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Off to the Races!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

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Last week I shot the pilot for a national television talk show with me as the host, and I must say, it all went by in a blink. Months of work and planning were over in no time. My day began with an early hotel wake-up call and ended with removing my false eyelashes, then falling asleep seconds after I turned out the light. My friend, Celina, was worried I might have a “blue slump” when the big day was over, but there’s been no time for a letdown. As I told Celina, “I’ve bitten off something really big, and there’s no time to do anything but make this talk show a reality.”<PREVIEWEND>

Oh, how I wish I could tell you every detail, but we’re in a “blackout” period until the show’s “a go” or “no-go.” Either way, you can’t imagine what’s crammed into our relatively short timeline, a critical path designed to turn a pilot into a full-blown talk show. We’ve begun something akin to an Olympic track and field event. The starter pistol has already fired, and we’ve come out of the blocks as fast as our legs will take us. While we’re not on the course with other racers, we do have to achieve a winning criteria. Then, if it’s “a go,” like being flung from a sling shot, another frantic race will begin: researching shows, booking guests and developing interview questions; finding clothes to wear and shoes narrow enough to fit my skinny feet; filling the audience with lots of wonderful women and men and shooting back-to-back shows till our first season is taped, edited and “in the can.” If it’s a no-go, then I’ll smile and cherish this wonderful, crazy experience and know that I gave it my best. As winning Super Bowl coach, Mike Ditka, said, “Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal.” Either way, I will be fine.

One of the things I can tell you is that from the moment Dr. Susan Love walked into the makeup room, everyone fell in love with her. Word she was on set spread like crazy, and the director and crew came to meet her. Quite simply, Susan Love is a phenomenon! She radiates openness, enthusiasm and a curiosity laced with intensity, excitement and more than a pinch of mischief. Even to the casual observer, it’s apparent Susan Love does everything with her entire being. She is the real deal!

When we’d finished taping her segment, Dr. Love was mobbed by women who had more questions for her or who wanted to have their picture taken with her. I finally had to have one of the production assistants rescue her and take her to a car, waiting to whisk her to the airport. I would walk across hot coals for Susan Love, and I owe her a debt of gratitude for coming to do this pilot. I’ve already heard from so many audience members; women who’ve told their friends what they learned from the show and have passed the ArmyOfWomen.org website on and urged them to join. Others have sent word they’ve bought Dr. Love’s breast cancer and hormone books. This is so gratifying, because I consider myself a recruiter for the Army of Women. Regardless of whether you’ve had breast cancer or not, we’re looking for a million women to join, so Dr. Love’s research teams can find the cause of breast cancer and develop a preventative vaccine.

That’s about all I can tell you for now except, I did cry. As I was ending my interview with Dr. Love, I looked into the camera and said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were the ones who made it possible so that our granddaughters and their daughters never get breast cancer?” By the time I got to “our granddaughters,” my voiced cracked, big time, and I bit my lip and had to pause before I could continue. The thought of what those of us who’ve had breast cancer, our family and friends have been through, lodged in my throat like it was the sum total of all of our pain and heartache. The thought of the great women who’ve already died, and the ones who are fighting with all their might, hoping against hope to be one of the ones whose Stage IV responds to treatment was more than I could verbally articulate.

The good news about a pilot is that everyone learns a lot about what we need to do next time. If given a next time, I’ll keep a better eye on the makeup artist and stop her before she turns my eyebrows into Frida Kahlo lookalikes.


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