We all have some things of interest in our pasts...It is true that eye contact invites people to stick around. Sue Simmons had that nailed. She would sign an autograph, looking elsewhere and move on. Speak a few words to an adoring fan while looking at me or in a shop window or off into space and move on..It was her way to handle that contact.
However, I had a lot of fun when I worked for Fremantle in NY. Its name is attached to just about every reality show these days, including stuff like America's Got Talent. It was/is a television distribution company. When I worked for them in the 70s and 80s, they specialized in selling American television shows in international markets. I worked there for Paul Talbot, the founder/President and a very interesting character for ten years. In fact I worked on a Friday and gave birth to my daughter Merelle that same weekend on a Sunday. Fremantle was a small company when I worked there, but they had offices in London and also in Sydney Australia.
When I began I was Paul's assistant but I ended up a Vice President. I used to handle the preparation for a television festival held in various locations around the US--NY, San Francisco, Las Vegas and more. I was 6 months pregnant with Merelle and in New Orleans for one of them. Heck of a town to be in preggers, you cannot drink their special drinks like one actually called a Hurricane oddly enough in light of Katrina’s devastation. I used to be there for, "build up and tear down" of NATPE International each year. I also attended local pre-meetings to jockey for good space as well. For instance, NOBODY wanted to be anyplace near the WWE booth, as they set up a wrestling ring and held matches twice daily. Vince and his wife Linda McMahon were really a couple of smart cookies. NATPE stands for: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF TELEVISION PROGRAM EXECUTIVES. When I first started doing NATPE it was held in hotel suites. The suites were held by the likes of Warners, Disney and down to the likes of Fremantle and even smaller. One year we were next door to some small little show about fishing and the actor Robert Fuller was the host. Man, in those days, the guy was potted before 10AM every day. Fuller was always very nice and friendly; a great hugger though, lol. Everyone was there to show their available programming for syndication. I can remember the doors to one hotel suite being made up to look like you were walking into a NYC cab, this for the series TAXI. Eventually, foreign buyers got into the mix. Thus when the elevators and stairs became so jammed that clients and staff alike could not get around, NATPE moved the growth to convention centers.
The vendors all brought their star power, along with food and drink of all kinds, lavish to say the least. Everyone had giveaways like you would not believe. I always came home with stuff to give away to friends and family. Being as I had to ship our stuff FedEx back to the office, getting things home was easy. The program execs from around the country could have their pix taken with any and everyone and I was no different on my breaks from our exhibit. I worked hard but had a lot of fun.
I also attended many which were held in Cannes in the South of France, exactly where the film festival is held. This was because our clientele was mainly international. Not too shabby to stroll the Cote d'azur to get to the Palais Des Festival and show/talk about tv programming. The very same "pink palais" where the film festival resides. The art deco style of the older hotels like THE MAJESTIC (see me poolside there?) or THE CARLTON was simply magnefique! The Carlton by the way is the hotel that Cary Grant swims up on the beach of in the movie with Grace Kelly, TO CATCH A THIEF. I got to hang out with a lot of good looking men, all of them were either clients or from our London or Sydney offices of Fremantle. Like I said, I had fun..
Paul Talbot and Fremantle had the rights to such things as CANDID CAMERA. Allen Funt got to a point where he would not deal with anyone but me. I even have a congratulatory note from Allen on the birth of my daughter. When I first moved out from New York to California in 1990, he had me come to his house for lunch and gave me some contacts for finding a job. Industry wide, I know Allen was not thought of as a nice man, but he was aces to me. Paul also had the international rights to Goodson-Todman game shows and we helped produce versions of them in foreign languages. We would send them the "book" of complete schematics and instructions, and even veteran producers such as Gil Fates and Bill Egan would go over to help them get things started. How fascinating it was to talk with a guy like Gil about classics like WHAT'S MY LINE and people like Dorothy Kilgallen, as Gil was a part of all that. There was even an Italian version of THE PRICE IS RIGHT. You have not lived until you have heard "come on down" in Italian, with that American inflection--just too darn funny I tell you. Fremantle also handled the TONY AWARDS and I always went to the dress rehearsals of that..such fun and one of my best friends, a well known NY DJ and a man who makes a fortune doing voice overs for NBC, Les Marshak (a Bronx boy) was the announcer on that and so it was like a party for us. We also handled the soap opera, RYANS HOPE. I got to know the creators and writers, Paul Mayer and Claire Labine quite well. One year they held a Christmas party on the set, at the RYANS bar, a pivitol place for the soap. It was there that my late husband Jay almost had his lights punched out.
You see, Jay was a die-hard NY Rangers hockey fan. Those kind of guys DID NOT take kindly to a new NY team, aka the ISLANDERS. In his mind they belonged and should have stayed out on Longgg Island and not "invading the brotherhood of true blue hockey fans in NYC. So there was this hulky looking guy at the bar and Jay kept agreeing with him and going all Islander fan-like. They were talking and I knew exactly what Jay was doing. Then he pounced with some sort of nasty remark which was sort of a "why don't you and your team go back where you came from." As Jay smugly smirked at how he had duped the guy, the fella grabbed his collar and was getting ready to grand slam my husband when some other men broke it up. Jay loved that story till the day he died...lol. Me, well I was glad that someone put a stop to the fraccas! There you go..
I also enjoyed going to some very lovely Goodson-Todman Christmas parties at 30 Rock. I loved that complex and I knew it all very well.
All in all life was busy and my work took me to places I probably never would have been to otherwise. The Aura Borealis is one hell of a lightshow, even from a plane window flying New York to Paris, enroute to Cannes. I am grateful I was given the chance to meet so many different people, and to see so many beautiful and interesting venues. Okay so I was a bit put off by the fact that the French serve shrimp with their head still attached, beady little black eyes staring up at you from the plate...and no I did not eat frog legs so I cannot say if they taste like chicken..just could NOT do it. Still, the experience and the wonderful times my memories hold are truly priceless. Hope you don't mind my sharing some of them with you.