Three tales from the life of a network news producer:
* Once, when a White House staffer proudly asked CBS' Susan Zirinsky what she thought of the new, sparkling white uniforms for the White House bugle corps, she told him that from a television point of view, the white on a white house was all wrong. The staffer, who had been admiring the buglers on the South Lawn, immediately picked up his walkie-talkie and barked: "Forget the white uniforms on the buglers! We'll go with the blue!"
* Another time, when Zirinsky was getting scenic footage of the Salmon River during Jimmy Carter's rafting vacation, she had her helicopter land in the wilderness. She was suddenly surrounded by four rangers who told her she was in an illegal area and that the fine would be $10,000. "Do you need it now?" she asked, not missing a beat. "Or will you take American Express?"
* In Augusta, Ga., the White House press bus Zirinsky was on had stopped before an endless, slow-moving train at 6:20 p.m., just 10 minutes before the evening broadcast and only yards from the hotel where she was supposed to file her piece. She grabbed her videocassette, jumped off the bus with an ABC colleague, climbed up on the train, ran across an empty boxcar, then leaped off the other side.
"We made it," she says.