You watch the show: Four or five folks show up, shoot the breeze about the market for less than 30 minutes, and then leave. But is that all there is to it?
a lot of it. Much of the show is unscripted, and definitely unrehearsed. Like a lot of TV, though, there's plenty going on behind the scenes.
So, if you always wanted a peek behind the curtain, here are a few things that go into the making of the show that you never see.
We tape the show 7 p.m. ET on Friday nights. The show is taped live, though, so it's not like we get to take back any of those bone-headed things we might have blurted out. (Trust me, there have been more than a few times when I've gotten so tongue-tied or said something stupid, that I wanted to yell "Cut!" But that's just not in the cards.) The only catch with taping the show instead of actually doing it live is that we have to remember people are watching on the weekend. Early on, Gary Schreier, our producer, had to constantly remind us not to say "today" when referring to Friday's action, otherwise we'd confuse the viewer.
It takes about 8 to 10 minutes for each of us to get our makeup done. The makeup folks in both NYC and Washington are real pros and take their jobs very seriously. I once counted, and they used six different eye shadows, bases, powders, creams and highlights on me. Yeah, I know, you'd think I'd look a lot better with all that work!
Each of the regulars on the show uses a fitted earpiece. What they do is pour some goop into your ear and come up with a plastic mold with a little wire attached. Why wear one? First of all, I couldn't hear what was happening in NYC otherwise. The real reason, though? Our producer acts like a traffic cop during the show, urging you to get into the conversation, or if the segment is running long, to sit quietly and not say a word!
The Fox studios in New York are right near Broadway. Because they're the main Fox studios, they have a huge green room and a large production area. They also have cheese and crackers available for all guests.
The Fox studios in D.C. are just around the block from the Capitol. It's a much smaller facility, but still pretty nice, as most political news comes from that location. As such, I've shared the green room with everyone from Orrin Hatch to John McCain. However, there are no cheese and crackers!
Everyone you've ever seen on the show is exactly the same on camera as off. Brenda is just as sweet, Dave is just as funny, Adam is just as sincere and Herb is just as "concerned"! And Cramer? He couldn't hide his personality if he wanted to!
The shaping of the show begins on Monday morning, and I usually get a call from Gary or Alison Moore about midday to talk about last week's show and to kick around some ideas for the Chartman segment. We firm up my part about midweek and I get them a rough draft of the charts by noon on Thursday. It's also about that time they let me know if I'm on any other segments and if I need to get together any additional charts, predictions, or whatever.
The most prepared person on the show? Brenda B., far and away. I was up in New York a few weeks ago and marveled at how much time she spent reading through TSC, looking at other news sites, and just thinking about the right questions to ask and topics to bring up. What Cramer is to running a hedge fund, Brenda is to TV. She's a pro's pro.
When the folks in New York look into the camera, they're actually seeing the show. So they can interact with anyone in a remote site, just as if the remote person was sitting next to them. However, in the Washington studios, they don't have that capability, so I have to interact with a dark screen. That's why I sometimes seem to be stepping on people to interject my thoughts: I have no body language to key on!
One of my favorite things about doing the show is that I get to spend a few minutes in the green room talking with Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke, who do both The Beltway Boys and a segment on Fox News. I grew up watching both gentlemen on The McLaughlin Group, and these guys really know their stuff. We have about 10 minutes of chat time before they do their show, and spend a lot of time talking about ... what else: stocks! But we also spend a few minutes on occasion talking about politics, the White House, Elian Gonzales, or whatever else is in the news. If anyone has to be more "right" than I am, it's Fred. Mort, of course, takes up the liberal side. But I have to say, he always presents a balanced approach. Whatever -- they're a lot of fun to be with.
The taping of the show takes almost exactly as long as the show you see on the air. We do a segment, and then just sit there and wait for the commercials to run. I honestly can't tell you why we do it like that, but I'm sure there's some technical reason. So, the bottom line is that we're only doing real TV for about 20+ minutes. It always amazes me, though, how much goes on to get those 20+ minutes to come together!
Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. At time of publication, he held no positions in any securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Smith writes five technical analysis columns for TheStreet.com each week, including Technician's Take, Charted Territory and TSC Technical Forum. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback at