(From Joe Michaels, TODAY Director)
I have a story to share with blog readers about what a television director does for a living. Most people who watch the show don't even think of the many people it takes to put together a show as complicated as the Today show.
On a recent airline flight I was reading a book when I glanced up and spotted a woman getting onto the plane. You know that feeling when there's an empty seat next to you and someone gets onboard and you know they will be your seat mate. Well the woman got onboard with several bags opened and stuffed with books and papers hanging out of unzipped pockets. She wore half reading glasses and seemed very absentminded. She got to my row and signaled to me that she was in the seat next to me. After she got all her bags and papers in order she sat down and soon after we started talking about the flight and how she loves New York City but doesn’t get there to often.
After a while, she asked what I did for a living. Well I usually answer “Pool Maintenance” or “Aluminum Siding” so I don't have to explain what Matt or Meredith is really like or is Ann as sweet as she seems. But this one time, I answered that I was the Director of the Today Show.
Well the conversation went from there. I explained that I’m in charge of choosing the different camera shots that go on the air. I also cue the talent, through our stage managers, when to talk and which camera to look at. I also rehearse and set up music, fashion, cooking and interview segments before the show. I explained that at any given time we have as many as 40 or so different cameras, tapes, remotes, graphics or other video feeds on a large monitor wall to choose from. As a live show, all of these components must come together at the right time and in the right order. My new friend was amazed that it took so much to put a show together. She said it sounded very difficult and questioned me on how hard the job sounds. I told her there was an old television expression: “it ain’t brain surgery.” She laughed.
After a little more conversation I asked her what she did for living. She looked at me without missing a beat and said she was chief of surgery for Children’s Hospital.