The Summer of ’17 was utterly unforgettable. I went on a cross-country journey with four stand-up comedians – a black & white Jewish mom, an Aussie billionaire with a hangup about hookups, a maximum-security prisoner just released after aiding & abetting a robbery and attempted murder, and a psychotic psychologist with a hernia issue and a slew of other pre-existing conditions. I was shooting their adventures for a reality show – Sunda’s Straightjacket Comedy Tour – about how the owner of the LA School Of Comedy take a select group of students on a cross-country comedy tour. Only now am I finally able to show you what went down in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Reno, Vegas and god-knows-where-else. When you’re on tour, your cast & crew become your family. I love these guys.
This week we celebrate the 29th anniversary of the KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles – the Barbara-Carlos-Mark-Sam version was the highest-rated local morning show in TV history! This show provided me with so many life-long friends, a treasure trove of memories and videos, it brought me a mantle full of Emmy Awards and it bought me my first house and half a dozen cars! I’ve come across some scenes from the show I had locked away decades ago in the Raymond J Brune vault. Most of these clips are being seen here for the first time since they originally aired nearly 3 decades ago! Here’s to the Morning News and everyone “who held the show hostage!” Continue reading 29 YEARS LATER
THE “SOY BOMB” CRASH & BURN
Taking risks is the sure-fire path to rewards. I don’t think anyone will disagree with me. But taking risks also means that sometimes, things don’t pay off. Things don’t go as planned. What you saw in your head when planning your next amazing segment is NOT what you ended up seeing on the line monitor. Continue reading UNREWARDED RISKS!
GOOD MORNING NEWS FOR NBC
NBC’s Today has improved by leaps and bounds since the last time I watched – during the ousting of Matt Lauer more than a year ago. The new directing style the show has adopted dramatically boosts the connection between the talent and the viewers. Hoda, Savannah and Al are alive, in-the-moment, and occasionally engaging, but the show has some work ahead of it – especially with Carson and Craig. But first, an obvious editorial error. Continue reading “TODAY” TURNS A CORNER
AN ILLUMINATING OVERSIGHT
If you’ve ever met her, you know Marie Osmond is pretty in person. Stunning even. And she is just as beautiful on TV. Marie, a TV veteran of her own prime-time variety series and a daytime talk show, knows how crucial lighting is on a TV set. Good lighting can make a talent “glow” on screen. Bad lighting is the kiss of death. Many years ago, Marie was a guest on The KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles. Coincidentally, we shot our show on the very same stage she and her brother had shot all 78-episodes of Donnie & Marie on ABC twenty years earlier. I remember very clearly, when she arrived, before going to makeup, Marie asked me if she could go out on set for a moment during a commercial break. I led the way. Once there, she looked at where she would be sitting for the interview and then examined the lighting grid above her, determining whether or not she had a key light, a fill light, and a rim light (a back light). She was happy when our three-point lighting met her standards.
OPEN TEASES MUST SET THE TONE
How do you open your morning newscast? Let me guess. Video of that overnight fire, wiping to that avalanche caught on tape, wiping to the footage of a dolphin giving birth. Music is urgent, your talent is breathless and graphics are flashing all over the screen. Yep. You’re producing that pre-open tease exactly as Walk Away Joe tells you to do it. If you’re producing a personality-driven newscast, Joe, aka your news consultant, is dead wrong. Here’s why. Continue reading ESTABLISH YOUR ATTITUDE
There came a time in my career when I began to recognize that I excel in two areas of TV news – the first is in finding, mentoring, and producing personalities. I’m not referring to newsreaders or prompter-jockeys, but true personalities. In addition to the The KTLA Morning News team, I’ve been fortunate to have worked alongside some of the best news personalities in television. Continue reading PERSONALITIES THAT POP
If you work in a newsroom, it’s essential that you understand the psychology that often goes unnoticed between you and higher level managers. That old Left-Brain/Right Brain disconnect is killing creativity in newsrooms and – trust me – it shows on air! Below is a chapter from my recent book, “…Like No One’s Watching: Transform Your Local Newscast into a Hit TV Show!” It spells out the problem and shows how to overcome the obstacles.