NY1 IN POP CULTURE
Steve Paulus: We've been in more movies than you can imagine. The most fun was Elf, where NY1 was featured extensively in the last fifteen minutes of the film. What was great about Elf was that it has become one of those iconic Christmas movies and it gets played a lot during the holidays. We've been featured in several Spike Lee films. I guess when a director wants to reinforce the 'New Yorkness' of a film, what better way than to have the actors watching NY1? The strange one was the film Jumper, where a character who lives in [Michigan] was watching NY1, which was mentioned by a movie critic.
When a director wants to reinforce the 'New Yorkness' of a film, what better way than to have the actors watching NY1? —Steve Paulus
Pat Kiernan: [NY1 is] an iconic New York City news brand. If people have not been here or heard of it, if they see the NY1 in the corner, not much doubt what city that station is from. If you’re going to sell the idea that you conjured up for your movie, I think part of it is, 'How would NY 1 cover it?’ When they come to me with these scripts, me and my editors are totally happy to play along with your story, but I want to see the script and have some level of comfort that it is how I would cover it. Obviously, dinosaur tracks in the snow on the west side of Central Park in Night at the Museum was far-fetched.
Jamie Shupak: Aside from [Kiernan's] starring role in Iron Man 3, I'd say my favorite role is his new one: as [co-]host of CNBC's Crowd Rules [a reality show, in which three struggling small businesses compete each week for a $50,000 prize].
Steve Paulus: We always look at scripts beforehand and insist on changes if necessary. We actually rejected The Paper, because television news was not depicted in the best light. We realized we had to have control over what clips were used in trailers as well. For the film Cloverfield, they used a Roma Torre clip in the trailer talking about explosions in New York Harbor and that actually confused some of our viewers. Now, we require pre-approval of use of NY1 in trailers as well.
Action Bronson: [On his lyric from the song "Steve Wynn," "Bite a bitch like George Whipple in the staircase"] You could just tell that George Whipple is a scummy dude. So at all these events he gets drunk and fuckin’ just tries to bite a bitch. You know? And it’s OK cause he’s George Whipple. That’s how I feel. I’m me. I could just get away with anything pretty much.
John Schiumo: [“The Call”] was my idea before there was Twitter and Facebook. I just got tired of having producers making editorial decisions. I always thought that people should have a say. There was one disagreement in the newsroom about the importance of the Martha Stewart trading scandal story. There was a day in court and our producers wanted to play it up really high and I didn’t think it was a big deal. I said out loud, 'One day I will host a newscast where the people will tell us what’s the news.’ Every morning, we post a list of the top ten stories of the day on the website. Then our viewers will spend the day ranking the stories. We take those rankings into consideration and we report on the five top stories and we take calls on the hot topic of the day. That’s the basic format. We pick the one topic that we think will resonate based on history, based on the viewers preferences, and we will talk about it for an hour. At 9 p.m., we take phone calls, we take emails, we [read] tweets, we look at our Facebook page. We have something that is called a 'snap poll' where people can vote with their remote. We will have someone call in and the first word gets the topic started. That’s the basic design of the program to give control to the viewers so they have a say in what’s happening.
Steve Paulus: We had no idea if it was going to be a hit, but we were very confident that the interactive concept would work. Whenever we have done any kind of call-in, we have been overwhelmed with responses.John Schiumo: When we launched, no one had done that before. No one had given editorial control to the viewers. We called up media outlets to ask 'Do you know of anybody in organizations that have given control to the viewers?’ And [one person] said, 'No, why in the world would you be doing that?’ It was such a foreign concept at the time. The fear was that the viewers were going to be really stupid and we were going to wind up talking about the latest Tom Cruise scandal every single night. We would put on one stupid story [on the website] every day, and to our delight people never went for it.
We called up media outlets to ask 'Do you know of anybody in organizations that have given control to the viewers?’ And [one person] said, 'No, why in the world would you be doing that?’
We launched in July , and the transit strike happened that December. Suddenly, there were no buses and subways for a couple of days. There were so many things going on that we received so many emails every night for two weeks. The other big story was when the City Council allowed Mayor Bloomberg to run again. New Yorkers were not happy. There were no outlets for them to express their anger, so they called us. The third was the unplowed snowstorm, when the city forgot to plow the streets. If you’re going to a website or watching the news at 9 p.m., you care about your city.
“ONE ON ONE”
Budd Mishkin: I was in Anaheim into 2002 covering the Yankees and the Angels in the baseball playoffs. And I was bored. And I thought, 'That’s not good. That’s really not good.’ And I came home, and I discussed it with my wife, who was really a 'seize the day’ type of person. [She said], 'Don’t complain about it, effect some kind of change.’ So I went to Steve Paulus and I said, 'Look, I’ve been covering sports for ten years. I still enjoy it, but I need a new challenge.’ So Steve said to me, 'We would like to make 'One on One’ a weekly [profile] series, Would you be interested?’ One of the first profiles was Puffy. Who at that point was Puffy, just moving over to P. Diddy. We went with “Sean Combs.” We thought that was official. And he gave us about forty-five minutes. When we get someone really well-known, we try to do something off the beaten path. So I found out that he was a Fresh Air Fund kid. Fresh Air Fund is when you take the kids out of the city for about a week or two, upstate or wherever. And I found out that he grew up in Harlem, and that his Fresh Air Fund place he went to was Amish country, Pennsylvania. And I was like, 'Are you kidding me?’ Just the notion of it is intriguing. I’m always intrigued by these diametrically opposed images. And so I asked him about it and he started talking about it. I think he was about eight or nine. [He talked about] how, growing up in his neighborhood, you always had your defenses up and how he went out to Amish country for about two weeks and he could walk in the fields. And he was wonderful talking about it. You didn’t hear him often on TV talking about it. He’s on TV talking about rap, hip-hop, maybe his own work, somebody else’s work. You don’t hear him talking about Amish country, Pennsylvania. And that’s much more interesting than his relationship with Jennifer Lopez.
Roma Torre: The theater industry is responsible for bringing in more money to the city than all of the sports team combined. When you talk about stadiums that seat tens of thousands as opposed to these [small] Broadway houses, it's really quite impressive. Our boss is a theater lover, and from day one, there was no doubt that we would cover theater as extensively as we have.
Steve Paulus: We are recognized universally in the theater community as the only television channel that cares about theater. It's Broadway, but it's also Off-Broadway and community theater.
Roma Torre: Everybody else on TV has dropped their theater coverage and we've only increased it. In fact, we’re expanding it. I have to tell you, I get recognized more and more for theater reviews than my news anchoring even though I'm anchoring the news seven hours a day, five days a week. The theater reviews are only a half hour and only run four times on the weekends. That tells you something. The ratings are very, very high for the 'OnStage' program so you can tell that it's very popular.
Steve Paulus: One of our favorite days is the morning of the announcement of the Tony nominations. We usually do a number of phone interviews with nominees and invariably they tell us that they were watching NY1 and not CBS.
Roma Torre: This year I came in to do the Tony Awards nominations and I sat on the set with Pat. Every year in the past, the Tonys begin the announcement of the nominations around 8:35 a.m. I was in the makeup room around 8:20 and our producer came in yelling, 'You gotta get on the air right now!' The circuit blew in the makeup room and I couldn't blow-dry my hair so I looked like hell. But what could I do? I had to flatten it down with hairspray and go on set. As soon as I plugged my earpiece in, I heard '90 seconds' and that was really hairy because Pat and I hadn't had a chance to confer and discuss what we'd focus on. The plan was that we would talk for maybe five minutes and they would start with the nomination. We usually do that because we're afraid that if it starts early, we don't want to miss anything. All of a sudden they say, 'Here are [the hosts] of the nominations' and then they say "Oh, but we have to wait for CBS so give us a few moments.' What we managed to do, which you won't see on CBS, is that Pat and I managed to stay on air and talk about theater and got into the nitty-gritty of what we thought would be nominated and analyzed that season. That went for eight minutes before CBS gave them the cue to start talking, so it was kind of annoying.
Errol Louis: If you are a New York City mayor or New York City official, you’re automatically considered in the running to become president, or at least most are. There’s kind of an importance to this or sort of a high profile quality to the local politics here that you don’t find anywhere else. There is a local political scene that overlaps with a national and international political scene. There are lots and lots of ethnic groups that are tracking their political groups back home. We got the United Nations here.
Roma Torre: There is a New York attitude out there. It's a brazen, brash, and aggressive perspective on life. It's a blood sport and fun to watch. I think we put it all out there: the blood, the guts, the good, the bad, the ugly. We have a platform to put it all out there, the most naked visage. You don't get that British parliamentary, everyone's-so-well-behaved thing. Here in New York, everybody just lays it all out there and they don't hold back. It's almost addictive to a lot of people to see how things unfold.
Here in New York, everybody just lays it all out there and they don't hold back. It's almost addictive to see how things unfold.
Errol Louis: You do have some very vivid characters, and this is a city where, because there is so much going on, if you want to get a share of the public spotlight, you know, you are competing with Broadway, you’re competing with literally rock stars, you are competing with billionaires, you are competing with Madison Avenue, and so you tend to find people that are very vivid and distinctive characters. That is where you get an Ed Koch, that is where you get somebody like a Charlie Rangel, or somebody like that late Adam Clayton Powell. These are people who are absolutely larger than life. Mario Cuomo falls into that category. If you want to be here in this big noisy circus that is New York City, you’ve got to do something to stand out, and that applies to a lot of our politicians.
Steve Paulus: There are so many political stories. I suppose we knew we were doing a good job after our first mayoral election. Mayor Dinkins blamed us partially for his losing, while winner Rudy Giuliani accused us of favoring the incumbent. Mayor Giuliani was so unhappy with us that he only appeared in one interview on "Inside City Hall" in his eight years as mayor. That was when he endorsed Mario Cuomo for re-election as Governor, bucking the Republican party candidate, George Pataki. Of course, he was in thousands of stories, but he only granted us one sit-down interview.
Roma Torre: I think we've managed to change politi-speak into language that people recognize as affecting them personally. It's not just political coverage for those interested in politics. It's really there for people who care about the city— which direction it’s moving and who's doing the moving. Having said that, I think we've contributed to selecting a smart electorate because the people are hearing what the politicians have to say, and they're able to read between the lines versus taking whatever is doled out to them. I think we've made a lot of headway in showing people politics matter. Not just for the other guys, for everyone living in the city—they're all impacted by the decisions made by these politicians. It's in their interest to pay attention to us.
Errol Louis: I had a very amusing ["Inside City Hall" interview] with Randy Credico [who ran as a Democratic party challenger against Senator Chuck Schumer in 2010]. In the middle of it, he started doing these political impressions — impressions of well known political figures. I thought it was pretty good. I was a little taken aback. There are a number of people like that. I did an interview with Jimmy McMillan [of "The Rent is Too Damn High" party fame]. Sometimes it is a struggle to keep a straight face.