How Matt Lauer Ruined My Moment in the Spotlight

I’ve been a longtime fan of the Today show. It stems back to when I was a broadcast journalism major in college and my pinup boy de choix was Matt Lauer.

Y’all can have your Brad Pitts.

Visiting the set of the Today show was on my to-do list at these Games. The main drawback is that the show is broadcast in Eastern Standard Time, which means they go live 4-7 a.m. in Vancouver.

An even bigger complication is the show is broadcasting from the top of Grouse Mountain ski area. The drive to the base is about 30 minutes, the gondola ride to the summit another 15.

I am older, wiser and happily married now so decided even Matt wasn’t enough of a motivation for me to wake up at 2:30 a.m. Robin, publicist Natalie (who replaced Krista) and I compromised with a 5 a.m. meet-up. We would get there in time to be a part of the third hour of the show.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when we boarded the Skyride but it certainly wasn’t the $45 per person fee. If we’d arrived there well before 4 a.m., the first 100 people were free.

Nope, still not enough to get my butt out of bed.

At the raw hour, the sky was ebony-black and it was tough to distinguish land, water and sky as we were swept 3,700 feet above sea level.

Awaiting us at the top was a winter wonderland. The outdoor set was around a fire pit and children were playing hockey on a small rink as camera and lighting crews buzzed around the small crowd.

Because in case you needed a reminder, it was still the middle of the night.

Matt, Meredith, Al, Ann and Natalie were warming themselves around the fire. I told Robin, “I’m going in” and casually strolled over. My black hat with white flowers was seen on television peeking up in the background. Next, the crowd moved over to hurl Meredith, Ann and Natalie into the air in a giant blanket toss.

Robin is always thinking of our next move and asked an NBC staffer where the anchors would be going next.

“Back to the fire pit,” our informant snitched.

The national spotlight was almost mine. I raced over, planted myself front and center and at around 9:31 a.m., I was finally going to be seen on the Today show.

Until Matt came over and parked himself right in front of me.

Back in college, this would have been a dream come true. I would have subtly touched his coat, maybe swiped a hair or two. But here’s the deal: Matt Lauer is tall and I am not. I almost joked with him, “Hey Matt, you’re blocking my shot.”

And I totally would have meant it.

In between takes, the anchors took the time to casually banter with the crowd. Both Natalie and Meredith complimented me on my hat, Ann talked to Natalie about Portland and I posed for a picture with Al.

Following our Today show debut, Robin, Natalie and I had breakfast at the summit. We watched the hues of the sky shift, like pigment seeping into paper from black to navy blue to midnight blue to bluebird. From our vantage, we saw Cypress Mountain, Lion’s Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, the Coastal Range and a hint of the United States in the distance.

We silently watched the steady cadence of waves stroking the shore and Vancouver Island’s wide swatch of green. At one point, Robin groggily commented to me, “You know I wouldn’t do this for just anyone, Amber. I have to either be invited or really like that person.”

Let’s hope after dragging him up 4:30 a.m., it’s still a bit of both.

Stay tuned for the inside scoop on the Main Press Centre and Short Track Speed Skating.

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