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Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Was A Lousy Intern For A Talk Show

By the title, I mean, I was lousy at the job...not that interns are a lowly bunch.

I worked for Lifetime Television in Astoria, Queens for the talk show "Attitudes" hosted by Linda Dano and Dee Kelly.

I was one of a few interns working the summer of 1990, after my freshman year in college.

Dee had her eye on me and took great interest in what I was all about. Boyfriend? Background? Interests?

Come to find out she wanted to hook me up with her chauffeur as was revealed when I was in an elevator with him and her, one day.

I was 19 and he looked to be in his 30's. He also had a paunch and an M & M. There was no way I would ever consider having anything to do with the guy. (M & M = mustache & mullet).

All interns had to take turns answering the phone lines. There was one intern at a time to answer about 20 lines and when we saw the lights, we had to answer every call and immediately put the person on hold so that we could answer the next blinking light. And then we had to return to those we put on hold to patch them through to who they requested to speak to.

I HATED that task with a passion and made sure I did a crap job. I would disconnect people. Or not even answer the flashing light. I would forward calls to the wrong offices. I would put people on hold and never get back to them.

I was taken off the phones because I was so "bad" at it. The other interns wanted to know how I managed to be banned from answering calls, but I wouldn't divulge my secret.

I wanted the glamorous part of the job.

I wanted to be included with the players.

While the other chumps were answering phones, I was ironing Miss America's dress that she'd be wearing on the set during her guest spot. I got to talk to her and everything!

I helped prep the set before each show.

You know those mugs that you see sitting on talk show host's tables?

You know what's in them?


I helped calm a crazed Vietnamese intern when a producer asked her to get a stool for a model to sit on.

"Stoow? I do not know what stoow is! How do I get a stoow when I not know what is stoow?!"

The producer looked at me pleadingly. He didn't have time to explain it to her.

"It is a stew-ul. It has a round seat with four legs and no back", I said.

She was all rigid and wide eyed over the concept. I thought she was going to stroke out.

So I offered to find it for her in the prop room.

I, along with whatever intern they chose to go with me, would have to drive to the Queens library to peruse through entertainment mags to get the scoop on that day's guests so that Linda and Dee could bring up relevant questions to ask about what is currently going on in their lives.

There was no internet back then.

I also escorted guests from the green room to the set. We had a specific "professional" route that we had to take them through. But it was a confusing maze of hallways that I didn't bother to memorize.

So, I decided to take them on a short cut from the green room, through the prop room which was like a warehouse, and directly onto the set. Much to the chagrine of the producers. For some reason, they never said anything to me. They'd just give me dirty looks. I guess you can't expect much from an unpaid intern.

I escorted people like Calvin Klein, Jamie Farr, and some other famous people that I can't recall.

One group of people I will never forget are a gaggle of male models who came in to walk the jerry rigged catwalk to show off some fashionable men's wear.

I asked a producer if he needed me for anything and he said he needed me to escort the models out of the building and to their limos after the show was taped.

I swear, they were the most energetic group of men I'd ever encountered. One of them took me by the hand and literally pulled me behind him as we jogged through the hallways. The guy had no idea where he was going and the other male models told him to let me lead since I knew where we had to go. But I didn't really know, because remember, I never learned the route. We ran through all sorts of rooms and offices until we finally found a door leading to the elevators.

While on the elevator, they all bombarded me with questions about my personal life.

And then they hugged me goodbye as they piled into the limo like clowns piling into their clown car.

It was a short lived, but well loved job that I will never forget.

Here is a "This Is Spinal Tap" clip that sort of gives the idea of what it was like running through the halls with the male models (and my first attempts at leading guests to the stage set).


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