Coco Loves Lincoln
Conan O'Brien visits Springfield, Illinois to Tape TV Segments
The statue of the 16th president wasn’t the only slender, 6-foot-4-inch figure in the plaza of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum Thursday afternoon. Conan O'Brien stopped by while in town shooting a segment for his upcoming week of shows in Chicago.
“Since childhood, I was interested in Lincoln,” O’Brien said after taping with four Lincoln impersonators and other actors outside the Old Capitol State Historic Site.
In fact, the late-night host said one of his first forays into show business was convincing a childhood friend to act in a play he wrote about Lincoln.
Dave Blanchette, deputy director of the presidential museum and library, said Thursday’s shoot was years in the making.
“We’ve known Conan was a Lincoln fan for a long time,” he said. “For about two years, we’ve tried to get him to come down to the Lincoln sites.”
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency got the official word that O’Brien would visit about a week ago, Blanchette said.
“By the questions he’s asking the people on camera and the comments he’s making, it’s obvious he knows a lot about Lincoln,” he said.
The Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau helped recruit the four Lincolns who appeared on camera with O’Brien, tourism director Kim Rosendahl said.
One of the Lincolns, Iowa resident Lance Mack, said he got the call two days before the shoot.
“Whether it’s with a movie or TV star or just a regular person,” Mack said, “it’s an honor and a privilege” to share Lincoln with them.
The other Lincolns were Randy Duncan of Carlinville, Lonn Pressnall of Forsyth and Greg Bergschneider of Jacksonville, Rosendahl said.
After shooting at the Old Capitol, O’Brien's itinerary included a visit with Gov. Pat Quinn before heading back to Chicago. O'Brien did stop at the Statehouse, but a spokeswoman for the governor said later she wasn't sure Quinn had had time to meet O'Brien Thursday.
O’Brien, who previously visited Springfield in the late ’80s, said he was impressed by the presidential museum. His tight shooting schedule didn’t leave time for a private tour of the presidential library vault, however.
“Unfortunately, I don’t always get to experience things the way I want to,” he said.
O’Brien’s TBS show “Conan” will tape in Chicago June 11-14. A segment from the Springfield shoot is expected to air sometime that week.