You may have seen an amusing story on The Today Show by Jamie Gangel about President Obama’s love for his teleprompter(in which the prompter actually gives a hysterical interview). Presidents have used prompters for years, but evidentally this President takes his almost everywhere. Hey, I get that. It does help get rid of that dastardly trio of unwanted verbal tics we all have…the ummms, the you knows, and the ahhhs. Teleprompter is my friend..usually. I love my prompter…even though it has changed (of course)over the years. Haven’t we all?
When I first started in the business, prompter was a paper copy of the script, all the scripts were taped together and had to be run through a machine. As you can imagine, it was not uncommon for the paper to get hung up in the machine…oops, bad tape job, and …that was that until they got it straightened out.
Today, it’s all electronic….complete with all the problems that come along with that. While the producer can change things from the control room and update the scripts or add things as needed, ( and this can also can be tricky…when you see something different than you expect to see, your brain wonders for that split second, is that right?) electronic problem as we all know can be….as sticky as a bad tape job. Sometimes Mr. Prompter gets stuck on a script and just loops it over and over. Sometimes the person operating Mr. Prompter gets distracted and forgets to roll him. Or rolls his too fast. Or too slow. And sometimes it jus goes black, though none of this is a common occurance. And it is subject to typos. I try very ard, oops, I mean hard, to catch all of those before we get to air, but sometimes things get put in at the last minute and the lack of or addition of a single letter can make a word or sentence unintelligible. Like “They can’t go far”..could be “They cart go for.” And you have to try to make sense of it, on the spot. Sometime I even succeed. But I have finished reads before and in the break said, “Ah for the want of a letter…” And just like a bad boyfriend, prompter is better if it’s just gone, than to pop in and out, which leads to feelings of insecurity and anxiety…will it be there, is it gonna leave any second? When it’s down, at least you know you’re on your own.
It always surprises me when someone thinks we memorize all those words….ummmmm, no.(Sorry..had no prompter for that.) I know how President Obama feels about his prompter….a curious, needy, not very emotional but very real relationship. Mr. Prompter ain’t perfect, but my life is better with him, than without him. And so is the newscast you watch. Trust me on this. Oh, and the President’s prompter has its own name and blog …. TOTUS…it is pretty funny… he calls the President “the big guy”. As this anonymous blogger says, “There is no potus without Totus!”.