Thursday, June 23, 2011

Television Tales

Back in another lifetime, I got my first post-college job at 5800 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. Yep. Right there on the second floor to the left...can you see my office? (Okay, I'm lying; I didn't have a window, but my door WAS opposite the entry to Gene Autry's lavish suite.)

See, like my heroine Daphne in Lights! Cameras! Love!, I was a secretary-to-a-secretary at the corporate level. Yes, in spite of the newly minted MBA adorning the wall above my toilet at home, I took a lowly position in order to...as they say...get my foot in the door. What a coinky-dinky--cuz that's exactly what Daphne does!

Within a year, I got my big chance--I moved to another less imposing building behind the one pictured here and found myself working as an "Assistant to the Producer" on a new hybrid show developed by Norman Lear. (Sadly, the less said about the show, the better.)

Anyway, lots of TV programs taped on that lot. One in particular (now I'm really gonna date myself) was Dinah! starring the late Dinah Shore who--for those of you too young to remember or (worse) weren't even alive yet--hosted a daily talk/variety show which aired in the afternoons. When Dinah was in production, we'd get a kick out of what we called "the Dinah line" parading past our windows in the afternoon. Usually older folks, trucked in from whoknowswhere by the producers to fill the audience.

On one such occasion, as the Dinah line was exiting the studio around twilight, I happened to be walking across the parking lot.

Suddenly cries rang out. "Dinah! Dinah, is that you?"

I swiveled around, expecting to see the seventy-something celebrity. Nothing but lots of cars.

A few elderly women broke from the pack, advancing on me. "Dinah," they said. "Can we get an autograph?"

Oh, God. They meant ME! (Sure I was blonde--still am--but for God's sakes, I was only twenty-seven!) Somehow I managed a graceful getaway, disappointing my ardent "fans."

Later that night, after taping our show, I walked to my car with our host, Steve Edwards (yes, the Steve Edwards who now has a morning show in Los Angeles and who often gets skewered on The Soup). So, who did we run into? Well, Dinah herself--the first and only time I ever met the lady.

Naturally, I told her about the earlier mistaken identity. And in her charming southern way, she invited me to impersonate her anytime I chose. (Cool and all, Dinah, but really? Did she think I ENJOYED being taken for a seventy-something woman?? Notsomuch.)

So there you have it--my big brush with quasi-stardom. I didn't use this story in Lights! Cameras! Love! but there are others that I did....

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