AT THE TOP
A number of stories vying for lead story status at this hour, following our afternoon editorial meeting. There's the mental health status report regarding the U.S. Military, our own GOP debate last night, the aftermath in Los Angeles (the lawsuits are starting) and the visit of Her Majesty the Queen. We have some very impactful reporting tonight -- Dawn Fratangelo and producer Julie Holstein have teamed up on a very important, emotional story on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from this nation's wars -- this particular kind has nothing to do with combat stress, per se, but is every bit as important.
An intense storm system briefly turned day into night in New Orleans today -- CNN aired live pictures at midafternoon showing lights on in the darkness, and their anchor later reported what their New Orleans bureau confirmed: that's the way it indeed looked.
Its Friday night, so we'll have our usual Making A Difference report -- tonight, Roger O'Neil will profile the doctor many came to know during the Barbaro saga.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT...
While the world may little note, nor long remember what was said on stage last night at the GOP Debate in Simi Valley, we can never forget what they did there. Some greatest hits according to people I've spoken with:
Longest-lasting quote: "Gates of hell" by John McCain. Followed by the smile. We'll be hearing...and seeing that again for a long time to come.
Killer Final Exam Extra Credit Question: Sunni vs. Shiite, to Giuliani. Show of hands: how many others on that stage could have answered that?
Highest pedometer reading of the night: John Harris of The Politico.
Best live blog: Ana Marie Cox
Fastest jump off the stage: Mitt Romney. In order to be the first candidate pictured, post-debate, shaking Nancy Reagan's hand, Romney risked almost certain injury...displaying jumping skills in a way Americans haven't seen since one night when "My American Cousin" was playing at Ford's Theatre in the 1860s.
WE'RE LEAVING HOME...BYE BYE
I recommend the video blog done this morning by the Director of Nightly News, Brett Holey. The time has come to leave our longtime home on the third floor of 30 Rock. A camera crew just came to take pictures of me in my box-filled office, typing this post. My assistant Melissa is working on Saturday to finish the packing, which should finally qualify her for NBC Sainthood (in addition to the average day spent with me). Tonight on the broadcast, we will also say goodbye to our on-air news set, with a quick review of the television history that has played out in that room -- and a look back at the "look" of Nightly News over the years. We have been in Studio 3C since 1999. We're headed to a temporary home, the beautiful studio 8-G -- a problem for me only because my veteran floor crew of stagehands will stay here. I'm quite sure I'll make new friends out of my new co-workers, however. I'm literally taking the anchor desk upstairs with me -- since its still better than anything we have. After a stint in 8G, we'll return to an immense and new studio and newsroom complex.
As you may recall -- I've asked the staff, after days of cleaning and boxing and stacking, to save for this space their best and favorite "found" item. There are some gems. And with the usual request that you join us for Nightly News tonight -- and our usual wish that you all have a good weekend -- we'll leave you with the collected artifacts of our gang -- the detritus of our third floor, rabbit warren of offices -- together, it all tells the story of NBC Nightly News, for better or worse.
RELICS OF AN ERA:
Reflections of the boss
While packing up my office, I happened upon one of the many supportive notes the anchor has sent to me over the last two years, as well as a very special little Christmas ornament that no one in this building will confess to creating.
Subrata De, Anchor Producer
Various and sundry items
Packed up all my "team photos" from remotes from around the world...and the giant Saddam Hussein picture that Kevin Tibbles gave me back in 1998...but along the way I found:
* F.W. deKlerk and Nelson Mandela "salt and pepper" shakers. They were given to me while covering the Mandela election in April 1995. Our production manager, Maralyn Gelefsky wanted the Mandela shaker but I told her they only go as a set.
* A tape of the first story I ever produced for Nightly News: "Truck Safety". My correspondent was Brian Ross, now of ABC, and it was so long ago I hope we can find a machine to transfer "three-quarter inch" tape!
* A January, 1999 memo from our Investigative Producer Bob Windrem quoting his intelligence sources as saying "Bin Laden is full-tilt coming at us..and as hard as he can." The memo also goes on to quote the sources as saying "There is no evidence of a link between Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein."
M.L. Flynn, Senior Foreign Producer
Care for a cookie?
I found the research for my first story as a producer for NBC, a collection of ratty papers and secret documents on corruption in the American labor movement, which ran in 1980...and a Ronald McDonald cookie jar.
Robert Windrem, Senior Investigative Producer
Now THIS is kitsch
Raised by a family who LOVES their kitsch, I am also a terrible pack-rat… not a good quality for someone living in a New York City apartment. Tucked in a dusty corner of my office, I have found this priceless bit of my own personal NBC history. Priceless in terms of KITSCHINESS, not in terms of cash unfortunately.
It was given to me by an enterprising "voter" on one of many bus trips through the 62 counties of New York State with Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate Campaign. It may not quite be an "I Like Ike" button, but it does make me wonder what they are going to come up with for her Presidential Run.
Felicia Patinkin, Producer
Icons of journalism
It was July of 1980 and the Republicans were meeting in Detroit's Joe Lewis Arena to pick their nominee for president. I was a researcher charged with putting together a chart for our reporters showing the seating plan of the delegates with the position of our cameras. The reporters who worked the floor interviewing delegates would tell the control room when they had a good interview and we would put them on the air. I devised a clip board with their intials in big yellow letters on the back, and their producers would wave it in the air to camera operators searching to find them among the sea of people.
It was a memorable convention for NBC. Ronald Reagan was getting his party's nomination and many were convinced that Gerald Ford would be his choice for Vice President. Some delegates were wearing Reagan Ford buttons. Dan Rather went on the air for CBS and reported it was a done deal. But NBC held back until late in the evening. I will never forget the screaming words of Chris Wallace (now of Fox) into our control room, "It's Bush, it's Bush, it's Bush". Our camera person raced to find that big yellow "W" his producer was frantically waving and he and NBC were first to report the new Reagan-Bush ticket.
So, here is my relic offering: At the end of the week, I asked all of the people I had worked with that week to sign my chart. Only a few of us still work for NBC, many have since died, but the signatures read like a who's who of network television: John Chancellor, David Brinkley, Tom Brokaw, Garrick Utley, Tom Pettit, Chris Wallace, Judy Woodruff, Jessica Savitch and the political historian Theodore White.
Anne Binford, Tape Producer
A treasure trove of stuff
Let me first say that I am a neat freak so my desk was clean and easy to pack into one box. The rest of the office, however, was the complete opposite. Traveling into the time-frozen, untouched areas of the NBC Nightly News office space was quite an adventure. In one storage area I found some great sports memorabilia, including framed 1996 World Series tickets and an autographed photo of Joe DiMaggio. In addition to going through storage spaces I also got tasked with packing up all of the photos and awards in our common office space. Among them, pictures of past presidents, framed magazine and newspaper covers, and an enormous beautifully framed poster of the 343 members of the FDNY that were lost on 9-11, which we took extra care of. If you watched Brian's vlog the other day, then you know our halls are lined with overflowing boxes, huge moveable trash carts, and enormous rolls of bubble wrap that I had the pleasure of dragging around the office. Today, there is a feeling in the air that the end is near. The past few weeks have been exhausting and drawn out but our temporary space is new, bright, and open. I think we are all looking forward to getting settled in.
Daniel Linden, Desk Assistant
No further explanation required
Yes, it's a picture of a picture of Macaulay Culkin hamming at the White House with Producer Donna Bass.
Read more from Brian Williams 2007
"$800 million worldwide and counting"
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