Goin’ Back With Al Roker

By Paula Gottlieb Herman

Would he remember me? Would I get the chance to tell him that I, too, made a pledge to honor my Dad’s memory? Would he get to hear about my cooking parties? Would he recognize the silver pin I wore on my suit, a staff Christmas gift he bought me many moons ago? Those were the questions dancing around in my head on Tuesday, January 8th at 7:00 PM. That evening, Al Roker was scheduled to do a book signing at Book Revue in Huntington. His newest book, Never Goin’ Back chronicles his battle with weight, and his promise to his dying father, that he would get serious about losing it.

Al and I worked together at NBC News on a variety of shows, Sunday Today, Weekend Today, and Today. I began my career at the Peacock Network in August 1986, and left my beloved NBC in October 1993, when my position as a Production Coordinator was eliminated, during a division-wide lay-off, and coincidentally, the same time my Dad was diagnosed with kidney disease. Rather than working 80 hours a week at 30 Rock finding the right “talking head” or making travel arrangements for guests, I was able to research treatments and specialists to help Dad preserve his remaining renal function.

It had been at least two decades since I produced segments with Al. My favorites included “Fugu & Wagyu,” (Japanese Blowflish and Hand-Massaged Kobe Beef), “Cirque du Soleil Nouvelle Experience,” “Stuttering,” and a bunch of live segments featuring cooking gadgets and outdoor cooking.  Al was smart, funny, and wrote a great script.  He was a pleasure to work with, except when there was a weather emergency, hurricane, or earthquake. Those years, he was doing the local WNBC-TV weather at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00, as well as our network weekend or weekday Todayshows. So, I had to pray for sunny skies, in order for him to be available to do the interviews I set up.
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