Visiting Stef At Deal or No Deal

As a parent it was cool going around with Stef. Everyone seemed to know her and like her.

deal_or_no_deal.jpgNo work today. I have to turn around and work tomorrow morning for Gil who is recuperating from some scary problems which followed ankle surgery.

Have I mentioned, no work today?

With a lack of commitments this became the perfect time to visit Stef at work. She is working on the daytime syndicated version of “Deal or No Deal,” taping this season at Sonalysts in Waterford.

“She makes this drive every day?” I asked rhetorically as we drove past the Niantic/Flanders exit on I-95. It’s around an hour from home to the studio.

Sonalysts is an actual movie lot in Eastern Connecticut. There are large sound stages and an open California-like feel.

As it turns out this was also the day Francine–Queen of Hair, saw the show. She, her daughter and a friend joined us as Stef conducted the grand tour. We went up-and-down stairs, in-and-out of hallways from building-to-building.

We walked down the hallway with Howie Mandel’s dressing room. I know that because it said “Howie Mandel” on the door! Also, because Howie walked out as we were going by.

“He’s wearing a lot of makeup,” Helaine said. “You know about that,” she added while looking at me.


Most TV studios are smaller than they look at home. Not this one. The Deal studio is expansive with the audience surrounding the platform where Howie, the contestant and the producer’s phone stay. We sat down in the front, just a few feet from the action.

After a brief warm-up the show began. This is a well oiled machine. The show ran with a few tiny problems easily fixed in post-production. Though this is the 30 minute version the game ran much longer. Again, easily fixed in post.

During a commercial break Howie stood alone on a rise near my seat.

“Howie,” I called out, “Howie.” He looked up. If Stef would have been with me she would have crawled into a hole. I told Howie we had a mutual friend (Howard, best man at Helaine and my wedding) and mentioned I’d been on Buffalo TV while he was living in Toronto.

As a parent it was cool going around with Stef. Everyone seemed to know her and like her. She was treated as a grown-up. This part could not have been better for Helaine and me.

The show went really well. The audience does get drawn in, yelling for the contestant to take the deal… or not. I didn’t think it would be as emotional for me as it was. A young woman from Waterford who wanted to win enough to take her family to Italy won enough to take her family to Italy.

Alas, Stef’s TV career ends Friday when Deal finishes production after 130 episodes in Connecticut.

Worldwide Fame Stinks

As he tells it, she ran into people from Connecticut and told them she knew me. They knew me back!

Just got a call from my secret friend in the San Fernando Valley. His assistant is on vacation, visiting Italy.

As his assistant tells it, she ran into people from Connecticut and told them she knew me. They knew me back.

“We’ve watched him age,” they said.

I hope it rains for the rest of the trip.

Shmoozing With The Teachers

Tonight was the annual dinner for the Connecticut Assocation of Schools. Me and nearly 600 teachers and administrators at Aqua Turf. This was my 12th consecutive appearance.

I know I wrote about it yesterday. Let me add a little more.

Live performance is like a drug for me. When it goes well it’s the most astounding buzz. When you crack a joke and people laugh – wow. It was that kind of night. I’m not saying it was perfect, but it was pretty good.

I see some of you with cards saying you’re getting the vegetarian meal. That’s like going to Italy for the Chinese food.

OK – I’m no Seinfeld, but it worked with this crowd.

It’s funny how the perception of elementary school teachers changes from your own grade school days to adulthood. They’re real people. When I was in school they were not.

I posed for lots of pictures and schmoozed with anyone who’d let me. I’m a big believer in personal contact, but it also feeds my sickness… the same one that gets me buzzed with live performances.

The Speaking Season

I would guess, for most people the prospect of speaking in front of large groups would be scary. Not me. Over the course of a year, I’ll speak publicly in dozens of situations. So, by now, I’ve got more than a little experience.

This week it’s the Connecticut Association of Schools on Thursday and Juvenile Diabetes Association on Saturday. Helaine and I plan on being at a walk for autistic children on Sunday – probably no speaking, but lots of hand shaking.

This is my twelfth year for CAS. Usually there are a little over a thousand people at the Aqua Turf in Southington. There is a ‘real’ after dinner speaker, so my time is short and I’m just the emcee&#185.

What is a little nerve wracking is the fact that my emceeing comes in the middle of our 6:00 PM news! So, at the last minute I step off the dais and do the weather with all these people looking on.

It’s sort of cool, because the teachers get a look of me ‘at work,’ if you will. And, a backstage view is always fun.

Saturday I’ll be emceeing for Juvenile Diabetes. I’ve been working with JDRF for about 15 years.

I’m looking forward to Saturday for a few reasons. First, Helaine is coming! That’s very unusual. No one on Saturday will appreciate that but me.

Second, Chris Kirby has put together another video for JDRF, which will be shown. I’ve just watched it and it’s amazing. He shot it (two cameras), edited, did the graphics and post production. His wife, Patty, wrote the copy.

Though I voiced it, that was my only involvement. Believe me – I deserve none of the credit. I’ll try and post a copy as soon as I get one.

I am glad I can use the power of the television station for these good causes. No one tells me I should, but I know it’s the right thing to do. And, I always feel good that I did.

&#185 – Last week I got an email asking what I wanted for dinner. Going to the Aqua Turf and not getting the prime rib is like going to Italy and not getting the Italian food.

Curling Update

I wrote about my curling infatuation yesterday. Obviously, I’m not alone.

From NBC:

MSNBC’s Saturday coverage of the U.S. women’s curling match vs. Italy delivered 1.258 million average viewers (0.81 HH rating) its highest rating and best viewer delivery in the 5-8 p.m. time slot since Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2004 (1.272 million viewers), and the best Saturday for that time period since coverage of the start of the Iraq war, April 5, 2003 (1.801 million viewers).

In the general scheme of things, we’re talking about tiny numbers. A .81 rating means 99.19% of the homes with TV are watching something else! However, for MSNBC it’s huge. No, actually, for curling it’s huge!

Out To Dinner

A major Saturday for Helaine and me – we went out to dinner with another couple. This is huge in the general social scheme of things as we’re normally stay-at-home types.

We were having dinner with Amy and Rob. Amy is Helaine’s friend and I had never met Rob. Helaine and Amy met online through a project they were both involved in and then, through Rob’s work, Amy and Rob moved to Connecticut.

We chose to take them to Tony and Lucille’s on New Haven’s Wooster Street. Wooster Street is the heart of New Haven’s “Little Italy.” Many of the residents and business owners trace their roots back to Amalfi. It’s no surprise that Amalfi is New Haven’s sister city.

Helaine and I have been going to Tony and Lucille’s for over 20 years. It is a family restaurant in the truest sense of the word. Parents are in the kitchen. Children are on the floor waiting tables. In many ways, we are treated as if we’re part of the family.

When Steffie was born, it was the first place we took her! Sitting at a small table in the corner, we put Steffie’s carrier on the floor next to Helaine. Lucille, in her pre-grandma days, took Steffie and carried her around the restaurant while we ate.

Did I mention the food is really great?

We met Rob and Amy at 7:00 and sat right down. The restaurant was crowded. Local colleges, including Yale, are in the midst of their graduation frenzy. Parents are in from all over the place often celebrating with their graduating children.

Speaking of which, the governor of a nearby state was there eating. Included in his entourage were his family and what I assume were state troopers, standing watch. They were ensconced in a side room – private but visible from the main room.

Memo to the gov – I won’t mention your name here, but the folks who waited on you were less than thrilled with your attitude. Would it be so difficult to be gracious? These people were working hard for you.

During dinner people cam up and said hello. I’ve been here a long time. I enjoy that. But I was irked by one woman – and she probably didn’t mean to upset me.

She sat near me and told me she liked me but that she thought I was wrong most of the time. Grrrrrr. I’m certainly not right all the time, but that was an exaggeration on her part – and why? What was she trying to accomplish?

If she knew how hard I work trying to be right and how upsetting it is to me when the forecast doesn’t come in as predicted, she probably would have chosen her words differently. I guess knowing those things isn’t her obligation.

We ate our dinner and walked across the street. I’m sure it’s somewhat sacrilegious, but we had dinner at Tony and Lucille’s and walked across the street to Libby’s for desert. Libby’s is an old style Italian bakery.

The line out front was as long as we’d ever seen, stretching out the door and on to Wooster Street. As we snaked our way inside, we caught a glimpse of what was there. If you’re on a diet or watching carbs… hell, if you’re watching anything, this isn’t the place to go.

In order to get people to eat things that are so bad for them they’ve got to be delicious!

I don’t remember what anyone else had, but mine was a chocolate mousse concoction. Somewhere there is a cardiologist who did not sleep last night because he dreaded I was eating this thing. It is the proverbial heart attack on a plate.

It was so amazingly good!

We came back to the house where Steffie was waiting, dessert in hand. Steffie really likes Amy, so she was happy to be home on a Saturday night to say hi (and start the coffee while we were in the car).

All-in-all a very enjoyable night.