I had a similar experience at the next station that tapped me to be on its morning news show. Even though, for months, the Hollywood buzz was that it would sink upon box office arrival, Titanic did just the opposite. It was a huge hit and critics predicted many Oscar nominations. Good Day New York on WNYW assigned me to do live shots in the field. Life style features. I'd promote family events, talk to commuters and other folks on the street. Did you ever see the live TV segments Jim Carrey's reporter character had to do in the first 20 minutes of Bruce Almighty? That sort of thing. I did get to do more entertainment features on WNYW/Fox5 than at WNBC. But my goal was to do even more entertainment features in the studio.
Victor Garber was appearing in an off-Broadway play that needed publicity. I got a press kit and the attached letter mentioned that he was very available for interviews. He could be an in-studio guest. I called the publicist to say that I'd gotten the information and wanted to pitch an interview to my boss. I wanted to book Garber to be in our studio for the 8:00-9:00 hour on one day in particular when he was available. It would be the day Oscar nominations were announced. I'd seen Titanic and felt it had a chance of tying All About Eve in record Oscar nominations. Victor Garber was in Titanic. Here was my pitch to my boss -- let me interview Garber in one segment about his off-Broadway play. Ask him stick around and he could watch with us as we cut to Hollywood for the live Oscar nominations coverage. Then... talk to Garber again, as a cast member of Titanic, to get his reaction to the Oscar nominations just announced. I felt this would be a win-win situation for our local show, plus it would give generous time to Garber to talk about his play and Titanic. His soundbites could be used on the afternoon and nighttime newscasts.
My producer boss passed on that idea. I was assigned to do a live-shot in midtown Manhattan at the grand opening of a new gourmet soup cafe. Again...I kid you not. So, there I am trying to fill 4-minute segments with commuters talking about soup. Like so:
Me: "Hi! Thanks for stopping to talk to us on Good Day New York. This is a new gourmet soup cafe in Manhattan opening today."
Commuter: "Oh. That's nice."
Me: "Today's special is escarole."
Commuter: "Escarole. What's that?"
Me: I think she played the mother on Good Times."
Me: "Exactly. Here's a coupon. Go in. Enjoy the soup."
On that morning, I really wanted to be in the studio. Well, a guest who was scheduled canceled at the last minute. The guest was slated for the last half hour of the show in a spot that came after the Oscar nominations. This caused a problem. In order to fix that big gap of time, what did the producer do? Asked if I could fill from my remote by talking about...the Oscar nominations just announced.
There I was, backed up by minestrone and chicken pasta soup, telling the show's anchorman and all our viewers that James Cameron's Titanic -- which some Hollywood insiders predicted would sink at the box office -- not only sailed into colossal success....
Garber is a versatile Broadway and film veteran. He started his film career as Jesus in the 1973 screen version of the stage musical, Godspell. His hit films before Titanic include Sleepless in Seattle and The First Wives Club. Millions of TV viewers remember him as Jack Bristow on the series, Alias. Garber played Sid Luft, Judy Garland's husband and manager, in the acclaimed 2001 TV biopic, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows starring Judy Davis. It's based on a memoir by Garland's daughter, Lorna Luft. Garber recently introduced press to his longtime partner.