Friday, June 26, 2009

NBC's Al Roker - Lending a Hand in Charlotte

NBC television personality Al Roker is in Charlotte this morning to give away a truckload of goods.

The gift will be part of Roker's "Lend a Hand" campaign, in its eighth year traveling across America. Roker will make his presentation to the Community School of the Arts at Uptown's Spirit Square, where the school is based.

The Observer's Lindsay Ruebens is with Roker and will be giving us updates this morning. She writes:

10:35 a.m. - "A transformative event for us": The Penske trucks were finally opened to cheers from onlookers after 8:30 a.m., revealing $369,000 worth of basketballs, guitars, keyboards, Crayola products and other musical and artistic equipment.

With charities all over the city hurting, Community School of the Arts Board of Directors Chairman David Page said this donation will have an effect on the community.

"It's a transformative event for us," he said.

By the end of the event, Al was upstaged by another star -- singer Colbie Caillat. She was a surprise performer with children from the First Baptist Church West after-school program choir. The group performed her hit song, "Bubbly."

8:32 a.m. - Sprinkle thrilled: WCNC's Larry Sprinkle, between breaks, says he's been having a ball this morning.

Sprinkle said he first met Roker in 1997, and Roker still remembered him this morning.

"He's a great guy, as great a person you'll ever meet. He's very accommodating," Sprinkle said.

Sprinkle said it was a nice surprise that Charlotte was in the lineup of names among other big cities in the country that are in this week's tour. He thinks it's great that small organizations are getting big name recognition and help through the series.

The most exciting part, Sprinkle said, was when Roker was right behind him saying, "And here's what's happening in your neck of the woods."

"And there he was, right here in our neck of the woods right behind me!" Sprinkle said. "It was great. It's just been very special having him here."

7:52 a.m. - Star deaths likely will delay Charlotte broadcast: Roker said the mood is a bit more somber this morning with the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. "This is a much more subdued version," he said.

Something similar happened on the Lend A Hand tour two years ago when the donation giveaway coincided with the Virginia Tech shootings. Roker said they taped the celebration and ran the tape a day later. The same will probably happen for this taping.

"It wouldn't do justice to the tone of the show, or to the Community School of the Arts," he said.
He said it hasn't felt like a long week of traveling, but he'll probably feel it this weekend when he gets home.

"At least there's Bojangle's chicken and such," he said.

Roker, known for being food lover, said he ate at Mert's last night - rice and beans with turkey sausage. He also sampled the cornbread and chicken wings. Excellent, he said.

So far in Charlotte, Roker has seen the airport, SouthPark Mall and Uptown. "It's been spectacular, he said. "I'm a big fan of the light rail."

7:12 a.m. - He's here: Al Roker is in our neck of the woods this Friday morning - and he said this is his first visit to the Queen City.

He is in Charlotte as a part of his annual "Lend a Hand Today" tour across the country and is expected to make a donation to Community School of the Arts.

At 6:45 a.m., he and WCNC weatherman Larry Sprinkle had the cameras rolling and and the small media coverage crowd laughing.

Roker told Sprinkle he's got the best name a weather man could dream of. "That's the best name for either an ice cream man, a weather man, or a urologist," he said.

Three Penske trucks were in sight, as well as a Gibson guitar bus.

A delegation from Charlotte Emergency Housing in navy t-shirts was one of the first groups to wait, but others came solo to watch.

Linda Jackson, 56, made a sign when she got to Spirit Square, where the show is taping, that read, "Hi Frederick, I love you, but Today is Big Al's Day on Today's Show!"

"I love Big Al; I always watch him on the Today Show," she said.


Anonymous said...

Is he going to make some more epilepsy jokes? He should have been fired!

Anonymous said...

"7:52 a.m. - Star deaths will delay Charlotte broadcast:

Roker said the mood is a bit more somber this morning with the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson"

Yeah, and while Michael Jackson's death is Big Worldwide Front Page News, with almost 24-hour coverage, it's pretty sorry of the Observer to relegate Farrah Fawcett's death to a little sidebar in the "Today's Talk" section.

That's just poor editorial management and decision making.