(From Lee Miller, TODAY Associate Director)
My name is Lee Miller and I live what I consider to be a charmed existence working as an associate director on both TODAY and WEEKEND TODAY. On the weekends I arrive around 4:00 in the morning and am responsible for the overall timing of the broadcasts and for basically making sure everything "fits". I make sure each segment gets the correct amount of time and that all of our commercials and promos air. If the show seems smooth to you at home then I have done my job. Live shows like TODAY can be challenging because some interviews go longer than expected and some shorter. In each circumstance it is my job to communicate to the executive producer where we stand time wise and make the necessary modifications to the show. For example, if a segment runs long then I can move commercial time around to make more room or we can swap segments. Maybe air something a little earlier than previously planned because it needs less time. In any event, we never want the show to feel rushed. During the week I work as a video playback AD. In this role I arrive at 10:15pm (yes, the night before), make a list of all video elements in the show and rehearse everything overnight. I, along with playback operators and editors check each clip for mistakes and make sure we know exactly how long everything runs. On any given day we will have between 75 to 115 individual video clips and it is my job to make sure each one is cued up and is ready to roll when our director, Joe Michaels, needs them. Oh yeah, and those graphics you see on the lower part of your screen during taped spots that tell you what the segment is about or identifying someone speaking, that's me taking those in and out. I have 3 stopwatches that I carry with me at all times and each is always timing something. They have taken over my life...when I'm sitting at home watching something else on TV I can't help but look at a clock whenever a commercial break rolls...haha.
My journey started as an enthusiastic college student in the crowd outside studio 1A singing with my university choir. My major was mass communication & I was on the prowl for prospective internships. Al Roker came over to interview us and then Ann Curry hung around outside until each and every one of us had taken a picture. I was so impressed. I set my sights on TODAY. Over the next year I did a senior project on the show for my history of broadcasting course & even had a TODAY lapel pin constantly pinned to the inside my pocket as a reminder that I needed to be working hard if I wanted to get to New York and intern with TODAY. After many phone calls and two interviews I landed my dream internship for the following summer. I was hired at the end of the summer to work at the show's reception desk. I couldn't say no. After a year of answering phones, sorting mail & ordering office supplies I was offered a job as a production associate (PA) working in the studio and control room. Needless to say, I jumped all over it. I held that position for 5 years during which time the TODAY staff really became my family. I traveled with the show as a PA to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece not to mention numerous remote shows around the country. As I worked in the control room day after day I became interested in directing. That's how I have ended up in my current role as an associate director. Most recently I served as the associate director for the TODAY broadcasts from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. It was hands down the most challenging and special few weeks I have had in my professional life. I hope to one day become a director but for the time being I'm just enjoying the ride.
I have been with TODAY for almost 8 years now and I still marvel at the fact that I get to come to work for one of the most historic programs in all of television. Not to mention work in probably THE most historic building in broadcasting history, the GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. I look out the windows of studio 1A each morning at the spot where I stood with my university choir in the summer of 1998. Back then I could never have imagined that one day I would be working in the TODAY control room. Wow.