Some of my favorite times in life were orphan Thanksgivings where all our friends whose family was out of town would sit, talk, eat, drink and laugh. We knew each other really well, and loved each other very much, and so everything we did those autumn afternoons was fun, honest and full throttle.
After spending a morning with the cast and crew of the “Everyday” show with Chris Parente and Kathie J, I walked out of the Fox 31 studio with that same smile I wore for so many Thanksgivings. There was no food, these were not old friends, but I was full. Full in the best way possible. Full of “Everyday” magic.
When I arrived, Producer Mary Latsis greeted me and brought me up to the “Everyday” office. I have to tell you, Toto and I weren’t in Kansas any longer. The space was controlled chaos. Technology spilled over onto costumes, desktops spilled over onto promotional merchandise, and talent spilled over onto crew. Producer Annalisa Blanco was busy at the computer and executive producer and former hard newsman Chris Falin popped in and out, often defending his receding hairline from relentless good-natured attacks.
Chris Parente, the recipient of seven Emmys came in next, and as in Spinal Tap, the energy in the room went to eleven. Kathie J (also an Emmy winner), arrived breathlessly from her commute from the radio show on KS 107.5 to KDVR and before I knew it, we were singing Christmas songs. And magically the room changed from the movie Twister to the musical Newsies with a Cabaret twist. Items such as full-body scarves and Sit and Spins were debated. Jokes flowed, makeup was applied, and the news of the day was discussed at a frenetic speed and with glee. All of the discussions were seemingly set to some unheard Broadway musical soundtrack. There was always singing.
The “Everyday” show is also committed to and takes full advantage of social media. In pre-production, Chris and Kathie J do a live Facebook feed literally up to the beginning of broadcasting the live show. During the show, the hosts are reading Twitter comments and responding during breaks and even during the show. The use of social media is critical to the rapport the hosts create with the loyal viewers. They, quite literally, are a part of the morning conversation.
Everyone on set and beyond was serious about their fun. But what makes the show work, really thrive, is the serious chemistry. A producer sings, a host writes, a director tells jokes. As noted by Mastis, “No job is too small or too big for anyone. I just fluffed the couch.” Everyone at “Everyday” does Everything, On this team, everyone plays every position. As a result, the respect everyone has for one another is evident. And they have a blast doing it. And it’s contagious. Please pass another turkey leg.
The “Everyday” show is produced in the Fox 31 building on Speer Boulevard in Denver, but also goes on the road. In fact, the most memorable show for Parente was filmed in Disneyland for its 60th anniversary. I remember we got to broadcast an entire hour on those vintage cameras. I look a lot better in black and white and a little out-of-focus,” Parente mused. Falin and Kathie J remember the show that they did from Iceland to celebrate the opening of Icelandic Air from Denver. According to Parente, “the only limitation is our imagination and our budget.”
Producing the number one morning show in its slot is also a serious business. The hour the show is live is fabulously frantic, surprisingly full of content and slickly produced. The set is lively and ultimately the “Everyday” show hinges on the chemistry between Parente and Kathie J. Think of Laurel and Hardy if Laurel was a brash woman and Hardy was a gay, Broadway-caliber man. I watched, I felt a part of the scene, and most of all, I had fun. And I’m a divorced trial lawyer.
I walked back to the control room and the vibe was incredibly different. Blanco had two crew members and eleven TV monitors. The control room was all business. The “Everyday” show is actually a mullet. All business in the front and an epic party in the back. Bad analogy aside, the control room hummed as smoothly and professionally as the best national morning shows, and without a fraction of the budget and staff and none of the misogyny.
Importantly, the “Everyday” show is not afraid to tackle many of the touchier issues that fill our daily headlines. Kathie J can be bitingly funny about sex and gender. “I think it works because I am in control of my own jokes,” she says. “And it also comes from a place of love from us. We try to keep our show out-of-the-box and more like kitchen table talk.” Parente notes that “we advocate for the disenfranchised. I’m a gay man and we have dealt with issues such as racism and sizeism.” These can be serious issues, but always delivered in a funny way and with humility.
After the show, the cast and crew of “Everyday” graciously gave me their time to talk about what they do. Actually, they talked to me about how much they loved doing what they do. And how much they cared about each other.
The universal goal of the cast and crew of the “Everyday” show is to take it national. In some ways, it already is. They work hard to get exclusives with Hollywood actors. For the show that I attended, it was the new Star Wars cast. This kind of content is unavailable to other local entertainment shows. Parente will leave Denver late Friday to do interviews on the coasts over the weekend, and every person on the show helps in front of the camera when necessary, and produces their own fresh and relevant spots.
Even with the national quality caliber of the production and on-air talent, the “Everyday” Show retains a classically Colorado feel. “Everyday” often spotlights the best of Colorado charities and entrepreneurs and goes on site to review local restaurants and businesses.
The “Everyday” show strives to be family. As he is describing the unique talent of Kathie J, Parente says, “we all laugh in the same language.” And they do. From poking fun at each other to bringing up the current hard issues of the moment, issues that might make you cringe when Uncle Festus brings them up while on his third helping of Grandma’s green beans, to being genuinely supportive of one another. When my day with the “Everyday” show was over, my belly hurt from laughing and was full. Just like my favorite Thanksgivings, I got to spend the morning with folks at the “Everyday” show who made me feel like I was with family.
Scott S. Evans is graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia School of Law and is a father of two. Scott’s unique and twisted insights can be found on Twitter @ScottEvans2312.
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