Los Angeles' KTLA Morning News is about to celebrate it's 25th anniversary in July. I was very lucky to have been part of that show from the beginning. During those first 6 years, it became the highest-rated local morning show in the history of, well, history. I want to share a story from an earlier anniversary for the show.
In 1994, The KTLA Morning News celebrated its two-and-a-half year anniversary with a prime time TV special. We kinda missed the two year anniversary, so we improvised. We rented out the Chevy Chase Theater on Sunset Blvd for the event. It was called the Chevy Chase because he had just hosted his failed late night talk show there. You may know it as the Earl Carrol Theater, The Aquarius Theater when Hair played there, the Hullabaloo Club and at one time, the world famous Moulin Rouge nightclub. Queen For A Day and Star Search were even shot here. Every performer in Hollywood played there. It was dripping with Tinseltown history. But for the evening of February 11th, 1994, it was the KTLA Morning News Theater.
Along with the obligatory "best clips" from past shows, we also had some surprise guest stars as walk-ons. Among them, Florence Henderson, Rod Roddy from The Price Is Right, Mark & Brian from the popular Los Angeles radio show, Deidre Hall, talk show host Tom Snyder, and a few others. Because of the space limitations backstage, these surprise guests, who were even a surprise to the KTLA hosts until they walked on stage, had to share one makeup room. And what's worse, the KTLA talent had been whisked away to the green room. But you had to walk through the makeup room to get to the green room. Still with me? So it was a logistical nightmare arranging for the surprise guests to remain a surprise to the KTLA talent when they all shared one makeup location.
Another guest that night was the Mayor of Los Angeles, Richard Riordan. Richard is a wealthy businessman and well liked in L.A. and well liked as a mayor. He was going to walk on stage, surprise the hosts, play As Time Goes By on the grand piano and then present the hosts with the key to the city. Richard arrived in makeup just as it was time for the KTLA hosts to go from the green room through the makeup room to the stage. I happened to be in the area and realized I had to hide Mayor Riordan from the talent as they passed through the makeup room. The room was rather large and buzzing with activity, so I figured I'd ask the Mayor to stand in the corner, facing the wall, and the anchors would never notice him. He was happy to and did just that. I ushered the KTLA hosts through the makeup room and onto the stage where we began taping the special. All was going according to plan.
A half-hour later, I ran back to the makeup room to get Florence Henderson for her surprise walk-on. As I took her arm and began to escort her out, I noticed the mayor... still standing there in the corner.... with his face to the wall.
I had forgotten to give him the "all clear", so the fricking Mayor of Los Angeles stood there like a bad boy being punished in the corner with his face to the wall for half an hour! He laughed about it later. I nearly died.