I turn to my publicist and asked, “Now what?” She smiled. “Everything happens the way it’s supposed to. We go with her instructions, stick to your message points and remember Raina Chandler. Every mother would do anything to see her children happy.” With that I was shuttled out the door with the rest of the readers, and directed onto the set for a quick look around. I looked around, but I didn’t see Regis and Kelly.
Next thing I knew, I was once again being ushered onto the stage for a test run, hooked up with a microphone and headset, and seated at the round table. Michael Gelman shook my hand and congratulated me on my success. He was thrilled that the book has hit the NY Times and stayed there, as well as excited by the number of copies printed. I was happy too. But I couldn’t shake the butterflies in my stomach and suddenly felt like I had something on my face and no mirror with which to check.
I glanced around, looking for Regis, Kelly and the guest celebrity. I remembered the last one had been Regis’ daughter. Finally a large man sat next to me, shook my hand and introduced himself as Art Moore. Gelman told us he was the celebrity Bachelor chosen for this show. In reality he’s one of Regis’ producers, which I discovered later, when I got home and did my research! Not the kind of celebrity I’d anticipated, but it turns out he’d read my book, had valuable comments, and thought it would adapt well into a movie. I liked Art Moore.
At the last minute a heated debate broke out between the producer and Gelman. “I want name cards. Regis needs name cards!”
“We don’t have time!”
“He doesn’t remember names. Just get it done.”
“Do you want them handwritten?”
“Get me an intern!”
I was a bit panicked. If the producers didn’t have this down, what was going to happen when the cameras started rolling? They made a few other last minute adjustments to the set and the cue cards Regis was suppose to read and sent us all back to the Green Room to wait.
It was almost show time. On the large TV in the Green Room we watched Regis and Kelly make their way on to the set and the audience applauded. They sat down, drank coffee and chatted, talking about Regis’ pulled groin muscle. At this point we’d seen nothing of Antonio and figured he had his own private Green Room. In between autographing books and chatting with the readers waiting with me, we quickly discovered that Antonio had been taped last week, and his segments were to be shown on video. All planned production, Regis and Kelly’s clothing matched what they wore when they taped the show, as did the jokes and comments. So much for meeting Antonio and presenting him with autographed copies. One again, I shoved the carefully prepared books back into my bag.
From the direction of the stage, I heard the audience boo. They had just found out there’d be no Antonio. Great, now I was not only facing a crowd, but an already disappointed crowd. At this moment, I was grateful for the friends and family who came to support me, whether or not they made me more nervous.
MEETING MY FAIRY GODMOTHER
The time finally arrived. The producer came back and we followed her into the studio. I managed to be calm, and when I shook Regis’ hand, I found I was composed. Not only that, but he was warm, friendly and seemed very appreciative of the fact that I’d written this book. Who cares if he hasn’t read it? I could tell he’s a good guy. A good guy who was about to call my book beach trash and smut on National TV —because that’s what was written on the cue cards. But I have to say, it was all part of the show and what they call, Entertainment. Regis Philbin does his job well. He remembered my name and I, for one, was impressed with him.
Kelly shook my hand too. She was warm, gracious …. and gorgeous. I thought, “How can I sit at this table with someone who looks like she does?” The reader chosen to sit at the table, a pretty Sandra-Bullock look-a-like, only added to my insecurities. But it was OK because they were counting down and soon I had no time to think at all! The red camera lights came on and Regis began to read the cue cards.
I survived the first segment and they went to commercial. Later that afternoon, at home, I discovered that the nice gentleman sitting next to me was actually blocking me for a good part of the time! If not for my neighbor and friend in the audience, who screamed at the cameraman at the commercial break, I might have been the invisible author for a good part of the show.
I have a vague recollection of sparring with Regis over the title. He asked, “If the mother matchmakes so much in the book, why not call the book, “The Mother”? I replied, “Because women want to read about The Bachelor!”. For the moment I held my own.