Dateline: LOS ANGELES
Way back in my old agency days I sat down in my office overlooking the multimillion dollar south of the boulevard homes and the phone rings. It’s a buddy of mine that works for Good Housekeeping and she needs me to be the handler for Connie Sellecca for her November 1990 cover shoot. I said “Really? How does this work? Why me?” She said, “I don’t know, she called, she found you. She heard good things about the way you handled the Brooke Burke M&Ms incident.”
There’s only one problem. In order to take this plum, pro bono assignment, I had to cancel as the plus one at a dinner with my then girlfriend (who shall remain nameless). Now for those of you too young to remember, Ms. Sellecca was the “it” woman on prime time television just finishing 10 years on two hit ABC shows, Hotel and The Greatest American Hero. Needless to say, I wasn't turning down being her Boy Friday. After some haggling with the soon-to-be-ex, I was in.
So there I was at the photo shoot cracking jokes with Connie’s publicist and her stylist and generally we had a great time. So at the conclusion of the shoot when the photographer called it a wrap, everyone gathered around hugging it out. Everyone but me. I mean I was the only newbie on set, how could I? I didn’t want to come off as creepy office guy who grabs a grope. Besides, who knew where the spies were that the soon-to-be-ex might have planted. I took the safe road. I executed a perfect high five then made sure the Lincoln Town Car delivered her home safely. Sadly, we parted ways.
The next day, I’m back in my office and there’s a giant arrangement of orchids waiting for me on my desk. The note read, “Thank you for a charming day. XO Connie (213) XXX-7761.” The flowers came with the 10 digits, so I gave her a call and said “Miss Sellecca, I got your flowers. Thanks!” She replies, “What a day yesterday, thanks again. I’m looking at the photos yesterday right now. You even took a good one, and call me Connie.” I was definitely excited about the whole “Call me Connie” thing, but since I was still committed to the soon-to-be-ex, I quickly ended the call so it wouldn’t get serious. Geez, I thought highly of myself back then.
So the next day I get back to my agency desk and there is Chia Pet with a note that says “Call me, luv Connie.” So I do and during the quick conversation I said thanks again for a great time and reminded her I was with the soon-to-be-ex and she was married to Buck Rogers! She seemed disinterested at best, but I didn’t notice.
On the third day I arrived to the agency and there’s a fanny pack on my desk with a $20 in it with a note clipped to it saying “Jump in the first cab and meet me.”
So my office mate Lisa Goldstein tells me, “You better call her and set her straight. She's going to ruin your relationship with [name omitted] and you’re going to be a massive home wrecker yourself. This girl is out of control.” I said there’s no way the statuesque Connie Sellecca wants me? No way.
The final day I show up and there’s a small hat box on my desk. Open it up and there is a pair of La Perla intimates with a hint of allure and no price tag on them. Yep, there was a note in there as well. “I need you right now.” So Lisa urges me to call again. “Straighten her out RIGHT NOW as only you can. You have to lay down the law. Show her who’s boss and make sure she gets the message this time.”
By this time Lisa has whipped me into a frenzy, so I pick up the phone and call. She interrupted me before I could get too far, “Hey Michael, I’m with some friends running dialogue. Can I call you later?”
I said, “Run this dialogue past your friends – ‘this has got to end, and now. From the last four days, I can see you got it bad for the Media Guy. All these gifts have to end. Sending those panties was the final straw.'”
She was incredulous, saying that “WHAT PANTIES? Have you lost your mind?”
“Have I lost my mind? You’re the one sending the unmentionables…”
Just then I glanced up and there the entire office was capturing it all on videotape. It was a big slice of humble pie explaining what had happened as she laughed about her publicist sending the original flowers and Lisa falling down laughing, claiming she sent the rest.
I couldn’t have been Punk’d better by Ashton Kutcher himself. Years later I wondered if this practical joke had anything to do with her having no sex for over two years with John Tesh until their wedding night. Later I found out she was fond of playing practical jokes. In fact, then-husband Gil Gerard got so used to coming home and finding her lying in a pool of fake blood, he developed a scoring system for her. Who knew?
I heard that David Letterman or Jimmy Kimmel pulled the same thing that Lisa did years later. Yes, the Media Guy and his team were always trendsetters.