MY DREAM CAME TRUE!
Reviews of bucket-list-worthy things to do all over the world

I was on the Today show!

I wake up almost every day with the Today show. While I turn to the Today show to get the latest news, I enjoy their “fun” stories as well. Some of these stories have inspired my own adventures. For example, after I watched Al Roker cross whitewater rafting off his bucket list, I traveled to Costa Rica and took a trip on the same river with the same company and had an incredible experience. I thought that it would be fun to see a live taping of the Today show, so on Wednesday, June 15th, 2011, I headed to Rockefeller Plaza hoping to get my chance.

In preparation for my visit, I made a sign. One side read, "TODAY inspired me!" and had pictures of Al and me whitewater rafting in Costa Rica. On the other side was the name of this website: mydreamcametrue.com.

Since the Today show is live, the taping times are the same as the showtimes: from 7AM to 10AM every weekday. At 6:25 AM, my mom and I arrived at the 48th Street and Rockefeller Plaza in NYC and joined a line of people waiting to enter the plaza. It wasn't long before the line started to move, at about 6:30 AM. We slowly walked to the security men who checked inside our bags and looked at our signs. Tickets are not necessary to attend a taping.

Once we were cleared, we entered the familiar barricaded Today show taping location, Rockefeller Plaza between 48th and 49th streets, in search of a spot to stand and watch the show. A woman in line with us, Mary, who had visited the show the day before, suggested that the southwest side of the barricade was a good place. We took her advice and claimed a front row position between Mary and a mother and daughter from South Carolina.

The Today show crew was busy making last minute preparations, putting the finishing touches on tables set up for some of the show's segments and grooming the flowers in the Today show planters. A few video monitors were set out on the plaza. One faced our direction. On it, I could see Matt Lauer relaxing at the desk. It was fun to see him just hanging out.

A few minutes before 7 AM, Matt rehearsed his voiceover for the show's opening while the corresponding video played on the monitor. Since the footage is a fixed length, Matt had to speak at just the right speed to match it. After just one rehearsal, Matt was ready.

At 7 AM, the show began. A cameraman taped a small portion of the crowd at the northwest corner of the plaza. They were so far away from us that we just watched the monitor. The show's audio was broadcast over loudspeakers, so we could hear what was going on very clearly, but the TV monitors were moved around from time to time, so we couldn't always see the video.

At about 7:30 AM, I noticed the crew setting up another shot at the northwest corner of the plaza. I walked over and stood behind two rows of people with my sign. The cameraman walked across the north side of the barricade while the audience cheered and waved. When he was done, I returned to my original spot.

Just before 8 AM, Ryan Reynolds, movie star and People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive 2010 entered the plaza with a man who I imagine might have been a Today show producer. People along the barricade excitedly snapped photos. Ryan walked over to the west side of the barricade, not far from where we were standing, and greeted people as a cameraman followed. Ryan moved closer and closer, shaking hands with audience members as he made his way along the barricade. When he got to me, he looked up at my sign and asked me about it. Mary, my mom, and our new friends from South Carolina all got to shake his hand!

At about 8:15 AM, Matt made his first live appearance on the plaza to do a "Grill Gifts for Dad" segment directly across from us. We had a fairly nice view of the segment, but, understandably, the cameramen and crew frequently got in way. It was interesting to watch the off-camera goings on that viewers don't normally see, like one of the crew members indicating the remaining time to Matt, first with one finger (one minute left?), then by making an X with his forearms (time's up?). Just after that segment, Matt did a "Tool Gifts for Dad" segment nearby.

At about 8:30 AM, a cameraman did a sweep of the audience along the west side of the barricade, then Matt, Ann Curry, and Natalie Morales did a brief segment from the northeast side of the plaza where we couldn't see them very well. They talked to Al who was in Houston, Texas, donating items worth over two million dollars to a deserving charity.

Just before 9 AM, Matt, Ann, and Savannah Guthrie emerged and stood on the southeast side of the plaza again to talk to Al in Texas. When the segment was over, Ann Curry stayed on the plaza to greet audience members along the barricade, pose for photos, sign autographs, and chat.
When she got to me, she looked at my sign with interest and asked me about it. I described how I'd watched a Today Show story where Al went whitewater rafting in Costa Rica and then I'd followed in his footsteps. She asked if I had already been planning to go whitewater rafting before I saw the story. I said that I had been thinking about going to Costa Rica, but that the whitewater rafting idea was because of the Today show. As we talked, I was reminded of the many times that I've watched Ann interview people on the Today show. For a split second, I felt like I was a guest on the show. Ann posed for a photo with me and my sign before she continued along the barricade.

A few minutes later, at about 9:20 AM, a crew member told us that the Today show plaza appearances were done for the day. We said goodbye to our fellow audience members and headed home.

I left the Today show satisfied with my adventure. Not only did I get to be on the Today show, I got to chat (briefly) with Ryan Reynolds and be interviewed (sort of) by Ann Curry. Not a bad way to spend a morning!

I did this in 2011 in New York City, New York, USA.

Jen (California, USA)


More of Jen's reviews of TV show tapings and filmings:

The Big Bang Theory
The Ellen DeGeneres Show (Riff-Raff Room)
The Ellen DeGeneres Show (studio audience)
Two and a Half Men
American Idol