My how time flies!
Monday marks the five-year anniversary of the current incarnation of CBS This Morning. In honor of the occasion, co-anchors Gayle King, Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell dished to PEOPLE about the highs of coworker tributes, lows of national tragedies and all on their most memorable moments in between.
Can you each share your favorite or most surprising memory from the first show?
Rose: That it all went so very well!
O’Donnell: Charlie wrote me on my first day a little note saying, “Isn’t live television great?” and I wrote back, “It’s the best job ever.” And I’ve saved that note.
King: One of my favorite memories is seeing our very first “Eye Opener.” It would become a CBS This Morning signature that we all look forward to seeing every morning. If you watch us, then you know that the eye-opener at the top of the show each day gets you pumped to see what’s happening in the world. After hearing that first “Your world in 90 seconds” we knew, we had something special.
What do you each consider the most impactful interview or report you’ve ever done — what are you most proud of?
King: The horrific shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012 is one of those stories I will never ever forget. I still stop and think about those innocent children and what a horrendous tragedy that was for those parents and families. I met Jimmy Greene and Nelba Marquez Greene who had lost their 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace in the senseless tragedy. I had the opportunity to sit down with them for an interview and I was so moved by their strength, their love for each other, and honored that they were willing to share it with us. Their story continues to hold a special place to me.
O’Donnell: It was an honor to speak to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was nearly assassinated for her advocacy for girls education around the world and is still under threat today.
Rose: Probably the most impactful would have been Bashar al-Assad. It came at a moment in which the United States was about ready to launch an attack. He signaled in that interview that, if in fact they didn’t attack, that he would have to consider doing something about the gas attacks. I’m not suggesting there was necessarily a connection, but he signaled that he would be prepared.
Can you share an only-in-the-TV-newsroom moment from the last five years?
O’Donnell: Thirteen hours on the air for election night coverage. Right, Charlie? Because we did the primetime coverage and then went home for an hour and came back and anchored all morning long. It was truly marathon coverage.
Rose: Literally one hour’s sleep — we left here after 3:30 a.m. and had to be back at 5:30.
Though a lot of your coverage is serious, what have been some of the lighter — maybe even wacky — moments since the show launched in 2011?
Rose: This past Friday morning — my birthday! To have a lap dance from Rita Moreno, who was doing a very, very good impersonation of Marilyn Monroe singing happy birthday to President Kennedy.
O’Donnell: When Gayle and I serenaded Charlie to Carol King’s “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman”—
Rose: Then made me feel like a natural man!
O’Donnell: Or when Shaquille O’Neal came in and said, “Can I pick you up?” and then picked me up. Then after that he turned to Charlie said, “Can I pick you up?” Charlie is about 6’3 and is about 210 lbs., but he picked him up like he was a feather. He was one of the most fun guest and he is the most engaging guy!
King: One day we had Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant as our guest for their movie, Florence Foster Jenkins. It’s a bit of a blur what led up to the moment but I somehow managed to miss my chair as I was taking a seat. Yep, that’s right: I fell flat on my behind! Meryl and Hugh were stunned — as was I. But Charlie jumped to help pick me up off the ground … nothing embarrassing about that!
What else stands out to you from your time on CBS This Morning?
King: As much as we love Studio 57, it’s always meaningful when we have the chance to take CBS This Morning on the road for a special event. Last fall we broadcasted live from the Smithsonian’s National African American Museum of History and Culture. The opening of that museum on the national mall in our capital had such historic significance for all of us. The amazing collection of artifacts inside that museum is truly something every American should witness. It really was an honor for us to be able to give our viewers the first extensive look inside.
Rose: At the end of five years, we are celebrating not only the success of a television program but the joy of friendship and the joy of respect.
O’Donnell: That answer is hard to top! I agree!
CBS This Morning airs weekdays (7–9 a.m. ET).