For those of you who remember David Letterman from 25 years ago…he used to have a segment called “Brush with Greatness” in which audience members shared their stories of encounters with celebs. For example, maybe at some point you drove past a Scientology Center and saw Tom Cruise and John Travolta exchanging super-secret hand signals or looking out for UFOs bearing the Messiah. Bam! Brush with Greatness!
I had an actual, true life Brush with Greatness yesterday when I spent the afternoon at WJLA TV studio. Local newscaster Maureen Bunyan donated an afternoon tea and tour of the studio to a silent auction*, and I snagged it! Some of my friends that were at the fundraiser might say that I won it through fear and intimidation, and didn’t move from in front of the item until the auction closed, but that is a distorted view of what really happened. That’s a story for another time.
Anyway, yesterday was the big day, but someone from the studio called in the morning and said that Maureen unexpectedly had to fill in on the 5:00 news, so there wouldn’t be time for her to have tea; she offered to reschedule but said if we still wanted to come that instead of tea we could visit with her on the set. Umm, hello! Yes! Did I hear set??
My friend and I got a deluxe tour of the whole place (it’s huge!) and then sat in the control room, gawking, during the first few minutes of the 5:00 news. If you feel that you have a stressful job, as my friend and I do, I would suggest sitting in a control room during a live broadcast. 10 people talking and somehow still listening all at the same time, while also operating big important looking equipment with lights and switches and bells and whatnot.
But our Close Encounter happened when we were led on to the set while our soon to be BFFs Maureen and Leon were live and on-air. Yes, you heard me correctly, someone let me on to a live set. As you know, I am the Queen of Inappropriate, so I focused on not doing anything that might, for example, disrupt a live broadcast of important news. It easily could have gone awry, because whenever there are commercials or a segment with a remote reporter, the Talent (yep, that’s what they call them, and I’m asking for a title change now) talk and joke and shoot the breeze just like the rest of us do at work. And then in a split second they’re gazing into the camera and broadcasting again.
We were sitting right behind the cameras, so it was difficult to keep track of when they were on-air and when they weren’t. For once in my life I kept my mouth shut much of the time. My fear was that viewers would be listening to a story about war or famine or something and then hear my voice saying something like “So a priest, a rabbi and a horse walk into a bar…blah blah blah…inappropriate punch line” Sure, it would be fun for a minute, but then I’d probably get in trouble or something.
Maureen could not have been more gracious, and as it turns out she has a wonderful dry sense of humor. Leon was also chatting with us and laughing during the breaks. On top of those guys we met Doug Hill, Bob Ryan, Gordon Peterson and Greta Kreuz. Every last one of them were just as nice as they could be. I was totally star-struck. And as if all that wasn’t enough, Maureen apologized for not being able to sit and chat as planned, and graciously offered to set another date for tea.
At the end of the day it was a Brush with Greatness of the Highest Order, and I am just that much closer to my dream of having my own talk show. Surely someone recognized my immense talent and is drawing up a contract as we speak.
*Maureen’s donation was for the benefit of Rachael’s Women’s Center, a local organization doing amazing things for homeless women. Check them out at www.rachaels.org