I’m in a Hollywood state of mind

As far back as I can remember I wanted to work in the movie or tv business.

Or be a drummer.

Like Karen Carpenter. She didn’t just sing, ya know. Look it up.

I remember wanting to be a “camera man.” I knew that I wanted to work behind the scenes in some capacity and I didn’t know what any of the options were, so I thought I’d go with that one until I knew more about the business.

Then I discovered I really liked to write. I was (and am still) so much better in expressing myself in writing than with words. When I try to speak, I swear, my thoughts just get jumbled and I just can’t get my meaning out. But writing comes easily and naturally to me.

I kept diaries growing up. I realized that because I liked to write that instead of a “camera-man” maybe I could be a scriptwriter. And I kept that in the back of my mind during my growing up years.

I loved television. I loved movies. I loved Hollywood anything. I wanted to be connected to it somehow. I chose Journalism as my major at Southern Connecticut State University. I didn’t want to be a reporter. But I thought this would get me closer to entertainment than just majoring in English or writing.

In fact, being a Journalism major, pretty much confirmed two things:

1) I was a good writer.
2) I was not cut out to be a reporter.

I loved feature writing, though. I could tell a good story. But being a reporter meant asking people questions, butting into people’s business, being a busy-body, being aloof. That wasn’t me.

When it came time for me to do an internship, I did what was expected of me, though, and did an internship at Channel 8 in New Haven in the news room. My advisor, Robin Glassman, was wonderful. Because I didn’t speak up for what I really wanted…this is what she steered me to.

It was a good experience, and one that I still draw upon to this day at WIN-TV. But news was definitely not my thing, nor was the pace of the news room and the tempers and ego of producers, anchors and editors. Some were great. Others not.

The Fall of my junior year Robin Glassman called me into her office to talk about what other internship I would like to do for my Senior year. I figured this was my chance. She mentioned a magazine internship, or a newspaper one. I must have looked underwhelmed. Robin knew me enough at this point that I didn’t always speak up for what I wanted. She asked me if I had a chance to intern anywhere in the world, where would it be?

“Entertainment Tonight, ” I answered sheepishly.

Entertainment Tonight, in 1986 had been on the air exactly 5 years and it was ground breaking television for that time. An entertainment news program. It had never been done before. They had offices in New York and Los Angeles. There was one intern from Southern who had done a summer internship in the satallite New York office the year before.

Robin said, “Let’s get you to New York”

“No.” I said firmly. “I don’t want to go to New York. I want to go to California.”

Entertainment Tonight
Opening credits 1981

Now, this was something that had never been done before. Southern had no collaberation with any colleges out West. No one from the Journalism department had ever done an internship at Entertainment Tonight in California before. This was before the Internet, remember. Getting information on what kind of internships, who was eligible, how to apply and how it all worked, meant calling on the phone and writing by postal mail for information.

Robin was incredible. She knew that if I was asking for it…I really wanted it. And Jenny didn’t ask for anything. Ever. So she went above and beyond to help me get the information I needed. She helped me write my application. She helped me find a temporary place to live.

The challenge was that I didn’t know how long I would be out there. You were required to interview in person. And it was competitive with only so many spots available, so you might not get it.

I talked my friend, Denise Madera, into going out with me. She was crazy for all things Hollywood as well. She was going to be a brand new college graduate that coming summer and she decided she would do something adventurous before she had to get a real job.

My mother was worried sick. She didn’t have any money to give me but she was able to buy me a one way ticket to LA. I had about $500 in my savings account that I withdrew. Mom gave me her credit card, which was already close to being maxed out.

And off I went. Telling my poor mom that I would either be back in 3 months…or 2 weeks. I figured if I didn’t get the internship, I was going to live my dream and at least SEE California.

Keep in mind, there were no cell phones in those days. My mother had to rely on me finding a pay phone and calling her collect to let her know how things were going.

So, out we flew in the summer of 1986. I had just barely turned 21. Denise was 22. We had secured a bed and breakfast in Beverly Hills (of all the kooky places) that I’m pretty sure Robin Glassman helped us find through the classified section of the Los Angeles times. We rented a car on my mother’s credit card, with her permission.

What I remember about the bed and breakfast was that Denise and I didn’t really understand how a B&B worked. We stayed in the wing of this woman’s fancy home that had its own entrance. I don’t remember it being anything spectacular, but it was fancy to us. What I remember most is that the bathroom did not have a door. We were appalled. What kind of weirdos didn’t have a door on their bathroom? Denise and I ended up rigging some kind of sheet over the door way, if recall.

We couldn’t understand why the woman always wanted to know when we wanted breakfast.. Denise and I were late sleepers and we didn’t always want breakfast. This irritated the woman. We thought it was weird how we had to have our breakfast in the main part of the house in her dining room. It wasn’t weird…we just didn’t know any better. So we avoided breakfast when we could. Not really understanding it was part of what we were paying for. But the woman would leave a bowl of apples and bannans and muffins and a picture of orange juice out on the counter for us regardless. Probably thinking we were the dumbest girls who ever lived.

Paramount Studios gate

We drove to Paramount Studios for my interview. Denise stayed in the car and parked along Gower street so she could see the Hollywood sign. I walked through those historic Paramount gates.

It was the biggest thrill of my life.

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