March 5, 2008
ABC News, Part II
Neal and Alyssa (the producer) came to our house on the 24th (Sunday) to meet with us for the first time face-to-face, and plan out the day a bit more.
After a few more iterations, we worked out a schedule for them to meet us at our house at 545am, go running with us, then tape us making breakfast for Samwich (although no pictures of Samwich’s face were allowed (or Peri and John for that matter)). After that, we’d drive to work, with them in the car part of the time, and then follow me inside for about half of my day. I’d then have lunch with Neal (recorded), then when I got home, out for dinner, then back for the formal “interview” with me and Anh.
Wow. Long day.
They were there right on time at 545am, camera crew and all. We went for our run, being followed by a sound and camera guy in a black suburban (Mike and Rob), but other than that, it was normal. Well, that and being asked to run by the Space Needle four times so the Rob could get the shot right (it was a really cool shot, and he really did want to make it right. He said to us: “You can always tell when you are shooting what will ABSOLUTELY make it in, and let me tell you, this will get in.”).
We were both pretty nervous during the run. We had wireless microphones on (which made both of our pants fall down from the weight of the battery packs on our back – if we look like we have baggy pants on when this airs – now you know why), but it was one of our quietest runs ever. Typically, our runs are the time for us to talk about what’s going on, and work out any issues that we have to deal with – with us, with family, with the kids, etc. We came up with Samwich’s name on a run. Anyway, not this one – we were pretty quiet.
We got back to the house, and went upstairs to get ready, leaving the crew downstairs. One of the big TG “clichés” that I didn’t want to get into was any shots of me getting dressed or ready. So, I really wanted to skip any part of that.
Mercifully, I made them coffee.
After coming downstairs with the baby, I started to make him breakfast (banana pancakes). Between being nervous and hurrying a bit, this was probably the single worst pancake I ever made for Samwich. It didn’t taste bad, it was just a mess. He had been in the middle of a “no eating week” – he basically would take two bites, and then be done, every meal. This breakfast was no exception – not a lot of the pancake was consumed.
One of the most fun parts about our morning ritual is watching Samwich dance and to the music (while singing along). However, because of the microphone/sound recording issues, we couldn’t have it on. Bummer.
We headed out, just about on time, with me in front, the suburban following, and Neal and Alyssa in a third car. Just over the bridge, we all pulled over, and Rob the cameraman got in the car with me, and taped me driving into work from the inside (they took outside shots before that).
Getting into work with four visitors, two of them lugging tons of gear was well, interesting. We went up from the garage, and out to the lobby where we met the PR representatives. No problem, we signed them in, and we started the work day.
First off, I do email. Wow. Super exciting…. You thought the Golf Channel was fun, woo whee – check out the eMail Channel!
Anyway, in the morning, I had previously scheduled meetings with my manager Brad (the ubiquitous weekly 1:1 at Microsoft), an old HR contact, and my current HR contact. The crew was there in each of the meetings, and after the meetings, they interviewed the folks I had met with briefly (I didn’t watch…).
I had meetings back and forth between meetings, and for those walks, they were following me back and forth… will be interesting to see how that comes out.
With each of these meetings, they stayed to watch the first parts, but then left. The meeting with Tobin was interesting though, as he hadn’t seen me since I got back, and we had a lot of catching up to do, and they caught a lot of it.
Before lunch, Neal asked me a few on-camera questions in my office – nothing too remarkable, except that he asked me, when seeing all the “Michael” stuff in my office – “Who’s office is this? Michael’s or Megan’s?”. I hadn’t really thought a lot about this before – other than I clearly am not trying to erase my history, and I have a lot of history at Microsoft, so my office reflects that! (It was definitely a fair question though).
We ended up going to lunch at Malay Satay Hut in Bellevue. I can tell you that if you want to get a bunch of looks, walk into a restaurant with a camera crew. Malay Satay hut is an extension of the MS cafeterias at this point, and it’s loaded with ‘softies – many of whom I knew that day. At one point, Neal asked me if I was conscious of people looking askance at me. I said: “Well, today I think they are looking at me because I have this camera crew posse with me!”
After lunch we went back to campus, they shot a little bit in Brad’s weekly staff meeting, then they went out to get some pictures of campus, and then headed back to our house to set up for the interview.
The interview setup was pretty interesting – they basically took apart our whole living room, and reset it almost like a studio – lights and all. They even set lights outside to light the trees, so in the shots of Neal, facing us, you could see the skyline, plus lit trees. It was a trip.
For dinner, we had made a reservation up at Sorrentino up on Queen Anne – they have always been super sweet to us, and we also really like the food. We warned them that this would be a dinner with a camera crew, so they knew what to expect. Our friends Alex and Kat had agreed to come out with us, and we met them there. The crew taped about 15 minutes of our pre-dinner conversation, then went back to the house to continue setting up for the interview (wow, that takes a LONG time).
As a funny aside, while Neal and Alyssa were sitting at the bar eating, one of the owners mistook Neal’s phone for her own, and took it. For the next couple of hours, there was intensive phone-looking (Everyone wanted to blame Samwich, as he has a known penchant for phone chewing!).
Anyway, we got back around 830pm, and the formal interview part started (if we look tired, you know why!). Neal interviewed me first, then me and Anh together. Anh has never done any press work before and she did great! Pretty high stress thing to do for your first time… national TV, on such a personal subject.
The interview lasted for just about 90 minutes, and by the time the crew was done tearing down and cleaning up, it was almost 11.
Long day for us, long day for the crew.
I have to say, that the experience of that day was nothing but positive. Neal and the crew were total pros – treated us with amazing amounts of respect and candor, and were great to work with.
I’m confident that tomorrow’s stories will come out well, and hopefully a few more people will get exposed to a normal family, but one that’s just a little different.