File Under: I Really Freaking Earned My Salary Today
Okay, maybe not 1600. But that's what it felt like.
Sometimes people don't entirely understand my job, but I think I've finally figured out a way to explain it - if you ever did debate in high school, like, um ... me ... then you've heard of a form called Extemp. Obviously that's short for extemporaneous speaking, but in general the way it works is 1) you do background research on a variety of topics, 2) you're given the specific topic thirty minutes prior to your speech, 3) you write down some talking points, 4) you try to dispense information coherently and, if you're really good, you do it in an eloquent, clever, humorous, or at the very least, not totally cliched manner.
That's pretty much what I do every day.
Usually when I do a ton of segments in a row, it's because some celeb news has just broken (Anna Nicole Smith's death, Owen Wilson's suicide, Lindsay Lohan back in rehab for the 800th time, Britney Spear's leaves the house looking presentable - no, wait. that's never happened. but it would be HUGE news if it did).
But yesterday was unique - I did three networks, but I covered over a dozen VERY disparate topics. I'll just sketch out my day ...
8:15 am - wake up (sort of late, but in my defense, I was up working until 4:30 am the night before)
8:25 am - walk a very sleepy puppy
8:45 am - beat & carrot juice at Liquiteria with Jakob. I'm really enjoying him lately.
9:15 am - Breakfast meeting with my SAINT-LIKE editor Elise at Time Out New York. Go over topics for next six columns, discuss how to make them better, more provocative (less quotes!!), talk about men & why they do what they do. Shake our heads repeatedly at their behavior in confusion/disgust. I love that this is "work."
10:30 am - Get call from FoxNews Live Desk. They want me to come on at 1:30 pm to discuss George Clooney and his medical records fiasco. I say yes, of course.
11 am - Back home, I get the stories I have to prep on for my 2 pm Court TV taped interview for a show called "Hollywood Heat." They want me to talk about a Star magazine cover story from last year on the diet drug Clen, as well as Madonna injecting vitamins instead of taking them in pill form, like normal people. I email a Star employee to try to get the story from a year ago, and I read and write out talking points on Madonna.
11:30 am - FoxNews calls - they don't need me for LiveDesk (although I've already prepped for it). They apologize, but I don't mind! That's part of the job. It's necessarily flexible.
11:45 am - FoxNews calls again - they want me for Studio B with Shep Smith, which is live around 3:30. The topics? 3 - Hasselhoff back in rehab, Keifer Sutherland's DUI, and George Clooney (yay! I've already prepped on him!). I say yes, I can do it, but am trying to figure out how the logistics will work - can they send a car to Court TV? They can.
12:30 pm - I read the stories for Fox, and send the producer back talking points.
12:45 pm - Another network emails - they have me scheduled to go on one of their shows. What are the topics I'll be covering, I ask? They list what feels like 80 ... I decide to prep for those AFTER I'm finished with my 2 pm and 3:30 pm appearances - I can't handle them right then.
1 pm - Jump in shower. This particular taping for Court TV doesn't have hair & makeup (which is really unusual) so I do my own. After more than two years of watching makeup artists render my face unrecognizable through mounds of war-paint, I'm pretty good at it by now. I slather on the Mac tv-pancake foundation, tease my hair, throw on a black blazer, grab my laptop & notes and go.
2 pm - In towncar heading to Court TV - it's on 40th and Lex, so it takes 10 minutes to get there.
2:15 pm - Towncar waits while I tape the two segments. After I cover Clen & Madonna, the producer asks if I can talk about PETA for another show she's doing. I oblige, even though I haven't prepped for it - usually you know the subject matter at least 20 minutes before, but sometimes producers will throw things to you at the last moment, and you just have to wing it confidently. It's part of the job. In this case, I know enough about PETA that I can give soundbites on which celebs have posed, why they pose, etc. They shoot some B-roll of me "working" at an office and "walking down the hall," and then I'm done.
2:50 pm - Back in the towncar, heading over to Fox at 48th and 6th. I feel like I live there, but that's not a bad thing - I work alone so often, that it's nice to be in a place where, even if everybody doesn't know your name, at least a few people do ;)
3 pm - I walk into the studio B makeup room, say hi to the artist, whom I've worked with before, get a touchup, and run down to the newsroom, where Shep is taping, despite being really ill. Turns out that there was yet another school shooting. Breaking news always preempts entertainment stories; I know I'm going to get bumped, but I already have all of my soundbites ready. Oh well - I catch up with Jill Dobson, who's supposed to go on with me. We wait until 3:40, when we're officially bumped, and then watch Shep vomit into a wastebasket as he rushes off air. You don't see THAT everyday!
3:45 pm - I'm done with Shep, but the car's supposed to pick me up at 5:30 for my next segment anyway, so I decide to NOT spend an hour in traffic and just hang at Fox until the show starts.
4 pm - I say hello to one of my best friends from Georgetown, Cristina, who works on the FoxNews breaking news desk - such a stressful job.
4:15 pm - I say hello to the producer for the following show, and sit at a desk to prep for the next two hours. NOTE: I HAVEN'T EATEN ANYTHING YET. I did have a coffee, so I'm not hungry, just wired. I don't usually have caffeine.
4:30 pm - the booker for the show says there are some topic changes. Another booker gives me the article to prep on. Okay!
4:45 pm - I methodically go through the topics, reading up on them, calling some experts to get their opinions.
6:15 pm - I've read the articles, talked to the experts, mapped out my talking points, and am ready to go! I'm particularly proud of my newfound sports knowledge: ask me anything about A-Rod - 54 HRs, 156 RBIs, his contract is up in 2010, but everything thinks he'll opt out early. The Yankees probably won't try to keep him, but only five other teams can afford to pay his likely 30/m year salary (his agent is quoted as saying he wants to get 300 m / 10 yrs). The Rangers would be ecstatic if A-Rod left, getting them off the hook for about 27 m - they pay approx 9 m of A-Rod's 25 m yearly salary. I predict he'll go to the Cubs. It's bizarre how much I'm enjoying talking about this subject. I can't figure out why this is.
6:45 pm - I get a quick makeup touchup, greet my girl friend Krystal and chat with the other guests, both men in their forties.
7:05 pm - Show starts: the host is fantastic, the format is fun, and my soundbites don't get garbled. I'm happy.
7:50 pm - DONE!!! CAN I EAT NOW??? I grab a brownie from the greenroom on the way out to the car with Krystal; we decide to stop by a Carbon party at Socialista downtown. I need to interview bankers for a story I'm doing for Time Out anyway, and Carbon Club is loaded with cocky finance dudes.
8:15 pm - We walk into the event. I spot my friend, the celebrity dermatologist Dr. Bobby Buka. He's a ray of sweet sunshine in this cloud of Brooks Brothers douchebaggery. UGH, finance guys. UGHHHHHHHH. I have never dated one, and I doubt I ever will. I'm not saying that it's impossible to be a fantastic man and work in banking, I just HAVEN'T YET MET ONE.
8:30 pm - I try to make the situation worth my time, so I'm asking the bankers questions for my column, but after 10 minutes, I get told that my notebook is "making the management nervous." Apparently they're not used to people who "write stuff down." It's like I'm a communist! If the party can't be useful, I'm done with it. I kiss Krystal and Dr. Bobby goodbye, and jump in a cab - I STILL HAVEN'T EATEN!
8:45 pm - I get a text from my girl friend Meghan - "Where are you?" - I call her; I'm leaving the West Village, does she want to meet at a cheap diner for a tuna melt? She does. We meet at her apartment on Mercer.
9 pm - On the way to the diner we walk by a Halloween superstore. I have to see if they have any Star related stuff - because I'm making my Shooting Star costume myself. They don't really, but I buy a star wand and two Deputy Star badges, just in case.
9:15 pm - My first real food of the day, a giant tuna melt with cheddar. oh YUM. Meghan and I talk about her career, my relationship, etc etc etc. It's so good to just chat after a long day.
11 pm - Dinner's over, we say goodbye. I'm at 6th St and 2nd Avenue, so I decide - despite my 4 inch heels - to just walk the 15 blocks home. I put on my pink iPod and think about how grateful I am to have a job and friends and life which I LOVE. I'm really happy.
11:30 pm - Lilly's ridiculously excited to see me - I play with her for a bit before throwing myself into the shower to get the eight pounds of hairspray and makeup off me. It feels SO GOOD to take it off!
12 am - Walk Lilly. It's still warm enough that I don't need a sweater, which I love.
12:30 am - Check emails, get ready for bed. Read the Newsweek cover story on women in power - Arianna Huffington is a role model of mine, and I love her philosophy. I thought "oh, fabulous!" when I saw the cover, but the actual story inside is just a boring collection of "My Life" anecdotes - there's not much take-away, nor is there much "this is what it all means." Very eh. I'm disappointed.
1 am - I climb into bed, and grab the book that I'm supposed to finish reading for an author interview tomorrow. It is so bad I want to cry. Oh GOD, it's unreadable.
1:15 am - I write down a To-Do list for tomorrow - write my column, prep for FoxNews appearance at 3 pm, interview that author, switch my plane ticket for the wedding I'm attending this weekend b/c I have to go on the CBS Early Show Saturday morning, call my agent, send columns to Yahoo, send schedule to boss at Star, eat cookies.
2 am - Fall asleep. Ahhh.