Tuesday, January 01, 2008
From the 360 Control Room
So when they told me I'd be spending New Year's Eve in the control room I wasnt exactly thrilled - I mean I like myjob but the Time Warner Center is not my first choice of locations to ring in the New Year. But then I thought, hey, I'm with my friends, it's dark, there are a lot of tvs and a lot of yelling... plus a champagne toast at midnight - it's probably not all that different from spending the night at a bar.

If you're not familiar, the control room is the center of the show - the director, producers, writers, graphics coordinators and more all gather to make "it" happen. It's my job to make sure we have all the video elements and they're the best we can get. It's a very high stress, fast-paced environment where you have to be prepared for anything to change at any moment.

Last night was a production several months in the making - mostly orchestrated by one of our senior producers, Ted Fine. (I'm sure he thinks I'm trying to earn brownie points now...) During big shows you can also count on a free meal - the drawback to this is when we get dinner delivered you know they expect you to be working hard because there's no excuse to leave the newsroom even to eat.
To prepare for the special we had conference calls every day last week to book satellite trucks and go over locations. Then yesterday we had three more calls throughout the day with all of our reporters in the field and producers in New York to go over the rundown minute by minute. But no matter how much planning goes into a show, the final culmination in the control room frequently involves a lot of screaming and quick-fixing. And of course all that is entirely dependent on the technology actually working...and it failed us a few times early on in the night. I won't rehash any moments, but if you were watching you can probably guess what I mean.

Of course having a host you're not familiar with, especially someone of Kathy Griffin's reputation, is a gamble, but I think everyone was incredibly pleased with Kathy and Anderson's performance. Even as we were giving them wrap cues we didn't really want their banter to end. In our business, it's a testimony to the strength of a segment if the control room is paying attention - well, can testify that more than once we all stopped to just listen and laugh.
What did you think of the show? What did you think of Kathy? If you missed it you'll have an opportunity to watch some highlights tonight!

--Ashley Corum, 360 Control Room AP

Posted By CNN: 5:48 PM ET
Happy New Year Ashley and CNN Production Crew... Usually I watch ABC Dick Clark - but this year I asked my husband to switch back and forth so I could compare...ABC was good - but music bad... CNN was very good - but Cathy was ridiculous and remarks to Anderson where way out of line...outright rude...I was amazed at how professional Anderson handled himself... If he does this again next year - try to pair him up with someone funny but with a lot more class. Erica Hill would have been a great match onstage with him...so if not her...someone close to her personality.
Posted By Anonymous Nikki : 6:02 PM ET
As they say, "The Human Race has one really effective weapon; and this is laughter." Mark Twain.
We need more laughs, more humor, more lighthearted moments. I think the AC New Years Eve show delivered that. So my hat's off to you all. Cheers..Although I would have liked to hear the bands play at least one WHOLE song before you cut away. Here's so and so and there goes so and so...Oh well, sometimes 15 minutes in the limelight is on a time schedule, even for Earth, Wind and Fire...

Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.
Posted By Blogger Lorie Ann : 6:07 PM ET
Hey Ashley,

Sounds like you had a hectic, yet fun evening. Thanks to you and everyone in the control room for such a great job.

I was so looking forward to last night's program because of Kathy's rep for being unpredictable. I was not disappointed and it looked like Anderson was having a great time with her as well.

Happy New Year!

Surprise, AZ
Posted By Blogger Mindy : 6:07 PM ET
I thought the show was great! A few awkward moments with Kathy Griffin, but everything was fine. Not as many musical guests as the other shows had, but the iparty things and texts at the bottom of the screen were great!!
Posted By Blogger Ann : 6:21 PM ET
Happy New Year! I thought last nights show was great. You guys kept it moving and there was plenty to see. I thought Kathy and Anderson made a great team, Anderson was able to banter back and forth with her with no problems and we got to see the more relaxed side of him that sometimes has to be put aside in a more serious broadcast. I wasn't a big fan of the music acts, but aside from that I enjoyed all the pieces from the correspondants. The drag queen drop is definetly fun to watch, as was Gary's run!

Thanks again for such a great show and hopefully you'll be able to get someone like Kathy back next year, I definetly spent the night giggling watching her make Anderson giggle :)
Posted By Anonymous Jamie, PA : 6:29 PM ET
I enjoyed Anderson and the rest of the 360 crew but did NOT appreciate Kathy Griffin. I found her remarks rude and out-of-line. I am a loyal 360 viewer and also a journalist. I did, however, enjoy the segments with Erica Hill among the crowd. How about Stephen Colbert co-hosting next year? He is snarky and can gave a humorous yet intelligent take on the events of the past year.

I am NOT a Kathy Griffin fan, and I think the caliber of the show would appeal to a lot more loyal 360 viewers if someone with a more cerebral sense of humor would co-host with Anderson.

Posted By Blogger Mac : 6:29 PM ET

First and foremost a big congrats to you and the behind the scenes team for a great show last night. People often forget that it takes a whole lot of work putting a show of that magnatitude together. So job well done.

As to Kathy.....I am a little torn on that one. I thought Anderson handled himself pretty well with her and she had a few funny moments but honestly I was really unimpressed with her question to Anderson about waterboarding someone in the Bush administration. I am really glad Anderson told her it was not a funny or joking matter because it was very inappropriate. But what can you do with live television and a corky comedienne

I enjoyed Erica, Kiran, Gary, John, Sean and all the others on the show. Wish we could have seen more of them. I also wish the show went to 1AM like it did last year. I enjoy watching New Years being brought in by the Central time zone as well.

Again well done on a great New Year's show. Can't wait to see what you will all do to bring in 2009!!!
Posted By Anonymous Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada : 6:31 PM ET
Happy New Year CNN!

I enjoyed last night's broadcast.
Anderson & Kathy played off of each other well, and it was great to hear Anderson (Andy) laugh so much. It's not often that he gets a chance to show his lighter side on CNN.

I'm not much of a Kathy Griffin fan, so next year maybe Erica could be on the platform with Anderson. Those two are a riot every night on 360. They could take their "show" on the road (and probably sell out 3 nights at the Garden)!
Posted By Blogger Barbara : 6:34 PM ET
PLEASE have Kathy Griffin on again with Anderson (or "Andy" as some call him...). I normally don't even stay up until midnight, but when I heard Anderson and Kathy were doing the show together, I HAD to watch. And I'm glad I did! They were hilarious together-- and clearly having fun.
Thanks, CNN!
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 6:38 PM ET
Happy new year Ashley!
The show was great last night, good job to everyone who was in the control room but, I felt like it was kind of short, can you guys make it a little longer next time? we love Anderson and really enjoying watching him, and last night with Kathy was hilarous!, it was qute when he fell for the open flier!

Happy new year everybody!
Posted By Anonymous kui : 6:42 PM ET
Kathy was Kathy and Anderson was great as always.

My question is did Gary finish his race?! :-)

Marcy, Mobile, AL
Posted By Blogger beaslma : 6:53 PM ET
Kathy Griffin is crude and vulgar. The entire evening spent doing nothing more than telling Anderson his fly is down, asking him for his address, and telling him what she will do to him at midnight. How embarrassing for Anderson that he had to listen to her. Even more unfortunate is that he seemed to enjoy it.

If Anderson does NYE again next year, please pair him up with someone with the ability to come up with some intelligent, comedic material and snark.

And Ryan Seacrest gets a few minutes with Mayor Bloomberg. Bloomberg probably saw Griffin with Anderson and decided it best to pass on that gig.

Lee, Norwalk, CT
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 7:04 PM ET
I thought Kathy was great... apparently not a lot of people did. I figured AC360 knew ahead of time that she'd be a bit crass because Anderson's an intelligent, handsome, and somewhat geeky guy and she's pretty crazy. I have to say, I liked watching AC try to stop her from talking when they had to cut to comercials; he was trying to be polite or witty but toward the end of the night he looked like he wanted to say, "Okay, yeah, Kathy, shut up, I need my sponsors."
Erica was nice, too, but I thought I'd see a lot more of her and the crowd. Maybe next year.
It was a fun night, and a great New Year's Eve. Like Nikki said, a classier cohost would be nice for next year, however.
Posted By Anonymous Christianna : 7:09 PM ET
Kathy Griffin kept the show fun, and it was great to see Anderson and her go back and forth.

Anderson seems to work so hard, flying back and forth everywhere, and still making it to ring in the New Year! How does he do all of it?

Even if he can’t keep up with his resolution to blog every day, he still does a good job keeping us aware of everything that is going on in the world.

My new year’s resolution this year is to volunteer more. My resolution last year was to floss more too, and I am keeping up with that!
Posted By Anonymous Tom : 7:37 PM ET
Hi Ashley. Happy New Year. Thanks for the behind-the-scenes tidbits. The show might have started off with a (technical) hitch or two, but I thought it was fun. Kathy Griffin should definitely be invited back.
Posted By Blogger eliza : 7:47 PM ET
I have to say I missed the live broadcast but got in and watched the rerun. And honestly Kathy was not too funny to me. Her jokes were off color and she never knows when to stop! She couldn't be serious at all which really brought the show down IMO. Next time get someone that can be funny but also serious when it's called for. Maybe Kelly Ripa or even Erica Hill. Anyone but Kathy...PLEASE don't have her back next year!

I did get to watch Ryan Seacrest's show live and IMO it was WAY better than Coop's! SORRY!! You all want my opinion...here it is! The music on Anderson's show was WAY under par! And why do you all never let the musician do a whole song! I don't get that at all!! And Kiran's part was useless! You really didn't have enough pics to have her on the whole shoe. Erica was wasted also....she should have been given something more than trying to talk to people on the street! She is WAY better than that! And the other reporters hardly got any time at all!! I'd have LOVED to seen more of John and Gary! That is really how I feel and from what I've just read on the net a WHOLE lot of people felt the same!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 7:56 PM ET
I felt that this year’s New Year’s Eve coverage was the best! Kathy Griffin was very funny. She is very quick with humor and it maybe difficult for people to catch or get it. Anderson played off her jokes very well and I hope I can watch them again next year!

Jackson, MS
Posted By Anonymous Abby P : 8:13 PM ET
I have to commend CNN on the best coverage of the the Times Square festivities. You guys "get it". No other network would dare be commercial free from 11:52 to well after midnite. This is a major thing when covering New Years. As a viewer, I could feel the excitement, and Anderson wisely let the sights and sounds speak for themselves. The HD broadcast looked great. Plus you actually showed the ball decend. Over at ABC, after hyping the new ball, they decided not to cut to the ball until about the 14 second mark. If you are going to hype the New Year, you gotta show the ball come down for most of the minute that it decends!
Posted By Anonymous SteveNJ : 8:25 PM ET
Hi Ashley,
I enjoyed the show last night. It was fun to see Anderson and Kathy banter. Having been in Times Square and then watching the coverage on CNN, it's amazing the job you all do. It was crazy there!
Posted By Blogger pamina : 8:47 PM ET
I agree with Nikki 100% !!!! Anderson did a great job in spite of her!

Candy from Missouri
Posted By Anonymous Candy : 8:52 PM ET
I loved the broadcast. Kathy was funny and while she pushed the envelope a bit in places she wasn't in bad taste - just funny. And Anderson got his share of one liners too.

I thought the way you did the shots of different parts of the celebration all at the same time with the windows was great. It added so much color and interest and really added to the festive feeling.

I hope that next year's show is as good as this year's. This was one for the books!

And getting the audience involved by scrolling messages across the bottom of the screen was super!!

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 8:53 PM ET
I always look forward to your New Year's Eve special and Anderson is always entertaining! It was clear that he was enjoying himself last night, but as a viewer I can tell you that listening to Kathy Griffin's endless barrage of cackling one-liners was painful to listen to. It seemed as though Anderson spent most of the time defending himself against her monotonous assaults. If CNN was insistent on having her appear maybe they should have limited her airtime.

The time wasted on her could have been better spent on the wonderful CNN crew of Gary, Erica, Sean, and John, or maybe even on interviewing Mayor Bloomberg since, as it turns out, he had something important to reveal.

If you must have a co-host please make a better choice for the next New Year's Eve special, maybe somebody like Stephen Colbert.

Jo Ann
North Royalton,Ohio
Posted By Blogger Jo Ann : 9:29 PM ET
I thought Anderson and Kathy were great together! The sparring was quite hilarious! Anderson gave as good as he got, even better! It is always great to see Anderson's lighter side! Should you folks not have Kathy back next year, I'd pick Erica Hill. AC360 is always funny when she and Anderson get going!

Maureen, Mississauga, ON, Canada
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 9:39 PM ET
What a great way to ring in the new year. Kathy was hilarious, Anderson handled her well and the bits from other locations were fun. Like you, I didn't want it to end so soon.

Great job all around.

Happy New Year!
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, St. Paul MN : 10:48 PM ET
Anderson Cooper is great. If you guys wanted to pair him with a "comedian" why not someone who could hold his own against Anderson in regards to politics / world events. Jon Stewart, Steve Colbert, Bill Maher... I suppose it's only my opinion but I would tune in for that any day over the bit that I saw last night. She made it almost impossible to watch and everyone at our place(here in Canada)agreed that she was obnoxious. I can't figure out how she keeps ending up on CNN. She is great on a sitcom... not live.
Posted By Blogger Dae : 11:40 PM ET
All I have to say is that I LOVE Kathy Griffin. I was so excited to hear that you guys were going to have her on as a special guest. It's so cute to watch her make Anderson giggle.....I mean who doesn't want to kiss Anderson on New Years at midnight am I right?
Posted By Anonymous Amber, Ft. Wayne IN : 1:16 AM ET
I have mixed feelings about Kathy Griffin cohosting with Anderson for New Year's Eve. I can only take her in small doses. She always seems to be walking a fine line between funny and just plain vulgar and tasteless. The one thing I did like, though, is seeing Anderson lighten up for a change. After seeing his serious face so much, I liked seeing him laugh and even get embarrassed when Kathy got a little too personal.

I do think that ABC was better, though. I was switching back and forth and the music on that show was much better. I don't love Ryan Seacrest and I wish Dick Clark could be his old self again, but I decided to give CNN's show a chance and it was pretty good.

Maybe next year we can have someone who is cute and funny, but with less tendency to be obnoxious like Kathy Griffin. I do want to see more of the human side of Anderson. That was the most enjoyable thing about the show for me.
Posted By Anonymous Mindy : 2:28 PM ET
I enjoyed the show and the banter between Kathy and Anderson. I would have liked to have seen more of Erica and the real time action on the street; missed the "back and forth" between Erica and Anderson which is usually sarcastic. Keep up the great work.

"J" in Charleston, WV
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 11:28 PM ET
There's a fine line in comedy where the cringe factor can abruptly set in and one is left scratching their head puzzled over what has just transpired.

In watching the New Year's Even show, I felt this cringe moment happen over and over...and over again. I don't consider myself conservative in my comedic preference, and often enjoy controversial humour. However, the banter between Kathy and Anderson left me wondering why the powers at be could consider this 'teaming' a step in the right direction.

I'm a huge fan of AC 360 and feel that Anderson is a people's reporter, with the ability of zoning in on the heart and soul of a story. I admit Kathy Griffin has made me laugh in other occasions, but her lack of political and social wit was clearly evident, and as sometimes is the case when one is trying to make up for something lacking, she resorted to cheap shots and juvenile humour. If Anderson laughed at her jokes, he was being a gentleman trying not to let chirping crickets be heard.

Class and integrity is what best describes Anderson Cooper. An appropriate co-host would bring out these traits in the other person, and not attempt to steal the spotlight with unfunny and immature one liners.
Posted By Anonymous Romi : 7:38 AM ET
ALL YOU BLOGGERS ARE NUTS! What's up with the Kathy Griffin hatred! Thoose of you who said Anderson handled her well or she was so rude; Anderson's a big boy. He can handle himself and he said he watches her show so obviously he knew what he was getting into. I can see how the waterboarding comment was harsh but it is not as though she was detailed or provided visual aid. All comedians are offensive at one time or another. Get over it! Even if you find her offensive she dedicates much of her time entertaining the troups and should be given credit for that. Many celebrities are to scared or do not care enough to go!
Anyway I think Anderson & Kathy were great together and very funny. I would like to see them host together again next year! As far as the show itself I would like to tell the crew they did a great job! My brother works in tv editing and I doubt most people know how much is involved. Next year I would like to see more of Gary Tuchman's race and more of the"Drag Queen Drop". I hope I did not offend thoose of you who are Kathy haters, either way I wish Anderson and all on the 360 crew and all ac360 bloggers A HAPPY & HEALTHY 2008!!! - this includes Kathy Griffin too ofcource!
Posted By Blogger Jacqui Chan Jacqui Chan : 8:57 PM ET
I'm a little late on this one, but I just want to say I enjoyed the AC360/CNN NYE special. I am a fan of Kathy Griffin and Anderson. I did find at times that Anderson seemed a bit uncomfortable with some of Kathy's comments. I don't expect to see her back next year. I have watched your NYE special for the past three years and I find it refreshing.

Anderson Cooper is a fun host, who doesn't mind going out of his element to do this show. I hope he will return again next year. The best thing about this year's show was that it introduced me to this particular blog. I will now read it daily. Thanks AC360 and CNN. Happy New Year
Posted By Anonymous Jerry V. Pleasanton, CA : 1:45 AM ET
Ordinarily, I'm not a fan of the New Year's countdown shows because I find the banter banal. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the pairing of Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin.
I thought they did a nice job of keeping each other on their toes and livening up what can sometimes be an otherwise dull broadcast. I confess that I am still slightly baffled. What is the uproar over the term "washboarding"? Can someone point me to a definition?
Posted By OpenID pimpernelpal : 10:14 PM ET
A behind the scenes look at "Anderson Cooper 360°" and the stories it covers, written by Anderson Cooper and the show's correspondents and producers.

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