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May 3rd, 2009
08:20 PM ET

Director's Cut

From CNN Director Roger Strauss:
"Club Don" Is Open for Business

Frequent CNN viewers with a discerning eye know that we set things up a little different for Don's show as compared to the other "Newsroom" shows from Atlanta. One of the advantages that we have is that we actually have time to set things up for the 10 p.m. ET show on Saturday and Sunday nights. Among the "special" places that we like to build is an area called "Club Don." It takes a lot of work to set up "Club Don," and as an exclusive bonus for our blog, I put an HD camera up in the lights and sped things up 37 times normal for a revealing behind-the-scenes time-lapse look into how we get the set ready for our broadcast. The whole process took about 45 minutes, but I got it down to one minute for your viewing pleasure. As the show's director, and in the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock, I make a cameo appearance in the video. That's me in the blue-and-salmon striped shirt. Also appearing is our technical director Mike, floor director Cat, handheld camera guy Andy, lighting director Jason, graphics whiz Vincent and video journalist William. Even Don’s blog producer Glenn gets into the act at the end. It takes a lot of people to get Don's show on the air, and we are the ones who work hard to make sure Don looks good. As soon as we get a fog machine, some strobe lights, and a disco ball, "Club Don" would be a cool place to visit after work!

Filed under: Don Lemon
May 3rd, 2009
04:32 PM ET

Grow a garden, grow money?

Whether it's to stretch the budget, eat healthier or as a project to bring the family together...more people are planting "recession gardens."
Our Jacqui Jeras shows Fredricka some tips to get started.



Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield
May 3rd, 2009
10:48 AM ET

Why Dara Torres Won't Quit

From CNN Segment Producer Elberta McKnight:

I’ve been in the news business for more than 20 years. During that time, I’ve worked with few people as gifted as TJ Holmes when it comes to interviews. He’s amazing to watch. At some point, he gets into a zone and completely connects with the person he’s talking with: They forget cameras are rolling and a genuine conversation always unfolds. Dara Torres was no exception. The champion Olympic swimmer walked into CNN Center wearing a mini skirt, flip flops and a huge smile … and answered every question TJ posed to her. Some of them were pretty tough: TJ asked her what she did wrong in her two failed marriages, how she dealt with the loss of her beloved father and how she got over bulimia.

This is a woman who has made a career out of defying all odds. From afar, her life may seem carefree, even easy. But that’s just not the case. If you have a moment, please listen to this excerpt from the interview posted below. There’s a message in her answer for all us – regardless of the challenge:

Filed under: Anchors
May 3rd, 2009
08:24 AM ET

Recharge Your Faith

[cnn-photo-caption image=""%5DWe heard the inspirational wisdom of Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith this morning on our Faces of Faith segment. Rev. Beckwith is the pastor and founder of the Agape International Center in Los Angeles.

When I arrived at his home to do the interview, I was greeted by his family. They welcomed me in as if I were one of their own. His wife Rickie, her mom, their children, and even the dog were all there.

As my photographer Tim Hart set up the lights and positioned the camera, Rev. Beckwith showed me pictures of his travels, including snapshots of him with Oprah and President Obama.

During the interview, Rev. Beckwith discussed the emotional toll these tough economic times are taking on families across the country. People are losing their jobs, their homes, their cars – you name it. Yet, Rev Beckwith says the key to surviving this is to pull away, take 5 minutes of your day to unplug, meditate, and think about the positive things. Think about the blessings in your life. Instead of focusing on what you don't have, focus on what you do have. It might surprise you – even better – it might compel you to help others facing far greater challenges.

After the interview, his wife Rickie played the piano as the whole family gathered to sing one of her original songs. The lyrics were powerful and uplifting. I could tell this is a close knit family. They value their time together, and like so many of us – they spend a lot of it in the kitchen. In fact, standing next to his refrigerator covered in family photos Rev. Beckwith offered me one of his specialties. It's a thick green concoction made of fresh vegetables, fruits & other secret ingredients. I must admit, this "magic green drink" didn't look very tasty. I was told, "It's good for you, have some." And to my surprise – it tasted much better than it looked. He might want to consider marketing that!

While I went to Rev. Beckwith's house to get a story on the stock market, I walked away with so much more. And after watching this morning's "Faces of Faith" I hope you feel the same way too.

Tune in next Saturday morning as Rev. Beckwith explains how he heard a voice telling him to sell all his stocks. The timing couldn't have been better because he sold right before the stock market plunged. Was it divine intervention?

Filed under: CNN Newsroom
May 3rd, 2009
05:19 AM ET

Pres. Obama Sets High Bar for Men

On Saturday night, President Barack Obama took his wife, Michelle, to Citronelle, a fancy DC restaurant.

President Obama is the leader of the free world.

He deals with:
A possible pandemic
A failing economy
Iraq war
Afghanistan war
Bailout fiasco
Picking a new SCOTUS justice
Ann Coulter
Bill O'Reilly
Joe Biden
Michelle's mom
Two young children
The Taliban
Global hunger
And immigration

Well, you get the point.

And he still MAKES time to take his woman on a date night!
I'm just sayin'…MEN: step ya game up! 😉

Filed under: Anchors
May 3rd, 2009
03:54 AM ET

Ahead in the CNN Newsroom...

A Texas storm tears down the Dallas Cowboys' practice arena, injuring 12.

The governor of Iowa declares a public health emergency in that state after the CDC confirms the first case of H1N1 influenza there.

Former GOP vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp has died at 73.

And, in our Faces of Faith segment, Rev. Michael Beckwith encourages people to hold on to their faith in these trying economic times.

Join TJ Holmes and Betty Nguyen in the CNN Newsroom, 6am ET, 3 PT.

Filed under: CNN Newsroom
May 3rd, 2009
12:26 AM ET

Never a Dull Day

From CNN Producer Emily Kean: It was the normal Saturday afternoon rush; stacking the rundown, chasing guests and cranking out the scripts. Then the assignment desk editor Greg Morrison yells, “Everyone stop what you are doing, there’s been a building collapse at the Dallas Cowboys training facility.” This was 15 minutes before our show was set to begin and, of course, we were juggling some pretty big changes, so we came out the gate with what we knew. And then we go the video.

A photojournalist from our affiliate WFAA was inside the building with his camera rolling and he caught it as it happened. It was amazing. His name was Arnold Payne, and he talked to us during our 10 p.m. show about the experience of capturing the terrifying moment on tape.

Filed under: Don Lemon