Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Keep Me Out of the Picture!

I've just come back from a week in New York City — one of my favorite things, although I have to pretend to my boys that it's horrible drudgery. I was there to participate in our twice-yearly sales conference, where we present our next season's line of books to the sales force, both in the field and in house at Workman, our parent company. I absolutely hate speaking in public, so it's a double-edged sword for me — I love seeing friends from all the Workman imprints and meeting up with our field sales reps, whom I almost never get a chance to chat with in person, but I also have to be a part of Storey's presentation and be ready to answer a question at a moment's notice while keeping my mind on what is coming up next. It's nerve-racking, but over in less than an afternoon, so I try to keep it in perspective.

But as I said earlier, I love New York — my husband and I met there, we lived there, I worked there for many years, and I love that I get to go back and meet up with producers, writers, publishing colleagues, and friends and sample new restaurants and movies that might not make it up to the wilds of Western Massachusetts for weeks. While I was there last week, I got to tag along with Sharon Bowers, author of the bestest Halloween cookbook ever, Ghoulish Goodies, as she did an appearance on CBS's The Early Show. This appearance took literally months to coordinate — the producer okayed the booking in July, and I hired a food stylist in September to coordinate all the goodies that were going to be part of the set. The producer, Kate Gibson, contacted me two weeks before the airdate to go over last-minute details, and then we all came together in New York to revise and rerevise the setup and food that we'd show.

I took some great photos of the process with my handy iPhone so you can see how the morning unfolded. CBS had asked a few elementary schools to have their kids on the plaza where the show is taped (right beside FAO Schwartz, how could that not be fun?), and there were kids everywhere — along with booths for face painters, balloon-animal makers, musicians, treat givers, and regular guests who were there for the show themselves . . . and thousands of people who just wandered in and out of the camera's eye. Here's our first reassuring sight when we got to the studio at the horrifying hour of 6:10 a.m. — Marie, the food stylist, creating magic with food:
Here's the Green Room — there actually is one, and it's got its own coordinator, along with two or three pages who get briefed every morning at least twice an hour about what to do when and whom to bring to what host and where.
You can see that there are nine or ten televisions all showing different channels so that the Green Room coordinator can see what's going on across the dial . . . they also had a spread of some really puzzling food for guests, but since it was the crack of dawn, I made do with a banana and peanut butter and pretended I was Elvis Presley. Sharon was too nervous to eat, so I sent her to Hair and Makeup, where they made her even more gorgeous:

We got called onto the plaza at about 7:15 a.m., and Sharon conferred with Kate, the producer, who'd just had her face painted and was none too happy about it, as you can see:

Here are some Ghoulish Goodies:
And the money shot:

And finally — ta-da!!! Airtime with Sharon and Harry Smith — yes, that's really him, dressed as Julia Child. Between helping two five-year-old princesses make spider cupcakes and trying to remain calm and not look like she was freezing (it was completely freezing that morning), Sharon did a fabulous job, and CBS liked it, too.

I love being out of the picture, taking it all in, and feeling just a little smug that she pulled it off just like I knew she could.

What's next? Now that Halloween is a fond and sugary memory, I think we should take a deep breath before the whirlwind of November and December. Have a goodie, and read a good book.

— Amy Greeman, Director of Publicity

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