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When Kathy Griffin says, “I want three hot firemen on the show,” someone has to fold up their sleeves and be willing to do the truly rough work in the office. That person is me. That was a difficult week being a talent producer here on Kathy. I was touched by how many co-workers volunteered to step up and actually go with me on the painstaking mission of finding gorgeous men trained to wield a large hose. But, as it was my responsibility to find them, I decided to bravely go about it on my own. It was an arduous task -- driving to multiple fire stations to meet, interview, and take shirtless photos of HOT firemen -- but after five painstaking days I found a few boyfriends. Eh… I mean panelists. Whether it be finding hot firemen, hot marines, or hot bachelors for Tiffany, being a talent producer is just like solving a jigsaw puzzle. A hot jigsaw puzzle. You have to turn over a lot of pieces, study them, and try and determine which pieces fit together to complete the whole picture.
A lot of people have asked how we find our “civilians.” One of our Kathy luminaries, Meredith Morris, is a talented Beverly Hills hair stylist, and also happens to be Tiffany’s roommate. Ryan ‘The Dogwalker’ Steckloff is in fact Kathy’s dogwalker. So some of these folks are genuinely real, everyday people in Kathy’s world, and some we were just lucky to find! In our last episode of the season with Jimmy Kimmel (July 5th), one of our panelists is going to be a cashier from my local pharmacy. I first met Gail about four years ago when I randomly chose her register to casually put the loot from my basket on. She immediately had an accessible, fun energy that warmed me, and when, from under the frizz-control hair conditioner, volumizing mascara, and spearmint gum, she saw a box of condoms, she did what no cashier has ever done -- she BUSTED me for them! “Oh girl,” she said, “You gonna have yourself a FUN weekend, aren’t ya?” I loved it! It was an authentic moment between women, and every time I go to that drugstore, Gail is my girl. She is vibrant, unique, and authentic, and on some occasions we dish about the celebrities on the magazine covers right there at her register. So when Kathy said she wanted civilians, Gail the first person I thought of, and I know she will be great on the show next week!
Now as many of you may know, Kathy put a moratorium on civilian-only panels, as she wanted to have some of her friends join her on the couch. Part of my responsibility of being a talent producer is that on our tape day I sort of serve as the host to all of our guests at the party that is Kathy. I set up the guests’ dressing rooms, see to it that their favorite snacks and drinks are there, greet them at their cars, walk them to their dressing rooms, consult on wardrobe, and always ensure that everyone (celebrity or civilian) is taken care of and feeling relaxed, confident, and comfortable. It was truly wonderful meeting the hilarious ladies, Chelsea Handler and Whitney Cummings, and this week we are honored to have Jane Fonda and Sharon Osbourne on Kathy.But meeting last week’s guest was a moment at least ten years in the making. Years ago, my mom called me one evening to tell me she “discovered” (second to my father) the most amazing man. “He’s smart, charming and SO handsome with those piercing blue eyes. He’s a correspondent for ABC News and his name is Anderson Cooper. I think he’s just perfect!” As his career ascended to great heights and success, so did the frequency of my mom’s calls about him. “Anderson’s hosting The Mole! Are you seeing this..? Anderson’s impassioned coverage of Hurricane Katrina is killing me. He is the real deal.” Every time he sat alongside Kelly Ripa, I had indiscernible voicemails from my mom just giggling hysterically, “He has the best laugh, my Anderson.” She still boasts that she was the one who discovered him. Anderson 360 and Anderson have permanent season passes in her DVR. When I was hired to work at Kathy the second thing she said was congratulations. The first? Yep, “Do you think Anderson will be a guest?!?!”
I was super sad that my mom was sick and couldn’t come to the taping, and yet she truly wasn’t disappointed, as she thought she would likely embarrass herself in his presence. Anderson was professional, lovely, gracious, and kind. Thanks to the gem that is Meredith Morris, after the taping she captured this photo, which my mom can treasure always. And by always I also mean all ways. I promptly ordered this image on a mug, calendar (yes, with this same image for all twelve months), fleece blanket, notepad, return address labels, desk organizer, paperweight, serving tray, and deck of cards that under our picture say "It was in the cards." Now I just have to go to my neighborhood drugstore to pick it up from Gail!
Judith Benezra is an Associate Talent Producer on Kathy