The shiny desk at East Tennessee PBS had a familiar look to it. The desk used to be part of the Good Morning Tennessee set at WATE. When WATE made the switch to high-definition, they gave pieces of their news sets to Fulton High School and to East Tennessee PBS.
My assignment on Sunday night was to sit at the desk and ask for pledges. I also plugged the premium items available during three programs: “Ava Barber’s Smoky Mountain Christmas,” “Great Performances: Andrea Bocelli Live in Central Park” and “Barbra Streisand – One Night Only at the Village Vanguard.”
Ava Barber and Cylk Cozart were the celebrity guests during Sunday night’s pledge drive. I first met Ava in August in the same studio. Cylk was surprised to hear that we first met 19½ years ago in California. Shortly after the L.A. riots, Power 106 aired a Stop the Violence radiothon, hosted by Arsenio Hall. I was the producer for that show as well as a subsequent live broadcast from the Galaxy Theatre complex in Hollywood. Cylk Cozart, fresh off the success of “White Men Can’t Jump,” was one of the very first celebrities to agree to participate in the radiothon.
East Tennessee PBS arranges for a local restaurant to donate food for the volunteers each night of the pledge drive. Sunday night’s food came from Five Guys Burgers and Fries. The staff of the TV station put the fries in crock pots to keep them warm, with successful results. Two of the managers from Five Guys added red bow-ties to their uniforms as they answered phone calls from donors.
The phone bank was also manned by volunteers from the Morristown Theatre Guild, who asked me if Einstein Simplified would be interested in doing a fundraiser for the Guild. One of their board members is a lovely woman named Kay Flockhart, whose daughter Calista is a well-known actress. Mrs. Flockhart told me that she and her husband retired to Tennessee after moving all over the country for his job with Kraft Foods.