Police Restrain ‘Good Morning America’ Booker During ‘Today’ Interview

By Brian 

First on TVNewser: Atlanta police handcuffed Good Morning America booker Mike Nagel this morning after complaints about his disorderly conduct, TVNewser has learned. Nagel was trying to interrupt NBC’s interview with Atlanta hostage Ashley Smith this morning. (And some of it happened on-air: does anyone have screen grabs from ‘Today?’) Here’s how the incident unfolded, according to sources at both networks:

ABC, really, really wanted an exclusive interview with Smith. And they thought they had it: They were under the impression that they were the only network morning show with the Smith interview. But Smith’s attorney had arranged for NBC’s ‘Today’ show to pre-tape an interview with her prior to 7am. Then she would walk around the corner to ABC’s bureau for a live chat on GMA.

NBC and Smith’s attorney planned to pick the guest up at her mother’s house, where she spent the night. But ABC beat them to it, sending a limo to pick Smith up — against the attorney’s request, according to NBC. (A rumor floating around 30 Rock says that Nagel pretended to work for NBC.) Smith hopped in the car and rode over to the ABC bureau. Needless to say, Smith’s attorney wasn’t thrilled. (ABCers believe it was a case of miscommunication between attorney and client.)

“When everyone figured out what happened, the guest’s lawyer was furious and banned the interview from GMA,” a tipster says. Eventually Smith made it to NBC’s remote location around the corner from ABC’s bureau. While Lauer was pre-taping his interviewing with Smith, “Nagel was doing whatever he could to get this interview to stop,” according to an insider. Smith’s attorney tried to calm him down, but the police had to get involved. He was not arrested or charged, though.

Nagel was released shortly thereafter. When an NBC camera crew asked if Nagel was a producer for GMA, he flippantly said he was with NBC. Watch for this story on the entertainment shows tonight…

“‘Good Morning America’ is blessed to have a top-notch staff of aggressive producers,” a statement from the network said this afternoon. “Unfortunately, things got heated over a misunderstanding this morning. It has been resolved and we are moving forward to tomorrow’s show.”

> Mar. 10: “Good Morning America posted its best February sweeps ratings since 1991 and ‘slashed the gap’ with NBC by 65%.”

> Update: 3:38pm: From an e-mailer: “I saw the ‘Today Show’ interview this morning with guy on cell phone in background clearly being disruptive and eventually being led away by police. I just thought it was some psycho wanting to get on TV…” You can pull the video off MSNBC.com’s Videos page.

> Update: 6:40pm: Derek Rose has the play-by-play, based on ‘Today’ screen grabs.