One Idea ‘Prompts’ Another

It began as a crazy idea, but suggested for the right reason.

As the story goes, legendary CBS producer and 60 MINUTES creator Don Hewitt suggested that Douglas Edwards, CBS’s first news anchor, learn braille so that he could “read” his script copy while still looking at the camera. Edwards wasn’t wild about that idea, so Hewitt came up with a Plan B: cue cards.

Hewitt’s idea was based on a simple, but important point: news viewers like eye contact from a news anchor. They don’t want to watch someone who looks down at their script all the time. Cue cards helped Edwards look towards the camera without looking down.


The script appears reflected in a mirror in front of the lens, allowing anchors to maintain eye contact while still reading their scripts.

Problem solved.

In the old days, prompters used a small black-and-white camera that was aimed at actual paper copies of the script that were taped together in long strips. The paper was wheeled beneath the camera on a conveyor belt, and as the camera photographed the script, it was projected onto the mirrors. If something went wrong and a producer had to suddenly drop a story or move it down later into the broadcast, the prompter operator had to feverishly untape the pages and shuffle things around, while simultaneously not losing his place with the spot where the anchor was reading live on the air.

As you can imagine, this created some hectic moments.

But computers have made things a whole lot easier. Now, the prompter monitor is generated electronically. When a producer makes a decision to move a story, they do so on a computer terminal, and the prompter is automatically updated.

There’s an interesting footnote to this story.  A producer behind another legendary CBS show, I Love Lucy, claims credit for devising the original teleprompter system.  But either way, Hewitt was clearly one of the first to propose a way to have a script in clear view near the cameras.

So thanks to this critical piece of equipment that can be found in almost every television studio, news anchors can look viewers “right in the eye” without having to memorize pages of scripts at a time. It’s yet another reason people who work in the news business continue to be impacted by Hewitt’s ideas.

By the way, here’s a look at our studio from our anchors’ perspective.  Each camera is outfitted with a prompter so that no matter which camera is on the air at a given moment, the script is already there and waiting.


Live 5's Debi Chard and Bill Sharpe on set for Live 5 News at 6.



Special Broadcast Honors Kennedy

CBS News will look back at the life and legacy of Senator Edward “Teddy” Kennedy with the primetime special TED KENNEDY, THE LAST BROTHER, anchored by Katie Couric.

Kennedy died early this morning at age 77 after a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

Featuring exclusive footage culled from CBS News’ vast archives, the program is an intimate look at Kennedy – both the public face and the private man – as told through intimate interviews and candid moments captured over the last 40 years.

Highlights from the broadcast include Kennedy giving Lesley Stahl a tour of his office where shows her a framed hand-written note from his brother Jack, written when Ted was born; and an interview done just months after his nephew John F. Kennedy Jr., wife Carolyn and her sister Lauren were killed in a place crash.

Asked by Lesley Stahl about what he would like to be remembered for, Kennedy answers, “I think making a difference, in the country, for the country. The family set high standards and they’re always worth measuring up to. And exceeding them when I can.”

TED KENNEDY, THE LAST BROTHER airs tonight at 8:00pm on LIVE 5 WCSC.

Don Hewitt: 1922-2009

Don Hewitt, recognized as a father of modern television news and the creator of the medium’s most successful broadcast, 60 MINUTES, died of pancreatic cancer today. He was 86 and was with family at the time of death.

60MinutesLogoHewitt was executive producer of CBS News, the title he took when he stepped down from his post as executive producer of 60 MINUTES in 2004.

Hewitt’s remarkable career in journalism spanned over 60 years, virtually all of it at CBS.  As a young producer/director assisting at the birth of television news, it was usually Hewitt behind the scenes directing legendary CBS News reporters like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, using a playbook he had to write himself. He played an integral role in all of CBS News’ coverage of major news events from the late 1940s through the 1960s, putting him in the middle of some of history’s biggest events, including one of politics’ seminal moments:  Continue reading

Get Your Resumes Ready!

Looking for a quick way to get your resume in front of at least 20 companies at once? LIVE 5 WCSC and can help, tomorrow at the Joblink Employment Expo!

CharlestonJoblink_logoCompanies like Ashley Furniture, which is looking for customer service representatives and design/sales consultants, are ready to hire. Hiring managers from more than a dozen companies will be on hand from 11:00am to 7:00pm at Mount Pleasant Town Centre in the former Tweeter building. (That’s next to Bed, Bath & Beyond.)

For more information, including what job seekers can do to best prepare for the event and a list of companies who’ll be waiting to meet with you, visit the Joblink Employment Expo page at

Big Brother Guest Removed From Show

Another house guest has been evicted on BIG BROTHER, but this time, by producers of the show. BB11_LogoThe announcement was posted on CBS’s BIG BROTHER page on Saturday.

The brief statement reads:

“Chima has been evicted by the producers from the Big Brother house for violating the rules. She will not be part of the show’s jury. Her eviction will be addressed on an upcoming broadcast of the show.”

The next episode airs Tuesday night at 9:00pm on LIVE 5 WCSC.

Five Ways to Follow Five

If you’re a fan of Twitter, there are several ways you can follow LIVE 5 WCSC to stay up to date on breaking news and weather, plus behind the scenes info and what’s coming up on some of your favorite shows.

We’ll start with live5news. This is our main account that we update throughout the day when there’s important news or weather information including breaking news or other critical information in our area.

For important weather information, follow live5weather. We update storm watches and warnings and also give daily forecast updates.

Then there’s mylive5news. This Twitter feed is updated whenever a new story appears at Each tweet will include a link to the new story, so as our web channel is updated, you’ll automatically be notified.

Live 5 WCSC’s own James Warner, our news director, has his own Twitter feed to keep you up to date on what’s going on behind the scenes. His Twitter feed is called, appropriately enough, live5newsboss.

And now there’s Live5Insider, which posts links to new information here at the LIVE 5 INSIDER blog as well as sneak peek info about soaps, late night shows and more.

So click the links and start following us! Thanks for watching LIVE 5 WCSC!

Last Light Tapes Today

The final episode of CBS’s GUIDING LIGHT wraps up taping today, closing the book on the longest-running show in broadcast history.

Guidling_Light_LogoGUIDING LIGHT premiered in radio in 1937, and transitioned to CBS television in 1952. In all, it spans 72 years, and almost as many Emmy Awards between the show and its actors over seven decades.

The final episode airs on Friday, September 18th. Two weeks later, on Monday, October 5th, a revival of LET’S MAKE A DEAL will take over the timeslot.

For actors like Kim Zimmer, who has portrayed Reva Shayne for nearly 30 years, walking away from the show is very difficult. “I’ve gotten to be close to some of daytimes most gorgeous men!” But all joking aside, for many of the folks behind the scenes at the show, it’s the loyal viewers they feel the worst for.

Those of us who work in TV, even if we haven’t been loyal viewers of GUIDING LIGHT or soap operas in general, still have to tip our hat to a show that managed such an incredible run generation after generation. It’s not likely that any drama — daytime or nighttime — will ever come close to GUIDING LIGHT’S tenure.

GUIDING LIGHT airs weekdays at 3:00pm on LIVE 5 WCSC, followed by LIVE 5 NEWS FIRST AT FOUR.

Classic TV In New Spotlight

Some classic shows from the earliest days of television are being honored with a new series of postage stamps that will be available next week.

Among the longtime TV favorites are classic CBS shows that originally aired on LIVE 5 WCSC, including ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, I LOVE LUCY, THE HONEYMOONERS and THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

And while we’re on the subject of classic TV, we must mention the classic video player at, where you can watch episodes of shows like THE TWILIGHT ZONE, clips from THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, and other hits like HAWAII FIVE-0 and the original STAR TREK. Just click here to visit that page and relive some great TV memories.

Y&R’s Controversial Casting Change

About a month ago, rumors began circulating that a member of the Newman clan on CBS’s THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS would be written off of the show. Fans speculated over which character was most likely to go.

YR_LOGOOn yesterday’s show, fans found out who was killed off, and the selection has spawned a minor debate among fans. The victim: Victor Newman’s yellow lab, Zapato, apparently poisoned by Genoa City’s resident psycho Mary Jane Benson.

Animal lovers were upset by the storyline and some have complained on message boards devoted to the show, but other viewers have reminded them of one critical fact: only the character of Zapato was killed off; the dog who portrayed him is alive and well, and likely enjoying his time off from in front of the camera munching on dog biscuits.

What do you think? Should four-legged characters be off-limits to psychotic characters, or are they fair targets on a soap as well?  Leave us a comment and let us know how you feel!

B&B Welcomes Celebrity Guests

Actors Morgan Fairchild, Jim J. Bullock, Alan Thicke and Melissa Rivers will appear on CBS’s THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, beginning next week.

BB_LOGOFairchild, who appears Aug. 10-11 and Aug. 13-14, plays a Beverly Hills socialite friend of Stephanie Forrester (Susan Flannery), who prompts a dueling fashion show between rival fashion houses Forrester Creations and Jackie M.

Jim J. Bullock reprises his role as Sergei, while Alan Thicke returns as Rich Ginger, and Melissa Rivers plays herself, as celebrity judges at the fashion show, airing Aug. 12-14.

In addition, “America’s Next Top Model” runner-up Samantha Potter will play a Jackie M. model during the show, airing Aug. 13-14.

THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL airs weekdays at 1:30pm on LIVE 5 WCSC. The show has taped over 5,000 episodes in its over 20 years on the air and is viewed daily by millions of viewers in more than 100 countries, making it the most-watched dramatic serial in the world.