Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meeting Sandra Lee

It was a cold autumn Sunday morning in the Chelsea section of New York City in 2002.  All of us returning and new hosts on Food Network were assembled to pose for promotional photos and shoot promotional footage for the network.  I was the host of a new program called Top 5, a spin-off from Unwrapped, a popular program hosted by my buddy Marc Summers.  Neither one of us cooked on our shows.  Both of us are 1980s veterans of MTV Networks fare.  He was the host of Double Dare.  I was a veejay on VH1.  Marc and I were chatting.  The other hosts and execs were milling around, waiting for shots to be set up and what-not.  All of a sudden, I see a slender blonde rushing over to me as if she's going to ask for help.  It was soon-to-be Food Network star Sandra Lee.
She'd premiere in a show that, like her magazine, teaches folks how to make snacks 'n' things for all sorts of occasions and all sorts of seasons.
She politely interrupted Marc and, with wide eyes, gushed to me, "I just love your work!"  That was immediately followed by non-stop compliments on my charisma and chemistry every morning on TV... "with Matt and Katie."  Yes.  Sandra Lee thought I was Al Roker.
I guess it was an understandable mistake considering that Al and I are both black men who wear glasses.  I think Marc Summers was biting the insides of his cheeks to keep from laughing at this encounter.  I just let her keep talking for nearly a minute or more.  I really couldn't get a word in edge-wise.  And she didn't notice that I had the same exact expression on my face that Imogene, the teen maid, had on her face working for Miss Trixie in the movie Paper Moon.  (That's Imogene in the back seat.)
The moment she took a breath, I calmly replied "Thank you, but I'm not Al Roker.  He'll be here later."  She turned the color of a Strawberry Daiquiri, apologized and dashed away from me as if her pumps were on fire.  She never talked to me again.
Sandra Lee is now the girlfriend of Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York State.  I wonder if she fixes him snacks 'n' things.  I hope, by now, she got to meet Al Roker.  Bless her heart.

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