December 8, 2009
I was so sadden today when I heard the news that Bryant is being treated for lung cancer. When I started doing segments at the Today Show Bryant was the co-host. While he had a reputation for being tough, Bryant was nothing but warm and encouraging. I often did segments with him about children’s books–and he was always so amazingly well-prepared. If I dropped a message point that I had put in the notes for the segment, Bryant was always there to provide it. I remember one of the first segments I did included an Eyewitness book about the history of Greece. The lay out of the book was like a newspaper–he said something about “at least they had newspapers–I suppose there’s no videotape”…he was teasing me…but I was so nervous, I didn’t get it until I was onto the next book.
He is such a wonderful interviewer–he knows how to allow his guests to share their information without taking over. Our segments felt like conversations. I know it sounds silly, but after a segment when Bryant would say “nice job Steph” — it made my day! I wish him well as he goes through his treatments.
November 14, 2008
We have a long history with Elmo. When my mother was doing the TODAY Show the year Tickle Me Elmo first arrived on the scene we were in the green room as Bryant Gumbel was examining Elmo. We could see him on the screen–he was making faces at Elmo — until he heard the giggle–and then Bryant just starting laughing. He played with Elmo at almost every break–helping to fuel the Tickle Me Elmo craze that year.
The same year we were also invited on the Maury Povich show. Nothing against the show, but it wasn’t our regular type of gig. We were assured it would be a very wholesome show–a cooking segment, gadgets and us. So we went. We should have been tipped off to the fact that we weren’t in Kansas anymore — when the green room had plastic chairs, a window opened up to a creepy air vent and signs warning guest to be considerate of each other. We then went to the bathroom where we found a young woman washing her hair in the sink (really).
We then went up to hair and make up where the hair person told me that my hair color was the worst ever (it was my own natural color) — such a confidence builder before you go on national television. I looked at my mother – not happy but we pressed on. We were taken back stage where they put the mics on you and we meet the guests for the cooking segment. Two women who had written a book called something like “How to Cook for Your Man so He Looks Good Naked”…at this point my mother and I were both laughing and horrified. How to ruin our reputation in five minutes–but we were mic’d — we couldn’t really back out. Did I mention that both women were wearing the equivalent of tube dresses?
Maury made a kind of off color remark about how Elmo vibrates. And oh yes, the woman who washed her hair in the bathroom–she got a close up as an audience member. She was happy.
So over the years–we have eagerly waited for the new version of Elmo. The original Tickle Me Elmo did so well because it was also a very huggable doll–you could make him giggle–but he could also just be Elmo. Most later versions of him (the latest included) do more tricks and therefore have harder bodies–reducing dramatically the huggability factor. There is the wow-wee how does he do that factor–but again it’s more about watching and short lived novelty. Our favorite Elmo of recent years–Elmo Goes Potty–he was right on target about the whole potty training experiences (accidents happen). Check Up Elmo was also very polite and engaging.
The current Elmo Live talks alot, tells stories, jokes—can put his arm up in the air (that’s pretty cute). Our two year old testers were a bit overwhelmed by him and moved on pretty quickly.
November 25, 2007
Elmo is back this season with new tricks in hopes of maintaining his dominance in the novelty doll category. The original Tickle Me Elmo was an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award winner. In fact Joanne’s appearance on the Today Show helped fan the Elmo craze when Bryant Gumbel was so taken by Elmo that he played with it during several segments of the show.
More recent variations of Elmo have lost the appeal of the original Tickle Me Elmo for one very simple reason. The original was also very huggable–true it had that extra novelty–but at the end of the day you were left with a soft doll. The new versions have a hard body (to make the new tricks possible)– but gone is the huggability factor.
My favorite novelty doll is Arnold the Snoring Pig from Gund. Squeeze him and he really does snore–complete with one ear shaking — it’s hard not to hug him and, you guessed it, he’s extremely huggable. Visit http://www.toyportfolio.com for more info on Arnold.