Good day from New York, where we're keeping a close eye on a major story... the tornado disaster in Greensburg, Kansas which continues to unfold this afternoon. At this writing the death toll is nine, and searchers fear there may be more victims buried in collapsed buildings. We'll have the latest on the search. We've gotten some frightening and amazing storm-chaser video of a tornado spawned from this same storm system as it cut a path through the Oklahoma countryside.
Also tonight what's the story with actor and former Senator Fred Thompson? He had a big speech in California last night, though he failed to toss his hat into the presidential ring. He's polling extremely well for a guy who is so far not in the race. NBC's John Yang is preparing a report tonight on the "Thompson factor" and what his non-candidacy is doing to the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Many of you will be seeing us immediately after NBC Sports coverage of the Kentucky Derby. We'll have a complete wrap-up of the day's flavor, including Queen Elizabeth's day at Churchill Downs.
I'll see you a bit later for NBC Nightly News.
That's what the framed poster says on the conference room wall of Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. It refers to the worldwide box office revenues for the first two Spider-Man movies. And the poster is out of date. The real number is double that -- $1.6 billion. Despite the staggering number, as Lee entered the room for his interview with
Photo caption: NBC's George Lewis, left, walks with Stan Lee through the halls of the Spider-Man co-creator's company Pow! Entertainment in Beverly Hills, Calif. Credit: NBC News.
correspondent George Lewis, I got the sense this was a genuinely humble man.
Sometimes when you interview a Hollywood star or big-time executive you're rushed in and out. Many times there's a sense that they're doing you a favor by granting you an interview. Lee's interview was quite the opposite. The 84-year-old magnate came in unescorted, introduced himself to the NBC News crew and told us he was thankful we'd taken the time out of our day to include him in our story.
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.
Moving day has arrived, and 'Nightly News' Director Brett Holey offers a special tour as we say goodbye to our third-floor home and Studio 3C.
Click here or on the image to watch.
Somewhere, at home in a wooden box (one of those things you make a mental note to grab in case of a fire, and provided you have time to think about what to grab other than family members and family dog) is a copy of USA Today from the morning of John Glenn's return to space. It is signed by John Glenn, Scott Carpenter (my on-air analyst that day), Gordon Cooper and Wally Schirra. There are now two surviving members of the Mercury Seven, with the death of Wally Schirra. As our veteran space correspondent has already done in this space, we will take some time to remember him tonight.
We will also preview tonight's main political event: the GOP debate at the Reagan Library. I spoke with Chris Matthews yesterday, moderator-to-moderator -- offering whatever expertise I could from my experience (with two fewer candidates on stage) a week ago tonight. There's some good writing on this subject on Slate.com and Politico.com and a number of other places.
The Queen of England set foot on U.S. soil this afternoon, and tonight we'll preview her visit. We'll also look at the Middle East summit, the aftermath in L.A., and medical news having to do with heart disease.
The third floor windows will be glowing with light tonight as many of us stay a bit later than usual -- not only to update Nightly News with the time zones as the debate progresses, but to pack and toss belongings prior to the move. The "Staff Challenge" is moving along nicely -- some amazing artifacts have been found. Watch this space tomorrow.
We hope you'll join us tonight.
Wally Schirra was simply one of America's best sons.
He was the astronaut who was always approachable. The astronaut with a smile, a good joke, and the warmth that made you feel you were with family. On Oct. 3,1962, while the World Series was being played, an Atlas rocket boosted Wally Schirra and his Sigma Seven Mercury space capsule into earth orbit. Wally proved his skills as a test pilot. He stayed up for six orbits -- nine hours. He had been launched with the same fuel quantity as John Glenn and Scott Carpenter, but he conserved fuel in a way that amazed Mercury Control. In the process he went through his scientific and engineering checklist with an efficiency that would have turned a robot green with envy.
While Brian has fun with the bubble wrap and boxes here in the New York offices, Chip Reid is on Capitol Hill and doesn't have to move, so he takes on today's vlog duties. Here, he previews some of the stories we're working on for tonight's broadcast.
Click here or on the image to watch.
Among the stories at or near the top of our broadcast tonight: Tempers continue to smolder in Los Angeles today after a police action against demonstrators who were part of yesterday's immigration events. There's economic news tonight, from food to gasoline, being felt by every wage-earning American. There is medical news concerning antidepressants and a lot of activity in Washington on this "day after the veto." Additionally, we have another report in our series on caring for the elderly, "Trading Places," and another installment in our environmental series as well.
THE NIGHTLY NEWS STAFF CHALLENGE
We are days away from vacating our offices on the third floor of 30 Rock, which NBC News has occupied for decades. We are moving elsewhere during an enormous construction project which, when it's complete, will house the entire NBC News family -- from Nightly News to the Today Show to Dateline to MSNBC to Telemundo to our friends at WNBC-TV here in New York. We'll be in beautiful temporary offices elsewhere in the building for a few months, before returning to this same floor to an all-new facility. We will say a proper goodbye to our Nightly News Studio on Friday's broadcast. Luckily, we're a close bunch...because we're about to get even closer. For now, our hallways are full of rolling dumpsters, boxes in various stages of fullness and bubble wrap in industrial-size rolls. So here is my challenge to the staff: there have already been some incredible artifacts discovered during this cleaning process. Give it your best shot: submit a descriptive paragraph (and a photo if necessary) to our blog editor and we will publish the compilation. The prize for the best entry will be the daily joy of continued employment in the best damn news shop in television. I've already seen one entry -- dug out of the confines and recesses of a colleagues office -- that is going to be hard to beat. This is going to be good. So far, in my own office I'm not proud to have discovered:
Fossilized mouse droppings; two early-era computer mouses/mice; memos going back through several News Division Presidents; dozens of refills for pens I can no longer locate; one stock car racing helmet signed by Darrell Waltrip; an electric guitar signed by Dale Earnhardt; chargers and instruction manuals for more than half a dozen long-deceased cellphones; a left shoe; two knee braces; two baseball bats; an area rug depicting a golden retriever (an unreturnable gift from a viewer); the first-ever generation Blackberry that NBC issued its employees (it is the size of a toaster oven); a Peabody Award; a parade-dress fire uniform hat from the Jersey City Fire Department; two decks of Air Force One playing cards; a bomb fragment from the West Bank; a shell casing from Baghdad; a signed copy of the Nightly News theme, "The Mission," by composer John Williams; two boxes of high liters and three boxes of Band-Aids; a second (and unrelated) left shoe; and a bottle of lighter fluid.
What's worrisome is: I've yet to start packing. I'm staying late tomorrow night. Perhaps through Sunday. Watch this space for contest results.
In the meantime, we hope you will join us for tonight's broadcast.
Moving day is fast approaching for the staff at 'Nightly News.' The offices are a mess as Brian points out in today's vlog -- and long-time employees are finding things that are, well, old. Really old. One staffer quipped earlier this week as she boxed up her office: "I think I might find Jimmy Hoffa."
Click here or on the image to watch.
Correspondent George Lewis was to have submitted a longer story for tonight's 'Nightly News' broadcast on the day's immigration rallies. But, as sometimes happens in our business, the story became shorter - one minute - to make room for additional news of the day.
A taped interview with Elvira Arellano wound up on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Arellano is a 32-year-old undocumented worker and community activist, who nine months ago sought sanctuary in a Chicago church to avoid deportation. She'd been convicted of using a fake Social Security card.
"I am not criminal. I am not terrorist. I am mother," she told producer Grace Ramirez.