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January 7, 2001

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Yes, It Was Great Fun

       As Keith Jackson said on what was to be his retirement broadcast from ABC, "And so it is done..." Life after 20/20 does go on. However, reaction to the show's game show piece Friday night has been interesting.
       A huge majority of people have been extremely heartening. Most people who love game shows are thankful for any piece of attention a network newsmagazine will offer to their favorite genre. We just happened to be the fortunate ones selected to send the message. One of my favorites came from a reader named Patrick: "They made being a game show junkie respectable." That was our intent.
       One reader felt Chris Cuomo was condescending. I don't think any of us had that impression, other than we were frequently peppered with the "nerd" issue during the interview. Two readers, who are my "resident critics" and have decided, for some unknown reason, they don't like me personally were sharply (and one profanely) critical of my inclusion in the story. That was a decision of ABC News to invite me and I accepted. All I can say is, my father told me some people just won't like you in life and you have to be who you are and get on with your life. So, I am.
       I will take a few moments to answer the most frequent questions from more than 450 e-mails from both current and new visitors to GSCC:

     How much was edited from the story?: The story was 12 minutes long. Consider our interview in New York lasted from 2:30 to 6:45 p.m. on a Monday in mid-November. That's how much chopping was done for our soundbites.

     Where was everything shot?: The interview was not done at ABC News but at an independent studio off Broadway. Dan Avila's photo session with Melissa Skirboll was shot on the streets of New York. Phyllis Harris's walk out the door of a building was on the bottom floor of where our studio shoot was done. The scenes at Union University were shot two days after we were in New York. The crew went to Leszek Pawlowicz's house in Arizona shortly before Christmas. Doak Fairey's "library" was a small room just behind the studio.

     How was Chris Cuomo to all of you?: Very nice and very, very professional. Most of his stories are of the confrontational variety and I think he genuinely enjoyed doing something not so heavy. I do believe he had somewhat of a premise to suggest we may have been nerds but I think he came around to the fact we are real people who just happen to have a passion no different than those who love sports, music, or Shakespeare.

     What was your overall impression of the story?: Understand, I was watching for the technical aspects of the story as well as the content because I was a TV newsman for 20 years. What I felt was well-done was in weaving the stories of five people in 12 minutes. That is a much more difficult chore than you can imagine and this one far exceeded my expectations. The other aspect I hope and believe was conveyed: game show aficionados are good folks. Most are average, hard-working people who simply enjoy playing games and watching others win money and prizes. However, for years, game show fans have been treated with the kind of respect NASCAR fans were before the '90s. I hope this made a small dent in changing that.

     How did your university feel about it?: They have been encouraging and very supportive. My executive vice present, provost and dean all turned out for the viewing party at Union Friday night and you don't often get that kind of support at bigger schools. No small residual effect was a plug for Union, which is not a well-known school nationally. Our administration understands the value of marketing. That kind of exposure was the equivalent of approximately $250,000 in advertising, so they are very pleased.

     What about the four you were there with?: They are some of the finest people I've ever met. I had communicated with all of them many times via phone or e-mail over the past year but, other than Doak and Leszek, none of us had ever met face-to-face. Having Melissa show up for supper with us the night before the shoot was icing on the cake. I made five lifelong friends with this group and you can't do much better than that.

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