WNEP-TV 16’s Scott Schaffer plays newscaster in ‘Designated Survivor,’ also appears in ‘Quantico’
As viewers of ABC’s “Designated Survivor” watched newly appointed President Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) prepare for his first day in the Oval Office, Sutherland’s character watched news reports detailing the bombing that made him commander-in-chief.
Attentive local viewers of the new drama may have recognized a familiar face on the show’s fictional news station — WNEP-TV 16’s Scott Schaffer.
In “Designated Survivor,” Schaffer plays a news anchor for the fictional Capitol News Broadcasting Service. He has appeared in the first two episodes of the show, which premiered Sept. 21 as part of ABC’s fall 2016 lineup.
The first entry of Schaffer’s filmography came during last year’s first-season run of another ABC drama, “Quantico” — not bad for someone whose entire previous acting experience was one stint in a high school production of “Bye Bye Birdie.” Luckily, in “Designated Survivor,” Schaffer just has to be himself.
“I’m usually some kind of variation of me,” said Schaffer, who has been with WNEP since May 1999. “They’re (his TV roles) really not all that different, just in ‘Quantico’ nothing significant has been blown up yet and in ‘Designated Survivor’ everything has. They’re both real timely dramas with great actors. I think that’s what I’ve noticed the most is how much better looking the real actors are than me.”
Schaffer said seeing himself on the national stage has made him more critical of details like his tie and his haircut, but it was his station’s already national online presence that garnered attention from “Quantico” and “Designated Survivor” producers in the first place. The producers visited WNEP’s website, scouted its on-air talent and asked news director Carl Abraham if the affiliate would be interested in taping a newscast to be used in “Quantico.”
“The reason why I think it’s great is because these people give ‘Quantico’ and ‘Designated Survivor’ — it gives it a sense of realism,” Abraham said. “You know we look and sound like news people because we are. It looks and sounds real when we do it.”
That sense of reality occurs because of a team of local news production professionals who take time between their real newscasts to film fake ones. According to WNEP Executive Producer Dave Krisanda, they’ve created, edited and submitted 15 to 20 clips since forming a relationship with “Quantico” producers — sometimes filmed in front of the station’s news monitors (a shot he said is also used during WNEP broadcasts), sometimes filmed in front of large, blank green screens that can become whatever editors choose to add in post-production.
Krisanda said he receives the scripts for the shoots, makes slight changes so they’re “more news-type scripts,” puts them into the teleprompter and records as if it were the real thing. He said it’s still a thrill to see his coworkers on national television, but like his coworkers, that excitement comes with some amount of modesty.
“Well, it’s basically just part of my job here at the station,” Krisanda said. “I call it the Hollywood part.”
WNEP/fictional CNBS anchor Scott Schaffer is scheduled to create more “Designated Survivor” content throughout its run. To catch Schaffer and other WNEP personalities on nationwide ABC network television, tune into the show at 10 p.m. Wednesdays. “Quantico” will also feature on-air talent from WNEP during its second season run, airing at 10 p.m. Sundays.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts