Successful Meetings - December 2008 - (Page 16)

Planner Spotlight > Tom Shrout & Susan LaSalla “Today Show” in Colonial Williamsburg, VA ‘Today,’ in History It’s seven a.m. on a Wednesday and the usual crowds are angling for a close-up behind Matt Lauer of the “Today Show.” They’re holding up signs: “Mamas for Obama.” “Veterans for McCain.” A guy advertising for a wife. Hmmm. . . . A fellow in a powdered wig waving a “Washington/Adams” sign? And what’s Al Roker doing in that tricorn hat? As part of a series on battleground states, the “Today Show” headed down to Colonial Williamsburg, VA, in September, to listen to the fife and drum corps, sample 18th-century fare, and interview Governor Tim Kaine (Democrat) and former Governor George Allen burg was the capital of colonial Virginia) and Duke of Gloucester Street, the main street in the historic area. That’s where Al Roker appeared in several vignettes: taking a carriage ride, tasting tavern food, and interviewing African-American Colonial interpreters and a Thomas Jefferson impersonator (if you thought the 2008 campaign was bitterly divisive, you should have seen the one in ’00—1800, that is). “Today” gave the destination only 10 days to get ready for the shoot, but Shrout—who headed up a 20person committee of people in charge of the historic area, security, IT, catering, housing, and so on—says Williamsburg was well prepared, thanks to its recent work on HBO’s John Adams miniseries and last year’s visit by Queen Elizabeth II for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. “Our ‘one foundation’ philosophy meant that everyone worked to make this happen,” he notes. “To have the number-one news program, with an audience of over seven million, broadcast live from your destination is the kind of exposure money can’t buy.” W H I G G E D O U T The streets of Williamsburg were teeming on the morning of the show. Besides all the costumed interpreters and “Today” crew members, thousands of locals—many from the nearby College of William and Mary—showed up to wave signs and interact with Lauer and Roker. Were there any mishaps in the three-hour broadcast? None, LaSalla swears: “The people in Colonial Williamsburg take enormous pride in what they do for a living, and so do we. Both sides were used to making stuff happen, and that’s why it worked.” Still, she admits that it wasn’t exactly business as usual. “This was the first event I’ve done where there were oxen involved!” —By Sara J. Welch Does your meeting deserve to be in the Spotlight? Write us at, and you could be profiled in SM. ‘TODAY’ IN COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG Date: September 24 Costumed interpreters: about 50 “Today” crew: 35 Crowd: 3,000+ (Republican) on this year’s race. And the people who brought it all together were the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s director of public affairs, Tom Shrout, and Susan LaSalla, senior Washington producer for “Today.” WASHINGTON SCHLEPPED HERE Why Williamsburg? For reasons both aesthetic and practical. “It doesn’t get much better as a locale,” says LaSalla, “and it’s halfway between our excellent affiliate stations in Richmond and Norfolk.” After LaSalla and her executive producer had decided on the destination, they went down to Williamsburg to meet with Shrout, who showed them around while they scouted possible locations. He also helped brainstorm story ideas. “The ‘Today’ people were totally open to our suggestions,” Shrout says. “They really treated us as colleagues.” “Today” ended up filming from the Capitol (Williams- 16 DECEMBER 2008 SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - December 2008

Successful Meetings - December 2008
Editor's Note
Corporate Events
On the Record
Planner Spotlight
Personal Success
Technology Talk
Food & Beverage
Professional Development
Quick Tip
Tools of the Trade
On Site: Retire Those Tired Power-Point Slides
On Site: 12 Tips for Thriving on a South African Safari
Deep Impact
Recession-Friendly Speakers
Showing Off
Hawaii Insert
Places & Spaces
Mississippi Gulf Coast
Fort Worth
South Florida

Successful Meetings - December 2008