The Stroumboulopouli

The Stroumboulopouli

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Monday, February 19, 2007

The Making of The 'Best Story Ever'

Bloggers have stories to tell.

It may be about themselves, or it may be about other people.

Sorry guys this one's about me.

I was intrigued about the invitation by The Hour for the audience to submit their

Celebrities have a lot of great stories to tell and they probably practice telling them so they will have something to amuse their fans with without having to think about it.

You and me on the other hand, may, or may not, be so practiced.

I work with a woman who has lead an amazing life and she always has great stories to tell.

So my idea was to film her telling one of her amazing stories and submit it to The Hour as her Best Story Ever. This way I could learn how it's done and what goes on in the process of creating the tape and submitting the tape. A simple plan.

The wonderful lady who was going to be my talented story teller, kept putting it off. She was not ready to go on camera. She still told amazing stories to everybody in the mean time.
God love her. But she is going through cancer treatments and may have been self conscious about being on camera. Or just not feeling up to it. Completely understandable. She never said no she would not do it, and I still hold out hope she will feel like it one day and call me over to film her. I was not going to push her into it.

I had to find a subject whom I know was willing to go on camera and tell their best story for me.
I volunteered reluctantly...

Why am I doing this?
I really just wanted to experience the process.
I am not the talented story teller, or the great writer, but I do like operating the camera.
It's harder when your in front of it.

I have ever more respect for the on air talent that makes it look so easy.

I tried several takes over several days with my story. I tried taping with my cell phone, and my video camera. The video camera works best. I tried takes with a friend operating the camera, and tried takes on my own... I found these lesson on another blog (Deadthingsonsticks) that helped me with the rewrite of my story. It's a true story, but in writing it all down (me not being able to memorise lines) I read my own story in front of the camera.
It is what it is, an amateur production. But hey, no one is paying me.
I just wish I had a teleprompter... and a staff to help me.

I do have a staff that helped me. I was in contact with Paul McGrath the web producer of The Hour. I consulted him about everything in relation to doing this production. What kind of stories they had gotten so far, what are they looking for, what they can't air... Technical questions as well.

With my video camera I could not figure out how to upload the video to download it to the CBC. I could have just sent them the tape in the mail... Naaa. I wanted to see what they do with the tape. So I booked Paul (no not the stand-up comedian Paul, the website Paul). Thank you Paul, I know you are a busy guy.

When I got to CBC today I called Paul. He told me The Hour is running late and he will be busy because the show is still taping for the next half hour (this is at 5:30) . Perfect! I was granted special permission to go watch the rest of the taping while Paul is busy....

I came in for the second part of Terri's interview. I understand quite a bit about grief... I can relate to her.

It's funny I had messaged George yesterday telling him I was going to The Hour just to see Paul and I would catch him next time... George greeted me when he saw I had snuck in. You can't get anything by him...

After the show, and the audience was free to go, but didn't because George had them all enthralled. He's good at that. Sure part of me wanted to stay, but I went back down to my appointment with Paul.

Paul showed me around a bit. I got to see the new offices. In the meeting room where they decide what's on The Hour that day, is a part of the old set. It's a large section of that street picture... with the mammas pizza on it and all the personal friends and cats names incorporated within the picture
....this one from last season

That's George and me on the old set...good times
Where was I?

So... my tape got uploaded to the computer and I got to chat with Paul about the website, the blogs, the Hour's and this one. We also talked about Best Stories Ever in general... He likes the home made look of my tape... that's what they are looking for. :-)
Oh good 'cause that's all I was offering. ;-)

My story might make it on the Hour's website by Friday. I don't expect them to air it. If they do air it they better warn me...
I won't give you details of what my best story is at this point. You'll just have to check the website every once in awhile if you're interested.

Every CBC/Hour employee I talked to today loves our blog.
They thank us all for doing it, and I wanted the Stroumboulopouli to know that.

I'm Barbara W. and that is the making of my Best Story Ever


Anonymous said...

Barbara, I'm sure your best story ever is going to be a great one. Thanks for letting us know the process behind getting it done. I'll bet it helps other people decide to do one. Just goes to show you what kind of people work at the CBC that Paul took the time to help you like that. Plus you'll be able to help them in return by giving advice about what to do or not do with the stories. You're right that George is good at captivating an audience - the first taping I went to only Jian was live so G. just talked to us for nearly the entire time. Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Barb - You show a lot of initiative and are a good example to others !!

Valia said...

Great story Barbara! Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you had a lot of fun and learned lots too! yayayayayayay

(as opposed to eek!)


Anonymous said...

I lol'd

Barbara said...

It remains to be seen how the video will go over but I enjoyed the experience and I enjoy encouraging people to do something creative and beyond their comfort zone. I love to make a new path in the snow because the original path in the snow is too narrow... I just plow right in.

The subject of my story is not nearly so cheerful but I hope it inspires.

Allan said...

The post itself qualifies as "Longest Story Ever".
But that's not such a bad thing when it's interesting, as this was.
I've noticed that there's almost nothing that takes us behind the scenes of the show.
The openers are of course a skit rather than honest insight into the production.
'A Day In The Life' would be one theme that would, I think, fascinate viewers at least once.
The Hour's blog is not so much an act of accountability as random items of interest to some people, of which there's no end on the internet. Ho-hum. Like assuming that people only read one page of a newspaper.
People here are very timid, it seems to me, to share their thoughts and experiences.
So it's especially gratifying when a post like this appears, as compared to another list of 'what's on next week'.
What's on is usually completely irrelevant to my life and experience as an adult in Canada in 2007. I can get through my day without Kelly Osborne or Al Fayed. Whereas shows like Larry King, Anderson Cooper, Fifth Estate, Howard Stern and CBC radio strike me as really trying to be both informative and have some immediacy to the day's events.
The Hour is more like going through the motions rather than really trying. Like taking the small audience it has for granted as compared to really trying to engage viewers and being grateful to them for taking time from their life to check out the show.
By now, I suspect the viewers are all hardcore, and take everything their given without question simply because it's their boyfriend George.
Am I the only guy that cringes when he uses that phrase? Is he talking to me? Or Barb? It's a curious presumption that he makes there, and he's pleased as punch to believe everyone fantasizes about him in that way. No real harm done, other than alienating a few people right off the bat.

Here, in this post at least, someone is actually sharing and reporting.
Which is kind of rare.
The Hour and this blog, although created by well-intentioned people, have quickly become like a routine of predictable meals on the family table. No matter how much we all like macaroni and cheese, tacos would be a nice change.

The idea of suggesting guests was great, but ultimately frustrating because the Hour has shown itself to be unresponsive to viewers input. Which is maybe a mindset that afflicts the CBC overall. Hence the labels "smug" and "condescending".
Nothing shows this more than ignoring Raymi and her blog when she won several awards last year. A few minutes with her would be exciting, whereas Al Fayed hardly provokes a tingle.
So I've tried to point out that we have a rich and fascinating pool of talent and crazies right here in our backyard.
I'm rewarded with silence and John Cusack.
So if they don't give a shit about me, why should I care about them.
Some boyfriend.

f_keepers said...

Look who's back - I thought you were letting go, running away, trying to be adult about the Hour...??

Evelyne said...

"viewers [...] take everything their given without question simply because it's their boyfriend George", Allan you are so wrong! I cannot talk for everybody here, but I don't buy everything that George says on The Hour just because George is the one who said it! If you type George Stroumboulopoulos in Google Blog search, you might get some pretty interesting stuff Alan, more thoughts from people who like the show, but also thoughts from people who hate the show or criticize it, so I wouldn't say that everybody buys everything that George says...

I haven't watch all the episodes of The Hour this year but, some days i love the show, some days I don't like it and wish that George didn't say what he said or I would have liked to see a story on The Hour and it wasn't but, overall, I like it (but there's room for improvement).

i don't think that they need that much celebrities on the show, last year was better : more stories, more details, more news (and I'm not talking about The News), SetUp, Canada...

I might be wrong, but there's something that I've read a couple of times in the comments, people seem to want a Canadian show, some people don't find The Hour Canadian enough (that's true most of the guests are not Canadian). I would agree, but, we are not only living in Canada, we are citizens of the world and we have to know what is going on in the world, not only in Canada, so yeah, i'd like to see more Canadians but I think that they only have to find the right balance. As Alan pointed out, we have great talent here, but we don't here about them enough...

i'll stop, this post is about the best story ever...

Barbara said...

Evelyne you can say anything you want whenever you want it's your blog too.

Allan it's good to see your back in form. I guess the lent thing didn't take.... Believe me Allan The Hour hears you.

I post what's on The Hour because it's relevant to The Hour...makes sense for a blog about The Hour non?

Anonymous said...

"viewers [...] take everything their given without question simply because it's their boyfriend George". It is possible to like the Hour without being in love with dear Georgie. You can't tell me there is never anything interesting or good about the show. You watch it every night too.

f_keepers said...

Anon has a point Allan - you obviously watch it nightly...

Allan said...

Truly, there isn't.
And that may seem unfair or unbalanced.
But I can't see anything worth repeating, carrying on your iPod or telling friends about.
So I also ask why do I watch it? And why on earth choose to get involved in a discussion about it. Especially when nothing can come of it except words, words and more words.
Nothing ultimately appeals about this program other than the theme music.
The concept of the show is good, but it's execution is horrible and juvenile and facile. Everything gets treated with equal importance and of no importance at all.
It's a typical broadcasting scam, and I resent when the CBC takes oatmeal and tells me it's muselix.
Sometimes I feel so stupid writing about the Hour. Like, get a life.
But I also know that unless I get involved and ask questions and ask others to look more closely then we'll always have mundane broadcasting.
I chose the Hour because it held more promise of breakthrough journalism, at least what I saw in the first two shows in October.
Remember Tragically Hip?
What happened?
But as each day and week passed it became apparent how entrenched the show was in repeating the same weak routines.
The interviews were with irrelevant people, largely Americans, and the humour flat and expedient.
Why the hell would anyone watch a twelve year old interview Jean Chretien? Because that's what the interviews amounted to. George didn't bring anything to the table because it's so obviously not his "bag". Just a job.
Hence, no passion, no insight, no value to any of it.
I dug Chris Hedges, not George's interview of Chris Hedges, and I think that's where a fan is distracted. A kind of fog covers the process because "some" people think George is something new and different and therefore deserves attention.
But at the end of it you can't help but sense what a missed opportunity it was.

Allan said...

Am I gonna wake up tomorrow and find someone agreeing with me here?
Highly unlikely.
Because the primary attraction for most here is George, and not really public affairs.
Most of you would be just as enthusiastic if he were hosting "Reach For The Top" or Fashion TV.
(which reminds me, does anyone here buy into Jeanne Bekker as a fashion maven? She wasn't even a good entertainment reporter. No imagination)
Every interview on the Hour is like the last interview. A routine of prepared questions that don't put too much pressure on the guest.
When the interviews are conducted from a hotel room and edited later they are even more useless. George asks silly questions because he doesn't want to offend a guest that could walk out. In studio there's more of a commitment from the guest and the odds are in the shows favour.
But Ed The Sock does better interviews and he's an ass.

If you tell me that the Hour is where you get your news then you're also saying that the news doesn't really interest you.
Rick Mercer is the real star at the CBC, and the only one in the table that could draw a seriously sizable audience.
And the only one qualified to bring entertainment to an audience. Pair him with that blonde from Air Farce as a sidekick and you've got a bright and worthwhile late night show.
At best, George is a capable ringmaster of other people's talent - his radio show demonstrates that is about as beginner-level as radio goes. Imagine, playing a comedy record for a half hour to full out the show. Yeah, like that's never been done before! yeah, like I certainly couldn't do that without a diploma or years playing sportscaster.
He was good as emcee of Tragically Hip, but got nowhere with the interview of Downie, who wasn't ready to be questioned.

You're going to ask then why George instead of Rick as chosen by the infinite wisdom of CBC programming.
Apart from the expense, my reasoning leans toward Rick himself saying no thanks to a no-win proposition.
In other words, a Canadian late show doesn't stand a chance no matter who hosts.
It's simply going to hit a ceiling in numbers and stay there no matter what.
And I think that's why the Hour is where and how it is.
Let the kids have a go, it costs us nearly nothing. Also we have no idea what to do and trying anything new would risk the scorn of Doyle and Friends.
And we can't overlook that it's a Canadian government operation. And that means playing it safe and down the middle of the road.
And not too smart either apparently, because look what's happened to Gill Deacon.
But that's another issue.
Is anyone trying to move forward in broadcasting? Hmmm.
Jack Black is trying. Check out his Acceptable TV spots at . Great satire.
He's on the right track.

I don't expect the quality of the New York Times in every news program I see. And Fox news can do their thing and people can choose to get sucked in.
Just stop kidding yourself George & Co. that you're Rolling Stone magazine when you're not as good as Sesame Street in clarifying important ideas.
I've been in Rolling Stone magazine, and George, you're no Rolling Stone magazine.
More like an after school special for the unimaginative.
But only the most lazy teacher would use this show as a resource.

Allan said...

Other than to point to it and say - "kids, when you graduate, promise me you'll do a better show than this."

Allan said...

Two very funny commercials for Black's trial balloon of a TV show are HERE,.

Allan said...

Heading over to the Hour's blog, you'll see a picture of Burt Reynolds on a bear skin rug (not attributed).
Reading the text, you come across this utterly stupid remark:
"for those of you who can't get enough of '70's porn ..."
People, think about it.
That's the mentality of the staff behind the Hour.
And you're not insulted?
Who does Lindsay think she's talking to?
She thinks she's talking to the viewers of the Hour - you.
Is she?
You can choose to let it slide, unlike me.
And you'll get more of the same.

Brooksie said...

I know comments sections are 'alive' but what does this last tirade have to do with the topic of "The Making of the 'Best Story Ever'"? There were posts below it where general & specific criticism was going on.

Allan, not trying to squelch free speech here - just suggesting that comments be posted in the appropriate entries.

Otherwise confusion ensues, the original post is lost in the chaos, and the comment areas become spaminated. (Yeah, I think I made up that word lol)

Allan said...

I get the point - order.
Are these best stories ever going to air?

Barbara said...

That's a very good question. When is it going to air?... I have no promises of it airing but it may get put on the website soon.
I did ask for a little post production work to be done on it.
I am not sure when they will get round to it. They are kind of busy putting 5 shows together each week... I will let you know when I know but I am not concerned about rushing it.

Allan said...

A story for you that came my way today ...

A friend of mine from the sixties became a father when he was twenty one. We lived in the same house, as hippies did in those days.
But it was an unexpected pregnancy, and shortly after the birth of his daughter he separated from the mother. He never saw her or the child again.
Today he tells me that he got a letter from a young woman who had been searching for her biological father, asking if he was the one.
And he was.
They've not seen or known of each others whereabouts for forty years.
Imagine spending all that time wondering about one another.
Imagine what their lives will become now.

A true story.

Miss A said...

That's also a sad story.

Imagine the near impossibility of remembering ALL that has transpired over those forty years in order to share it with one another.

Allan said...


But I think that sadder still would be if they had never found each other at all.