( ENSPIRE Entertainment ) Herman Shares the Stories of NBC Studio Pages and Celebrities of the 70s
ENSPIRE Contributor: Ana Luque
Shelley Herman, author, Emmy-nominated show-biz veteran, a longtime host, writer, producer, and personality with decades of success on both sides of the camera, recently published her book: My Peacock Tale: Secrets Of An NBC Page. The book is filled with Herman’s stories about her fellow pages who became lifelong friends, and the dizzying array of celebrities, hangers-on, has-beens, and legends that found their way through the halls of NBC Burbank in the mid-late 1970s.
In her book, Herman includes stories of hectic workdays as well as “impossible-to-imagine” scenes she saw and experienced during the behind-the-scenes of network television. These stories have readers hooked! Reviews call this page-turner of a book: funny, sexy, and witty.
Herman spoke with ENSPIRE about her book and her work with NBC and Hollywood:
How was it to start your career amidst one of the most influential people and moments in recent US cultural history?
While some people were looking to divide the country with their deliberate ignorance, I felt a sense of moral urgency to unite people. We’re all living and working for the same goals, a safe home, a job to feed our families, a purpose in life, and a little time for fun. Adults don’t always get it, but kids do. They want to play and share. I began writing my book with that spirit, so my friends could share their good and bad stories and take this ride with me. And I’m happy to report that my colleagues’ feedback has been overwhelming, kind, and generous.
Out of all the stories you talk about in your book, which one that’s your favorite? If so, why?
That’s like asking who’s your favorite child. That answer changes from day to day. I had a great time working on the 1977 Primetime Emmy Awards Show, where I met all my TV icons, from John Travolta to Alfred Hitchcock. I also like the stories where I was thinking out of the box, particularly detailing how I couldn’t meet with an executive. After weeks of calling, his assistant still would not schedule an appointment. As fate would have it, I heard the executive being interviewed on a talk radio show one night. I pulled off the road in a pouring rainstorm, called the show, and made him promise to meet me live on the air! He laughed and said, “Yes!” I suggest to people interviewing for a job or meeting a client to make them want to see you, not have to meet you.
If you could share, what was it that kept you going as an NBC Page? And what kept you going through your career after that?
NBC was better than grad school. I was learning what to do and what not to do on the job. I learned to think on my feet and adapt to the last-minute changes that were necessary to do the job. As a writer, I love learning, researching topics, and presenting them to make the reader who is a bit curious and may want a laugh or to pick up a little trivia or nugget of wisdom along the way. It is vital to keep up with the technology, too. When I’m not working on a series, I’m still working by developing TV shows, volunteering to produce events, or acting on a project. I’m always active, so when a great job comes along, I’m ready to meet the challenges.
How did your experience being an NBC Page in the 1970s help you grow into the writer and show-biz veteran that you are today?
I credit my longevity in the entertainment industry to the friends I made in the 70s at NBC. We’re still a tight group of men and women who always have each other’s backs. Watching them achieve has inspired me to think beyond traditional jobs well-meaning people think I should have. I’ve never believed you should have something to fall back on. It is too easy to get distracted from your dreams when you take a job you don’t want. If you have nothing else to do, you can devote your time and energy to getting and keeping the job you have always wanted.
You worked on this book during the pandemic. Could you tell us more about the process behind the book?
When the pandemic hit, I was in the middle of writing a one-person show for my husband to perform at his high school reunion in Canadian, Texas. Well, that plan went out the window when we were all locked down. Thank goodness we could use Zoom, FaceTime, and other apps to safely visit our friends and family. Soon our world expanded, and I could connect with dozens of friends who had moved out of California. We shared stories of what we considered one of the best jobs we ever had, giving tours, ushering TV shows, riding in limousines with celebrities, and how the television industry is run. My friends kept saying someone should write a book about all our adventures, so I gave it a try. As always, my Page Pals have been so supportive. While the book is my memoir, it is a love letter to my colleagues who have been my friends for over 40 years.
What do you hope people will get out of your story?
If you’re reading this, you’re ready to make a change. Trust yourself to do what you know in the pit of your stomach is the right thing for you. I know the stories in My Peacock Tale will give you the confidence to take the next step toward finding a pathway to your passion. If not now, when? If not you, then who?
To learn more about Herman and My Peacock Tale check out her website.
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