Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Trentonian TV Production Notes: Words2Action debut

TRENTON -- Southern Burlington County NAACP President Dr. Ken Gordon and his saavy production team came into The Trentonian newsroom with a mission, a strict game plan, a focus on making the debut of Words2Action look and sound like a seasoned television talk show. No other Trentonian TV hosts have hit me with elaborate production visions and a minute-by-minute charting like Gordon's team did, so this was a different beast in terms of feeling pressure not to screw it up. Yeah, I was nervous. But it was a good nervous, the kind of nervous you use to perform at your best when the heat is on.

I could not have been more thrilled with how the debut played out. Gordon and his team were psyched, too, and anyone in the newsroom could have heard them celebrating in the Trentonian conference room.

The theme of the debut of Words2Action was "Are African-American Women Under Attack?" Michelle Obama's "big butt" was among the topics after Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner last December said the First Lady ought to be ashamed for promoting the fight against obesity even though she has the kind of back that would make Sir Mix-A-Lot giddy. Also on the plate were the problematic "Madea," how corporate black women must assume the missionary position if they ever want to see the glass ceiling, and so much more relating to a race of women that, based on a curious study, was called the ugliest on earth.

Indeed, Gordon's show swung for the fence of ideas, connected on every topic and stayed on point for 50 tight minutes of conversation. Gordon started off by defining the 4 kinds of people in this world: "Those who make things happen. Those who watch things happen. Those who let things happen. And those who don't know what happened. We want to be the kind of people that make things happen."

Gordon quoted the late Steve Jobs about a conversation he had with President Barack Obama about this country being "insanely great" except for the fact we hardly ever talk about solutions. "Well," Gordon said in his intro, "I can tell you that on this show that is exactly what we will do -- we will talk about solutions."

Dr. Tamiko Smith, Loretta Winters and Nadine Tribbett were the first 3 educated, wise and well-spoken guests in Words2Action history, each engaged by Gordon to discuss the state of the black female in 2012. It is important for families of all persuasions to listen to these conversations, to digest the ideas and to discuss the themes afterward. It's brain food. It's the entire reason I asked Gordon to brainstorm this show because I knew he'd be able to engage the best and brightest minds to help spread the torch of knowledge to the segments of society that need to hear such illumination.

It's just smart. And Gordon and his staff came in with a smart plan -- and, with fruit and water for the guests. They thought of it all.

As you'll see in some of the photos below, Gordon's top production guru, Tay Walker, left no moment to spare. Her minute-by-minute outline reminded me of late, great San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh, who always mapped out the first 25 plays of a game and didn't stray from the plan no matter what because it was formulated with a meticulous vision for success. Gordon's other on-the-ball staffers are Francine Cartwright (guest relations), Angelina Bishop (communications) and VeNeis Gordon and Jasmine Garrett (social media). Walker sent me a list of the guests and the topics they would discuss, and each guest's appearance was going to be strictly timed -- 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes -- and she paid attention to the timer while taking notes of everything on her minute-by-minute outline. She also sent me the images Gordon wanted displayed in the screen-and-screen, and she was great about telling me exactly when to activate the photos at the point Gordon and his guest talked about the subject. She also put together a Power-Point presentation of names to use as full-screen images during the segues between guests. Gordon didn't want viewers to see guests coming and going, though I flubbed activating the name card when it was Winters' turn to sit down. Other than that, Tay and I were on the same page. Her focus is top-shelf. Meanwhile, Gordon's son would hold up green then yellow then red cards to let dad know he had 3 minutes left with each guest, then 1, then none. Cartwright came up with the traffic-light system of colors. Little things like that are what make teams great. Indeed, this is a team of power players led by a powerful head coach.

Right away I could tell the group discussed at length almost every aspect of the the way they wanted to the show to look and sound to the audience -- and that says everything about the Rev. Dr. Ken Gordon, whose bio would lead to believe he's not done climbing the ladder of success. Not by a longshot, bubba. Dare I say he might run for President of the United States this side of 20 years. And short of that, governor of Jersey. When he runs for something he wins. His show Words2Action is a winner, like Walsh's 49ers were winners, and Trentonian TV is merely a stepping stone for Gordon and his team of visionaries. I can feel it.

That all said, there are a few production things we need to work out. The blinds were open during the early part of the show, and you can see a streak or two of sunshine on Gordon's face at the beginning. The volume switches were turned up too high for the first 5 minutes or so before I realized it and fixed it, though you still hear a bit of hum, and there are camera issues I must address. But hey, there's plenty of time.

Here are the photos I took during the show:

Upon arrival, the intros and expectations

Gordon and FP

Friends, guests, producers and the queen

Vivacious, both of them

Getting ready to enter the Trentonian TV "studio"

Power Producers of the highest order

Son and daughter

"3 minutes, Dad"

Her "missionary" line was the best line in Trentonian TV history

Hands, knees and Altoids
Statistics show ...

Tay Walker is the Bill Walsh of Trentonian TV producing

She sticks to the stringent game plan

Shoes and proximity seating


Tay is meticulous


Nadine Tribbett

 Nadine and FP

High-5s all around after the successful debut

And right way, pre-production for next week's historic show ...

And here is the debut of Words2Action: