Nov. 26, 2007
By Jennifer Krisch
For many on Thanksgiving morning, the traditions would not be complete without the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year senior Casey Williams had one of the best seats in the house -- in the heart of the parade as a personal assistant to "Today Show" hosts Meredith Vieira and Ohio University alumnus Matt Lauer.
Williams, an organizational communication major, spent fall quarter working as an intern with NBC studios in New York City, where she worked behind the scenes with producers preparing guests for their on-camera segments.
"I honestly am living a dream out here," she said. "I work with the producers prepping guests, getting them through hair and makeup and over to the studio for rehearsals, live teases and their hit time (when they are on camera)," she said.
Williams performed similar tasks for Lauer and Vieira during the live broadcast of the parade at a mock studio on the street just outside Macy's department store. Coverage of the parade is periodically interrupted for live commentary by the hosts, and Williams was one of two assistants responsible for maintaining contact with producers and making sure Lauer and Vieira were ready for their camera cues at the appropriate time, she said.
For 80 years the department store has hosted the parade, a march down Broadway past the storefront at Herald Square and onto the famous 34th Street. The parade has been broadcast on NBC since 1945. According to parade history, the station has garnered nine daytime Emmy awards since 1979 for its outstanding coverage of the parade. Williams said she is thrilled to be a part of that history.
"This is my first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade so I am really excited to be able to help out and be a part of the parade this year," she said.
During her internship, Williams was also honored to spearhead one of the show's biggest viewer contests -- a wedding hosted by and performed on the "Today Show."
"Each year an intern is selected by a supervisor and assigned long term to the project," she said. "This year they teamed up with Martha Stewart and created the segment 'Today Throws a Martha Stewart Wedding.' I was fortunate enough to be assigned to this project in early September."
This year's couple wed live in Rockefeller Center on the morning show in October. Williams assisted on recording shoots and worked as a liaison between the producer and the couple. She prepped celebrity guests for their role in the segments and was charged with helping the pastor obtain a license to perform the marriage in New York. During production, Williams also oversaw the guest and security lists and was solely responsible for updates to those lists, which were distributed daily to producers and security personnel.
"I also logged and screened various tapes and interviews with the couple and their friends and family for useful segment footage," she said. "I created the cue cards for Matt and Meredith and attended meetings with the Martha Stewart crew and voiced my suggestions and ideas."
The project encompassed more than a month's worth of work and very quickly gained her valuable hands-on experience in the broadcast television field.
"There was a lot to do over the month, but it made it all worthwhile when the producer that I have been working with, Tammy Filler, informed me after the wedding that she treated me as an employee, not just an intern," Williams said.
Williams plans to return to New York City after graduation, where she hopes to continue her career in broadcast television with the NBC network.
"I am honestly blessed to have been provided such a great opportunity and to have learned a great deal from it," she says.