And we’re back!
Shellevation took an unexpected hiatus after the laptop my husband and I shared died in October. We recently replaced it with a brand-new MacBook Pro, and I’m excited to get back to blogging. I’m sure I would bore you, dear readers, if I attempted to document everything Kenley and I have done since my last post in October, so I’ll skip ahead.
The big news of the fall is that Kenley and I both started new jobs. Kenley began working as a home-page editor for Yahoo! in August, the day after we returned from our trip home to South Carolina. Kenley joined Yahoo! shortly after Marissa Mayer took over as CEO in July and announced she was pregnant, sparking debate among moms about achieving that often elusive balance between careers and children. But Kenley has benefited from Mayer’s policy of offering all employees a free lunch — literally, free food for the midday meal, every day.
Depending on the shift Kenley works, he helps decide which entertainment, sports and news stories are the most interesting or “buzzy,” and he packages them for the front page.
He’s handled everything from Hurricane Sandy coverage to Sunday NFL games to “Dancing With the Stars” eliminations.
Kenley still works some nights and weekends, but he’s home well before midnight and he doesn’t have to pull 12-hour-plus shifts. I’ve put him in charge of dinner on the nights that he gets home before I do. (Not surprisingly, he usually decides we should go out or order in. )
I accepted a full-time position as an associate web producer with “The Doctors” TV show in October. It’s a medical talk show that was spun off from “Dr. Phil,” which in turn was a spinoff from “Oprah.” “The Doctors” won an Emmy in 2010 for outstanding informative talk show, and it’s in its fifth season.
Some of you might remember that E.R. physician Travis Stork came to fame in 2006 on Season 8 of “The Bachelor.” Yes, he’s just as good-looking in person. He’s no longer a bachelor after marrying a pediatrician from Nashville, Tenn., earlier this year.
My job is to watch videos of shows and write a synopsis that incorporates photos and video clips, all of which are posted on the website the morning that the show airs. I also help write the blurbs that are given to the affiliates to promote the show.
One of my biggest concerns when I started the job was that I wouldn’t be able to control my tears and would turn into a red-faced, puffy-eyed mess in front of co-workers who don’t yet understand that I’m a frequent cryer — an apparently hereditary trait that I blame on my Mom.
I don’t think of myself as the sensitive type, but as soon as I witness others breaking down (which happens often on “Dr. Phil” and thankfully less often on “The Doctors”), I’m doomed.
On my first day, I attended a taping of the the “Dr. Phil” show as an introduction to how the shows are produced, and I’m happy to report that I survived it without crying — largely because the topic was bullying, and neither family involved came across as overly sympathetic.
But I confess that I might have shed a tear or two while in the control room watching a taping of “The Doctors” on Day 4 of the new job. The good news is that this seems to be acceptable, perhaps even encouraged. I noticed there are strategically placed tissue boxes on the desk, and one of the show producers grabbed one. Plus, a cameraman focused on a woman in the audience who was wiping her eyes.
Luckily, it turns out I’m encouraged but not required to attend all the show tapings. When I do, I sit squeezed inside the control room with the many show producers, removed from the doctors on the set and any drama.
But I seem to keep missing the tapings when celebrity guests make appearances — such as “Modern Family’s” Julie Bowen and “Sex and the City’s” Kristin Davis. Eighties TV star Morgan Fairchild was on a show about aging, but I didn’t get the chance to tell her that we once had lunch next to her at Cravings restaurant on the Sunset Strip.
But the appearance I most regret missing was of a cute penguin, Sammi, who waddled all over the stage.
If you want to tune in, “The Doctors” airs at 9 a.m. on WLTX-19 in Columbia, S.C., and 2 p.m. on KCBS-2 in Los Angeles. Check here for your local listings. If you ever visit L.A., I’m happy to get you tickets to be an audience member.
When we moved to Los Angeles almost two years ago, I wasn’t sure what type of job I’d find, but among the criteria was that it had to be something I could do only in Los Angeles. This job definitely falls into that category — and I still get paid to write and hone my editing skills! (I was hoping that I’d get healthier through osmosis, but instead I seem to have developed a case of hypochondria.)
“The Doctors” is produced at Paramount Studios, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and can boast that it’s the only major working studio still in Hollywood. (I drive toward the Hollywood sign each morning to get to work. The sign is looking a little brighter these days after recently getting a facelift.)
When I walk out of my office building (which is named for film star Mae West), I walk onto the back lot and the (fake) streets of “New York” and “Chicago.” (Some loyal readers might remember that Kenley and I visited the Paramount back lot back in April with our friends Kathy and Justin for a beer festival, where we took a sitcom-esque photo on the steps of one of the buildings.
I eat lunch in the shadow of the lot’s famous water tower.
Also next to our building: Greendale Community College, the fictional setting for the cult TV comedy “Community,” where Jeff Winter (Joel McHale) and members of his study group spend most of their time flirting and bickering. Show characters Annie and Abed (Alison Bree and Danny Pudi) have a star wagon that’s been parked right outside our door.
I’ve seen Bree from a distance, and I’ve spotted Pudi a couple of times. Once, I walked right past him and smiled — because you forget that while you might feel a sense of recognition for characters you see on TV every week, the actors have no idea who you are. He didn’t smile back, even though I had actually spotted him and other cast members earlier this year outside of Animal restaurant. I like to think he was still in character.
“Community” recently wrapped up filming, and the new season premieres at 8 p.m. Feb. 7 on NBC.
When Kenley’s middle brother, Logan, came to Los Angeles in November to attend his USC-Annenberg Getty Arts Journalism fellowship (the “other” USC, not the Gamecocks), we went on an official Paramount Studios tour. We got to walk through the Greendale Community College cafeteria and Abed’s apartment.
William McKinley High School — where the New Directions show choir performs on the hit TV show “Glee” — is across the lot, guarded by a barricade of security and tall shrubs. I’ve seen some of the show’s “Cheerios” (cheerleaders) walking around, but none of the stars. Our tour guide told us they have to watch for “Gleeks” (she actually referred to them as “runners”), who take off in the middle of tours in hopes of finding their favorite “Glee” crooner.
The tour guide also pointed out a bench near Paramount Studios’ original gates. It’s the famous bench featured in “Forrest Gump,” and when Tom Hanks was on the lot recently he reportedly sat down on it and handed out chocolates — in character — to those who stopped by! Sure hope that’s a true story.
In other news, Kenley and I:
- Bought a new car with four doors so that Malia can stick her head out the back window.
- Celebrated Kenley’s birthday at Slater’s 50/50, where burgers are made of half-ground beef and half-bacon!
- And continued the celebration at The Stinking Rose, where garlic is the specialty, but Dracula lurks around every corner.
- Traveled to Newport Beach in Orange County and couldn’t get “The O.C.” theme song out of our heads (“California, here we come”)
- Saw Buffi Jacobs play cello with singer-songwriter Sara Lov at the Bootleg Theatre in September. We also introduced Buffi to fellow Columbia expat and musician Lorrie Rivers.
- Returned to The Hollywood Bowl, where Wilco played “California Stars” as we actually sat under California stars.
- Got an invite to the private SOHO House in West Hollywood for a D.J. set by Ernest Greene of Washed Out, where we snapped a memento in the photo booth with Matt Tyler and Anna Metcalf and rode the elevator with Olympian and “Dancing With the Stars” contestant Apolo Ohno.
- Had a drink at The Prince, where Don Draper and his “Mad Men” colleagues enjoy happy hour.
- Experienced famed dive bar Jumbo’s Clown Room for the first time. Let’s just note that it features no real clowns, but Kenley was forced to contain himself after encountering what he considers to be his best celebrity sighting so far: Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister.
- Dressed up as a walking AMC promo for Halloween. Kenley donned tighty-whities to portray “Breaking Bad’s” Walter White, and I wore my mom’s going-away dress from her wedding to play “Mad Men’s” icy Betty Draper.
- Discovered The Hart and the Hunter restaurant, which specializes in Southern cuisine including pimento cheese, boiled peanuts, fried green tomatoes and Lowcountry boil.
- Spotted talk-show host Conan O’Brien at Sotto, an Italian restaurant that comes close to making you feel as if you’re in New York City.
- Celebrated Thanksgiving by taking Malia for a stroll along the Venice Boardwalk.
- And Kenley returned to the stage, playing acoustic sets at The Good Hurt in Mar Vista, and The Talking Stick in Venice. He’s got another show coming up Dec. 30 at The Cinema Bar.