Will Durst Diaries-The Green Room
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They call the room where you wait to go onstage the green room. Probably because the original ones were painted green. Duh. But this is traditionally where you found out what was really going on with the show. Will the make up girl tell you the star had such a bad hangover, they had to prop his eyelids open with Crazy Glue? Or has the Network Liaison returned from prison, or as we've been told to call it; "sleepaway camp" yet? And which cameraman is sleeping with which executive producer? It may be all sequins, sunshine and vaselined smiles on camera, but The Green Room is where you learn the real dirt of the show. Of course, this is PBS, so the revelations will be restricted to a PG rating. Tops.

Hog Heaven/ Kansas City (back to article)
Went there twice to shoot this piece. The second time one of the legs on the tripod buckled and the camera tipped over and crashed to the cement with a hollow echo heard around the entire plant. If I had been the cameraman there would have been crying, screaming and the throwing of many tiny pieces of a former camera into walls, but Gary Mercer pulled out his cellular, made a few calls, lining up both a camera surgeon and a replacement camera and everything went on as if nothing had happened. Except when we went to Arthur Bryant's for ribs and then the mass hysteria began. It looked like a sequel to "Lord of the Flies" written by William Burroughs. Later that night, Producer Scott Pearson and I got stranded outside a club called the Blue Room, where we flagged down a civilian in a car that formerly was a cab but alas was a cab no more but we must have looked pretty pitiable because he gave us a ride back to the hotel anyway.

St Louis/ MetroLink (back to article)
You know my feelings on public transportation. I think it's a truly wonderful way to get around and other people should be encouraged to use it. For the four days we were in St. Louis the heat index never dipped below 110 F. Even at night. The camera lens fogged up whenever we ventured outdoors forcing us to turn off the air conditioning in the car so it could acclimate. Fortunately the hotel we were staying at had a pool. Unfortunately, it was being renovated at the time. Clever that; dysfunctional pool in the dead of summer. Eventually we cooled off by getting kicked out of a series of downtown blues bars dancing till three am.

Carpool/ Oakland/ San Francisco
We rented a convertible to do this shoot, and the idea was we would be stuck in a regular lane, see the empty carpool lane, get all excited by the latent freedom, lower the top, switch lanes and hit it. The only problem was, when I lowered the roof and stomped on the accelerator, the top stopped dead midway down. Learned later it had an automatic lock preventing it from moving when the car is going over 10 miles an hour. You'd think someone would tell you, right? A Post-It? Anything. So we had to get back into the crowded lane and do it again. And again. That's why we're really laughing. Took about eight takes to get it right. You can see Associate Producer Sean McGinn and Executive Producer Patrice O'Neill in the back qualifying us for the carpool lane.

Chicago/ Bike to Work Day
Biking to work in San Francisco is like dogsledding to work in Bali, so we went to a nice flat city to try it. First, the idea was to profile this guy who bikes to work all year long. In Chicago. Including winter. And I met him: He's not a flippo unit. Nice guy. Pixilated, but nice. That's my friend Aaron Freeman riding the canopied bicycle with his two goddesses, Diana and Artemis, in the back. He won the bicycle/ car/ public transportation race Chicago holds on Bike To Work Day for the third year in a row. All three teams start from a common point north of town and the first to Daley Plaza wins. The car was a Dodge Viper driven by a NASCAR driver who told me he would have won if he could have found parking. Those whiny NASCAR drivers. It's always something. I'm surprised he didn't complain about all the right turns.

Cyber Couch Potato/ Milwaukee (back to article)
Aaaah, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The newspaper of my youth. Where I first started contributing jokes and funny items when I was fourteen. And now I come back a big time out-of-town PBS television series host. And nobody knows who I am. Oh well. I guess they never expected me to claw my way to the middle. Later on, I treated the crew to Zaffiro's Pizza on the East Side for a taste of the best cracker crust pie in the world. And then I expensed it.

Cyber Couch Potato/ Pasadena
The critics were worried I would make their job look too soft and they'd lose what little respect they feel they can command while writing for the toy section. They told me this poolside while we were gorging at an all-you-can-eat steak and lobster tail buffet. But to be honest, these guys deserve it and more just to wash out the line of crud the network execs try to force feed them over an over again for three weeks. You try to think of a follow up question after some eighteen-year-old male ingenue starring in a new series bats his baby blues and said he's been waiting for this chance his entire life.
P.S.: Joanne Weintraub is one of the funniest humans I've ever met, and I get down on my knees and thank god everyday she decided to become a television critic and not a political comedian.