This morning I went roller-skating at a small, outdoor rink just outside of Torino.
I kid. Olympic Gold medalist in the 5000m race, Chad Hedrick and I did a shoot getting back to his roots. He grew up in a roller rink owned by his dad. He was the guy who would “shoot the duck” with such bravado, he’d then have his pick of the litter for the couples skate…to Phil Collins, oh yeah.
Riding back to my hotel, the frantic call comes from our AH Bureau in the IBC (International Broadcast Center)…”Emily Hughes is in the building. Just did a 2-way remote with Katie (Couric)…can you get here?”
Right now, Emily Hughes IS the big drama at the Olympics. Lillehammer had Jeff Gillooly and Tonya Harding. Salt Lake had Sarah Hughes coming out of nowhere. Torino has Michelle Kwan stepping out of the way for Emily…a kid who was hanging out in Long Island 2 days ago.
“Of course, I’ll get there and figure something out.”
I arrived and immediately headed toward the Press Conference in progress. The stairs leading to the green room caught my eye and down I went, figuring a one-on-one after the world press asks their always serious, serious, nuanced questions, would be best for her and me. She emerged from the conference and there I was cameras rolling. She was surprised, happy, cute, funny, overwhelmed. It was raw and real and will be great on air.
But…my producer later told me that her publicist was mad. About what, I thought…3 minutes on our show instead of 30 seconds? This is her moment and to be on <i>Access Hollywood</i> at the Olympics?? Her friends at home will freak. I wrote the publicist and apologized.
I confess to feeling a little embarrassed as I am so used to Olympians being pumped to be on our air.
But Emily was as sweet as could be. She told a funny story. And she will be all over our air tonight, because she’s a real ‘American Idol’. No she doesn’t sing, but she’s chasing her dream in front of foreign judges, and everyone’s pulling for her.