Thursday, September 25, 2008

When CNN Called

late last week, i received an email from my buddy Pete Viles, who writes that awful blog LA Land on the LA Times website. the email mentioned that a buddy of his, a CNN producer named Chuck, was looking to do a story on folks who’ve benefited from the foreclosure crisis by getting a foreclosed house at a discount. naturally, he thought i might be good for the story, which would run on the weekend newscast as a profile piece and would need me to appear on camera alongside my house, and would i be interested because they’re working under deadline and need to begin taping immediately because the piece would have to run the following day.

after about a millisecond of consideration, i agreed and within moments was on the phone with Chuck the producer, telling him about my heroic story, in which i endured a hellish escrow to take a foreclosed off the market while still engaging in my weekend hobby of saving pets from burning buildings. Chuck, of course, was impressed and said that he’d be at the house with a film crew the following morning at 9 am, a saturday, to get the full scoop on video for broadcast that night.

we hung up and i sat bewildered for a moment, knots forming in my stomach, wondering what the hell i just did. then i called Mo in a panic and yelled, “CNN is coming to our house tomorrow morning! CNN is going to tape us for a story!!” after five minutes of convincing him that it wasn’t a joke, he began a panic of his own that centered on everything that still needed to be done to the house before it was ready for its closeup, which got me wondering about what outfit to wear and would they have a hair-and-makeup crew on hand, which got Mo thinking he should get a haircut and finally add the backsplash to the kitchen counters, and would people be able to tell our kitchen came from Ikea and what about adding doors to the bedroom closets, and the house could use a coat of paint and maybe some sod in the front yard, which we could give it if we worked through the night without breaks.

we hung up and i immediately called my salon to schedule a brow and lip wax for that afternoon. then i headed to the flower shop in the lobby of my building to buy a bouquet of bright flowers for the house. at that point, i had decided i would wear my dark skinny jeans with my white-toe wedge heels, though i was still uncertain about a top. i had also started to rehearse answers to the questions i figured the interviewer would ask me, stringing together sound bytes for easy editing: “i fell in love with the house immediately. i knew it was the right house right away. being a homeowner has been fantastic.”

i started imagining the filler shots they would likely need and thought that Mo and i should plan a few natural shots of us putzing around the house, maybe making coffee in the kitchen while the dogs lounged nearby. they could film us on the deck, enjoying the view while looking effortlessly fabulous, the image of good fortune in a great house, and “yes, the foreclosure crisis has been very good to us. without it, we would be in a condo!”

cue the reporter voiceover: “Milla blogged about her house-hunting and house-remodeling experience on her personal blog,” then shots of this bloggy would appear on the screen interspersed with Mo and i throwing back our heads and laughing at something cute the puppies did. Mo would be wearing the crisp white collared shirt he looks so hot in. i still couldn’t decide on a top but was leaning toward something blue.

i could see it perfectly and figured i would leave work early to get started with the house cleaning and also hit up the store for some teeth-whitening trays. i still had my wax appointment to make and needed to practice acting natural for the cameras while getting my story locked down. i knew i had a long night ahead of me, but i was looking forward to it. after all, CNN was coming to my house to film me for a story about my house. this wasn’t public access, baby. THIS WAS CNN. coming to my house to film me for a story about me. dreams do come true!

then the email came — the email that should have been a phone call. that was the least Chuck could do for me after all we had been through. but no, i get an email at 3pm that friday before CNN was supposed to come to my house the following morning. it read: “I’m sorry but I am going to have to cancel out on our plans for tomorrow morning. We were able to find a homeowner in the process of moving in…and that action will enhance the story we are putting together.”

a homeowner in the process of moving in? hell, i could easily hire some of the day laborers who loiter outside Home Depot to carry the junk stored in the garage around the property. i mean, if they just need action shots, i got it covered, Chucky baby. i don’t understand why you’re doing this to me. we can make it work. i got what you need.

i read the email again very slowly in case i missed something. i almost wrote him back with “hahaha, good one, Chucky! see you tomorrow at 9!” but i decided against it and instead called Mo, who was busy pulling weeds out of the front yard, to break the news. “CNN is not coming to our house tomorrow because we suck. they found some homeowner moving in who can give them ‘action.’” i think i made air quotes when i said the word to him on the phone.

ACTION? the word hit me like a baseball to the face. i have a view and cute dogs and i think i finally have my top picked out (definitely blue), and they wanted “action.” puh-lease. i got action, Chucky, though you’ll never see it now.

if you care to see what they ended up running, it’s here. it features some dude unpacking a box of books — that was the action shot? — and a couple that is clearly less telegenic than Mo and i. sure, they have a cute kid ambling around an empty house but my dogs are way cuter.

whatever, CNN. i have one four-letter word for you: LAME.

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