Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Shock and Awe

Shock and Awe: it’s more than the early buzzword of a failed war policy. It’s a tactic employed by camera crews the world over - whether they realize it or not. Allow me to ’splain:

Today reporter/meteorologist Charles Ewing and I were dispatched 70 miles West by producers who were convinced none other than George Clooney was lurking within Statesville’s city limits. Seems the actor is scouting locations in our fair state for his new movie ’Leatherheads’ and after scouring a few blogs, the good folks who never leave the newsroom were certain we could easily catch up with the ’Ocean’s 11’ star. Equally sure we wouldn’t but resigned to trying, Charles and I hit the interstate and formulated a plan to turn the story without the help of The Sexiest Man Alive.

How? Good ole M.O.S’s - that time honored tradition of interviewing total strangers on the most tangential of subjects. Today’s query would be Clooney-based of course: “Have you seen him? What was he wearing? Did you demand your 8 bucks back for the travesty that was A Perfect Storm?” Smarmy questions aside, we were nowhere without some good citizens to harass. So once we reached Statesville, Charles and I headed straight for its quaint downtown and cruised the streets looking for sidewalk prey -something of a challenge considering it was Monday morning and the temperature was hovering in the low 30’s.

But that didn’t stop us. With a cabal of show producers already penning George Clooney promos back at the shop, surrender was not an option. So, being good news soldiers, we stepped up our reconnaissance. A clutch of housewives here, a huddle of community college kids there, farmers outside the feed store, waitresses through a diner window. Without ever asking we interviewed them all, swooping in with a grin, a lens and a microphone - asking silly questions about a movie star’s mythical visit and not once being turned away by a populace even pretending to be camera-shy.

Well, there was one minor incident. Passing by a bevy of older blonde ladies gathered by a pick-up truck, I nearly flipped Unit 4 in my fifteenth u-turn of the morning. As we materialized from around a corner, the ladies froze in mild shock at the sudden appearance of a ravenous camera crew. “Hey, seen George anywhere?” Charles asked as I leveled my lens and began to roll. Nervous giggles rippled through the small crowd as The Ladies exchanged looks with one another. Through my viewfinder, I sensed something was amiss. The blondes seemed to want to talk but an underlying current was holding them back. After a few awkward seconds, one offered an explanation for their reticence.

“I’m sorry,” one of them whispered, “ but Gladys’ husband just passed and this isn’t a good time.” With that two of the ladies peeled off from the group and walked away. Charles and I meanwhile rocked back and forth on our heels, instantly struck agog at the impropriety of our inquisition. ’Sorry’ we mouthed, backing away and noticing for the first time we were standing in a funeral home parking lot. As we half-bowed in apology though, a fairly predictable thing happened. A mild argument broke out among The Ladies. Two of them really wanted to chat on-cam and as the remainder of them squabbled amongst themselves, Charles and I slunk away, feeling sufficiently skeevy for our heavy-handed tactics.

Shock and Awe, indeed.


Matt said...

yikes, I hate when stuff like that happens. A producer sent me and a nightside reporter last year to an address.

We found it eventually and it turned out it was suicide. Weird feeling, you just turn around and start walking back to the truck feeling like a scrumbag. (Well I do.)

turdpolisher said...


We had a photog once ask the grieving mother of a murder victim how the victim was doing. Reporter apoligized all over himself. Photog remained oblivious.