Start of 4th Quarter . . .
Wednesday, March 2, 1987
My itinerary for later this month:
3/19 fly to Tampa, televise White Sox at Mets (spring training)
SUE PATERNO MUSIC PIECE
Joe Paterno first came to Penn State in 1950 as an assistant to head football coach Rip Engle (right). While on the coaching staff, Joe met a student named Sue. In 1962, the year she graduated, they were married. Then when Rip retired in 1966, Joe became the head coach, a position he's held ever since.
In 1986, as a television producer for Penn State Football, I had on tape a few short sound bites from Sue Paterno. They weren't much, but I wanted to turn them into a four-minute video tribute to her husband. So I laid them over the instrumental sections of the 1985 Stevie Nicks song "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You" (excerpted below). During the vocal sections, I used a video montage of the coach.
I since have read, in the notes for Stevie's "best of" album TimeSpace, her own account of this song. She writes movingly of another man called Joe, a little daughter that he had lost, and a two-hour Jeep ride leading to a child-sized fountain in a snowy Colorado park.
But because of the ambiguity of poetry, a different meaning emerged when I used this song in my video, and the words seemed to be those of Sue Paterno to her Joe. "In all your darkest hours" alluded not to death but to losses on the football field. I illustrated "And the rain comes down" rather literally with scenes of a particularly disappointing rain-soaked game in Florida, after which the tide turned, climaxing with the triumph of a national championship: "I believed in you every day. If not for me, then do it for the world!"
anyone ever given anything to you?
anyone ever written anything for you?
to me now.
not for me, then
. . .
Of course, this wasn't what Stevie Nicks had in mind. But it worked for our Penn State Football show, all the way to the emotional final shot: a very wide view of an empty stadium with Joe, all alone, walking from one end zone towards the other.
Friday, March 4, 1987
"The Hundredth Year" project is presently awaiting a final decision on who the host will be, for which we need your approval. Steve, who has been making the contacts, recommends Nick Charles of CNN.
On other matters, I've talked with Ted Eland of Data Motion Arts in New York. I told him we want to modify about a dozen frames of video to serve as "chapter headings" in the completed volumes. He estimated that this might take three to five hours. To put together a reel containing 20 or 30 potential video frames to be modified, Jack Sedlak and I have scheduled time on VV3 next week. We'll also do some work on other segments of the volumes. And I'm preparing a detailed format for the final edit, so that we'll know from what reel or cassette each element is coming.
First, though, we need to finalize the host so that we can start working towards scheduling him, Joe Paterno, and a camera crew to meet in State College at a mutually convenient time.
Monday, April 13, 1987
On Saturday in Atlanta, Nick Charles taped all the segments you requested for the :60 and :30 videocassette spots and the :30 merchandise spot. He held up the books as planned. We also shot the books by themselves on a good-looking translucent background.
But then Nick started worrying. Apparently his employer (Cable News Network) would not look kindly on his blatantly selling merchandise, and he asked me if possible not to use those portions of the tape we had just made. Nick would feel better if a WYDD voice took over at some point for the final portion of each spot, maybe starting at "The entire collection" or at "Order now and you'll also get." But if you prefer that we keep him in the whole way, we can do that too. I'm just passing on his concerns and requests.
Apparently the agreement that we were preparing for Nick to sign has not yet reached him, so we're into an area of verbal agreements here.
I asked him twice if he would have any objections to our using the "Hello, I'm Nick Charles, and I'm proud to be your host" portion. He said both times that it would be okay to use that.
Friday, May 1, 1987
Today Jack and I made two dubs of the edit masters, which were produced at NEP in New York back on April 14 and 16. One of the new dubs is on one-inch tape and is intended to go to the duplicating house. The other is on ¾" cassettes and can be used by Lisa Cirincione for making copies in house.
However, both dubs are still missing commercials for Bell of Pennsylvania and for Anheuser-Busch (because we're awaiting instructions), and they're missing the 60-second dedications by A-B's Mike Roarity.
Thursday, June 4, 1987
Birthday greetings from Atlanta! I worked on the telecast of a Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves game here yesterday, and tomorrow it's on to New York for a weekend series with the Mets. Next week I'll be in Montreal (Pirates vs. Expos) and in Mansfield, Ohio (Miss Ohio pageant). This work is fun, I'll have to admit. Even for a forty-year-old.
Monday, June 29, 1987
In summary, my biggest concern is the uncertainty about when can we we shoot this and when can we edit that. Many of these projects are waiting for script approval or the like before we can move on to the next step. I'll continue trying to do my part to herd the whole flock of them along.
Monday, July 6, 1987
Footage of last year's pageant shot by a local station should have arrived by this morning; we're planning to use it to make a promo to send to stations this afternoon.
From the beginning, we've had to deal with a short lead-time on this project; next year it will be better. Also, Watertown, New York, is farther away than Mansfield, Ohio. Because of the transportation expense, we won't be able to have quite as many of our people on site as we did for Miss Ohio. In particular, I'll be running the Chyron in addition to assisting the director.
From looking at the VHS tape of last year's Miss New York pageant, I would say that we on the production crew will have our work cut out for us. Miss Ohio was a professional-looking show; the local committee used scenery changes, lighting effects, a personable emcee, and so on. We basically covered their show with our cameras and made good television. But Miss New York reminds me more of the New Kensington Junior Miss pageant with Bob Tatrn that we televised on TV3 a few years back. The only scenery change is one time when the curtain closes. A high-school chorus is featured. The lighting was rudimentary last year; we're working to improve it greatly this year. And we're going to have to attend to a number of other details to make this a good TV show.
Monday, July 13, 1987
MISS NEW YORK. The show looked better than we had expected. The biggest problem was the timing at the very end. The pageant committee had estimated it would take over nine minutes to announce eight awards. It actually took about three minutes. That put us way ahead of schedule. Lacking any filler material, we had to simply stay with the celebration on stage for several minutes before it was time to begin the billboard and credits. Next time we'll have filler standing by.
ALLIED SECURITY. I talked to Tom Jordan of their Atlanta office last week; they have still not completed the last portion of the last script, which is a set of ten dramatized situations demonstrating the legal limitations on what a security guard can do. He's working on it; he'll send us the copy as soon as he can. Other than that, I'm ready to start planning and scheduling the shooting. But I don't want to go ahead until we have the final portion of the script, since it's likely to specify locations and props that are slightly different from the part of the script we do have. Starting to shoot now would require us to go back to some of the same places and reshoot later.
While we've been waiting for the client to rewrite the script, the shooting that we had originally hoped to do in June has been pushed back. Now, with Penn State and Pan Am coming up, it looks like we'll have to do it in midweek during September.
PSU NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP & PRESEASON SHOWS. We need your answer very soon on the talent for these two programs, so that we can go ahead with scheduling the shooting. The national championship show in particular is critical, since it's scheduled to be sent to stations three weeks from today. But we also need to shoot the preseason show so that we'll be ready to edit and transmit it the week we get back from Indianapolis.
We're hoping to be able to schedule the shooting in State College for about July 28, which seems to be the latest possible date that will allow us to meet the timetable. But that's only two weeks away.
Saturday, August 1, 1987
Tape log for Big 33 Football Classic (high school all-stars) played at Hershey, Pennsylvania
There are 24 segments totaling 2 hr 45 min on the tape. The ESPN format calls for 17 segments totaling 1 hr 38 min. Therefore, the seven segments marked OMIT should not be included in the ESPN delayed broadcast.
Sunday, August 30, 1987
The first of the Penn State one-hour shows was uplinked as scheduled from 8 to 9 am this morning at The Meadows. Declan Mahoney was the engineer and also called the stations to check that they were receiving the show properly. Most of them were.
Tuesday, September 8, 1987
Last year we typically had about 30 minutes of edited game action in each show. This week's show had about 20 minutes.
For one reason, not much happened in the second half that was worth showing.
For another, we added three elements to celebrate Joe's 200th win, while the "scouting report" on Alabama was longer because of the importance of the game.
I'd be interested in knowing people's reactions, if any, to the reduced proportion of footage. After Alabama, some of the games may be cut down to 15 minutes of highlights because of all the features we'll be adding.
Sportsvision Chicago: Probably good. On Declan's first call, the engineer was happy to learn that we were on Galaxy 3, because he had been unsuccessfully trying to get us on Westar 5. Declan tried to confirm later than everything was okay but could not get anyone to answer the phone.
T-M Cable, Phoenix: Probably good. The engineer did not arrive until halfway through the feed (5:30 in the morning his time), because he wasn't scheduled to tape the feed. Instead, he says, they get it from Sportsvision of Chicago later in the afternoon.
WNS Cable, Delaware: Not good. An employee who answered the phone said he knew nothing about satellite work or the Penn State show, and he could not tape the feed. Declan asked if he could call someone who did know what was going on, but apparently everyone was on vacation.
KDKA Pittsburgh: Not good. The engineer on duty had not been scheduled to tape the feed, so he checked with his supervisors. He told us that there was "no sale" and that KDKA would not be airing the show this week.
Monday, September 21, 1987
Our first priority in editing the weekly Penn State show is to get it done. A cassette of the proper length, including commercials, has to leave the truck before dawn Sunday so that it can be driven to the Meadows; there it has to be uplinked to the stations in time for them to air the show at the scheduled hour. Usually, after we've completed all taping we have about nine hours to edit; then we have to start dubbing the finished cassette.
Based on this deadline, we try to get as much into the show as we can. But sometimes we simply run out of time.
This week, for example, we wanted to use graphics to support George's mention of PSU's defensive changes. We wanted to show the injured Cincinnati quarterback when John mentioned him at the top of the second quarter. But our first priority was to get the show done. So, as we have done before, we kept moving, planning to come back and insert that additional video if we had time later. This week, we didn't have time. In fact, we missed our deadline for dispatching the cassette by half an hour, although the driver was still able to get it to the Meadows on time.
There were some other corners we had to cut. Really, to get this show as good as we want it to be, we could use another couple of days of editing time or a second editing crew. Lacking that, we'll have to continue to do the best we can in the time available.
of the difficulties this week was that we had to use part of our
nine hours to put graphics into the first Roxanne Stein piece
(because we had no access to a Chyron until game day) and to edit the
second piece (because it wasn't shot until halftime on game
day). It would help greatly if in the future we could get these
pieces completed before game day, as we had originally planned.
Monday, September 28, 1987
Roxanne's feature on brothers might have been a bit too long at 3:40. Because Steve Wisniewski and Darren Flutie didn't come up with many profound statements, they ended up being only 40% of the piece, sometimes in sound bites only five seconds long. The other 60% was Roxanne talking, much of which we had to cover with repetitive footage of circled Wisniewskis making blocks or tackles. It would have been very helpful to have some footage of Leo in the stands and Steve on the sidelines or on campus, but we do have limitations.
To me, the structure of Roxanne's first two pieces has been a little hard to follow, tending to jump from one subject to another. This one, for example, started with the Wisniewski brothers, then went to the Flutie brothers, then back to the Wisniewskis, then to other Penn State brothers, and finally to the Paterno brothers.
I might have started with the famed Flutie brothers, pointed out that Penn State has also had many brothers, and then spent the rest of the piece on the Wisniewski story, coming to some inspiring point at the end.
George's "second look" replays took time, both to have George record the commentary and then to figure out how to cut them into the action. He actually taped four, but one of the corners we had to cut was using only two of them in the show. How well did they work? Should we have left the original replay in the show and followed it with the "second look" of the same replay with different comments?
Wendy's bumpers (birthdays, trivia question, and so on) also took a little time to edit into the show, but they probably cost us only about 20 minutes.
Monday, September 28, 1987
The first segment of the show was still not quite as fast-paced as an Evening Magazine first segment, but it's getting there. I remain reluctant to limit George to less than 30 seconds of analysis at the top of the show. But I think we can get him some more time (on afternoon games, at least) by having him join John Sanders for some of the leads to quarters, when there are relevant points to be made.
George was very uncomfortable doing his commentary. Tom Huet worked with him on it in Boston before the game. After the game, when it was time to tape the commentary, they tried several takes in which George looked alternately at his notes and the camera. He'd get partway through it, then get hung up. Then they tried a couple of takes in which George spoke from memory directly to the camera. He looked much more natural, but he still couldn't get through it. We were eating up satellite time rapidly. Finally they got him all the way through the commentary by having him put on his glasses and read it, without bothering much about looking at the camera.
One of the difficulties was that the subject of the commentary was ambitious. As a result, the text was too long; it took 2:22 to deliver. Not only did this halt the show's pace, but it also made it that much harder for George to get all the way through a take. If he would tackle a smaller subject and make just one point about it, he could keep his text to under a minute. Then he might be able to deliver it from memory or even extemporaneously.
Tuesday, September 29, 1987
It was decided at last week's Penn State Show meeing that we should have Bill Wilson voice the billboards and introduce John and George. I sent him a script and a cassette tape, and we should have that for this week's show. I gather that he may also do a few features later in the season. As far as I know, payment has not been discussed.
That brings up another point: apparently he has not been paid for the National Championship special, because a fee was never established.
Things happened this way. In late July, we were rapidly approaching the deadline to get the National Championship show taped, and we still had not decided on the talent for the 1987 season. I was on vacation but talked to Tom Huet about our predicament. He alerted Bill (I think on July 24) to the possibility that we might need him on July 29 to conduct an already-scheduled interview with Joe Paterno. When I returned from vacation on July 27, Becky got Nelson's approval to use Bill for this show. Stephanie was finally able to contact Bill on July 28, and he did the interviews in State College the next day. I don't think anybody discussed price. The feeling at the time was "we've got to get this done; we'll worry about the details later."
To help you decide what would be a fair price: Most of what we taped on July 29 was for the National Championship show, but one segment was specifically for the one-hour preseason show (aired August 30). Another segment ran in both the National Championship and preseason shows. And some Paterno Way interviews with Joe were for halftime of the weekly highlights shows; we've used two so far and may use more later, but Bill's face and voice are not used on the air in these.
We still have not gotten around to making a promo for the Penn State football show, as you requested earlier in the month. There always seems to be something else more urgent, such as shooting the Allied Security footage or getting out the weekly show. Right now we owe Westmoreland Insurance a second commercial; it has been shot, but we are still trying to find time to edit it.
Monday, October 12, 1987
Roxanne's help, George is doing much better on his
commentaries. He even got them under a minute in length.
The only thing I see wrong is that, in an effort to appear more
casual, he's standing with a foot on a chair. In the cramped
space of the booth, this doesn't work because we can't see his
legs. All we can tell is that he's hunched over for some
reason; he appears less comfortable to me.
(Our production truck, Video Voyager 2, had been late in arriving at Beaver Stadium on October 9 because the truck driver couldn't buy diesel fuel our corporate credit card was rejected. This was a bad sign.)
Let me also put in a good word for Al Taylor, who had to handle not one difficult job but three (engineer-in-charge, maintenance, and audio). Despite the late arrival of VV2, he maintained a cooperative and helpful attitude, and we accomplished what we had to do.
Unfortunately, I didn't quite make it all the way. After 10-hour and 13-hour days on Thursday and Friday, I ran out of gas midway through the 22-hour day on Saturday and had to lie down in the truck for a couple of hours, until we reached the first quarter of the edit. At 40 years old, I can't quite keep up with some of the younger crew members like Jack, who puts in an enormous amount of work on this show.
END OF THE ROAD
After the Syracuse game on Saturday, October 17, Penn State was going to have the next week off. We planned to give our stations a Mid-Season Review show for that bye week of October 24. As late as Thursday, October 15, I had worked up two versions of a detailed format for it, including our usual numerous features. Then it was off to Syracuse.
The morning of that game, we got the word: our company had declared bankruptcy. The bank had taken over TCS, and after that day's game, virtually all of us would no longer be employed. It looked like the October 24 show would not happen.
However, the Penn State series was a moneymaker, and the bank decided to keep it going for the rest of the season. By Monday I was again a TCS employee. By Tuesday morning I had worked up a new format for the Mid-Season Review, leaving out most of the features, and off we went.
Our busiest weekend came at the end of the regular season, when Penn State played host to Notre Dame. We had to edit two programs on that weekend of November 21: our usual highlights show to air Sunday, plus a postseason show to air the following week. John Sanders had to record 20 on-camera pieces and eight voice-overs before the game; George Paterno taped a commentary and two billboards. After the game, they each had to record some additional pieces, including the on-camera open and close for each of the two shows. Then we got down to some serious editing. I worked 10 hours on Friday, 23 on Saturday, and another 12½ on Sunday. (Recuperating, I worked only four hours the following week.)
With an additional program before the Florida Citrus Bowl against Clemson, and yet another one after the bowl game on January 1, 1988, the Penn State football highlights show finally ended its run with TCS. Another company picked it up the following season, while the production trucks and other facilities were sold to a firm called NEP SuperShooters.
Monday, June 6, 1988
Since NEP doesn't produce any programs but only provides equipment, the few of us who were left in programming were called in to work only on an as-needed basis. I became a full-time freelancer.
Of course, I had done freelance work for other production companies before, so this wasn't a drastic change. I now have a little less income but a little more free time, which I consider a fair trade-off.