I’ve now been at the office for 13 hours straight and my eyes are beginning to blur. After capturing two fugitives, traveling to Dayton, Ohio, and writing a script, the time has come to put it all together. My editor is loading video into the Avid machine, and we’re about to settle in for a long night of cutting and pasting.
It’s amazing though, no matter how many hours I work in this place, I never get tired of it. Before I moved to Washington and started working for America’s Most Wanted, I had a string of free-lance production jobs in Los Angeles. For a year and a half I was working for an entertainment show that did one-hour profiles of Hollywood celebrities. It was fun, mind you, but I wasn’t exactly making the world a better place. Case in point: my documentary on Liberace. Another case in point: the life of Gary Busey. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Who gives a crap?” Well that’s what I was thinking also.
And there’s always local news. My first job out of college was covering the O.J. Simpson trial for a Los Angeles affiliate. It was a great opportunity: high-profile case, incredible résumé builder. The problem was, I was in way over my head. I didn’t know what a white balance was, what the difference between A-roll and B-roll was, or that I was supposed to tell my cameraman to shoot in non-drop frame. Those are all basic TV terms, but it was all Greek to me. It took about three weeks and one reporter throwing a microphone at me to get into the swing of things. After that, it was smooth sailing.
Still, after three and a half years in La-La land, I knew it was time to head back East. I missed my family and I missed the seasons. I started at America’s Most Wanted last February, and I have never been in a more agreeable newsroom. No tantrums. No tears (except mine). No screaming. Not that people don’t want to, but no one’s running around making a spectacle of themselves. Trust me, that is rare in newsrooms. And despite the grisly content of our show, we do have a lot of laughs. The Halloween party theme is “Come Dressed as Your Favorite Fugitive,” and we’ve broken down our favorite captures into categories. The first capture was a fugitive on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, and cops nabbed him four days after our first show aired in 1988. The guy was wanted for four murders, arson, kidnapping, and rape. Not bad for the first time out. The weirdest capture was also our 500th. A woman was wanted for murdering her wealthy Las Vegas boyfriend. A tip came into our hotline that placed her in Florida. She was in Florida all right, at a nudist colony! I bet the cops got an eyeful. And of course, my favorite capture: Last weekend’s arrest of the couple charged with child abuse, which reminds me, it’s nearing midnight and we aren’t even close to finishing the first cut of the story. Gotta run.