Caroline Sommers has worked as a television producer in NYC since 1992, when, still working for a TV outfit in upstate New York, she brazenly took a 2-week vacation in order to “try out” for Inside Edition. The challenge issued by the tabloid: produce a story about a Philadelphia police sergeant who, along with his wife, was running a call girl ring. During this marathon audition, which lasted several weeks, Caroline deprived herself of food and sleep in order to get the story. (She got the story—and the job.)
She quickly rose to become Bill O’Reilly’s producer, shooting with him in the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean. In 1994 she moved on to Time Telepictures’ new (at the time) syndicated series Extra, where she hit the red carpet and the movie junket scene with a vengeance. Stars interviewed during this period include but are not limited to: Madonna, Robert DeNiro, John Travolta, Jodie Foster (super chill), Bill Pullman (super nice), Tim Robbins (not so nice), Michael Keaton (huge flirt), Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Quentin Tarantino, Uma Thurman, and Howard Stern (who put her on the air more than once–while she was interviewing him).
In 1996 Caroline traded in her microphone cube to be a full-time news writer at Fox News Channel. A year later her original TV boss hired her back to senior-produce a series called iWitness, which aired on the now-defunct CBS Eye on People cable channel. As mother hen to a roomful of young producers, Caroline sent her flock out to live among various communities: one producer camped out in the Mall of America, which houses a high school, a wedding chapel, and an amusement park. Another producer traveled with folks in the monster truck circuit. And yet another took up residence in Dome Village, a now-defunct homeless encampment in downtown Los Angeles.
In 2000 Caroline moved up to the network level, taking a producer job at ABC News, where she shot and wrote a number of episodes of A&E Biography including (1) Julia Louis Dreyfus, for which Caroline interviewed Julia’s parents, stepparents and sisters, as well as Jerry Seinfeld, who showed up in the midst of a blizzard and came up with one of the best ad libs in history; (2) The Redgraves, for which Caroline conducted a marathon six-tape interview with Lynn Redgrave, R.I.P., who couldn’t have been any nicer; (3) John Ritter; (4) Imelda Marcos; and (5) All My Children.
9/11 happened during Caroline’s tenure at ABC News, which led to an Insta-Doc for Court TV called Osama bin Laden on Trial. Hosted by criminal defense lawyer Rikki Klieman (a/k/a Mrs. Bill Bratton), the special took home the top honors at the 2002 New York Festivals.
Immediately before and then resuming a few weeks after 9/11, Caroline embedded in the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) at NYU Hospital, following several doctors, nurses, and four sets of new parents whose babies were Preemies: Born Too Soon. That compelling program won a National Council on Family Relations Award in 2002. Caroline also produced a doc called Rudy Giuliani v. The Mob for a series called Arch Enemies. For that story she worked closely with Selwyn Raab, the longtime New York Times crime reporter and author of Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires. For that special she also got to interview Bonanno family underboss Bill Bonanno, who died shortly after. (Super nice guy…you’d never know he probably once ordered hits running a crime family.)
After six years at ABC, Caroline got an offer she couldn’t refuse: to jump to NBC. From December 2006 until July 2014 she was a producer for NBC News and specifically its division known as Peacock Productions. While there, she shepherded several series onto the air. Born in the Wrong Body followed transgender boys, girls, men and women and told their uplifting and sometimes tragic stories. Hooked delved into the psychology behind various obsessions, including women consumed with bodybuilding and people covered head to toe with tattoos.
While at NBC, Caroline also produced a fascinating series called Dead Men Talking. Along with her team of producer-shooters, Caroline embedded with a charismatic Medical Examiner just north of Detroit. He gave the NBC team 24/7 access to his morgue and his investigators, and Caroline’s team came away with three hours of intense programming. It was late August and the sun was blazing; the morgue was clean as a whistle, but if you’ve ever set foot in a morgue you know you can’t get the taste of death out of your throat for weeks. Thank goodness this wasn’t smell-a-vision.
No one should ever name a favorite child, but Caroline admits she was partial to her series Why Planes Crash, which deconstructs aviation accidents and explains in painstaking technical detail what went wrong. Each episode had ample budgets (up to $100K) for 3-D animations, which Caroline managed soup to nuts. Some of these graphics were so realistic, NBC’s Standards and Practices department insisted on an on-screen “chyron” spelling it out for viewers that they were looking at animations, not the real thing.
One of the best things about working on Why Planes Crash was its host, Lester Holt. Caroline had multiple opportunities to travel with him, produce shoots for him, and collaborate on scripts. She was honored to work so closely with such a consummate professional.
One of Caroline’s proudest moments at NBC News came when she was able to convince CNBC, a fairly staid business cable news network, to use cartoons to help illustrate parts of Best Jobs Ever, a whimsical romp that aired on the business network and whose name is as self-explanatory as it gets. It was a hoot to work on, and best of all, Caroline got to work once again with Lester Holt. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ITrZVXDBis)
While at NBC, Caroline developed razor-sharp skills as a “crasher,” turning breaking news stories around in a matter of weeks, sometimes days. Some of those “news crashes” include Killing bin Laden, Secrets of Seal Team Six; iGenius: How Steve Jobs Changed the World, and Everest Avalanche Tragedy for Discovery; The Spill: Crisis in the Gulf with Brian Williams (and many other specials featuring tornados, hurricanes, and mudslides) for The Weather Channel; The Mystery of Flight 370 and Caught on Camera: Terror in Boston for MSNBC; and Extraordinary People: The Woman Who Lost Her Face (about chimpanzee attack victim Charla Nash) for Channel 5 in the U.K.
Since leaving NBC in July 2014, Caroline has bounced around town as a freelance producer, working on Vanity Fair Confidential at True Entertainment; Brain Surgery Live, a NatGeo special via Leftfield Entertainment; and a special for A&E entitled “Who is Donald Trump?” (Answer: you probably don’t want to know.)
Caroline’s obsessions are writing and producing, savoring every meal and every cup of coffee – sometimes to the annoyance and dismay of those around her – and going to movies whenever humanly possible.
Caroline’s proudest productions: her 14-year-old son Dino and 12-year-old daughter Luna.