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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

That's Why It's Called The Control Room

My wife used to work behind-the-scenes in TV news control rooms, and when I would visit, I was always taken with how in-control the director of the broadcast was. They had to be, with all of the elements to oversee and camera cues and other directions they had to call out for the crew.

You have to concentrate and multi-task for hours on end, which is why most live directing jobs keep going to the same skilled professionals. The job is even more intense in broadcasts where anything can happen, like a sporting event or breaking news -- or even when most of what you'll see has been carefully rehearsed, like at an awards show, where there can always be surprises. Here's an example of the latter.

This is Louis J. Horvitz directing the 1996 Academy Awards broadcast, which started with a bang when Cuba Gooding Jr. won Best Supporting Actor for "Jerry Maguire." As Horvitz calls out the commands to his crew, he realizes Gooding isn't going to stop talking despite the play-off music rising. So, as a good director, Horvitz makes the most of it -- although he missed Gooding doing a backflip in the midst of his excitement.