NEW YORK – Even the most diehard TV trivia fans might be hard pressed to identify Dave Garroway, but on January 14, 1952, the laidback Midwesterner made history when he stepped up to the microphone for the first episode of the Today Show. Fast forward 790 months, and America’s oldest morning news program (and fifth longest running network show) is still going strong, attracting some six million viewers every morning. Refusing to show its age, the snappy three-hour morning program gets every day started with a fast-moving mix of talk, trending news, on-set antics and celebrity appearances.
Lighting designer Peter Greenbaum has kept pace with the show’s wide-ranging programming by building a rig that goes beyond standard ellipsoidals and Fresnels to include effects that he uses to add texture and color to the set for selected segments. In keeping with the forever young spirit of the Today Show, Greenbaum recently brought a new level of technology to his rig by adding nine CHAUVET Professional Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures, supplied by WorldStage.
“Having a bright LED moving fixture in our studio rig would have been unimaginable not that long ago,” said Greenbaum. “However, the Mavericks are very quiet; they don’t generate a lot of heat; and their colors look really good on camera. We don’t use them for key lighting, but we rely heavily on them for depth and texture. The level of design demanded by a news and talk program today has gone beyond just lighting the talent. You need to create looks that contribute to the flow of the program and enhance its entertainment value. This is where my Mavericks excel. I love their movement, their range of prisms and the gobos.”
Greenbaum has installed five of his Maverick MK2 Spot units on the grid of the upstage line in the production area. The remaining four units are moved around the studio floor to fill a variety of roles. “My crew at the Today Show is very talented, and together we have a lot of fun with these fixtures,” he said. “They’re great for adding some extra dramatic effects for those special moments, which we have plenty of on this program.”
Among the more “fun moments” for Greenbaum is when he lights in-studio performances by superstar recording artists who appear on the Today Show. “We have a variety of artists perform in studio, and the MK2 Spots always give me great looks that match the music,” he said. “There are so many different ways I can use these fixtures to support music, regardless of genre.”
Greenbaum recalls it being “love at first sight” when he came across the Maverick MK2 Spot. “I instantly saw the possibilities when WorldStage first demoed the fixture for me,” he said. “I have an excellent relationship with WorldStage. Drew DeCorleto and Derek Abbott there are fantastic. I place a great deal of stock in their opinions, and in this case, they certainly didn’t steer me wrong. The new lights help me give the set a very current look.”
Indeed, staying current is really what the Today Show has always been about. That’s one reason why this iconic program has been at the top of its game for so many years.