You Heard It Here: In The Beginning

I just realized a fairly cool event that I never shared. You’ve heard a few stories of the time I worked as a Page at KTTV when I first got out of school. Working at KTTV definitely got my foot in the door of show business. It bought me into contact with actors, comedians, producers, writers, etc…

I was fortunate to work on The Late Show when Joan Rivers hosted and when she left, Arsenio Hall took over. I loved Arsenio for many reasons. First of all, he was a regular guy. (I hope he still is.) He always had a smile and positive energy. He came on set and had this aura of happiness around him that was absolutely contagious.

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He liked to mix things up a bit and we never knew what he might do during a taping of the show. Let me preface this next part by telling you that I had done some “extra” work on two episodes of Gimme A Break, the Nell Carter show that taped on the same lot. I was trying to get into the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and I needed three days of work to be eligible for the union. All I needed was one more on camera appearance and I could pay the initiation fee and be in. (The actors unions were tough to break into. You can’t work without being in the union, but you have to work to get into the union. A little catch 22, you see. I’m not sure how different it is today with one union, but I digress…)

Back to the story. Arsenio went to a commercial break and strode toward the audience. I was standing off to the side making sure people were staying in their seats or not talking during the show or pointing them in the direction of the bathroom. (I know… you’re thinking, what a job…) He motioned me and one other page forward so we hurried to see what he needed.

He smiled broadly and we smiled back. He clapped his hands together and said, “Hey, you two want to help me in between the commercial break?”

Hell yeah! my Texas brain shouted. But I somehow managed to keep my cool. “Sure,” I said. “What do you need?”

“We’ll just wing it and tease the next spot,” he said, moving to stand between us and face the camera that had turned around to shoot us.

“You mean we’re going to be on TV?” I think my voice may have risen a bit at that question.

“Yeah,” he said, smile in place.

The stage manager started to count down and by this point Arsenio had his arm around each of us.

“Arsenio, this is my third camera appearance. They’re going to have to pay me. It’s going to get me into SAG. I don’t want you to get into trouble.” As soon as I said the words I wondered if I just blew it and he’d shove me away, but my conscience never quit.

He smiled even broader. “That’s great! This is perfect then.”

And boom, we were on camera. The little red light flared on and he started talking, teasing the next guest on his show and talking to us. I have no idea what I said, but I know I spoke, agreeing with whatever came out of Arsenio’s mouth with a dopey grin on my face. All I could think about was that I’d just reached a huge milestone in my life and I owed it to Arsenio Hall. I will always love that man.

So that’s this month’s story. What about you? Did someone help you reach a big milestone in your life? I’d love to hear about it.

 

Comments

You Heard It Here: In The Beginning — 13 Comments

  1. What a wonderful story Dee…There are still many of those good people around and when you least expected it they pop up at just the right moment to help.
    I have heard that he is a decent guy!
    Make the most of your weekend….and how about this blessed rain…needed it badly. Cheers!

    Marie

    • Hi Marie,
      Yes! This weather is perfect! I’m loving it! Finally, fall has arrived! Let’s just hope it sticks. And I can’t believe I haven’t told this story sooner. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it until now. I would love to run into Arsenio again one day to thank him. Who knows… stranger things have happened. Thanks for coming by!

    • Hi Kate,
      He had a talk show (The Arsenio Hall Show) that got picked up for a second season, then the network (CBS) reversed course and canceled it. (Doesn’t get much worse than that!) I hope he finds a new home, I think he’s terrific.

  2. That’s a cool story; good to hear there are nice people in the business. And of course my editor at Harlequin helped me reach a big milestone in my life by buying my first Harlequin Intrigue after judging it in a contest! 🙂

    • Hi Carol,
      There are plenty of nice people in the business. Of course, there are some real stinkers too. Haha. I try to stay clear of the stinkers! Yes, we love those editors who buy us, don’t we! Especially the first! Thanks for dropping in!

  3. That’s a beautiful story, Dee J. I love being around happy people, and I always loved his big grin. Hope Arsenio finds a new happy place real soon.

    • Hi Robena,
      Thanks. I hope he lands somewhere soon too. He was a sweetie back then so I have fond thoughts of him. I only hope he’s the same genuine dude. Thanks for dropping in!

  4. Hi Dee J.,

    Arsenio comes across like that kind of guy–the one who shows up with positive energy, a sense of fun and a generous spirit. Thanks for the story!

    • Hi Sam,
      Yeah…he’s one of those that is what he appears to be. And that is not always the case in this town! I was sorry to hear his show was canceled. Hoping he lands on his feet soon. Thanks for dropping in!

    • Hi Kady,
      Thanks! Glad you liked it! You’re probably right… I’m sure it’s still hard to get into the union. I think the requirements have changed, but I’m not sure how. Thanks for coming by!

  5. Great story, Dee! Yes things have changed with the double Union. My son, Christopher Corbin, had to pay a 3,500 initiation fee when he was cast in Jane The Virgin and day rates have not kept up with the initiation fees. Fortunately they cast him in six episodes.