‘Early Show’ wakes up Aspen | AspenTimes.com

‘Early Show’ wakes up Aspen

Charles AgarAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

ASPEN Aspenites proved Thursday that they’ll do just about anything to rack up a few minutes of fame as roughly 75 lined up for a live taping of CBS’s “Early Show” from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. at Wagner Park. Aspen is one of nine stops on the show’s “Great American Vacation” summer tour hosted by Dave Price, a weather anchor and features reporter for the show. Emily Procter of CBS’s “CSI: Miami” joined Price for Thursday’s taping.”You’re basically waking people up in the middle of the night,” Price said.Price said getting an audience riled at 5 a.m. takes motivation, so producers treat the taping like a “street party, where all of America’s invited.”For the animated weatherman, live feeds are like “stepping out of the television” and a chance to get on the ground with everyday folks, he said.”People figure out if you’re disingenuous.”

‘Hi, Mom!'”We’ll do anything we can to get on the news,” said Nina Gabianelli, general manager of the Crystal Palace, who joined four actors from the troupe to hold a large parade sign for the cameras. “We thought we might as well be part of it.”A group of Colorado Mountain College students edged for a good spot behind the camera and hoped their quirky sign celebrating the school’s 40th anniversary would attract Price’s attention, while others held personal messages and a few mugged over Price’s shoulder.Kimberly Miller regularly wrangles crowds as big as 500 for live feeds of the show from Manhattan, but said the early-morning Aspen crowd was surprisingly energetic.”They’re a small group but they’re making up for it,” she said.She coaxed the group to shout “What’s going on in your area?” in unison – a segue to cut to CBS affiliate news and weather – and the group was quick to scream when Miller raised her arms.

“I’ve never been on anything like this,” said Sal Cruz, 17, of Basalt, who came out in support of the Aspen Youth Experience .Cruz carried a sign for the nonprofit, which helps kids achieve their goals. He joined a group of 10 friends bucking for camera time.Members of the Sybarite Chamber Players – a quartet of current and former students from the Aspen Music Festival and School – played on cue, and even a a well-known local canine got in on the action.Denali, a 3-year-old Malamute, earned a brief cameo with Price. And while Thursday was the dog’s first appearance on television, owner Sam Scholl said “He’s done some print work, though.”A special surpriseIn the wake of the death of their 15-year-old son to cancer, Art and Valerie Harju, of New Castle, received the surprise of a lifetime during the CBS taping.

“I still don’t believe it yet,” said Harju after Price awarded the couple a trip to Belize as part of the show’s American Vacations Giveaway.Friends nominated the Harjus for the trip, and fooled the family of nine into making the early morning drive to Aspen by making up a story about another friend winning an award.”I’m in shock,” Valerie Harju said. Plugging for profitsOthers were out to get their logo some exposure, including a crew of raft guides from Blazing Adventures who dressed in helmets, lifejackets and carried paddles. “We’re here to show how fun Aspen is,” said Renee Fleisher, director of group services with Blazing Adventures.

The company took Price on a short trip down the Roaring Fork River in exchange for being featured in a short segment about the adventure.Richard Allen and his son Jesse, who run Vintage Ski World in Carbondale, provided Price with a gaudy 1980s-era powder suit and dressed in full 10th Mountain Division regalia – skis and all – in the hopes Price would mention their website.He didn’t.”They called me,” said Glenn Smith, the chef in residence at the Aspen Cooking School, who had a chance to demonstrate some classic aprés ski cuisine for the show.Smith was surprised at such a big turnout in a town where the rich and famous wander the streets every day.

The hook”We reached out to the local community,” said Amy Spielholtz, a program coordinator with CBS. “People just get really excited when they hear we’re coming.””You get kooky people sometimes,” said Steve Cohen, audience coordinator with the show. And it’s not uncommon for someone to trot out their best singing audition for live TV, but most come out to support their town or a cause and Aspen made a good showing, he said.”I forewarned them that people don’t get out of bed in Aspen unless there’s a lot of snow to ski,” said Lisa Johnson, a sales and marketing representative for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.But she too was surprised by the turnout Thursday, and said after visits by both ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today Show” during the Food & Wine Classic, Aspen has been covered in every morning show in 2007.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com