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July 13, 2008

Not Ready For My Closeup

4This story will air Wednesday, July 16, on the CBS Evening News (6:30 PM in most markets).

I’m new around here, so I’m feeling like a bit of a joiner. I eagerly scour every email from the blogging community for ways I can jump into the fray and meet new people and make new connections. Also, I find it hard to say “no” to requests for help if I think I have the means to give someone a hand. Yesterday, these circumstances landed me in my living room at 8AM at the wrong end of a TV camera.

I say “the wrong end” because in my pre-mom career I was behind the camera as a TV producer. To me, that feels like the right end. Still, since I have all this experience, I thought I was prepared. I can give good soundbite, I know enough not to burp or chew on my lip or scratch my ears on camera. When the CBS producer contacted us with a need to interview somebody tomorrow! about women and retirement planning, or lack thereof, I stepped forward. I had less than 24 hours to prepare. It was a challenge!

The reporter and cameraman who showed up at 7AM spent two hours at my hastily cleaned house (clutter was thrown into a box and shoved into the garage, a vacuum was run through the visible floor space, and pants were put on the husband). They filmed my “normal morning routine” with my husband and two little boys, which included me helping them all get into the car, then kissing and waving goodbye. Anybody who works from home will know that this is fiction - I am usually still in pajamas, drinking coffee and checking my email as the door slams shut behind the boys and their father on their way to daycare, embracing the sudden quiet and the hours of freedom that stretch before me.

Then the crew filmed me blogging. I’ve read other bloggers’ posts about such a thing. I’ve seen how they sat cutely at their laptops, crafting an intriguing-looking post and showing off their well-designed mastheads. I, of course, had nothing prepared, so I sat there with stage fright, not knowing what to type. Mostly, I kept poking my cursor at my masthead, as if to say “go to my website which has nothing to do with this news story whatsoever!” Eventually, I had the bright idea to re-post an earlier entry that included a cute picture of the baby, which of course elicited confused comments from my family, irate that I dared to repeat myself.

After that, they taped me sitting on my couch looking through financial statements and pretending to look perplexed. Okay, I wasn’t pretending. In fact, this whole event has been great for our family, because it finally gave me the impetus to review our financial planning. I even got to talk to well-known financial expert Beth Kobliner, who gave me some great tips about investing for our children’s schooling and what to do with my dusty old 401(k) plan that I left behind when I got laid off by a big company in 2004.

Then came the interview. I think I did okay, although I was more concerned about my crazy eyebrows and whether or not they would go astray on camera than about what I was actually saying. I talked mostly about how I’m a typical mom, putting everyone in my family before me, (heard that one before?) specifically in terms of saving for the future. And I think I said it all without too many “um’s,” “likes,” or “you know’s.” I tried to pimp my blog, but it wasn’t really the topic of the story, and I realize now that I should have made a t-shirt with my URL on it, or at least written it on my forehead. Or maybe I could have braided my eyebrows so they spelled out my blog address…

I did have a hard time not producing the shoot, I must confess. After three years out of practice, it was like putting on my favorite old jacket. I kept asking about camera angles and lighting and sound issues. I repeated several of my answers until they came out just right. But being on camera and fussing about all of the details was exhausting. I don’t know how Mel Gibson does it. Eventually I just gave up and hoped that I would be in good hands in the edit bay. As a mother, I really hope they don’t use the shot in which I spilled an entire bucket of crayons on the kitchen floor. But as a producer, I know that’s exactly what they’re looking for.

This story will air Wednesday, July 16, on the CBS Evening News (6:30 PM in most markets)..  This is an original post for LA Moms Blog.  Kim also writes whatever is on her mind at House of Prince, and a more focussed guide to SoCal activities at Being Savvy San Fernando.


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