SLEEPING UNTIL 9 a.m. is unusual for me, even though it is my day off from Cable News Network. But the extra rest will probably do me good as this week promises to be hectic since my co-producer, Wendy Walker, is on vacation.
So I decide to live it up for the next couple of hours: breakfast and reading The Washington Post in the garden. My cat, Izzy, keeps me company.
I make mental notes on likely people to invite for our weekend interview shows. Thank heavens, the kudzu vine that was taking over the place has been cut back, thanks to neighbors on both sides. Mum called and asked if we could take some extra time and drop off a manuscript downtown before going to Magruders to load up on fresh vegetables. We make some good buys: silver queen corn, eastern shore 'lopes. Yum.
I rush off for a 3 p.m. appointment with a broadcaster friend for some informal voice coaching. My exercise class is at 6:30 p.m., then home for a good dinner, some housecleaning and reading. I relly miss The Washington Star.
I put in a call to Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis' public relations office, inviting Lewis to appear on our "Newsmaker Saturday" program. It consists of two reporters and a moderator, asking the guest questions for an hour. It airs on Saturday and sometimes makes the front page of the Sunday papers.
The air controllers' strike will surely be news all week.
Next, I must line up the guest for the other show, "Newsmaker Sunday." Same format. August is a slow month, with Congress gone, so my boss, Stuart Loory, who is the show's moderator, and I go into a huddle making a list of newswrothy possibilities.
During lunch hour, I drive over to the Hurt Home for the Blind on R Street in Georgetown, not far from our office on Wisconsin Avenue. I drop off a transitor radio that one of the blind ladies asked me to have fixed. dI stay overly long, visiting several of the elderly residents. They are so lonely.
After returning to the office, I write some promotional material for shows.
It's needed for brochures. Before leaving, the assignment desk tells me I can have a camera crew for my feature tomorrow on the insect zoo at the Smithsonian. Every time I set up one of these features, I keep my fingers crossed that no hard news will break and take my crew away.
Bill comes over after work. He has been working all day on an appeals brief. We broil a bluefish that someone gave him. I work on the insect script, read newspapers, fall asleep.
I meet the camera crew at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Hordes of children are gathered in front of glass cases, ogling tarantulas, centipedes, grasshoppers -- everything, it seems, except the Mediterranean fruit fly. I decide to be brave and tape an on-camera "standup" with two enormous hissing cockroaches in my trembling hands. It is a wonder that my voice doesn't shake as I say my lines.
Back at the office, there's more staff chitchat about the morning announcement that ABC/Westinghouse will be starting an all-news cable channel. This will be Ted Turner's first competitor.
Drew Lewis' appearance is definitely nailed down. I will line up the panel tomorrow.
I call two wire service reporters covering the air controllers' strike to invite them as panelists. Rowland Evans will moderate in Dan Schorr's vacation absence. The show is being taped tomorrow rather than Saturday. More convenient for Lewis. This gives me less time to arrange for studio facilities, cameras, floor director, a portale switcher, transcripts, promos and publicity.
I get most of this done by midday when I have to stop and produce a live "Take Two" interview. From their set in Atlanta, where "Take Two" originates, co-hosts Chris Curle and Don Farmer (both used to be here in D.C.) interview the people I have in the studio here. They are producers of the new movie, "The First Monday in October." It was shot here in Washington and is all about a woman Supreme Court Justice. Lucky timing for them, I'd say.
While they are on the air, two more "Take Two" guest arrive. Thank goodness for our college interns, for they greet them and explain the procedures. Tomorrow is the last day for the interns and wonder how I will survive without them for the next two weeks with Wendy gone.
When first took on this job, I had to produce the commentaries by some of the special contributors, like Rudy Maxa, Ralph Nader, Barry Goldwater and Mark Shields. With our work load getting heavier and the interns getting more experienced, they have been able to handle most of these tapings.
Olivia Sellers, a former intern and now a per-diem production assistant, fortunately, will be on hand. We haven't lined up the guest yet for the other Newsmaker show. I hear that "Face The Nation" hasn't gotten anyone either, but when I worked for CBS, that was often the case. It is better to wait, if you have cool nerves, for a fresh newsmaker rather than have someone who is warmed over from being on talk shows all week. One of our prospects is a Norfolk air controller, just out of jail -- but he is out of pocket, too.
Surprisingly, no Izzy to meet me when I get home. Really strange. I fight down a strong feeling of apprehension. I call and callher; she doesn't come. That awful feeling comes back. Something has happened to my little companion, who came to my front door two years ago as a skinny frightened kitten. It took me at least three weeks to lure her inside. Once in, she stayed. But after a year, she was less timid and I would take her into the garden. Then, gradually, I let her stay out during the day, arranging a way for her to go in and out when she liked. I walked around the neighborhood -- calling, calling. No one has seen her, though one of the persons who have the laundry on the corner said she had seen her earlier.
Still no Izzy. I look around the streets some more. The tears begin to come, but I can't let them. I must get to the office. We tape Drew Lewis at 9:30 a.m. He makes some news and it is on the wires in a couple of hours. Immediately following the show, tapes to be dubbed for the networks, media calls to be handled, transcripts to be proofread.
In the afternoon, a surprise party is held in the studio for Cissy Baker, who is leaving her assignment editor's job to run in the Republican congressional primary this fall in Tennessee. Now only 25, she would be the youngest member of Congress. She should be fairly well prepared, with her dad being Senate majority leader and her late grandfather, Everett McKinley Dirksen, having served in Congress for nearly 35 years. As a gag, the bureau presents her with a briefcase filled with funny money. (Shades of Abscam?)
We lined up an interesting guest for "Newsweek Sunday," Robert Carleson of the White House. His field is welfare, block grants to the states. I invite the panelists and pull together background material on Carleson and the issues.
Finish lining up journalists for "Press Box," CNN's answer to Agronsky & Co. We will tape it with panelists Martin Schram of The Washington Post, Ben Wattenberg, author and journalist, and Barbara Reynolds, a syndicated columnist. Stuard Lorry will host.
To keep me from becoming a basket case, Bill suggests going to a movie. I picked "Eye of the Needle" -- violent and scary. Just what I needed!
On arrival at work what meets my eyes but a shattered glass front door. Could someone who tried to take over the Iranian interest section of the Algerian Embassy next door be responsible? No, thank goodness, only vandals, we think, because there are similar smashings all along Wisconsin Avenue. We tape the two shows.
Everything goes smoothly. Lots of talk about Poland on "Press Box," as two of the panelists, Lorry and Wattenberg, had just been there. I screen my insect zoo tapes and am home by 4:30 p.m. Still, no Izzy. I will spend the rest of the weekend looking.