The Insider’s personal choice for winner of the second presidential joust/debate was moderator and ABC News utility player Charlie Gibson. He lost the use of his IFB earpiece three minutes into the proceedings in St. Louis on Oct. 8-“There was a burst of static in my ear and then it went dead,” Mr. Gibson told The Insider-unbeknownst to anyone else. He relied on his $39.99 runner’s watch and a sense of time sharpened by more than 16 years of pulling off timed “Good Morning America” segments to bring in what was expected to be a 90-minute, 16-question debate at about 105 minutes and 18 questions.
Ten or 15 minutes after the proceedings were over, Martin Slutsky, executive producer of the debates arranged by the Commission on Presidential Debates, “asked if he was too intrusive with the cues and I said, `Well, actually, I never heard a word from you,’ and he looked at me sort of wide-eyed.”
There was a hard-wired IFB tucked out of sight near Mr. Gibson’s leg, but to have tried to switch to it would have called attention to himself, which was among the things he most wanted to avoid.
“The last three words I said to myself before I walked out there was: `Sublimate. Sublimate. Sublimate.”‘
Mr. Gibson got a charge out of being pitch-perfectly portrayed by Chris Parnell on “Saturday Night Live” the following weekend.
“My kids thought it was great,” Mr. Gibson said. “If your dad is parodied on `Saturday Night Live,’ it’s the sine qua non of compliments. I could probably win 19 Emmys and they wouldn’t give a damn. You’re on `Saturday Night Live’ and that’s oooookay.”
Hear, Hear, ‘The Mission
Keep an ear cocked to NBC when the November sweeps begin. That’s when a digital version of a lightly re-orchestrated version of “The Mission,” best known as the theme for “NBC Nightly News,” is expected to debut on “Nightly” and as signature riffs on other NBC News programming.
“It will be crisper and cleaner,” said Frank Radice, the senior VP of advertising and promotion for the NBC Agency, who was in a Sony recording studio in Culver City recently with composer John Williams, who took a day off from working on the music for “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” to direct the 99-piece orchestra performing the “Mission” score so identified with NBC News for nearly 20 years.
“All we had were these old tapes. They had stretched so much, the timing of the music was off,” said Mr. Radice, who added that he “idolizes” Mr. Williams and who made sure the recording session, which also was attended by Manmade Music production manager Joel Beckerman and NBC News senior director John Libretto, was filmed.
“How do you beat perfection?” Mr. Radice asked Mr. Williams. “Of course, perfection is an elusive thing,” said the composer-conductor. “It’s the horizon that we can see and never get to. It’s just a lovely opportunity for me to revisit what is now an old friend.”