Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jenna, Jenna, whom can we turn to?

One of my favorite weekend pastimes is watching the amazing team of Jenna Wolfe and Lester Holt on the Today Show. Let's face it: Garrison Keillor is who he is because there is no one else alive with the same skill set as he, and the same holds true for Jenna and Lester.

First of all, what is the old expression that baseball umpires like to say describes the best part of their job? "You can't beat the hours." Well, if there were some award for working both ends of the bad part of the clock, step right up, Lester, you win! The man does the Saturday morning TODAY show, meaning that he has to get to work at o-dark:30, and then work that show and then come back to be the anchor on the NBC Nightly News that evening! Then he gets to go home for a while and come back on Sunday for TODAY, and then in the evening, when all the world is enjoying the second NFL game, reaching for the butter and getting ready for the third NFL game, Lester has his overcoat on again and is heading back in to do the Nightly news again. I bet you anything when he goes home, he just tosses his overcoat on the sofa, saying he's only going to have to put it on again in a few minutes anyway.

Listen, you don't hear him complaining! It's an honor to be asked to host either one of those broadcasts, and if they ask you to do them both, well, where do I sign? And you have to figure he is amply compensated for giving up his weekends.

And one of the nice things is that he gets to hang around with Jenna Wolfe on the Sunday TODAY shows. My admiration for Jenna is unbounded. We had not seen too much of her in her previous career as a sports reporter, as she was primarily local to New York or else doing sports that I don't care about so much. But she wound up on the TODAY show, likely as not because some shrewd bigwig up there with a keen eye for talent knew that this lady was greater than all the jai-alai tournaments and what-all else the sports world needed her to cover. Like the best of the hosts in the long history of TODAY, Jenna can intelligently interview a senator, a small-town law officer with a missing child case on his hands, or rival debaters embroiled in an argument over one of the issues of our times (gay marriage, abortion, etc) in one segment, and then come back in the next to help cook a brisket or participate in a bell choir concert at 30 Rock. And there is no one better at the bread-and-butter TODAY show filmed package stories: Jenna goes back to her alma mater! Jenna enters an air-guitar competition! Jenna sings with Barry Manilow! Her engaging manner, throaty laughter and all-American good looks (even though she was born outside of this country, thus dashing my dream to have her run for president some day) make her perfect company for your coffee, Danish and omelet on a Sunday.

So much so that when my sister and her husband returned home recently from a trip to New York and she told me that one of the 130 pictures she took showed Jenna walking down the street, apparently heading to NBC, I tore through those pictures like an Secret Service agent goes through the White House state dinner guest list looking for Ms Wolfe, whose confident stride and workpersonlike backpack are on display above. Right on Jenna, and Lester! Sunday would really suck without you!

And I offer that slogan free of charge to the NBC publicity department.

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