May 7, 2010

Robert Siegel left his head and his heart on the dance floor

We don't want to spoil this video for you, so all we'll say is you'll go gaga over this one from NPR. Robert Siegel is definitely a highlight, but we like those "Directors" too. Stay tuned to the Current blog as your Friendly Pubcasting Reporters track down the back story on this.

UPDATE: Tamar Charney, program director at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor, reports the video "has been quite a hit with our Facebook fans. After we mentioned the spoof on-air our FB fans number started ticking up!"

Reporting from the Dorkosphere, Your Intrepid Reporters now have the full story.

Shereen Marisol Meraji, an online/on-air producer for All Things Considered, told Current that the idea was hatched after staffers watched the now-viral 82nd Airborne Division's rendition of Lady Gaga's "Telephone" video. "Theo [Balcomb, fellow producer] said, 'Hey, wouldn't it be fun to do a spoof video here?' I said,'Dude, that is brilliant and we are so doing that.' " That was Wednesday, May 5. The two teamed up with colleague Justine Kenin for the shoot.

Next step, talent. "We thought about who we could get that would be down for it, the younger, on-air talent. Ari Shapiro, Guy Raz, Korva Coleman -- she's notorious for being cool. So I sent out first a blast email to the pretty cool people, the relaxed people. They wrote back and said, sure." And of course producers signed on as backup dancers.

Then came the even bigger names. "I was kind of scared of Nina [Totenberg], but I knew we had to open with her. So I had one of the producers who has worked with her, like, 30 years, and he went and asked her. She's awesome in that hot-pink dress and her signature pearls." Not to mention her "Justice Gaga" lines. Approaching Siegel was even more intimidating. "I was so nervous. I work with him every day, and we have a good relationship, but he's known to be a real newsman -- but he's also very funny! I figured, I’d gotten everyone else, so I said, 'Hey Robert, you won’t have to dance or sing, you can just be you.' And I let the idea simmer. Then later a producer working with him on another piece said, 'Get in here with your camera, he'll do it at exactly 3:06.' "

The Directors (still our fave) from All Things Considered "would not dance," Meraji said. "I was doing these little movements for them and Brendan [Banaszak] said, 'I'm not going to bounce around like that.' " So Banaszak and Greg Dixon improvised their own movements -- a homage to pubradio directors everywhere.

Everything but the backup producer dancers was done in one take. "We shot and edited on Thursday, and I wanted [Senior Veep for News] Ellen Weiss to see it." Weiss encouraged Meraji to post it on NPR's Facebook page. By 1:30 p.m. Friday, 908 fans had clicked "Like" and 238 left comments, and the YouTube count was still ticking upwards of 32,000. Maraji thought it might be a hit, among a certain audience. "I was thinking it would go viral in the Dorkosphere. Nerdy people will like it."

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