2007-08-30 / Front Page

Dave Price, CBS Early Show Film Live From Island; Fisher Awarded Trip

By Karen Gould

Before the sun was up, an estimated 750 people stood on the historic 660-foot long porch of Grand Hotel, Thursday, August 23, to view the live broadcast of the CBS Early Show's Great American Vacation road trip series. Before the sun was up, an estimated 750 people stood on the historic 660-foot long porch of Grand Hotel, Thursday, August 23, to view the live broadcast of the CBS Early Show's Great American Vacation road trip series. "We're clear," was echoed across the temporary set of the CBS Early Show as the two-hour live broadcast from the porch of Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island ended Thursday, August 23. Moments earlier, the CBS crew had awarded Barb Fisher, Island resident and school secretary, a vacation to the British Virgin Islands in recognition for her volunteer work. She was nominated for the award by Mackinac Island teacher Karen Allen and St. Ignace teacher Emily Fullerton.

"As terrific as it is to roll around the country and go to beautiful places, it is really fulfilling to take someone within a community and call them out and recognize them in front of a national audience for what they do, because people like that are the lifeline of these places," said Dave Price, CBS weatherman and host of the Great American Vacation road trip series, just before taking Mrs. Fisher's arm and leading her out of the audience to tell her she had won the trip.

CBS host Dave Price (left) tells Mackinac Island resident Barb Fisher (second from left) she is going to Peter Island Resort in the British Virgin Islands. Her tireless volunteer efforts were brought to the attention of the CBS staff in a nomination letter from Karen Allen (second from right) and Emily Fullerton (right). Standing in front of Mrs. Fisher is her grandson, Colton. Providing details on the fiveday trip she won is British Virgin Islands resident Melsia Smith (center). CBS host Dave Price (left) tells Mackinac Island resident Barb Fisher (second from left) she is going to Peter Island Resort in the British Virgin Islands. Her tireless volunteer efforts were brought to the attention of the CBS staff in a nomination letter from Karen Allen (second from right) and Emily Fullerton (right). Standing in front of Mrs. Fisher is her grandson, Colton. Providing details on the fiveday trip she won is British Virgin Islands resident Melsia Smith (center). "I love it. I love it," he added.

Ms. Allen, who had penned the nominating letter, said Barb Fisher has endless energy and enthusiasm in taking on a leadership role in many Island projects.

"She is tireless when it comes to volunteering her time to a multitude of projects that make this Island such a special place," she wrote. "But besides her hard work and unexpendable energy, her most valuable assets to the community are her positive attitude, smile, and infectious laugh."

CBS cameraman Arnie Cantu (right) captures Dave Price (center) as he dips his fingers into a fresh batch of fudge made by Les Parrish (left) of Ryba's Fudge Shop. St. Ignace cross country team members nearby enjoy the moment, including (from left) Kayla Gustin, Stacy Goldthorpe, Kristen Olsen, Samantha Radecki, and Nicole Elmblad. CBS cameraman Arnie Cantu (right) captures Dave Price (center) as he dips his fingers into a fresh batch of fudge made by Les Parrish (left) of Ryba's Fudge Shop. St. Ignace cross country team members nearby enjoy the moment, including (from left) Kayla Gustin, Stacy Goldthorpe, Kristen Olsen, Samantha Radecki, and Nicole Elmblad. After the CBS show was concluded, crews began packing up, the audience filtered from the hotel porch, and the three women sat down in Grand Hotel white rockers to catch their breath and share details of events leading up to the morning's events.

Mrs. Fisher had been lured to the broadcast by being told her grandson, Colton Fisher, was going to be interviewed about his "beautiful" horse. Colton was not in on the plan to trick his grandmother.

"I was very much surprised," said Mrs. Fisher.

"You do volunteer work because it has to be done," said Mrs. Fisher. "You do what you have to.

"It's easy when you've got good people to work with," she added. "It's easy to make things happen."

Dave Price of CBS (left) introduces Grand Hotel Chairman R. Daniel Musser Jr. (right) and his son, hotel President R. Daniel Musser III (second right). The hotel porch was the setting for the Great American Vacation live broadcast Thursday, August 23. Dave Price of CBS (left) introduces Grand Hotel Chairman R. Daniel Musser Jr. (right) and his son, hotel President R. Daniel Musser III (second right). The hotel porch was the setting for the Great American Vacation live broadcast Thursday, August 23. The day began early for mainland visitors, with a special free boat trip offered by Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry at 5:30 a.m. from Mackinaw City. Those visiting Straits area family and friends came to see the broadcast from downstate and as far away as California. Locally, residents taking seats on the ferry came from St. Ignace, Cedarville, Cheboygan, Carp Lake, and Mackinaw City.

Local groups who were able to promote their activities on the nationally-televised program the Lucas Izzard Foundation for Teens (LIFT) represented by Mark Izzard and Lana Causley of Clark Township and other members, a group of 60 Boy Scouts from Troop 411 from Escanaba serving at Fort Mackinac that week, St. Ignace Cross Country Team, Mackinac Island Cheerleaders, Mackinac Island Book Club, St. Ignace Girl Scouts, and members of the Mackinac Island Lakers volleyball and soccer teams.

Arriving in the dark, sipping coffee, and chattering, travelers were greeted at the Shepler's dock by CBS Early Show producer Steve Cohn. He arrived in the area Tuesday to prepare for the broadcast and find local volunteers to help shuffle the audience. The idea is to give everyone in the audience the opportunity to be near the front and watch the filming of the show, he explained.

"We want to make this a great morning for everyone," he said.

Travel is a major part of his job and he considers it to be relaxing, compared to life in New York City, where work can be intense.

Last week, he was producing the show in Aspen, Colorado, and after leaving the Island, he will make a brief stop in New York before heading to Bar Harbor, Maine, the next city featured on the show's Great American Vacation series.

"I like what I do," Mr. Cohn said. "You meet all different kinds of people and learn about different things. You see America."

With Internet connections in hand and cell phones on an open line to headquarters, the crew is always in contact and working on the next two weeks' worth of shows.

"We're never not working," said Mr. Cohn.

Set up on the east end of Grand Hotel's porch, the broadcast area is filled with New York crew members who are supplemented with camera and broadcast professionals from Chicago and Detroit.

The core group from New York has worked and traveled together for several years, said Mr. Price before air time. Never stopping, he moves from person to person, talking, working out last minute details, confirming Island facts, and answering messages from New York on his Blackberry.

"These guys are just like a very organized ballet," he said, "but just before the ballet begins, there are those frantic moments where you try and work on those last minute steps. That's what makes it fun."

He takes a moment to climb a step ladder in place for CBS cameraman Arnie Cantu. Mr. Price estimates 750 audience members fill the porch. With microphone in hand, he welcomes the audience, which responds with cheers while arms lift homemade signs into the air.

"Interaction with the crowd is really important to us, and that they have as much fun as we do," he said, stepping from the ladder.

An experienced crew is necessary for a live broadcast. If given 45 seconds for a scene, the crew has to prepare the shot and record the important information in exactly that amount of time. Mr. Price relies on the stage manager and associate producer for timing directions and the amount of content to fill a segment.

"Live television has the element of unpredictably, with the need for exactitude," said Mr. Price. "When its all done, even though we haven't moved more than 10 feet, we'll be exhausted. I'm really fortunate to work with such great people."

Stage manager Kimberly Miller, who is scheduled to be on a 9 a.m. ferry to catch a plane for New York, will leave just before filming ends.

"I'd really like to stay longer," she said. "It's beautiful here."

From a television on the set, the crew monitors the CBS broadcast from New York as they prepare to go live.

"Dave, Dave, he's our man... Go CBS!"

The Mackinac Island Public School cheerleaders offer a cheer they have prepared for the event.

Associate Producer Paige Kendig receives Midwest rain totals from New York, and writes them on a piece of paper she holds in view of Mr. Price.

The countdown to air time is given, the audience is directed to cheer, and the broadcast goes live.

"We are, right now, at the Grand Hotel. Lake Huron is in the background, and we are going to have an incredible broadcast from Mackinac Island, Michigan, one of the great American vacation spots," announces Mr. Price to both the television and Grand Hotel porch audience.

Between live shots from the porch and segments taped on the Island in May, the Island audience is rotated, and the crew prepares for a segment on fudge making. Les Parrish and Sean O'Dell of Ryba's Fudge Shops performed the fudge making demonstration. Mr. Price asks for more time, and Ms. Kendig works with New York to extend the fudge segment.

"I love Dave to do things that are iconic to an area," said Ms. Kendig, who planned the fudge demonstration, admitting it is more work for the crew, yet it makes the show more interesting for the viewer.

Associate Producer Kate Zuckerman said the road trips also serve to get local affiliates involved in the national show.

"It's great to get to go to all these places we visit to show the rest of the country," she said. "And in my case, places I may not ever get a chance to visit."

With the fudge making demonstration completed, Production Coordinator Amy Spielholtz prepares for the segment introducing Grand Hotel Chairman R. Daniel Musser Jr. and his son, hotel President R. Daniel Musser III.

"If you don't love our country when you see scenes like this, you're out of your mind," said Mr. Price as the camera shows views Grand Hotel gardens and flags flying from the porch, as horse-drawn carriages pass in front of the historic hotel.

Mr. Musser III later said the hotel porch was chosen for the broadcast because of the view it offers of the area.

"We think that besides the state capitol, this is the most recognized building in the State of Michigan," he said. "Whenever we can, we try to include the porch and the view from the porch, the flags, the Mackinac Bridge, the Straits, the iconic views, they're all right here."

He added, "This is the spot. It's like a painting."

Throughout the morning filming, the whistle from the Shepler's freight boat has added to the Island's ambiance, while for the film crew, it has added an extra challenge. On board the boat is the CBS Winnebego, which is driven around the country for the vacation series and is its symbol of travel.

Visible in the distance through a thin layer of fog, the freight boat with its motor-home cargo has been sailing back and forth in front of the Grand.

The Mackinac Island City Council gave permission to bring the vehicle to the Island, but CBS said it didn't want to compromise the Island's motor vehicle ban. Parading the Winnebego on the lake provided a creative way to keep the symbol in view while promoting the motor vehicle ban.

Ms. Spielholtz has been in communication with Chris Shepler, who is piloting the craft about a half mile off shore. Ms. Spielholtz is working with Mr. Shepler and the cameraman to get the boat in position between trees and within view of the camera. Currents are making the timing of the shot difficult.

As Mr. Price leads into the segment, the boat sails into view just in time.

"Here's one of the neat things about this place," Mr. Price tells television viewers. "There are no automobiles. They banned cars because they actually spooked the horses back in 1896."

Normally, on the tour across the country, the Winnebego is at the filming location, he said.

"This time," says Mr. Price, "to respect the rules of Mackinac Island, we left the Winnebego just off shore."

Mr. Price said he was glad to be back on Mackinac. His first visit came in May, when promotional spots were filmed and an Island background segment was produced. During that visit, he had a small sample of the Island. This time, he said, "I was able to enjoy the Island's hospitality, and I got to kick back a bit."

He added, "Now we know definitively why people rush to this place."

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