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BC Beat

5/30/2008 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Weather Anchors Ready for High-Def Launch

While Landmark Communications' imminent sale of The Weather Channel has yet to come into focus, things at the 24-hour cable network will be a lot clearer come June 2, when it cuts the ribbon on its new 12,500-square-foot high-definition facility.

Starting Monday, Your Weather Today and Evening Edition will be broadcast in 1080-line-interlace HD from a new four-story, 5,000-square-foot studio, the centerpiece of which is a 40-foot-long rear-projection display wall.

“That is a monster wall,” says on-camera meteorologist Jim Cantore, who spoke with B&C about the challenges of adjusting to the new studio. “There's going to be some times when Cantore's pointing to Alabama and he really means to be pointing to North Carolina.”

Cantore and his colleagues Paul Goodloe, Heather Tesch and Marshall Seese have been breaking in the new space for the past several weeks, rehearsing for several hours each day on top of their live broadcasts.

“I was telling my neighbor that my schedule's been so busy,” says Your Weather Today's Tesch. “And she asked me, 'Is it really that hard to figure out which camera to look at?'”

Given the amount of moving around between—and often within—segments, Tesch says, yes, it is that hard: “One of the hardest things is keeping track not only of the weather but where we're to supposed move to.”

That spaciousness has been a blessing, says Goodloe: “There's so much more room to work with and walk around in after being limited to a small box. It gives us the opportunity to create new shots.”

It also presents basic logistical challenges, Cantore adds. “Some of these new monitors on stands don't have the easiest rollers,” he says. “Watching the floor directors struggling to move them in time for the next shot, you want to go down there and help.”

And while all three are thrilled at the prospect of showing dramatic images of hurricanes and tornadoes in stunning clarity, they acknowledged some apprehension about the cosmetic challenges of going HD. “It's scary,” Cantore says. “I don't exactly have Jessica Alba's skin.”

“We've invested $30,000 on the latest plastic surgery,” jokes Goodloe.

“I have four cats and a dog so I always have a bit of animal hair on me,” says Tesch. “Before it wasn't a problem, but now I'm going to have to keep a lint-roller nearby.”

To see behind-the-scenes video of the rehearsals—and for the latest news on The Weather Channel's sale—go to www.broadcastingcable.com.

Kramer's Wall of Shame

It's been almost two years since Seinfeld alum Michael Richards self-immolated in a bizarre fit of anger and racial epithets during a stand-up gig at Hollywood's Laugh Factory. But a recent visit to the Dirksen Senate Office Building brought it all back.

Apparently, the folks in the Senate ID department are Seinfeld fans. For years, senators, staffers, journalists and other Hill regulars picking up their identification badges in room G-58 could peruse the wall of framed sample IDs—all bearing the face of Richards and the name of his Seinfeld character, Cosmo Kramer.

No more. Although Richards apologized immediately and repeatedly for his inexplicable outburst, it turns out someone on the Hill found his mug to be a distasteful reminder of that racist tirade.

There was a complaint, says an ID department staffer, “so we had to remove it.”

As of last month, the photo of Richards had been replaced by that of a smiling, clean-cut staffer. But the Kramer name remains.

With John Eggerton

 

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