“Good Morning America” booker Mike Nagel took the morning show wars to another level Monday when he was handcuffed and detained for 30 minutes by police for disrupting a “Today Show” interview with Atlanta hostage Ashley Smith.
Nagel, who thought he had an exclusive interview with Smith, attempted to disrupt a “Today Show” taping by gesticulating in the shot and talking loudly into a cell phone. NBC producers called the police, who handcuffed Nagel against a van and detained him until the shoot was over.
Fracas began before dawn on Monday when ABC’s Nagel arranged for Smith to be picked up at her mother’s house, where she had been staying to avoid the media frenzy, to tape a live interview on “GMA.”
Smith was the subject of intense interview competition; she had been held hostage by quadruple murder suspect Brian Nichols, and “GMA” thought it had an exclusive.
ABC claims Nagel didn’t know Smith’s lawyer had booked an earlier taped interview with “Today’s” Matt Lauer.
When Smith’s lawyer learned ABC had spirited away his client, he marched over to ABC’s Atlanta bureau, along with “Today” producers, picked her up and drove her to the site of the interview.
Incensed, “GMA” booker Nagel pursued the group in his car. Soon after, Nagel was caught on camera disrupting the shot and later getting cuffed by the cops.
“It just shows you the insane pressure they put on their bookers,” said one NBC wag. “That’s why they all want to come work here.”
No apology or discipline is expected for Nagel, said ABC, who says those types of shenanigans are par for the course in morning TV. “GMA” is “blessed to have a topnotch staff of aggressive producers; unfortunately, things got heated, but it’s been resolved,” an ABC spokeswoman said.