Tag Archives: CBS “Sunday Morning”

David Pogue Zooms In On Westport

David Pogue does it all.

Our Westport neighbor is an Emmy- and Webby-winning tech writer (Yahoo, New York Times, Scientific American) and TV correspondent (“CBS Sunday Morning,” PBS “Nova Science Now”).

Those are big companies. David is the first to admit that, as creative and inspired as is, he’s got tons of production firepower behind him.

Until this month, that is. COVID-19 has made mincemeat of modern media. Rachel Maddow talk to US senators via Skype. Anderson Cooper broadcasts from home.

As for David — well, let him tell his tale.

Yesterday, “CBS Sunday Morning” aired my cover story: How to work and live at home without losing your mind.

Here’s the problem: CBS News is locked down. Nobody can get into New York City headquarters. No camera crews are available, and no travel is permitted for making stories.

So I proposed something radical: I’d write, shoot, perform and edit this entire piece at home in Westport.

David Pogue at work in Westport, long before the coronavirus.

Dan asked if I’d reveal a bit more about how the whole thing came together, for “06880.” Happy to comply!

First of all, it’s incredibly easy these days to shoot and record video that’s good enough for TV. All you need is a cheap flat-panel LED light, a digital camera, and a wireless mike.

A big chunk of my story was an introduction to Zoom, the video-chatting program that’s become a hero of the coronavirus crisis. It’s free and easy to use; the video’s very stable; it can accommodate up to 100 people on screen at once —and you can record the video meeting with a single click.

To demonstrate the possibilities, my producer arranged a historic first: All of “CBS Sunday Morning’s” correspondents on the screen simultaneously in a Zoom video. Even Jane Pauley, our host!

There’s David: top row, 2nd from left.

It was supposed to be a 5-minute deal. But it was so much fun, the call went on for over an hour. Even though we’re on the show week after week, most of us rarely meet in person.

(I’ll spare you the story of how the resulting huge video file somehow got corrupted and wasn’t openable … and how, panicking, I hunted down a Zoom PR person at midnight, who wrangled a company engineer into rescuing the file just in time for the broadcast.)

In my script I cited a new rule for the videochat era: Informal is the new normal. You’ll see kids, pets and untidy backgrounds in your video calls — and that’s all allowed now.

Imagine my delight and amusement then, when I interviewed neuropsychologist Sanam Hazeez — and in the middle, her twin 5-year-old boys burst into her office, crying. One had driven a truck over the other’s foot. (To be clear, it was a toy truck.) It was completely unplanned — but could not have made my point any better.

Well, except when Wilbur the Wonder Cat started pacing back and forth in front of my laptop camera during the interview.

Sheltering in place doesn’t mean you’re not allowed out of the house. My 3 kids are all home, of course. I corralled one of them into taking a walk with me beside the Bedford Middle School field, and another to pilot a Mavic Mini drone to film the scene. It came out great!

As it turns out, it’s even safe to meet friends face to face, as long as you maintain a decent distance. In hopes of finding examples to film, I posted a note on NextDoor.com. It’s kind of like a Facebook for neighborhoods, like Eastern Westport or whatever. (If you haven’t joined, you should. It’s free.)

Usually, NextDoor is full of lost-dog notices and “Can you recommend a plumber?” posts. But during the crisis it offers great social-distancing ideas, invitations to virtual gatherings, even a Help Map where you can see who needs errands or groceries, and you can volunteer.

My query led me first to a group of young women, all sent home from college, who gather in the parking lot of Weston Middle School, where they had been together years ago. They park their cars in a circle, sit on their trunks, 15 feet apart, and just hang out. It’s glorious. I filmed it from overhead, with my drone.

I also heard from Westport Library fundraiser Barbara Durham, who lives in an apartment building in Bridgeport. She told me that some evenings she gathers with her neighbors across the elevator lobby, each pulling a chair into her apartment doorway, for “Cocktails in the Foyer.” I drove over to film one of these wonderful social-distance parties.

I love how the story came out. I’m grateful to everyone who helped, who allowed me to film them, and who believed in the idea. (That includes my bosses at “CBS Sunday Morning,” who took a leap of faith in trusting me to deliver a story they wouldn’t see until it was finished.)

Once we’re allowed to be close to each other again, I’ll thank you all in person —with a tender, heartfelt elbow bump.

But enough about David’s back story. Click below for his piece — and Westport and Weston’s contribution to surviving in our new work-at-home world.

Techno Claus Comes To Town. Wait — He Already Lives Here!

One of the highlights of the holiday season — far better than fruitcake, much less stressful than holiday parties — is Techno Claus.

That’s “CBS Sunday Morning”‘s annual present to viewers. “Santa” — who for some reason has a New York-ish accent — offers viewers a whimsically rhyming musical look into some of the season’s more intriguing high-ish tech items.

It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out that Techno Claus is really David Pogue.

His clever patter and fun piano playing are no surprise. The nationally known tech writer/journalist/author/TV star majored in music at Yale, then spent his first 10 years after graduation working in New York, with a theatrical agency, and as a conductor and arranger on Broadway.

Pogue is also a longtime Westporter. Yesterday’s gift to viewers had a decidedly local flavor.

Nearly all of the scenes were filmed at his house: inside, in front and out back.

The only other locale was Granola Bar. That was for a segment on a reusable straw. Okay, it’s not exactly high tech — but it is important.

Click below to see Pogue’s Santa’s take on a speaker with scents; a spy camera for pets (it dispenses treats too); a keyboard for phones, and a wallet with tracker.

Ho ho ho!

Sunday Morning With Linda Hunt

Every week, another person tells me to watch “CBS Sunday Morning.” Every week, it seems, there’s some great interview, story or factoid.

If I had watched this morning, for example, I would have seen an intriguing interview with Linda Hunt.

And buried there, halfway through the piece, was this: the 67-year-old, 4-foot-9 star of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 1984 Oscar winner for “The Year of Living Dangerously,” and (of course) narrator in the God of War video franchise grew up in Westport.

Linda Hunt

Linda Hunt

“Everybody either wanted to take care of me or push me around,” the woman born Lydia Susanna Hunter told Lee Cowan. “I was teased a lot…. Fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, everybody was taking their spurts except me. I was not growing up.”

A form of dwarfism stunted her growth, “Sunday Morning” said. But when her parents took her to her first Broadway show — a production of “Peter Pan” — Hunt realized the stage was a place where she might feel taller. There, she could pretend to be anything.

Wikipedia says that Linda’s mother, Elsie Doying Hunter, taught piano at the Westport School of Music, and accompanied the Saugatuck Congregational Church choir.

Yahoo! Movies  says she “took her first stab at acting at age 12 while performing in a production of ‘Flibbertigibbet’ at Westport’s famed Silver Nutmeg Theater.”

Linda attended the Interlochen Arts Academy— s0 it appears she’s not a Staples grad — and the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago.

In 1969 she returned to Westport to study acting with Robert Lewis at Bambi Lynn’s studio, TCM.com says. The next year her career took off. She played Joan of Arc in a 1-woman show at Long Wharf.

Linda Hunt, with her Oscar.

Linda Hunt, with her Oscar.

Since then she’s been a 2-time Obie winner, and a Tony nominee. She played alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger — as opposite from her as anyone can be — in “Kindergarten Cop.”

She’s been in a 26-year relationship with Karen Klein. They married in 2008.

And now?

Her current contract will take her into her 70s. “CBS This Morning” concluded:

Not bad for a woman whose own parents feared might be too small to stand out on stage. Half a century later, their small wonder still has audiences looking up.

And — thanks to a show nearly everyone but me seems to watch — looking back on a career that began 55 years ago, right here in Westport.

(Click here for a great WestportNow.com photo of Linda Hunt as a Saugatuck Elementary School 1st grader — standing next to future first selectman Gordon Joseloff.)

Pogue In Vogue: St. Nick’s Tech-y Tricks

If you think being David Pogue is hard work, try being Pogue plus Santa Claus.

David "Techno Claus" Pogue

David “Techno Claus” Pogue

You’ve got to be a whiz-bang expert on every tech gadget. You’ve got to travel the world distributing the right gadgets to every (good) boy or girl.

And you’ve got to rhyme everything. Every year. On national TV.

Here’s how Westport’s resident tech expert/ Christmas icon started yesterday’s CBS “Sunday Morning” shtick:

You think you get stressed when you get on a flight?
Try my job: to fly the whole world in one night!
I got reindeer with rabies, and scrapes on the sleigh,
And that hurricane – hoo! Nearly blew me away!

But I do it. You know? For it’s all a good cause:
To spread joy via gadgets – that’s me, Techno Claus.

Now, this year, some folks are in financial jams,
So everything here’s below 100 clams.

Techno Claus went on to list 7 great gifts. Far more impressively, he rhymed “wealthier schmucks” with “70 bucks.”

Pogue’s poetry is particularly blog-worthy because the video was filmed entirely in Westport. Even Christie’s Country Store takes a star turn:

David "Techno Claus" Pogue at Christie's

Ho ho ho!

(Click here to see the entire CBS “Sunday Morning” video.)

Stephen Wilkes Stops Time

Westport artist Stephen Wilkes spends 15 hours a day in a bucket truck, suspended high over whichever New York scene he’s shooting: Central Park. Times Square. Coney Island.

He’ll shoot 1,400 images — and never take a bathroom break.

But that’s not even the most remarkable thing about his work.

Washington Square Park (Photo by Stephen Wilkes)

Wilkes spends the next 4 months examining every single shot. He searches for tiny, telling details, like 2 men’s hands that seem to reach toward each other — taken several hours apart.

He stitches his favorite shots together. Sure, he uses a computer — but it’s hands-on, intricate, intensely tedious work.

When he’s done, Wilkes has produced a “Day to Night” shot. It’s as if 1 photo shows a 15-hour span.

Of course, it’s dozens of images. Amazingly — though one side of his work is light, the other dark — you can’t see any separation at all.

This past Sunday, “CBS Sunday Morning” profiled the Westporter’s astonishing artistry.

A national audience heard Wilkes describe “Coney Island.” The right side of the photo — the beach — was crowded during the day. The left side — the amusement park rides — were equally packed at night. The dividing line, though, was nowhere to be seen. Day morphed subtly into night, just as it does at the real Coney Island.

Coney Island. (Photo by Stephen Wilkes)

CBS showed other Wilkes works. There was the Flatiron Building — taken on September 11, 2010 — with “ghost lights” from the Twin Towers. Central Park, in an ice storm. Washington Square Park, where brides kept appearing at different times during the day.

Though New York offers a seemingly endless array of “Day Into Night” possibilities, Wilkes may soon turn his 15-hour lens on Shanghai. Or Jerusalem.

Months later, the world will see his spectacular images.

All of which he works on — day and night — right here in Westport.

Flatiron Building (Photo by Stephen Wilkes)

(Click here to view the CBS-TV “Sunday Morning” video clip.)