(From Amanda Marshall, TODAY Producer)
Like many kids, I grew up with a healthy helping of Dr. Seuss. "Horton Hears A Who!" was one of my first books. In the early 80s, it was a far cry from the "Dick and Jane" books still being used in elementary schools and words like "hullabaloo" and "ruckus" were quickly added to my vocabulary.
For many producers, the hardest part of writing a script is getting started. When I was first given this assignment I wasn't exactly sure how to tackle the broad subject of the 50th Anniversary of "The Cat In The Hat." There was just so much to say about a book that, ironically, has only 236 words.
Luckily, Dr. Seuss wrote the open for me...
Last week Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss's widow, was generous enough to let an NBC crew into her La Jolla home for an interview. Our onsite producer Jill Underwood and cameraman Bill Angelucci took on the job.
During the interview, Jill asked Mrs. Geisel if she would mind reading a portion of "The Cat in the Hat" on camera. Mrs. Geisel agreed and Jill handed her a copy from Dr. Seuss's personal bookshelf. As Jill passed the book a piece of paper fell to the floor. Mrs. Geisel picked it up and, lo and behold, it was a hand written note from Dr. Seuss himself. Mrs. Geisel had never seen the note before and no doubt Seussian scholars will be drooling over it now. The note included Dr. Seuss's original brainstorming for "The Cat In The Hat."
Dr. Seuss, who's real name was Ted Geisel, passed away in 1991. However, his presence was clearly felt on our shoot. Instead of reading the book, Mrs. Geisel read the note aloud. We had no choice but to start the story in Dr. Seuss's own words.
In preparing for this segment I sifted through hours of archival Seuss footage. In one tape, Dr. Seuss signs books at a California bookstore. A mother and son approach and ask for his autograph. They have a copy of "The Cat in The Hat." The mom explains that Dr. Seuss signed the book for her when she was just 6 years old. She now wants him to sign it again, this time for her 6-year-old son. To me, that's the great legacy of Seuss.
We would love to hear stories about how Dr. Seuss has influenced your life. Also, be sure to check out www.firstbook.org to find out how you can help donate books to children in need. As Horton the elephant likes to say, "A person's a person. No matter how small."