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Tearing up the TV playbook

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INSIDE THE CHASE: Talk about a crazy morning at BNN. You can blame it on Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of Canada, Mary Shapiro, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

We started off with the inertia of having come off the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend (yes, I know, technically Friday is not a holiday, but Black Friday has its own festive dynamic that carries Americans through the entire weekend, though mainly at the mall.) For our first half hour, we had a guest booked to talk about Cyber Monday -- when retail steals and deals migrate from bricks and mortar to online -- another guest to discuss what a company can do if its pension obligations become too much to handle and where insurance for defined benefit plans fits in.

And then we had our regular Monday business panel with The Globe and Mail writer Brian Milner and Canadian Press Business Editor Greg Bonnell.

Well, we tore up that plan in short order as the first “real” news bullets of the day started to hit at 10:28 a.m. ET.

First, the news reports that Schapiro, head of the SEC, and the person credited with overhauling the regulatory body following the financial crisis, is planning to leave her post.

A couple of minutes later, an Ontario Court judge ruled that Mayor Ford breached Ontario’s conflict of interest laws in raising funds for his football foundation, and ordered him removed from office. (That ruling has been put on hold for two weeks to allow for judicial and civic government maneuvering, and there’s likely to be a request for a stay on the decision until the appeal process is exhausted.)

But if that weren’t enough news for what started as a slow Monday morning, it was the breaking news at 10:31 ET that Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney would become the next governor of the Bank of England, that really woke up the best in our "chasing" skills at BNN. Within minutes, calls were going out to key players involved, and those who could provide the necessary expert commentary to make sense of what was happening to our viewers.

One producer chased chief economists, assignment editor Noah Zivitz was in touch with the Bank of Canada and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Headline’s role was to call bank CEOs and some former Bank of Canada governors, as well as people who had worked at the Bank of Canada or Bank of England. I also took on the job to get in touch with former Prime Minister Paul Martin, who was also the federal financial minister for many years, while show producer Roula Meditskos contacted Ed Devlin, VP at Pimco and an expert on the bond markets. Headline chase producer Kristine Owram contacted Sheryl Kennedy, former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada and now CEO of Promontory Canada.

Needless to say, the original game plan was torn up and a new lineup put in place. We were lucky. Ed Devlin was available and agreed to do something out of London. Sheryl Kennedy had just landed at Toronto’s Pearson Airport and was willing to come straight here, change out of her jeans and come on with Devlin to talk about Carney moving to the Bank of England.

I managed to get Paul Martin to agree to a short "phoner" interview weighing in on the topic as well.

As for our regular panelists, our original plan to have them talk about Onex making a $2.3-billion US purchase of a U.S. insurer and Research in Motion continuing to see its stock climb on the more positive outlook for its BlackBerry 10 smartphone turned into a discussion newsmakers leaving their jobs – willingly or unwillingly. So with them, we were able to cover the Rob Ford and Mary Schapiro stories, with a bit more on Carney thrown in for good measure.

Were there any vestiges of our original plan for the front half of our show? Well, yes. We managed to squeeze in about four minutes with Adam Luck, Managing Director, Digital, for Grip Limited, to about Cyber Monday. And I was glad I managed to get even that much in, given the quality of guests we had booked on the breaking news. But that’s the way it works out here in TV-land, and what I described for Headline is only a small window into how all the shows at BNN work.

You can bet that all lineups on all shows were being torn up to fit in the most up-to-date news. And that is as it should be.

Inside The Chase offers a behind-the-scenes look into the fast-paced world of chasing and booking guests for live television. The new blog features the writing of veteran journalist and Headline chase producer Zena Olijnyk. 

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