It's shortly after 6:30, and Matt and Meredith are getting ready for the open of the show. However, this morning's beginning is slightly different than every other day. Today, they are not starting the show from the anchor desk (which we refer to as "home base"), but rather from the open area in the studio that we call the "production area." Because today is the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, the entire first half-hour is dedicated to the anniversary. One of the first segments is a timeline of the war, and we are using lots of dates and big graphics on the monitors lined along the side of the studio. Therefore, we're having our anchors begin standing in that area, so we can proceed right into these aspects of the show.
These segments are pretty complicated, however, since our stage managers and cameramen need to be on the same page as the talent. Meredith will be walking and talking during one of her segments, and we need to coordinate that effort with the graphics department, to make sure that the correct dates and pictures are located at the correct spots during her walk. We are making the segment more interactive, but that also means that there's a little more room for error, as opposed to if the anchors were just sitting at the desk. So this means we want to give it a try to make sure that all of the pieces of the puzzle are fitting together.
Around 6:30, Matt and Meredith began rehearsing the beginning. The stage managers were giving them pointers to show them where it will be best for them to stand. All of the graphics were scrolling through the monitors and being double-checked. Meredith practiced her timeline segment. Matt was chatting and recalling some of the time that he spent in the Middle East four years ago, when he was on location covering the invasion. Dan Fleschner, who produced the timeline segment, was on hand to work out some last-minute details and answer any lingering questions.
Given the severity of the issues being covered in the first-half hour today, we obviously want to make sure that no miscommunication, or technical or logistical glitches interfere with the news that we'll be covering. Especially when we are trying something new and doing segments in a way that isn't too common, we need to run through everything before we go live at 7am. So right now we have 10 minutes to air. A few more run throughs, and then we'll be live from Studio 1A.