"The pen is poised."
That is Stuart's way of calling us to order. Put 7 or 8 high-intellect, high-energy people who haven't seen each other in 12 hours in a small room and there is bound to be some conversation. Often loud conversation, often ridiculous conversation, often about a movie or song we want to use during the show.
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"The pen is poised." This time with a circular wave of his hand (as pictured).
It's 6:50 am. Stuart has been in his office for 2 hours. He's eaten his smoked salmon, his whole-wheat toast (no butter) and his grapefruit. He's read all the newspapers. He is ready to begin.
"The pen is poised. What are the first words out of my mouth going to be?"
That's how we start every day on Varney & Co.
Then we all throw out ideas for "The Big Story." Stuart rejects many ("is that sharp enough?, is that big enough?, is that going to grab the viewers?") because that's his way of sharpening our stories and ideas into the best possible show to watch.
Once we settle on a Big Story we go through the entire show segment by segment (or blocks as we say in the business). We discuss every guest, every story, every stock Nicole will talk about.
All the while Stuart is taking notes. He uses one manila folder for each show (see above picture). He doesn't like paper. He likes writing on folders. Front, both inside panels, and for a very busy show maybe the back. He wants the guest's name, the correct pronunciation and a few of the most important points. He doesn't need pages and pages of research; just the key facts. He watches Fox News and Fox Business all day. He reads several newspapers. He knows what questions he wants to ask.
By the time we finish it is close to 7:30. We have less than 2 hours to put the show together. But we always pull it off. And it's usually great. And the pen will be poised again tomorrow.