Winter 2020


Stacy Talbot

Rebuilding a Show in Real Time

By Becca Nadler

The scariest moment of the show was four years ago," says Real Time With Bill Maher associate director Stacy Talbot. "Our switcher (which controls on-air visual elements during the show) went down a minute-30 before air. It takes a minute-30 to reload, and we didn't know if we were going to come back to anything or if nothing was going to be visible."

Talbot, who worked on Maher's Politically Incorrect before becoming an AD on Real Time, had to communicate the issue to HBO while paying close attention to her colleagues in the control room. "Seven seconds before air, the switcher came back up," she says. "We run our opening animation, a playback, and then it's Bill's monologue."

Maher's seven-minute-long monologue meant that the crew had only so much time "to rebuild all of the elements in the switcher," recalls Talbot. "I had to make sure they knew how much time they had left in the monologue, and that everything was being sent to them correctly." Out on the floor, "Our stage managers made sure not to tell Bill, because they didn't want him stressed.

"It was pretty amazing," says Talbot. "They rebuilt an entire show while the director was calling for shots, and it all went off without a hitch."

(Photo: Brian Davis)

At Work With

Short profiles of Guild members in all categories sharing their experiences at work.

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