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Shelley Herman, Writer-Actress-Host-Episode #278

Jan 16, 2024 | 0 comments

“Don’t have anything to fall back on. Because if you get too comfortable doing something else, then you’re not going to do what you really want to do. Find a way to at least be part of the atmosphere of what you want to do so that you can continue to learn….  Just try to get into the universe that you want to be in and stay there. Don’t get yourself sidetracked.”
~Shelley Herman

Shelley Herman is an Emmy-nominated writer, actress, and host whose career began as an NBC Page in Burbank, CA. Shelley’s written over 1000 hours of television, contributed to numerous books for Dove/Phoenix Books, starred in the TV series Off the Wall and Night Rap, and co-hosted ESPN’s Battle of The Monster Trucks and Mud Bog Spectacular. 

In addition, Shelley has guest-starred on numerous TV shows and hosted eight infomercials and national talk radio programs.

She’s perhaps best known for her work on the game shows Supermarket Sweep, Liar’s Club, Love Connection, Breakaway, Outdoor Outtakes, Trivia Unwrapped, Balderdash, Show Me the Money, and The Million Second Quiz. Shelley was twice a contestant on The Dating Game. And in 1985, for her work on Breakaway, she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Writing.

Shelley’s autobiographical memoir, My Peacock Tale: Secrets Of An NBC Page, details her time at NBC in the 1970s where, as a Page, she worked on several variety shows, talk shows, and game shows such as The Tonight Show, The Gong Show, The Midnight Special, Hollywood Squares, Password, Sanford and Son, and Chico and the Man.

WEBSITES:

MY PEACOCK TALE ON AMAZON

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Read the Podcast Transcript

Steve Cuden: On Today’s StoryBeat,

Shelley Herman: Jimmy Stewart had Arrived to do the Tonight show, and I was going to escort him from his limousine into the studio, and his driver had a Polaroid and had said, do you mind if you take a picture of me and Jimmy Stewart together? I was fine, no problem. And then Jimmy Stewart said, how about you take a picture of me and the little lady together? And that’s how I got that photo. Well, what I remember after that photo is about 3 hours later, my glands all of a sudden, under my neck all of a sudden popped out like Bullfrog. And I had my parents take me to the hospital, and it turned out because I was going to school, working as a page, trying to have a life, commuting back and forth, and I developed mono.

Steve Cuden: Oh, wow.

Shelley Herman: And then the mono went into hepatitis. And, as they’re wheeling me through the hospital, I’m yelling, somebody get a hold of Jimmy Stewart. I don’t want to be the person who kills Jimmy Stewart.

Announcer: This is StoryBeat with Steve Cuden, a podcast for the creative mind. StoryBeat explores how masters of creativity develop and produce brilliant works that people everywhere love and admire. So join us as we discover how talented creators find success in the worlds of imagination and entertainment. Here now is your host, Steve Cuden.

Steve Cuden: Thanks for joining us on StoryBeat. We’re coming to you from the Steel City, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My guest today, Shelley Herman, is an Emmy nominated writer whose career began as an NBC page in Burbank, California. Shelley’s written over 1000 hours of television, contributed to numerous books for Dove, Phoenix books, starred in the tv series off the Wall and Night Wrap, and cohosted ESPN’s Battle of the Monster Trucks and Mud Bog Spectacular. Shelley has also guest starred on numerous tv shows and hosted eight infomercials and national talk radio programs. She’s perhaps best known for her work on the game shows, supermarket Sweep, Liars Club, Love Connection, Breakaway, Outdoor Outtakes, trivia, Unwrapped Balder Dash, show me the money and the million second quiz. Shelley was twice a contestant on the dating game, and in 1985 for her work on Breakaway, she was nominated for a daytime Emmy award for outstanding special class writing. Shelley’s excellent autobiographical memoir, my Peacock Tale, secrets of an NBC page, details her time at NBC in the 1970s, where as a page she worked on several variety shows, talk shows, and game shows such as the Tonight show, the Gong show, the Midnight Special, Hollywood Squares, Password, Sanford and Sun and Chico and the man. I’ve read my peacock tale and can tell you it’s enormous fun I highly recommend it to you. So for all those reasons and many more, I’m truly delighted to welcome the extraordinarily talented writer, host and actress Shelley Herman to StoryBeat today. Shelley welcome to the show.

Shelley Herman: Thank you for. Wow, that was really lovely. Thank you for that.

Steve Cuden: Well, you’re quite welcome. I’m delighted to have you on board. So let’s go back in time just a little bit. How old were you when the show business bug first bit you?

Shelley Herman: Well, if you were to ask my mom, she would probably say, around the time of her divorce, because, I asked her once when I was already a full grown adult. I said, you know, I don’t remember you telling me when dad and you were getting a divorce. And she kind of stickered to herself and she said, well, when I told you we were divorcing, you broke out in tears. And you said the only people that you knew who were divorced were Debbie and Eddie. Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. And the only reason I knew that is because mom had the photoplay magazines strewn all over the house.

Steve Cuden: Right.

Shelley Herman: And not being very old, I saw them as, like, photo albums rather than magazines. And to me, those were our relatives. And I’d see those pictures, and to this day, there’s a picture of Debbie Reynolds wearing a little sweater, with diaper pins hanging off it. And it’s like, that’s the picture, I guess, that was seared into my brain of poor know, he went off with Liz and left. Poor Debbie.

Steve Cuden: So you were a little girl then?

Shelley Herman: Yeah, I was very young at the time, but I guess I realized that that’s what my mother was attracted to, and that’s what made her happy, is seeing those people and knowing those little gossipy stories. And, I never really excelled in math or science or things that normal, people do. So I just kind of went in that direction and pursued writing and theater and journalism.

Steve Cuden: So were you writing and acting as a little kid as well?

Shelley Herman: Well, I always wrote, like, the little school play because we always had to do something. Or if somebody was being, running for class president and they needed some kind of little shtick to do or even a speech that they had to read, it just came very naturally to me. And I really liked, there was a little, local paper, the acorn paper, in our neighborhood, and I really liked seeing my byline. I have to admit that.

Steve Cuden: Well, I think everybody likes to see their byline. That’s kind of cool. Especially when suddenly your name is an actual print. That’s a really neat thing.

Shelley Herman: And a picture too.

Steve Cuden: Well, that’s just the icing on the cake. Did you train as an actor, as a writer? Did you get any kind of schooling?

Shelley Herman: not until much later. But I grew up in agora, California, which is next to Calabasas, which a very high end community now. But when I was there, it was still a very rural neighborhood. And I say that we were like free range students back then because our theater department really just encouraged creativity and exploration that way. And if somebody wanted to create something, then everybody like, I’ll build the sets, I’ll make the costumes. And we all did it that way. So that’s what I thought life was. I thought all those possibilities were available to me. So I gravitated in that direction. And it wasn’t until I went to California, state university Northridge, that I actually took a formal class and learned that there’s actual formats to writing these things. And it’s not just line here, line here, line here on a page. I learned interior day office. I knew how to set things up that way.

Steve Cuden: it’s a very important facet of screenwriting is that you understand the formatting of a screenplay or a script. Because so many people, when they don’t do it properly, guess what happens? They don’t get hired because people see them as an amateur.

Shelley Herman: And directors don’t want to work with you because they don’t know exactly what’s going on either. And for your listeners, there’s different formats for a play, different formats for a television, different formats for animation, different formats for game shows.

Steve Cuden: True.

Shelley Herman: different formats for daytime television. And I’ll start this little story off too, about my little wicked career is I had a huge crush on a certain actor.

Steve Cuden: Okay.

Shelley Herman: We’re going right to the sex. And I heard that this actor was going to be on this tv series. And I thought, keep in mind I’m young while this is going on. M after being a page. So mid twenty s. And I was convinced that if I could get a staff job that he would meet me and we could get married and live happily ever after. so when I went in for the meeting, it was 1984. And they said, do you know how to use a computer? And I said, sure I do. And they go, okay, you’re hired. So I went to my friend Paul Grimm’s house and I said, you’ve got one of these computer things. How do they work? What’s the they? And he showed me. It was an old. And. And he showed me how to do it and set it all up, and this is how you format it, and this is how you. And I was like, great, I’m ready to go. So I get to the office Monday morning, all set to become the new Mrs. So and so, and maybe type a script in between time, and it’s a completely different dos, versus a CPM. And it was completely out of my brain about how to do any of this. But because it was the first day at work and nobody knew what they were doing, I was able to kind of hunt and peck my way through everything and figure out how to do it. So by the time the copy started coming to me, I could format it and put it in for everybody. And then it turned out the guy was married. And I thought, like, if this son of a bitch ever hits on me, I will kill him. So there went my future with my Mr. Wright.

Steve Cuden: Do you think that it helped you in particular that you grew up in southern California and were sort of in that region where there was already a big burgeoning film industry? Did that help you to be there, as opposed to the millions that come from elsewhere to go out there?

Shelley Herman: It seemed kind of natural to me because, the whole reason I even knew about how to be a page at NBC. A bunch of us kids got tickets to see the midnight special being taped at NBC. Burbank.

Steve Cuden: Right.

Shelley Herman: And for those youngens listening to your show, that was a late night rock and roll series, and it was a pretty hip thing to do back in the day. I remember going to NBC, and I think I was, like, 17 at the time. And I saw these people standing around in these ugly uniforms. They were the pages at NBC, and they were getting paid to listen to rock and roll music all day. And I thought I could do that job. So that’s how I even got the idea of how to do it. Little did I know that it’s one of the most coveted entry level positions in the entertainment industry. They quote figures that it’s easier to get into Harvard than it is to become an NBC page.

Steve Cuden: So you’re saying you did not know that it was a stepping stone job when you were interested in it?

Shelley Herman: The only thing I knew is that I had had a job as a volunteer usher at the Valley music theater in Woodland Hills.

Steve Cuden: Right.

Shelley Herman: And, because you can tell, I’m not too shy, they put me in the vip section, and Woody Allen was doing standup.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Shelley Herman: I escorted George Burns and Jack Benny, one on each arm, down the vip aisle to take them to their seats.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Shelley Herman: So I wasn’t shy about that kind of stuff. So I thought, I’ve got a volunteer job on my resume. I could go work at NBC.

Steve Cuden: I think it’s very interesting that you didn’t realize that it was something that could lead to something, that it was merely m interesting to you.

Shelley Herman: Interesting. It’s something I could do. I saw women doing the job, which is something I didn’t always see women or girls doing entertainment industry jobs. It always seemed to be like the men and the boys were doing it. So I knew I could do that because other girls were doing it. And it was only recently, that they had allowed women to be the ushers at the tv shows. Prior to that, the men were the ushers and the girls were the guidetes. And they wore the little white go go boots and the short skirts. And they gave the tours through the.

Steve Cuden: Studio, sure, but it was mostly men that were the pages in those days, mostly men.

Shelley Herman: But it just had started whatever women’s libs started happening, and some mauvey girl, much like myself, must have protested and got the girls in on it.

Steve Cuden: So then you take the job as a page, you’re hired. And then did it dawn on you at some point that this was more important than you realized?

Shelley Herman: It did when I realized how much it meant to other people to be there, the people that would come through on the tours, because unlike universal studios, which for the most part was set up specifically to give tours in certain areas, NBC was a full blown working studio. And at any given moment, one of the big elephant doors could open up and John Wayne could come out. Dick Clark. Peter Marshall hosting a game show. By the way, fun fact trivia. The youngest person to ever be an NBC page was Peter Marshall. His sister, Joanne Drew, had already been a star and got him in. He was 15 years old.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Shelley Herman: Page at NBC, in New York, Regis Philbin was a page. Chuck Barris, Grant Tinker. Recently, Aubrey plaza was a page. so I realized that it wasn’t just something that I could totally bluff my way through. And I would go to the library and look up in the old readers guides and look up old magazine articles and try to get, again, this is before the Internet, and I wanted to get knowledge, and I would read old articles and try to get spiel that I could tell on my tour because they didn’t have a handbook for us even at the time, really. And we had to talk for an hour to keep these people entertained.

Steve Cuden: So you had to do your own research?

Shelley Herman: We did our own research, and then we would shadow some of the other pages giving tours to hear what they said. I mean, they gave us certain information. Like, each of these floor tiles cost seventy five cents, and if you lit up this building for an hour, it’s enough to generate electricity for Rhode island for a week. Or there was like, stupid facts like that. With that being said, some of the pages might have exaggerated some of the stories. We would say, the new studio was in studio five, and the doors were often closed because they were doing the news. And we would say, now we can’t go on to studio five because the entire studio is filled with water and they’re doing seeds for Seahunt, which by then had been off the air for like 15 years. So the tourists were like, okay, there was an area that was the midway between where the administration building was and the studios. And there was a hill that you could see outside there. And we would say, that’s the hill that Julie Andrews twirled on at the beginning of sound of. Okay, okay, or that’s Walton’s mountain. And, oh, Walton’s mountain. That was always a big, you know, some of it was, you know, if they got a chance to see a celebrity, didn’t matter what we said on the.

Steve Cuden: So, all right, so let’s talk about my peacock tale then. You took your experiences and poured it into this book, which you’re already telling us a little bit about. Describe for the listeners even more about what my peacock tale is all about.

Shelley Herman: Well, it’s my story of being a page at NBC Burbank in the mid 70s, along with stories of, a lot of my colleagues. And I was very fortunate to get in with a group of people who are still some of my closest friends to this day. We still see each other like once a month. We watch award shows together. We celebrate our birthdays, we go to screenings, we’ve been to our parents funerals. I mean, we’ve had four decades of life experiences that we’ve shared. So when the pandemic hit, we wanted to see each other. So we got on Zoom and slowly realized that, oh, we can start reaching out to some of our friends who don’t live in the California area. And we were reaching out to New York and South Carolina and Miami and, up in the Pacific Northwest area. And suddenly we started hearing more stories than the ones that we’d been telling ourselves for the last 40 years to each other. And, oh, there’s a Freddie Prince story here and a Freddie Prince story there. And it was like a big jigsaw puzzle to a certain point, and people kept saying, somebody should be writing this down. And I only thought smart people wrote books. I hadn’t really considered me being an author that way, but I figured, I’m going to take a shot at this, and, joined a writers group, ran some of the chapters by these people. My friend Fred Rubin was a wonderful help to me at this point because.

Steve Cuden: Fred, who has been on this very.

Shelley Herman: Program, there you go. And he validated a lot of what I was doing, and he was like, you’re onto something here. Keep going, keep going. he liked the sexy parts in the book, so I’m glad somebody liked them besides me.

Steve Cuden: I like the sexy parts in the book, too.

Shelley Herman: so he was very instrumental in me moving forward with this.

Steve Cuden: And did he give you any kind of writing help at all? Did he give you any thoughts or instruction or, feedback that was helpful to the completion of the book?

Shelley Herman: Enormously, because I was telling the stories in more of a journalistic style when I started. This is what happened then. This is what happened then. This is what happened. And this was the consequence. And he said, but how did you feel?

Steve Cuden: Great question.

Shelley Herman: And that was, let me get back to you in about three or four more chapters, and you’ll see how I felt. And I rewrote and I incorporated my feelings and the feelings of, my friend’s stories. I went back to them and was able to put that in. And I think what makes my peacock tale special, and I’m not patting myself on the back with it, but just what people have told me, it’s a girl’s point of view. Most of the showbiz stories that people read are the male point of view. So a lot of stuff that might seem dumb to a guy. The girls are going, yes, of course. That’s how we think. Like me thinking if I went to work on the show that the guy would marry me. I mean, that’s like how girls kind of are trained to think at a certain point, and then at a certain point you go, no, I’m fine without being married. I can do that. I don’t have to take a job to get a husband. So that was a big turning point for me.

Steve Cuden: I’m going to also guess, having read the book, it very much is in your voice now. You and I are only meeting now for the first time, but the book is written very much in your voice, which is a big plus. And I’m going to bet that when Fred read it, it was fairly dry and didn’t have much of your voice in it. And that when he asked you how do you feel that suddenly your voice came pounding out of it?

Shelley Herman: Yeah, and I didn’t mind because once I was on a roll with it, I kind of didn’t mind copying to being stupid at certain times because.

Steve Cuden: What do you mean copying to being stupid? Well, as a writer or as a girl?

Shelley Herman: No, I mean, there’s just certain things that I regret having done it, but I don’t regret the fact that it got me to where I am now.

Steve Cuden: It’s part of your history.

Shelley Herman: Yeah, but there was, I did some dumb stuff.

Steve Cuden: Who didn’t tell me? Anybody that didn’t do dumb stuff as a young person actually tell me. Anybody that doesn’t do dumb stuff as an older person.

Shelley Herman: Well, but it’s one of those things that people can, like, don’t date somebody you work with. Everybody can tell you that. But until you do that and realize when it doesn’t go well, it really doesn’t go well.

Shelley Herman: Have to have that experience in your bones so that when you say that you don’t make those mistakes again, like some of that kind of stuff.

Steve Cuden: Life is nothing but a series of experiences leading to whatever it leads to, but it’s all a journey. So when you’re on that journey, you’re trying to figure out who you are and what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. And you don’t know what you’re in the middle of while you’re in the middle of it. It’s only later that you can look back and see it.

Shelley Herman: But then you put it in a book, and I was like, okay, so my friends know my foibles, and my husband now knows a little bit more about me than probably wanted to know about some experiences I had. But no, he’s totally cool with it.

Steve Cuden: It’s your past, it’s your history. Everybody has some kind of stuff going on in their history. And I think the fact that you had all these incredible experiences while working as a page, how much do you think that your experiences as a page then led you in life to be better at your work as a writer, as a producer, et cetera?

Shelley Herman: Oh, 110%. I give so much credit to being a page because we were exposed to a very rarefied atmosphere, and we were basically NBC’s ambassadors to the talent and to the public, and we had deport ourselves in a certain manner. So when we get out into the real world, the real world is like easy compared to what we had. And I can honestly say when people like, what’s the biggest thing you got out of your page? Experience? And, the first thing that comes to mind always is I learned what not to do.

Steve Cuden: What does that mean?

Shelley Herman: I saw people behaving badly, lying, cheating. It did not serve them well in the long run. For an immediate thing it did. But I learned that it’s just best to be upfront about stuff. And if you don’t know an answer to something, not to try to just bs your way through it, to say to the person, you know what? That’s a really good question. Let me get back to you on that and I’ll get the answer for you. And not only do you look like you’re being thorough, but it gives you another chance to connect with that person so that you can tell them that and they think that you’re smart and that you’re helping them, rather than the person going, yeah, that didn’t sound like the right answer. It sounded too shifty.

Steve Cuden: Do you think the job trained you to be disciplined?

Shelley Herman: At times, yes. And at other times, it taught me really to go rogue.

Steve Cuden: To go rogue?

Shelley Herman: Yeah. I mean, there were times when we were told to do certain things and that wasn’t going to get the solution. We needed to keep the talent happy. And we just had to think of it on our own and make sure that everybody was happy. So the fact we wore a uniform, I think had a lot to do with the fact that people would listen to us. Oh, sure, here’s a go rogue thing that and, I’m going to shamelessly name drop, but it makes for a better story. I was working the 1988 Emmy awards, probably one of the best nights in my life. But my job, once I dropped some of the talent off in certain areas, I was to stand backstage, and after somebody received their Emmy award, I was to take them to the press and publicity area so that they could be photographed and asked questions about receiving their award. On this particular evening, John Travolta accepted an Emmy award for his late girlfriend, who had passed away from breast cancer. They had done the movie the boy in the plastic bubble together.

Steve Cuden: Diana Highland.

Shelley Herman: Diana Highland, yeah. And John was out there and the clip’s on YouTube if people want to see it. And he’s crying and there’s a still shot of her behind him, like almost looking down on him like an angel. And it was very poignant moment. And John came backstage and sat in a metal chair and was just sobbing. And it was like a big ugly cry. And I went over to the makeup table, and I grabbed a bunch of tissues, and I tapped him on the shoulder, and I handed it to him. And he. Tears puddles out of his eyes, and I handed him the tissues, and then he took them, and then he grabbed me around the waist, and he was sobbing and shaking and shaking. And I looked at him and I said, you want to get out of here for a while? And he nodded, and I went and I hid him in one of the dressing rooms. And I stood in front of the door, and people were looking for him. And, hey, where’s John? Have you seen him? Have you seen. I go, don’t know where he is. No, don’t know where he is. And then after John composed himself, he came out and I said, are you ready to. Yeah. And walked him down the hallway. There was an ice skating rink that had been converted into a press area. And he gave me, like, a little squeeze on the hand, and he went and greeted the press after that. So sometimes you go rogue.

Steve Cuden: Sometimes you go rogue. The uniform I have found in life is very much an important factor in how people treat you. So if you go out dressed in sweatpants, people don’t treat you with all that much respect, but if you go out dressed up in a suit, people suddenly treat you with respect, and it’s just a matter of costuming. And so what you’re talking about is really, really true. Did you keep a journal back then, or did you rely on your memory to write the book?

Shelley Herman: I relied on my memory because I’ve kind of got, like a borderline Mary Lou Henner memory.

Steve Cuden: Oh, really?

Shelley Herman: Yeah. I remember a lot of stuff and smells and tastes and times. I mean, I can’t tell you what, October 5 of 1964, what day of the year that was, but I remember, I guess, being a child of divorce, I can say about that. I remember a bunch of stuff because my mom was pretty helpless, and I figured it’s every gal for themselves, because if she couldn’t pull through something, I needed to know what was going on all the time around me. So I kind of kept a brain bank that way.

Steve Cuden: well, then did you need to gather up information from others? How did you, check on your own memory? What did you do? Anything?

Shelley Herman: I talked to my friends, and I have a few photos, some of which are in the book, my peacock tale. And those would spark a lot of memories. Mean there’s a picture of, Jimmy Stewart and me in the book.

Steve Cuden: Yes. Good picture.

Shelley Herman: We didn’t have iPhones or anything back then, and we were always admonished, like all tour guides, no smoking, eating, drinking, taking photos on a tour. And Jimmy, Stewart had arrived to do the Tonight show, and I was going to escort him from his limousine into the studio, and his driver had a Polaroid and had said, do you mind if you take a picture of me and Jimmy Stewart together? I was fine, no problem. And then Jimmy Stewart said, how about you take a picture of me and the little lady together? And that’s how I got that photo. Well, what I remember after that photo is about 3 hours later, my glands all of a sudden, under my neck all of a sudden popped out like bullfrogs. And I had my parents take me to the hospital, and it turned out because I was going to school, working as a page, trying to have a life, commuting back and forth, and I developed mono.

Steve Cuden: Oh, wow.

Shelley Herman: And then the mono went into hepatitis. And, as they’re wheeling me through the hospital, I’m yelling, somebody get a hold of Jimmy Stewart. I don’t want to be the person who kills Jimmy Stewart. So the photos would spark memories that way. And then, in telling all of our stories to each other, all of these years, when we reached out to other people, other pages, and then they could help embellish the stories, mean there’s a wonderful Gilda Radner story in the book.

Steve Cuden: Terrific, terrific story.

Shelley Herman: And, let me tell you another story about that story. So one of the things in the book is Gilda wrote, a thank you note to Pete Hammond, one of the pages that had helped her that day. And even though somebody writes a letter to you, legally they own that letter. You, as the recipient, don’t own that letter.

Steve Cuden: Right?

Shelley Herman: So I needed to get permission to use it in the book. I don’t know anybody connected with Gilda, but I reached out on Facebook to Alan Zweibel, who was her dear friend, co, writer on so many things. And I said, hi, this is me. This is what I’m doing. Would you happen to know who controls Gilda Radner’s estate? Ten minutes later, I have her brother’s private email. An hour later, I had a photo release so that I could use the letter in the book.

Steve Cuden: Well, you led me right into a question I was about to ask, which is, did you have to clear rights on various things in the book? Did you have to get rights from NBC to write about it?

Shelley Herman: I did not get rights because it wasn’t necessary, because it was my story, my recollections, my friends stories.

Steve Cuden: Right.

Shelley Herman: And there’s a few letters in the book. There’s a letter from Johnny Carson to one of the pages. Joan, Rivers. There’s a letter to one of the pages. And I reached out to the Joan Rivers estate, got permission. Jeff Zotsig, who runs the Carson estate, gave me permission. Any photo that is used for press and publicity, you’re allowed to use in a publication. a lot of those are my personal photos, too, that are in the book.

Steve Cuden: Well, your personal photos are easy. You’ve given yourself permission, finally. But it does get a little tricky, doesn’t it, when you don’t own the rights to the picture? You’ve got to go obtain those rights.

Shelley Herman: And nobody turned me down. I was amazed. And the Carson estate, the front of my book is a picture of me in my page uniform when I was doing the stump the band segment with Johnny, where he would hand out, gift certificates to people who sang a silly song in the audience. And in the case of that photo, that even falls under a different. I should be a lawyer at this point, but because the photo was signed, good luck, Shelley. Best regards, Johnny Carson. That then becomes a gift, because my name, his signature to me, wishing me good luck, I still cleared it through the Carson estate because the last thing I would want to do is to get them upset. They’ve been so kind to me. They got me my clip of when I did the stump the band segment, too. So, that worked out. And then some troll, on Amazon, because it has Johnny’s signature on the COVID of the book from this picture. He know her book’s good, whatever. But doesn’t she know better than to sign the front of her book when she’s autographing them? It’s Johnny’s signature. Please leave me alone.

Steve Cuden: Well, that’s someone that just isn’t paying any attention because it clearly says Johnny Carson. It doesn’t say your name.

Shelley Herman: No, well, my name is there, but the whole idea is when people see Johnny’s real signature.

Steve Cuden: Right? That’s what I mean. You can clearly see Johnny Carson’s signature. It’s right on the front of the, Yeah. Did you then also interview any of your colleagues from back then?

Shelley Herman: I interviewed all of them.

Steve Cuden: All of them.

Shelley Herman: And some did not make the cut because they chose not to have their stories revealed. there are certain people that didn’t want it known that they had, snuck in the studio and made whoopee on Johnny’s couch when nobody was there. and at the same token, I had mentioned there was a Freddie prince story in the book. And these two women that told me their stories didn’t really know each other very well back in the day, and the stories were very sensitive to both of them. And I wrote it up, and then I sent each of them an email, and I said, a professional journalist would never show the subject of her interview, what has been written about them attached? Please read what I have written about you and make sure it’s okay, because, one of the woman actually went back into therapy because she really hadn’t confronted it in a long time, and she was with him the night he died. So, it was pretty heavy.

Steve Cuden: was there anything that you wanted to get into the book that you couldn’t get into the book for one reason or couldn’t talk to somebody, couldn’t get the information? Was there anything that you weren’t able to get?

Shelley Herman: I have some memos from NBC that, are hysterically scathing, but, NBC owns those memos. They are the height of political incorrectness. Hysterical. But there’s no way. There’s no way the language is mean. There was a particular man who worked at NBC that, everybody loved, but if you didn’t have a filthy nickname from him, then you were nobody at NBC. So I would love to have published those memos.

Steve Cuden: So let’s talk about your process in writing the book. How long did it take you to put it together, all told?

Shelley Herman: Oh, start to finish, probably about two and a half years.

Steve Cuden: Two and a half years. Was there a lot of a, gathering of material prior to your sitting down to earnestly write it, or were you writing it all along?

Shelley Herman: I started writing a one man show for my husband, who’s an actor by the name of Randall Carver. He was on the first season of taxi. He’s been in Midnight Cowboy, there will be blood. He’s had a nice little career. He was being honored in his small town, at his high school reunion, and they had asked that he do a presentation. So secretly, I was writing his story for him so that he could do it. And he was an adoptee. It’s a fascinating story. I’ll have to get back to it, because once Covid hit, they said, no reunion, everybody stay home. So my brain was already in kind of a writing gear. And when my friends were saying, somebody should start writing these stories down, I was already kind of revved up for that kind of thing. And I really enjoyed the process, because, as you know, as a writer, you’re writing something you think is going to be a certain way, and then it tells you what it’s going to be. And it wasn’t until I had several chapters where I went, oh, there’s kind of a theme running through this. I didn’t even realize. And I realized also that, not to do too many spoilers or anything about the book, but I turned the book in on time, did everything I was supposed to do. The very day I turned the book in was Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. And I was at my friend’s house. She was having a yard sale. And I was sitting there watching the people, and I thought, what have I done? I’ve just turned in this story. Nobody’s going to give a shit about my story. And I’ve just embarrassed myself horribly. And my friends might not like me after doing this. And I was just riddled with self doubt. And I saw this guy at the, And he kind of looked like John Crier on two and a half men. He tucked in shirt, and he looked out of place from the normal looky loos that were at this yard sale. And we got to chatting with each other, and he said, too bad about the queen. Yeah. And he goes, I was in England for her jubilee. So was I. We realized that there was this event that I talk about at the beginning of the book. He was there 47 years ago on the same airplane with me coming home from London.

Steve Cuden: Oh, my goodness.

Shelley Herman: And it turns out he’s like a very successful psychiatrist here in town in Encino. And we both just kind of looked at each other and said, why? Why is this happening to me now? I just turned my book in a couple hours ago. What’s going on here? And I’m not like a woo woo person, but I realized this was one of those, like, the universe pumping the brakes for a moment. And I went home, and I was thinking about it for a couple of days, and I called the, publisher and I said, stop the presses. I have to add another chapter. Because what the book finally did was come full circle. And I realized that everything was going to be okay, and my stories were going to be my stories. And it didn’t matter to me if people like them or not. It mattered to me that my friends weren’t hurt by the book, which they are not. And I knew everything was going to be okay.

Steve Cuden: Who was your favorite celebrity when you were at page? Who was the person that you went, wow, I can’t believe I just dealt with them. Was it Johnny? Was it someone like.

Shelley Herman: You? If you think of anybody at NBC, I met them, I saw them, I worked with, them. I mean, there were people, John Wayne, Fred Astaire type of people that would be guest stars, places. Paul Williams was always super nice to me. the one that was kind of the lucky happenstance. And again, another story in the book. Every summer I would go to the greek theater to hear Harry Chapin. And I loved Harry Chapin. A good storyteller, a kind man would be the first one at the theater, the last one to leave at every concert, made sure everybody was happy when they left. And, I would like to think that I’ve morally tried to pattern myself after Harry Chapin. I think he was wonderful again for the young people. He was a singer songwriter.

Steve Cuden: His most famous song was called Cats in the Cradle, right?

Shelley Herman: Yeah, cats in the cradle wold.

Steve Cuden: Yeah, absolutely.

Shelley Herman: Love song, Mr. Tanner. Yeah. And one summer I broke my leg and I thought, oh, I can’t go see Harry. It’s going to be too much of a schlep to get there. But one of my page friends, George Glovna, piled me in his car with my leg in a full big cast, went to the show. He got us front row seats. I put my cast up on a bar that was there so I could keep my leg elevated because I was in so much pain. And the next night, Harry’s doing the Tonight show. So I called George and I said, george, come on backstage. As soon as Harry’s done, we can go say hi and we can meet him. And, we’re standing backstage. Harry comes off stage. He takes one look at my leg and he goes, you were at my show last night. And it’s like, oh my God, I’m talking to my hero. And he was so kind. And, that was one of those moments I probably never would have had, except for my page friend helping me get to the Greek, and being at the right place at the right time to meet Harry.

Steve Cuden: That’s a great story. Talk to us for a moment about Kaufman.

Shelley Herman: Oh, wow. Andy was doing guest star appearances on a variety show called Van Dyken Company, right? And it was done at NBC, Burbank. Carl Reiner, a lot of those people were involved with it. That was just great, hanging around those people. And, I met Andy and he’d come and sit with me in the commissary trivia. It’s called the hungry Peacock was the name of the commissary at NBC.

Steve Cuden: I’ve actually been in the hungry peacock.

Shelley Herman: And lived to tell the tale.

Steve Cuden: Amazingly.

Shelley Herman: Andy, he was a very kind man at the same time. I wasn’t always sure if he was being real with me. I was young. I was still in college, living at home, and he would call me at home and say, there’s a bug in my bathtub. What do I do? How do I get rid of it? I don’t want to kill it. And we would talk, or he would be lonesome, and we would just talk. and it was fine. And then one day, we’re in the commissary, and he said that he had this idea for a bit that he wanted to try. And he explained it to me, and I’m like, okay, well, you’re my friend, Andy. I will help you. And we did this bit at the improv. It was like, 01:00 in the morning, and he did something where he was pretending to cut my hair. I was wearing a wig. And I’m, going to barber college. And you can’t count on showbiz. I need something to fall back on. So as he’s hacking away at my hair, somebody in the audience, I, don’t know if it was Bob Zamuna or not, but it was somebody that was of shill. And he’s going, hey, leave that girl alone. Stop cutting her hair. And Andy’s getting crazier and crazier. And then the guy comes up on stage. The two of them argue. I run off stage. Well, when the bit was over, Andy’s jumping up and down on the sidewalk in front of the improv like a schoolgirl and laughing. And he’s, yes, yes, it works. It’s funny. And I’m looking at him going, I don’t get what’s, what’s funny about. And he said, let’s do it again. And I’m like, andy, it’s one in the morning. I gotta go to college. I got a job I gotta drive to was, I wasn’t getting paid. And I said, I can’t keep doing this. And honest to God, I didn’t understand what he was doing. And it was a precursor to the wrestling that he would do, where he was trying to elicit a response from the audience. And it was, now that I know what it is and I understand him better, I’m like, bravo. Yay. You did it.

Steve Cuden: I was just too, he was pushing envelopes. I mean, he was absolutely out there on an edge that nobody else was on.

Shelley Herman: Here’s another thing about Andy, is when I was friends with him, he said, my manager wants me to do this sitcom, and I don’t want to do it. I’m a performance artist. I need spontaneity. I can’t stick with a script. And I’m saying, do the show. You’ll make a lot of money. And then you can do whatever you want after that. And that tv show was taxi. So my friend Andy told me not to watch taxi. Because it wasn’t a good show. My husband, Randall Carver, was an actor on the first season of taxi. And I had to go watch reruns of taxi. To know what my husband did on the show.

Steve Cuden: And you got to see Andy.

Shelley Herman: Yeah. And you know what? He was wrong. It was a great show. oh.

Steve Cuden: It was a great show. Oh, taxi was a great show.

Shelley Herman: And all the taxi people. Much like my page family. With, They. They are just so kind and so considerate. And when they’re in town, we hang with them. They’re just lovely, kind people.

Steve Cuden: So how did you wind up on the dating game twice?

Shelley Herman: I liked the show when I was in high school. I did the show the first time I was 17 years old. Went down to, Vine street. There’s a studio there that they were doing at 1313 North Vine Street, I think it was. And didn’t think I shouldn’t do it. I guess that was the thing.

Steve Cuden: Did you apply to go on it. Or did they come find you?

Shelley Herman: I applied to do the show. Went down for the interview. And they had all the girls seated on one side of the room. And then there was a partition. And all the guys were seated on the other side. And somebody was running the game. And they would ask questions and hear answers and all of that stuff. And because I’d had my high school theatrical training. I knew that I should at least sit there. And pretend I was listening to what they were saying. And look like I was committed and involved in what the men were saying. And, of course, I was wearing something cute also. So, I got picked to do the show. And then they did a syndicated version at night. And I was on for a second time. I went to the Bahamas the second time. I was so stupid is they. Jim Lang says, and you’re going to the Bahamas. And I hugged the guy that I had just won on the show. And I whispered in his ear, where are the Bahamas? And, went to Paradise island in the Bahamas for that trip. And became really good friends with the Chuck Barris organization. Chuck took a liking to me. I was born in Philadelphia originally.

Steve Cuden: Okay?

Shelley Herman: Only time I was born in Philadelphia, Chuck’s from Philly. So when we got to know tasty cakes and soft, twisted pretzels. We had something in common. So he would bring me in and we would do game show run throughs. And I got to see kind of the behind the scenes nuts and bolts about how games are put together. Again, not thinking I couldn’t do it, but I was just like, I’ll write questions. I’ll let you know what I think works on the show, what doesn’t work on the show. And I didn’t keep in touch with any of the guys that I picked on the dating game, but I did date one of the staff members on Chuck’s staff, a guy named Vince Longo. And, the cool thing about the first date we went on, and this is the part where you’re going to be green with envy about my life. I went to the Roxy and saw Tim Curry do Rocky horror. Yeah.

Steve Cuden: Wow. That’s history.

Shelley Herman: Yeah. And I have all of the little chotchkis that they gave out. I have all that memorabilia that I’ve still.

Steve Cuden: Were you explain what your position on most of these game shows was. Were you writing them? Were you producing them? What did you do?

Shelley Herman: Well, I started out doing being, like, a run through contestant where they would test the games out, and then eventually I would work my way into writing the questions for the show to see what worked, what didn’t work. There were production companies I worked for. I was helped building the scenery for the run throughs that they were going to do for the network.

Steve Cuden: you were building the scenery?

Shelley Herman: Yeah. Well, you had to build the podiums and the electronics to make where the buzzers would work and things like that. So if I tell you I learned everything about the behind the scenes stuff at game shows, I learned that I was mentored along the way by some really good people. Mark Maxwell Smith, Jeff Edwards, Larry Hobus, the people at Mark Goodson’s company, but primarily the Chuck Barris people, because that was as goofy as you think all that stuff is. I never saw Chuck stoned or drunk. He was, like, naturally high, and he loved maximizing people’s potential. So even when it came time to doing the gong show, if there was an act that truly sucked, but maybe the people didn’t know it, Chuck would give them some kind of shtick to do so that he could put them on the air so they could have their five minutes of fame. He was a very dear man and, quite misunderstood. And I really do think of him like a big brother at times to me because he really did teach me a lot about the business before I even became a page.

Steve Cuden: What do you think makes a good game show work?

Shelley Herman: Well, there’s so many different kinds of game shows, but ultimately you want to know the right answer. You want to know if somebody completed a challenge, you want to root for somebody and you want to be entertained. It used to be there was an expression, know you want to write a game show question. That would be a water cooler question, where you’d say, like, well, for like, there was a question that, when Ken Jennings did Jeopardy. And he seemed like no question was ever going to take him down. The question that took him down was, and I may not be saying it properly, but in the case of Jeopardy, you give the answer, before. The question is this, company hires the most people seasonally to perform the task at hand, right. So I don’t know if you don’t already know the answer, see if you can guess it.

Steve Cuden: I really don’t know the answer. I would guess it’s got to be something like Amazon or ups or the US Postal service, something like that. Am I wrong? Wrong and wrong.

Shelley Herman: Totally wrong. My first thought when I was, because I was working on the game show Boulder dash at the time, and I guess the east coast feed of Jeopardy came through and they went like, Ken Jennings lost. And it was like big news at the office. And because one of my part time jobs that I would do one of my survival jobs, people were guessing post office ups. And I said, irs.

Steve Cuden: The IRS.

Shelley Herman: I’m going to take it back. I even answered that wrong. It was h r block.

Steve Cuden: Was the answer h r block. So. So you’re saying that h r block.

Shelley Herman: Is the seasonally brings on their most employees.

Steve Cuden: Wow.

Shelley Herman: Because you don’t need them the rest of the year, you just need them like February through April, tax time.

Steve Cuden: That’s it.

Shelley Herman: Yeah. So, it was funny that Ken Jennings went down on an IRS question.

Steve Cuden: What do you think makes doing a game show, well, difficult to do?

Shelley Herman: I think that the simpler the better with a game show. And what really trips up a lot of people is if there’s too many bells and whistles and too many rules and too many flashing lights, too much style and not enough substance, something as simple as guess what’s in the briefcase. We asked five people what their favorite month is. Keep it simple, keep it interesting. In the show that most people remember that I did was supermarket sweep. Supermarket sweep was a question and answer show that had a fabulous bonus game. But what we purposefully did with that show is we wrote a very simple front game. Because the whole idea of the show was the more questions you answered correctly, the more time you had to run around a supermarket to gather things. So in that case, we weren’t trying to trip people up. We weren’t trying to come up with a tricky question like the h and r block question. So on something like supermarket sweep, it’s purely hunting and gathering. It’s a basic instinct in all people. So I think that’s why people can relate to it. price is right. You can’t walk by the tv without saying, oh, those cans of beans cost so and so. It’s just instinctual that way. A little inside tip on supermarket sweets, when people would go to get the meat and the poultry and things like that in the freezer section. We built a real supermarket in the studio, right. But, when they first did the show back in the was only the men that were allowed to push the shopping cart. The women weren’t allowed to do it. People would pick up the hams and the meats and the poultry and the juices would get all over their clothes. It would kind of get stinky and smelly and dirty. So Al Howard, the genius behind that show, went, to Mexico and had them make resin forms of the different types of cuts of meat. So that was the only thing fake in the supermarket were the meats and the hams and the poultries and things like that.

Steve Cuden: Do you think that shows are successful as game shows because of their simplicity? Like, for instance, it doesn’t get much simpler than jeopardy. here’s the answer. What’s the question? Who buzzes in first? Can you get that answer? That’s pretty straightforward and simple. Everybody gets that. You might not know the answers, but the show itself is fairly simple in the way it’s formed.

Shelley Herman: Well, shows like Jeopardy. And Wheel of Fortune, especially, I think, have become habit viewing also. So because of the time periods they’re in, most people are either eating dinner or just finished dinner. And I think with jeopardy. And it’s brilliantly written, if people start getting into jeopardy, you realize that in the answers that are given, there’s actually, like, little clues there that can help you figure out the answer.

Steve Cuden: Sure.

Shelley Herman: And I think people get a rush out of saying, oh, the category is opera. I don’t know anything about opera. And then they can answer the question, right. They feel great about themselves afterward.

Steve Cuden: Sure.

Shelley Herman: So I think there’s that kind of a vibe to jeopardy as well.

Steve Cuden: is it that the audience feels like they’re actually participating? Is that a big part of it.

Shelley Herman: I think that’s it. And I also think that because they only spend a brief amount of time, this person’s a school teacher. This person’s, such and such. This one’s. They don’t go into the whole sob story of like Queen for a day about and this person needs it for this reason or. I don’t like the shows personally, I don’t like to hear the sob stories because I don’t like it if they lose.

Steve Cuden: Right.

Shelley Herman: And, I also like it with shows that it’s not an all or nothing format. I think if somebody’s taken the time to come to the studio to maybe give up a salary job to come do the show, I think everybody should get something. And I think everybody should have a. Even if they lose, they should have a fabulous story to tell their grandchildren.

Steve Cuden: Well, for sure. How does one actually become the host of monster trucks and mud bog spectacular? How does that happen? Especially you, Shelley who? You don’t impress me as being a mud bog spectacular person.

Shelley Herman: I saw an ad in the back of daily Variety that they were looking for somebody to host a motorsports show. I happen to be a very big Indy car and, but back in the day with like Mario Andretti, Danny Sullivan, uncertainty, and, I’ve been to Indy five, so I truly dig on it. So I had no idea it was a monster truck show when I went to the interview. but I did wear a very tight, sexy red jumpsuit, and I had really big hair and red fingernails because I was thinking I would get to do like NASCAR, maybe Indy cars someday. So, they said it was monster trucks and it was for ESPN. And I thought, ok, stepping stone, I’ll do this. And I studied and I learned everything I could about monster trucks and nobody cared what I was know. It was just like, let’s hear the engines rev and see how big a splat somebody could make.

Steve Cuden: But you still had to act like you knew what you were talking about.

Shelley Herman: Yes, unfortunately, Bret Kepner, who is my co host, is extremely intelligent. He still works with, the motorsports industry. A lot of drag, racing he does announcing, and he’s very smart with that. But these guys put me through hell because I was like the girl. And not that they were sexually or anything like that. It was just boys will be boys. Especially when a whole bunch of them are together and there’s loud trucks around. And I was trying to do human interest stories and it was really fun. I got to ride in monster trucks. There was one that had like tractor tires that I got to do. And I will credit also the fact that I have been doing improv comedy off and on for 40 years now, and I’m presently with the, Andy Goldberg’s off the wall group. And being able to be in those environments as a sportscaster and being able to ad lib. And in some cases, there were some pretty awful things that happened, and people were hurt, and just still being able to talk around that too, that became a very important skill. But, a lot of praise to Bret Kepner, because he actually knew what we were talking about.

Steve Cuden: But you got the gig just literally seeing it in the back of a magazine. Right.

Shelley Herman: Because I took a chance, and all they could say to me was no. And they had already said no by me not going. So what was I risking? I was going to have an experience, and I would be able to learn what to say and do. I felt that I could if I was given a chance to do it. And I traveled around the country for a year and a half every other weekend doing motorsports. Yeah.

Steve Cuden: And, it certainly helped you that you had the theatrical and improv training so that you could then be presenting yourself in that way. you didn’t just arrive there and suddenly become a host. You had much training to get there without having host training. Correct.

Shelley Herman: I had zero host training, but I had a lot of friends who did radio, and I saw what they did, and I’d hang out with them at the studio, and I saw the dynamic of that, and I learned the theater of the mind kind of broadcasting that goes into it. And whatever it was that Bret was saying, I knew I had to pick up the slack for the other people who didn’t know what the hell he was talking about and weren’t as versed in all of the. This kind of v eight engine and this kind of fuel and all that kind of stuff. Like I said, I did a human interest angle on things, and I would do, like, one on one interviews with the people too.

Steve Cuden: That Bret was so beyond the stuff that you prepped or researched. how fast on your feet did you need to be?

Shelley Herman: Faster than I thought I could. Okay. Little old me in my little red jumpsuit and my big red fingernails and big hair. I, would get off an airplane in Tampa, and an hour after getting off the plane, I was, ah, at a stadium with 93,000 people talking about monster trucks. There was no way to even talk to anybody except Bret to say, like, okay, what’s the deal here? And he would verse me on the finesse of a demolition derby, of, if somebody was going to ride their motorcycle off of something, he would tell me why it was important. And then I would translate it through my little brain about how I would make it interesting. Even though I could not understand why a woman would blow herself up with dynamite in a box, I found a way to like, oh, what is this girl doing do Monday through Friday. When she’s not blowing herself up in a box on the weekends? Again, human interest angle on it, rather than just the exploitive area.

Steve Cuden: Well, Shelley inquiring minds want to know, why does a woman want to blow herself up in a.

Shelley Herman: I mean, she. She was a star.

Steve Cuden: That was her gig.

Shelley Herman: Dynamite lady. It was painted to look like, a wooden box, but it was actually styrofoam. And she would put the dynamite in one end of the box, and she wore a helmet, and she had, like, red, white and blue leotard on. And she’s very sexy and everything. And the idea of it is the dynamite would blow out one end, and then she would fly out the other end and twitch a little bit like she was hurt. And then she’d stand up, and everybody’d applaud. What, give up showbiz?

Steve Cuden: Exactly. I guess. Better than cleaning up after the elephants.

Shelley Herman: Exactly. Also, I found these people were genuinely earnest people, and they weren’t like sideshow freaks. They were really nice people, and this is just what they did.

Steve Cuden: Well, I recently had a wonderful interview with a man named Al Olsen, who for, I don’t know, 45 or 50 years, is part of the Renaissance fair circuit. And that’s the same thing. Why would you want to do this all these years? Because that’s what you do, and you’re good at it, and you can make money at it all at the same time, and it’s something enjoyable. I have to assume that you enjoyed being a host, backing it up.

Shelley Herman: The Renaissance fair started in Agora, where I went to high school.

Steve Cuden: Yes, it did.

Shelley Herman: So I understand freaks.

Steve Cuden: You’ve been in Hollywood long enough. You definitely understand freaks.

Shelley Herman: Yeah, they’re my people.

Steve Cuden: Well, I’ve been having the most marvelous conversation for a little more than an hour now with Shelley Herman. And, we’re going to wind things down a little bit. Obviously, you’ve told us just lots of great, funny stories, and I’m sure you’ve met an enormous number of people, more than we’ve talked about today. But I’m wondering, in all your experiences, can you share with us a story that’s either oddball, quirky, offbeat strange or just plain funny beyond what you’ve already told us?

Shelley Herman: Well, I am an ambitious person. And once I got to NBC, I had my sights set on meeting Dick Eversall, who at the time was the wonderken youngest vice president ever at NBC. He and Lauren Michaels got Saturday Night Live on the air, and I was convinced that if I met him, that he would want to mentor me, and he and I together could change television history and make television great again. And I couldn’t get an interview with his secretary. I mean, she would not put me on the books. and you know what? It was easier for the guys to get interviews with the executives because that was what we were supposed to do as pages, is try to get on the ladder to success. So I couldn’t get through. Couldn’t get through. So I’m driving home one night, pouring rain, and I’m listening to KABC talk radio, and the host says, and our next guest is Dick Ebersol. Well, I pulled off the freeway and pulled into a shell station, and, I’m putting quarters in the payphone, and the call screener says, what do you want to talk about? And I go, you want to know what Gilda Radner is like? And so they go, okay, hold on. So they said, ok, caller, you’re on the air with Dick Ebersall. And I sAid, hi, my name is Shelley HErMAn, and I’m a page at NBC BuRbAnk, and I’Ve been trying to get a meeting with you, bUt yOur secretary won’t schedule a time so that I can see you. So will you promise me right here on the air, right here and now that you’ll make an appointment and I can come in and see you? And he said, yes.

Steve Cuden: You showed guts.

Shelley Herman: Well, and I cornered him. So, I had my meeting.

Steve Cuden: What was he going to do on the air? Say, get away from me? No.

Shelley Herman: He’s going to say, sure, yeah, no, I called it putting my Lucy Ricardo thinking cap on, because if you can’t get through the front door, you have to find a side door to get in. And what I tell people, when I’m lecturing people, is find a way that you want people to want to meet you, not have to meet you, because so much of the time, people are like, my friend’s kid. I got to interview them for a job or whatever, or this person’s called so many times, I’ll just interview them and get them out of the way already, make them want to meet you somehow. Write an intriguing letter, have somebody say an interesting tidbit about you. Better still, you say something to them that makes them know you know them in a way that, like, hey, I understand you shot a hole in one in golf recently. Oh, yeah, I did. You know, something that you can connect with the person, not in a stalkerish way, but just in a way where they’re glad to meet you. That’s what I did with Dick.

Steve Cuden: I think that’s really great. do you happen to have a, further tip that you can share with us that you always tell people.

Shelley Herman: Yeah, it’s probably not going to be the best one, but I’ve always said, don’t have anything to fall back on.

Steve Cuden: Don’t have anything.

Shelley Herman: Don’t have anything to fall back on. Because if you get too comfortable doing something else, then you’re not going to do what you really want to do. There’s a lyric from a Harry Chapin song where he says, I’ve got something inside me, but it’s not what my life’s about. It’s from the song taxi. Don’t be that person. Find a way to at least be part of the atmosphere of what you want to do so that you can continue to learn, so that one day they’ll say, okay, you write that then. Okay, we need somebody to do a voiceover. You do the voiceover. We need somebody to pick up a substitute teaching job. You can do that, whatever it is. Just try to get into the universe that you want to be in and stay there. Don’t get yourself sidetracked. And if you don’t want to do something for a living, don’t learn how to do it, because that’s another trap that people get into. I took a class for two days on how to do shorthand, and I went back to work and I was crying. And, a woman executive came over to me in the story department, and she said, what’s going on? And I said, I’m never going to be an executive because I don’t know shorthand. And she said, do you think Dick Eversol knows shorthand? Says, no, if you don’t want to do something for a living, don’t learn how to do it.

Steve Cuden: That’s a very interesting piece of advice. I’ve never heard anybody say that before, and I think that that’s extremely wise, especially the way that you explain it, that it’s really good to focus on what it is you want to do. Of course, it helps if you know what you want to do. A lot of people go into various parts of the business not knowing what they want to do. They just want to be in the business. And then they discover something. And then they focus.

Shelley Herman: They commit to doing something. And that’s the important thing, rather than just flailing around trying to figure it out, just go, I want to work in the entertainment industry. I’m not sure exactly what it’s going to be, but I’m going to hang around it and I’m either going to discover what I want to do or discover that the entertainment industry, it’s too erratic for me. I’ve got to get out.

Steve Cuden: And there would be no better place to figure out some of that, if not a lot of it, by being a page at NBC.

Shelley Herman: Look at you. You went full circle on that.

Steve Cuden: Shelley Herman, this has been an absolutely fantastic hour plus on StoryBeat, and I cannot thank you enough for your time and sharing your wisdom and experience with us today. It’s been a terrific hour. Thank you.

Shelley Herman: Thank you for being gentle with me.

Steve Cuden: And so we’ve come to the end of today’s StoryBeat. If you like this episode, won’t you please take a moment to give us a comment, rating, or review on whatever app or platform you’re listening to? Your support helps us bring more great StoryBeat episodes to you. StoryBeat is available on all major podcast apps and platforms, including Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify, Spotify, iHeartradio, Tunein, and many others. Until next time, I’m Steve Cuden, and may all your stories be unforgettable.

 

Executive Producer: Steve Cuden, Producer: Casey Georgi, Announcer: Javier Grajeda
Social Media: Mina Hoffman, Design & Marketing: Holly Reed, Reed Creative Group

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