Arthur Lord was my sponsor and angel at NBC. In a bureau sometimes called the "Fear Factory," Arthur Lord was fair.
I moved to LA in 1978 to work on feature films and documentaries. After a gig as second assistant camera on a movie called "The Boss's Son," starring Rita Moreno, and a year as camera assistant on a documentary called "The Dinner Party," starring Judy Chicago (no party), I returned to television, which as they said in those days, was "very very good to me."
I worked vacation relief most of '79, shooting for NBC News, Burbank, and KNBC, its owned and operated station. The peacock network used "daily hires" from IATSE, the film union, but had never picked up freelancers with their own electronic gear under the NABET contract. With the 1980 election campaign approaching, Art Lord, the bureau chief, invited a half dozen crews in the United States to break the barrier. He took a risk when he gave me a contract and the guts to go freelance. Hal, my sound tech, said he'd join me, despite the audio quality on the 3/4inch video tape recorders. "Primitive," he called it.
Work as a network freelancer for Arthur Lord was very very good. He ran a tight operation, but his office door was open. Dropping in our Lord, trim and jaunty in his safari shirt with epaulets, I sometimes thought of secret agent Maxwell Smart. No matter how stressed, he was ready with a wisecrack. "Hi Art, how are you?" I'd ask. "Busier than a one-armed Shickelgruber!" his gleeful reply.
If I had to pick one person at NBC in Burbank to hold a rope on a cliff for me, it would have been Arthur. He was tough as anyone and cared more than most. Art Lord rewarded loyalty with loyalty. He protected his troops. Because our NABET contract specified a 45-mile "no freelance" zone around the bureau known as "the donut," he put us on the road, shooting Today Show features after elections were over. He even encouraged me to shoot for BBC while under the non-exclusive NBC guarantees. "Hell, I write for TV Guide," said. He treated me with kindness, affection and respect.
If my angel had
a name, it was Lord.