Archive for the ‘Producer Posts’ Category

Jimmy Fallon: Close-Up Encounter

July 1, 2008

Former SNL and soon to be “Late Night” show host Jimmy Fallon recently visited our NBC11 newsroom during his swing to San Jose where he was performing at the Improv to practice in front of a live audience.

I made sure to have my camera handy at the station that day just in case he let me take a picture with him. Hey, he was a big star and soon will be an even bigger star and probably a household name. He got to the station early, so I figured I might as well get in there early and see if I could take a picture with him. So, I loaded up my makeup bag to do a quick touchup, grabbed my camera and headed to the ladies’ room. Little did I know, a story was about to unfold that I will be telling for years to come.

As I was walking to the restroom carrying my makeup bag, I passed the “green room,” where guests lounge until their segment. My co-worker stopped me asking if I was there to put concealer on Jimmy. He mistakenly thought the station had a makeup artist and requested concealer for a pimple. I thought about it for a second – yes, I did have concealer in my makeup bag… sure, I’d give him some concealer. So I went into the green room, introduced myself and asked Jimmy if he needed concealer. Sure enough, he was ever so grateful and showed me the zit above his lip. I whipped out my concealer stick and he wasn’t sure whether to swab his finger on the top, I ended up carving out a chunk for him and put it on his finger. He then asked for a mirror, which I didn’t have. I thought about it, and said, “Do you want me to put it on for you?” He said yes, so, yep, I ended up blending concealer just above Jimmy Fallon’s lips. I told him it was a shade off, he asked if it looked okay and I reassured him it looked fine.

Then… I finally asked him if I could take a couple of pictures with him. He was very cool and said sure! We had to figure out where was best – which ended up being in front of a white wall in the “green room.” We ended up taking a picture with my glasses, and one without my glasses. Then Jimmy said, “Let’s take another one like we’re in conversation!” Cool! We took one like that talking about something I cannot recall. He said I was going to like that one the best and you know what, I think he was right! Wish you the best Jimmy Fallon!

Kellie Onaga
NBC11 Associate Producer


Day 5: NBC11 Producer Goes Green, Rides Bike

April 25, 2008

Michelle ToyDay 5

I was the kid who really struggled to learn how to ride a bike. It took me a little longer than most kids, but once those training wheels came off, I was hooked. My best friend and I would ride all over the neighborhood, down steep canyons, on gravel trails and in the middle of the street. We would coast down hills, streamers flying from our handlebars until our Mom’s made us come home for dinner.

Then came 6th grade when I ditched the bike for pom poms, Sweet Valley High novels, and the city bus. When I was in high school, my Dad won a bike in a raffle and gave it to me. It went from the raffle, to my parent’s garage, to my storage shed, until today.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about riding my bike to work. Over the past 20 years, I have been on a bicycle maybe a dozen times. As I teetered with apprehension down my gravel driveway, I felt for a brief second, like I was 6 years old again. Once I hit the damp, dark pavement, I picked up speed and some confidence. I was on my way.

The morning air was cool and crisp. The wind rushed noisily in my ears. I glanced at my reflection in the window of a passing store and saw my face 20 years ago, nose and cheeks flushed a rosy pink. I remembered as I glanced over my shoulder how my best friend and I would yell “car!” as a warning to get out of the middle of the street. As I approached a row of low hanging trees, I reached up to flick the green spring leaves. Morning dew rained down on my face, and as I raced toward my final destination, I wondered what Mom was cooking for dinner.

Cost of old bicycle – free
Miles biked – 8
Feeling like a kid again – priceless

Tune in tonight at 6 p.m. to find out how the whole week went and how many carbon emissions were saved by taking just one car off the road.

Michelle Toy
NBC11 Special Projects Producer

Day 4: Gives Up Car, But Gives In and Calls a Cab

April 24, 2008

Michelle ToyDay 4

I’m working down at the ballpark today. NBC11 is now the official home of the San Francisco Giants, so I spend a lot of time working on stories and live productions from AT&T Park.

Since I stayed the night in San Francisco, I simply walked to the Glen Park BART station and then walked from the Embarcadero station to the ballpark. It was a great way to get a little exercise first thing in the morning, especially with my laptop on my back.

After I was done working at the ballpark, it was just another 1 ½ mile stroll along the Embarcadero back to our San Francisco bureau. I am wearing tennis shoes. Those who know me, know that I rarely wear tennis shoes. This week, I think people have been wondering why I look 3 inches shorter.

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A producer from the NBC Network is in town and we need to meet to plan coverage for an upcoming event. She and her photographer pick me up in a Suburban (yikes!) and we run around town to various meetings. I fear the time spent in the Suburban will offset all of my good intentions, but when you are lugging a ton of camera equipment, walking is a very undesireable option.

We finish up tired and hungry around 9 p.m. We stagger into Epic Roasthouse on the Embarcadero for dinner. It’s 11 p.m. when we finally part ways. I am a mile from BART, a few blocks from Caltrain, and just steps from Muni. I‘ve been working for 17 hours now, and I’ve pretty much had it so I step into the street and hail a cab.

I’ll take the train back to San Jose tomorrow. That’s the thing about working all over the Bay Area without your car. You come to rely on a lot of friends for rides or for a place to lay your head.

BART from Glen Park to Embarcadero – $1.50
Walking from BART to AT&T Park to the SF Bureau – 3.91 miles
Chevy Suburban gas mileage – 15 mpg city
Taxi from Epic to Glen Park – $23 w/tip

Tomorrow is a completely car free day. Check in with the breakfast blog where I find out how to feel like a kid again. And don’t miss the special report on my entire week without a car Friday at 6 p.m. on NBC11 News.

Michelle Toy
NBC11 Special Projects Producer

Day 3: NBC11 Producer Breaks Down and Rents a Car, But a Green One

April 23, 2008

Michelle ToyDay 3

It’s gorgeous out and I didn’t have to go into work so I made plans to go to wine country. While I’m sure we could have figured out how to take public transportation, we decided that we’d have a lot more freedom if we rented a car.

I spent the morning online looking for hybrid car rentals. It seems like everyone in the Bay Area is driving a hybrid, so of course I want to know what the buzz is about. I found there are several companies that rent hybrids and settled on Avis. At $55/day, I hope it’s worth it.

Driving the Prius is strange at first. Those of you who drive a hybrid know it is so quiet when you are stopped, it’s almost like the car isn’t even on. We had a good time watching the car’s usage on the dashboard monitor. It tells how the car is being powered, by battery or motor and also monitors your gas mileage. By the time we hit Sonoma County, I was carsick from reading it.

We had a wonderful time cruising through Healdsburg and Sonoma and feeling very green. Trunk space was big enough to hold all of our reds, too!

We returned to San Francisco to fill up the tank before giving the car back to Avis. We had driven over 200 miles and used only 4 gallons of gas. At $4 a gallon, we were relieved at the Prius’ efficiency.

Prius rental – $55

Miles driven – 200+

Gallons of gas – 4

Price per gallon – $3.99

Number of Prius’ sold worldwide – 1 million

Check back in tomorrow. I’m back to work, but I’m so tired at the end of the day, I break down and call a cab. Tune in to NBC11 News Friday at 6pm for a special report on how the whole week went.

Michelle Toy

NBC11 Special Projects Producer

Day 2: Week Without a Car

April 22, 2008

Michelle ToyDay 2

I often head to San Francisco after work. One of the things I love about the Bay Area is being able to spend time in different pockets. After all, San Francisco’s great nightlife is just an hour drive away. Ooops, did I say drive? I did spend a few minutes in the car today. My colleague picked me up and drove me to work.

My friend and NBC11 5pm producer Dan commutes back and forth to San Francisco on Caltrain every day. He was going to show me the ropes. First stop: beer. Apparently happy hour starts on the train. What a great idea! Beer and suitcase in tow, Dan and I head to the Caltrain Diridon station and board the Baby Bullet. Caltrain is great and the Baby Bullet is even better since it only stops at a few stations.

The beer was cold, the seats were clean and our ride was much faster than the traffic jammed highways. The transfer to BART in Millbrae was seamless. I was in Glen Park, lugging my suitcase up Chenery Street by 7:15. I remembered to bring a change of shoes so that I wouldn’t have to walk up the hill in heels. I arrived at my destination by 7:30.

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The only problem were the drinks in my system. I haven’t yet worked up the courage to use the facilities on the train. 1 hour and 10 minutes to get from San Jose to San Francisco during rush hour? Not bad at all.

Carpool – 4 miles

Caltrain – 34 miles, $7

BART – 13 miles, $3.65

Walking – .32 miles

Gas money saved – 44 miles at $3.85 gal = $7.27

Time saved by taking the train instead of driving – 30 minutes

2 beers on Caltrain – $2.50 (b.y.o.b)

2 beers at Americano on the Embarcadero – $12 w/tip

Check back tomorrow for day three… and don’t forget to tune into NBC11 Friday for a special report on my entire experience.

Michelle Toy
NBC11 Special Projects Producer

NBC11 Producer Goes Green, Gives Up Car For A Week

April 21, 2008

Michelle ToyDay One

The Bay Area has a pretty strong love affair with cars. We spend hours commuting in them, driving back and forth from work, carpools, errands and drive-thrus. We eat, sleep, sing, laugh and cry in our cars. Some of us baby our vehicles, giving them silly names, washing them weekly and taking care not park them next to shopping carts. Others trash them, tossing the remnants of yesterday’s breakfast burrito in the backseat along with last week’s dirty laundry. Hybrid or Hummer, Mini-Cooper or Mini-Van, we have come to rely heavily on our vehicles.

I was pretty upset when I woke up one morning to find that my beloved car had been sideswiped. Of course the culprit didn’t leave a note. A few days later, I found out my car would need almost $4000 worth of repairs and it would be in the shop for at least a week. My insurance doesn’t cover the cost of a rental car, which is the real reason behind this week’s experiment living without a car.

Our cars are likely the biggest polluters we own. I am taking advantage of this predicament to see just how much I can give up for the sake of going green. Going green is a lifestyle change, so we’ll see if it cramps or enhances mine. I’ll also calculate the costs, the time, and the carbon emissions I’ll save this week. According to, my small BMW uses 625 gallons of gas and produces 12,125 pounds of CO2 a year.

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I realize that a lot of people don’t have cars. A car is a luxury. The Bay Area has a public transportation system that should support my lifestyle. I live in downtown San Jose. I work out of two NBC11 offices, one in San Jose and the other in San Francisco. This week should be a breeze and today was no exception.

I dropped my car off at the auto-body shop down the street from my office. Before leaving it, I opened the trunk to gather some of the stuff I store in there; workout clothes, yoga mat, laptop, extra jacket, all things I can now store under my desk. I wouldn’t need the yoga gear anyway, since my yoga studio in Los Gatos is too far without a car. I hitched a ride home from one of our photographers and since I didn’t feel like walking to the grocery store, I took the opportunity to clear out some of the frozen dinners in the back of my freezer.

Day one was a piece of cake:

Carpool – 4 miles
Miles saved by not going to yoga – 23
Calories NOT burned by missing workout – 600
Calories in a frozen burrito – 700 (yikes!)

Stop by the Breakfast Blog each day this week for an update on how I’m doing… and then tune into NBC11 Friday for a special report on my entire experience.

Michelle Toy
NBC11 Special Projects Producer

A Hack, Skip and Sweep Away from Understanding Curling

October 23, 2006

Marika KrauseIt seemed far-fetched. A college friend of mine invited me to watch him curl at a San Jose ice rink. Mike and I went to school in Colorado where blizzards snowed us in, and yet he waited until he moved to the sunny Bay Area to pick up the sport. Though- I have to admit his passion peaked my interest.

All I knew about curling was what I’d seen during the Winter Olympics. A team of four people with brooms yell loudly and care deeply about how a rock with a handle glides across the ice. I was excited when Mike called and invited me to watch them “throw a few stones.”

Reporter Bob Redell was also there doing a story about the Curling club’s open house. One of our directors, Gabrielle, also happens to be an avid curler. Actually, she only picked up the sport about six months ago. That’s how long it takes to get you hooked.

I watched Mike gracefully launch himself from the “hack.” It’s a rubber pad where the curlers stabilize themselves before throwing. One of his shoes has a teflon bottom, so he slides forward with the stone he’s launching… and all at once the cute little brooms made sense. Two players furiously “sweep” the ice in front of the stone, melting a path and gliding the stone to the “house.” The house is the one of the targets painted at each end of the rink. I’ve yet to master how curling is scored, but it depends on where the rock lands in the house.

You’d think a sport involving sweeping and rocks gliding across ice would be quiet. Think again! There were four people just showing us how it works.. and they rocked the tiny rink screaming “Sweep, Harder, Faster, Hurry, Keep Going…” A “Skip” leads the team with verbal cues in guiding the stone to the house… and the other members yell just to cheer each other on.

One day I’ll master the terminology. The team kept making jokes about what I heard as “intern.” I was imagining some college student following the Skip with a cup of coffee, offering to make copies. Turns out “in-turn” is the way the stone curls inward.

I hope to learn more about the sport soon. The Bay Area Curling Club is offering a new round of classes starting October 31st…

After all, I’ll have to know when to yell “Harder!” or “Let it Curl!” when cheering on my friend Mike or Gabrielle in the first Bay Area Curling team to make it to the Olympics.

Marika Krause
NBC11 Writer

“Escaping” (Hiding From) the Heat

July 25, 2006

Tom F. StilwellLet’s start off with some introductions. I’m one of the morning producers here at NBC11. I generally only come out of my cave to work. That way, you can sleep through all the events happening overnight and wake up to watch them with us. However, that pesky sun has other ideas.

It is 7:00 Monday night now. It is 93° INSIDE my house. I’m sure most of you feel my pain because I’m pretty certain I ran into about 10% of the Bay Area’s population throughout the weekend.

Saturday, fellow overnight producer, John Peck, had a fantastic idea. Let’s beat the heat and escape to the coast. Off we go. We took Page Mill Rd. from the Peninsula all the way to the coast. (It turns into Alpine Rd. when it meets Skyline and later into Pescadero Rd.) It is not for the faint of heart. It is a wandering, crooked road that follows the edge of a mountain. However, it is gorgeous. It even passes a secluded patch of Redwoods before you connect with Highway 84 (La Honda Rd) to drive the last couple of miles to the ocean. Magnificent.

As we approach San Gregorio beach, we see a line of parked cars… at least a half-mile back. If a beach can be crowded beyond capacity it is. We turn North towards Half Moon Bay for lunch. Every beach we pass has a full parking lot and cars parked out on the highway. It would seem everyone has driven to the coast. We end up at a restaurant at Pillar Point Harbor. In the morning at my East Bay home, my temperature gauge read 110°. At lunch when I park… 73°!!! What a great place to live. In an hour, I’m on the beach!

We ended up at Pescadero State Beach. John traversed the rocks. I figured out the ocean water is cold!

Then came the Sunday extravaganza. I slowly started to figure out that sleeping during the day would be a tough sell this week. I decided to cave in and buy a portable air conditioning unit. It was obviously not a unique idea.

I drove to the biggest warehouse electronics store. As I’m walking in, I watch one, two, three, four, uh oh, five people walk out with exactly what I’m hoping to buy. Inside, there was a line of at least 30 people with shopping carts. Big trouble. I ask someone in line, and they say there may be 4-5 units left. They’re in line hoping to outlast everyone else. I ended up driving to at least five different stores. Every single one of them was sold out. I gave up when the salesman at a Ma & Pa store said they heard A/C was sold out in the entire Bay Area. Heck, the grocery store was even sold out of ice.

So, here I am. Waiting for the sun to fall, the mercury to dip and a cold wave to come through. Remember when the rain made for a very destructive, wet winter? (Rain, Rain, Go Away! Blog) Rain, rain, please come back.

If you’ve got some great photos of how you’re beating the heat click here to submit them to And you can find some tips to survive the heat here.

Tom Stilwell
NBC11 Producer

Sleepless In The Bay Area

May 15, 2006

John Peck It’s 1:35pm and well past my bedtime. While working on the morning show is great fun for too many reasons to list, the resulting sleep schedule is not one of them. My fellow overnight producer and I start our days at work between 10 and 11pm. We’re usually out the door by 8am. This is great for avoiding crowds at the grocery store, running errands and enjoying the morning sun… but that sun (especially the heat it brings today!) can make sleeping difficult later in the day.

I usually try to crash by 1pm, with the idea that I’ll sleep 8 hours until 9pm. I can’t remember the last time I actually slept those entire eight hours… and the weekend is an entirely different matter. But I know I’m not alone with my sleep issues. In fact, NBC News is taking a closer look at being “Sleepless in America” this week. 70% of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep… what’s keeping everyone awake and can anything be done about it? That’s the question Lester Holt and other correspondents will try to answer over the next three nights on NBC Nightly News. I’ll hopefully be sleeping through those reports, but I’ve got my TiVo set – 5:30pm on NBC11!

Good night.

John Peck
NBC11 Producer

Echoes From The Past

April 9, 2006

John Peck
“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”
– David C. McCullough

A quick note of introduction – I am a morning show producer here at NBC11; one of the many people behind the scenes who work to bring you the news you need to know as you start your day.

We’re gearing up for next week’s 100th anniversary of the Great Quake. At 5:12am on April 18th, 1906 the Bay Area was forever transformed. As we look back at this profound moment in history, we have an opportunity and responsibility to look at the lessons learned and whether we’re prepared for the next Great Quake.

It’s hard to grasp the immense power of the 1906 earthquake. Scientists at USGS estimate it registered a magnitude of around 7.7 to 7.9. They say it was like 30 Loma Prieta earthquakes striking simultaneously from north of Santa Rosa to south of San Jose.

Are we ready for the next one? We’ll probably never be able to say we’re completely ready. But, there’s a lot we can do to prepare. Today, our reporter Christie Smith showed us the challenges facing hospitals as they gear up for the next big one. Many are struggling to meet a 2008 deadline to prove they are seismically safe, and there is serious concern about whether they will be able to function after a quake.

In the next week, we’ll take you around the bay for a look at how other services you count on could be impacted by a quake. We’ll look back at what we’ve learned since 1906 and how you can protect your family.

All our coverage will culminate with a very special broadcast next Tuesday morning, April 18th. Please join us as we bring you live coverage of the commemoration of the Great Quake of 1906. We are planning a morning newscast with features and coverage that you won’t see anywhere else.

And that night at 7pm, don’t miss the special broadcast of NBC11’s “Echoes From The Past: The 1906 Earthquake.” The hour long documentary will provide a unique look back at that day in history 100 years ago. If you can’t wait to see it, you can find out how to download a podcast of the broadcast before it airs… plus, find an entire interactive experience about the quake by clicking here.

John Peck
NBC11 Producer