Between the basketball arena and the athletes village, in the northeastern section of the Olympic Park in London, NBC has set up what seems like a small village with one purpose: to broadcast “Today” live from the Olympic games.
There is a control room, a green room and production offices in makeshift buildings–completely separate from NBC’s enormous complex in the International Broadcast Centre a 20 minute walk away–and at the center of it all a large set that the network has used at every Olympics going back to Athens in 2004 (with the exception of Vancouver 2010).
Hundreds of people crowd around the barriers to get a glimpse of the athletes, anchors and guests. The crowd seems to be mostly Americans, although a few savvy Brits told me they heard it was a good place to see some of the more popular competitors, as well as celebrities like chef Jamie Oliver.
“Few things in life actually exceed your expectations, and this really has,” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie told me. “The energy is infectious, the enthusiasm, every athlete that comes on has this inspiring story to tell, it is hard not go get caught up in it.”
On this day, however, the show started on a somber note. “Today” began with a follow-up on the tragic shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin. As the show opened, Guthrie and Matt Lauer sat at the anchor desk, with the set itself separated from the crowd by thick glass, which blocked out almost all the noise from outside. Later on, after the serious coverage at the top of the show, the crew quickly slid the glass partition away, opening up the set to the plaza outside.