5 paragraphs on my role here at Today.

So here goes...I get told all the time that I have the best job in television, and I would have to agree.  The most fun project to me is "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?"  which I've spearheaded since the very first one in 1997.   It is funny to think back sometimes to that first trip that took us from The Pyramids to Venice on to Athens then the Taj Mahal and finally to Sydney, Australia.  At the time, such an undertaking was unheard of, and to be honest, totally overwhelming...but thanks to Matt, and an incredible technical and production team, we not only made it to every destination that year, but since then, Matt has circled the globe 7 times logging more than 182,000 miles.  It is always totally a team effort, and I feel so lucky to work with such talented people.

But make no mistake, there have been some adventures along the way. Take the time we got stranded on the runway in the Kathmandu airport in Nepal...yes stranded for hours making it impossible to get to our next live location. So, instead Matt came live into the show from his seat talking to the New York studio from the airplane phone. NY cleverly scrambled some pictures of Matt together and a map of our whereabouts, and we made the most of a difficult TV moment. 

A situation not unlike August 2004 in Athens, Greece on the morning of The Opening Ceremony of the Olympics.  Katie had been reporting from Athens all week, and Matt and Al were due to arrive from NY just hours before our first full show for the Summer Games.   Due to airport delays in NY, their flight left more than 2 hours late but always the optimist I was convinced the pilot would make up the time....well not exactly....They touched down a few minutes before air time.  With a police escort and camera crews in tow documenting every mile, they did make it...just a little late.  It wasn't until the end of the first half hour of the show, Joe Michaels our director picked them up with our cameras as they went through security at Olympic Park.   The moral of the story...no matter how much you plan sometimes events take over and you just have to go with it.   In fact, we went on to have a great Olympics and a fabulous time in Athens.

The Today show has taken me to almost every state in the United States and literally all over the world...to every continent except Antarctica.   I will get there someday.  I'm forever being asked what’s my favorite place. To be honest, I don't have an answer.   How do you compare places like the Pyramids in Egypt to Guggenheim in Bilbao, Easter Island to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, an oil rig in the North Sea to sitting in Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Games.  It's impossible!  So, instead I just keep looking for that perfect place and continue to enjoy the ride.