Robin Roberts worked from home for a good part of the pandemic while hosting America’s most-watched morning-news program. On Wednesday morning, she went back on the road.
Roberts kicked off a new months-long effort, “Rise and Shine,” at ABC’s “Good Morning America,” which will have its anchors and correspondents visiting all 50 states over the next few months as the nation emerges from coronavirus conditions, according to Simone Swink and Chris Brouwer, the program’s two interim executive producers. Viewers this morning saw Roberts visiting Dollywood, the Dolly Parton amusement park, in Pigeon Forge, TN (Parton was there as well).
“There is this sense that America is getting its feet under it again,” said Brouwer, in an interview. “We felt it was important to go out and meet our viewers where they are.”
Like other TV programs that become part of viewers’ daily routines, “GMA” must navigate its way as its viewers start to return to a more normal state of being, all the while adhering to protocols. Some of the nation’s most popular late-night shows have, for example, made efforts to return to studio production after moving to remote locations. In most cases, the hosts hold forth in front of a very limited audience and crew, while some hosts remain in more controlled environments.
Getting anchors and correspondents back on the news trail is one way to accomplish the task. In the not-too-distant future, viewers can expect to see “GMA” co-anchor Michael Strahan in Chicago. Lara Spencer, Ginger Zee and Will Reeve will visit some of the places as well, which will include Hawaii and, in June, Mt. McKinley in Alaska — a great vantage point for the summer solstice, says Swink. Her hope is that “GMA” can end its travelogue in the fall in New York’s Times Square with a live production by a Broadway show.
“Now that I’ve said it, I’m going to have to do it,” she said.
The ABC News program is also working toward a revival of its summer concerts, though the producers don’t think the show will return to the showcases it usually has in New York’s Central Park in the next few months. Instead, said Simone, viewers will likely see smaller, taped musical pieces in the first months of summer, with production gradually scaling up to some live performances that take place in front of a limited crowd. “GMA” is expected to announce its summer concert lineup next week, Simone says.
The two veteran producers – Brouwer supervises “GMA’s” 7 a.m. hour while Swink oversees proceedings at 8 a.m. – said they welcome the chance to return to normal production as conditions allow. “We spent more time Facetiming each other over the last 13 months,” said Swink. “”We are used to being in and out of each other’s offices.”