CHARLOTTE, N.C. It was1988. And I was an intern for ABC News at the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. I was 22 – and all I had on me was 20 bucks, a journalism degree, and Linda Ellerbee’s “And So It Goes” – a book about the world of live TV news.
I was absolutely mesmerized. The “big three” were there – Peter Jennings, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw. And seeing their broadcast skyboxes lit up with lights and cameras high above the convention floor was confirmation that I had picked the right major. Dad was right – I’ll go further with this than with acting.
Some great moments that week. Ann Richards gave the keynote that included the Bush zinger “Poor George, he can’t help it – he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” John F. Kennedy Jr. spoke about his father and introduced his uncle Ted. Bill Clinton drew the biggest applause, when after droning on forever, he said, “In closing…”
And Rob Lowe learned the hard way that hotel movies cost a lot more than you think.
I had the moment of a lifetime. I’m hiding behind the CNN skybox with another intern watching celebrities come out of their interviews with Larry King. And who comes out? Linda Ellerbee, my idol. I tell her I love her, and want to be her, and ask her to sign my book. She is so nice. So is security. If you leave quietly, you get to keep your credential.
Also had a brush with the Brat Pack. And at that time, Judd Nelson – “The Breakfast Club” – was the big deal. He comes down an escalator with Robert Downey Jr., and girlfriend, Sarah Jessica Parker. Now remember – this is 1988 – she isn’t Carrie Bradshaw, yet. At best, she’s just the friend in “Footloose.” Otherwise, I’d have a lock of her hair and one of her shoes.
Judd Nelson’s the star. I’ve got a credential and a camera and that’s all I need to walk right up and ask for a picture with him. I grab a guy by the arm and say, “Hey buddy take my picture with Judd Nelson!”
The guy turns around, takes my camera, and says, “Thanks a lot – Alec Baldwin, nice to meet cha.”
The picture’s awful. Judd Nelson is laughing his head off, my mouth is wide open and I think I’m crying a little. And it’s all blurry because Alec Baldwin doesn’t like taking pictures of Judd Nelson.
I think we all agree – the picture to have today would be of Alec Baldwin and Sarah Jessica Parker. With their arms around me. In the pictorial section of a Linda Ellerbee book about televised conventions.
But now, all these years later, I get to do it again. But this time, I get to write about it. For five straight days.
Alec – come find me!