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CBS's coverage gets 'Early' jump
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2001
Let's call it the Gumbel Strut.
Featuring lots of hopping -- with leg movements somewhere between a healthy aerobics routine and a Russian folk dance -- the Strut was something Early Show anchor Bryant Gumbel invented just before the CBS morning program's broadcast from Tampa at 7 a.m. Friday.
The inspiration came from temperatures that dipped below 40 degrees as Gumbel, co-anchor Jane Clayson and a crew of about 20 people sat on a set inside the pirate ship overlooking Raymond James Stadium.
"Somebody told me it's gonna be 85 degrees (later today)," said Gumbel, hopping around the set a bit more. "Don't tell me what it's gonna be."
Gumbel and Clayson anchored the two-hour show from a faux-wooden desk inside the ship, surrounded by a forest of cables, TV monitors and cameras.
Along the way, there were a few mishaps -- Tampa Mayor Dick Greco was credited as "David Greco" during a brief appearance and a noisy band rehearsal started just as Gumbel began interviewing MTV's Chris Connelly about the Super Bowl's halftime show.
"Even the mistakes turned to our advantage," said Early Show executive producer Steve Friedman, noting that the music complemented the report. "At least it didn't happen while we were talking about an earthquake or something."
With CBS on Sunday featuring events likely to be the most-watched programs on TV this year -- the Super Bowl and the Survivor sequel -- it's no surprise that Friday's Early Show looked like synergy central for CBS/Viacom.
Stars in the mix included Survivor star and occasional Early Show correspondent Gervase Peterson, illusionist David Copperfield (who has an upcoming CBS special) and Gumbel's brother Greg talking Super Bowl stuff with fellow game announcer Jim Nantz.
Friedman expects to lean mightily on the Survivor sequel in coming weeks -- featuring the first person ejected from the show on Monday's telecast from Tampa and subsequent ejectees every Friday.
"Here's what we want on Sunday ... a close game and a fast game," the producer said, laughing. "We want Survivor on air as close to 10 p.m. as possible. It's the mother's milk of our fledgling enterprise."
The Early Show also offered a little Tampa flavor, airing a taped interview with Linda Lynch, wife of Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety John Lynch, on life as the wife of an NFL player. "We thought the Buccaneers would have a shot at the Super Bowl," said Clayson. Greco's appearance with Copperfield centered on a stunt in which the illusionist predicted a score for Sunday's game, sealed it in two boxes (with Greco's signature) for opening on Monday's Early Show.
"You couldn't buy the kind of publicity we're getting for the Tampa Bay area in a lifetime," said Greco. "That's what I like about all this."
Today's Super Bowl story lineup