Posted by Glenn Lazzaro for his series “Adventures in Television”
Several of the spots in this promo break came from the edit rooms at National Video Center. NBC producers Tim Miller and Don Duncan usually had one or two rooms going at any given time in those days. I worked on the “Real Life with Jane Pauley” promo in this break. As a bonus, I also got my first chance to shoot film.
Tim and Don had hired a documentary film crew to shoot “real-life scenes” of America for Pauley’s show open. For the promo, they wanted to intercut the open with an interview with Jane Pauley. The crew shot in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York along the Amtrak train line. (The railroad tracks became part of the title sequence.) As we cut the show open, Don felt there weren’t enough “Middle America” scenes, since most of the footage looked urban.
I was heading to the Catskills for a vacation, so I volunteered to shoot some footage with a 1956 16mm Bolex camera I’d just bought at a garage sale. The cinematographer told me which film stock to buy and which filters would match his footage. I kept the camera with me at all times, shooting wherever I happened to be with my kids: farms, baseball games, front porches, a dude ranch. I didn’t really know how to shoot; it was the first time I’d used the camera. Luckily our film style was cinema verite, so my grainy footage fit right in. I shot a lot of footage of my kids, but for some reason they never made the cut.
BONUS! My son found a spot with him as a 4 year old prominently in the beginning. And yes, the opening chords are from Rod Stewart’s Maggie May.