Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Green Room

I remember vividly when I was first asked to appear on television. A producer with one of our local television stations had heard about my books through my publisher, who had really done an excellent job of marketing, and called me on the telephone to set up the interview. She wanted to “do a segment” on my books, have some visuals to put on the screen and a list of upcoming events. Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled but also very nervous as I had never appeared on television. I imagined the segment would be taped as the anchor person and I sat comfortably on a sofa as I answered her questions – but it didn’t happen that way.

When told I should wait in the "Green Room" I was surprised to find it wasn't painted green and realized this is just a term they used. The origin is lost in obscurity but I thought it may have originated in Shakespeare’s time when the actors and the audience sat in the grass and the stages were called “the green”. Or perhaps once the majority of rooms that held guests were really painted green, a color known to be used in asylums to calm the inmates – regardless, the room I was placed in was neither a proper room nor painted green.

Clutching my notes in my hand, I quietly flipped through some magazines as I idly watched the anchor person on television and thought to myself, "Just imagine, in a little while when she is off the set, we’ll sit quietly and tape the interview." Imagine my horror when the last thing she said before going to a break was, “... and, when we come back, we will have Elizabeth Wallace, a local author to speak to us about her books.” I remember involuntarily standing just as the producer’s assistant ushered me down the hall at a very quick pace and asked me to stand behind a screen. When the anchor person saw me, she said, “Come on Elizabeth – your time!”

I thought I was going to faint right there on the spot! Live television! I hadn’t asked the question, just assumed it would be taped! Oh my! I just stood there for a moment but quickly gained composure and walked towards the anchor desk where the assistant undid my jacket and clipped the microphone onto my lapel. The anchor said, “Don’t worry about the cameras, just follow my lead.” I looked at the teleprompter and the man behind that particular camera who was looking directly at me (perhaps he could see that I was nervous?) but he was holding his hand in a fist, then he opened his hand and then ran through the seconds on his fingers to live television, five, four, two, one – we’re on!!

To be honest, I don’t remember much of the interview and was glad that the producer had suggested that I bring a blank video tape so that it could be recorded and shown to the family. My husband said that he couldn’t see any nervousness at all until the anchor asked a question about something in one of the books – it was an off-the-cuff question and one that I was not prepared, but fortunately I knew my facts well and was able to answer the question.

As we walked off the set, I told the anchor that had been my first television appearance and she said, “Oh, so it was your stomach I heard…” and we had a good laugh. I have since appeared again and even offered suggestions for other segments. All in all, that first time was a great learning experience and one that I will never forget.