Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dips & Twirls with a Thankful Publicist

From Janet Reid, founder, JetReid Literary Agency:

Years ago, I was one of the publicity girls that took authors around to their media appointments. It was lots of fun and I met some very interesting people. One day, the publicty director at Oxmoor House called and told me he was sending a cookbook author. “No problem.” I chirped, 'cause cookbooks were a total pain, but sort of fun (we did the marketing, and food prep, and set up for the TV cooking demos).

Then he told me the author was Jenny Craig. I about fainted. Of course she was pretty famous and all, but mostly I knew she was going to take one long look at me and say, “Get with the program, honey”.

The appointed day arrives. I have shopped, chopped, steamed and polished. I am ready. I am terrified.

And so is Jenny Craig. It takes all of about two seconds to realize that this woman, rich, famous, THIN and very self possessed is NOT used to doing live TV at all. She’s used to commercials with endless retakes. She doesn’t care if I’m fat, thin, green or chocolate brownie chewy at the seams.

I swing into uber-confidence building mode. I walk her through the piece. I show her the cooking utensils. I set it up so all she has to do is stir while talking. She relaxes visibly.

We have about half an hour before the show starts, so we chat about our lives. I mention I’m learning to tango. Jenny Craig’s face lights up in the first genuine smile of the morning. Tango! Turns out she and Mr. Jenny Craig are long-time ballroom dancers. Nothing to be done then, but give me a few pointers. With this, Jenny Craig takes me in her arms, and tangos me across the set of the local morning TV show. In front of the camera people, the director, the interns, the floor director. One-two-Three!

I’ve been forever grateful to Jenny Craig for the tango tune-up, and for helping me remember that no matter how rich and famous someone is, they too are afraid to fail or look stupid, and everything I could do to help them feel confident was a good thing.

Now, let’s dance!

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