Entry 4

8:15 a.m. I eat my daughter’s breakfast after she leaves for school. I like Lucky Charms’ taste best, but Cocoa Puffs really do stay crunchier in milk. I feel jet-lagged. The huge fire burning east of L.A. makes the light look funny, flat, opaque. What did Stephen Crane once say? “The red sun is pasted in the sky like a wafer.”

9 a.m. I didn’t finish B|W|R’s 2003 business plan Monday. I didn’t finish it Tuesday. It’s due now. I try to weave together my own thoughts and five people’s comments with the financials, and my eyes are bugging out so far I wonder if I should cup my hands in front of my face to catch them when they finally pop out.

10:30 a.m. I think my department is supposed to meet to divvy up Tomb Raider art among magazines but nobody comes looking for me. Our CFO asks every few minutes how the plan is coming. I hope our staff writer Robin can finish it but realize he’s in the same 11 a.m. meeting I’m in for a new trade show-client.

10:50 a.m. The client calls and asks if—surprise!—he can come in person.

11 a.m. I ask the client if we can delay a line-by-line read-through of their draft sponsorship document (and save that for Robin, who’s begged off the meeting after all) and talk strategy. Everyone agrees. The client’s show producer launches into a line-by-line read-through of the draft document. Next we review logos and stationery and tunnel down. What exactly do the sponsors get for their money? What are the costs per thousand impressions for each category? Who’s assembling the sponsor target list? Can they package a TV deal around the show concept? There are so many unanswered questions, but we’re on the hook for half the answers.

Noon. Of 15 people who are supposed to be on the liqueur brainstorm call only two show up besides my own department. Those two—single guys—are challenged where insights into the target audience of suburban housewives are concerned, but they gamely trudge through the exercise. Can you cook with this liqueur? Let’s have a bake-off. How about a bake-off during halftime at a pro football game? I know, have a bake-off of the world’s largest bundt cake on the 50-yard line of a pro football game and send the winner to … Hawaii! Wait, let’s make the world’s largest flan for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! No, no, a flan that big wouldn’t hold its shape. Great ideas, yes, but I’ve got two days to deliver a proposal and am hopeful we’ll think of something else.

Anne Crawford at Orso
Anne Crawford at Orso

1 p.m. I have lunch with Anne Crawford at Orso. Ficus blossoms pelt us on the patio. We both order seafood salad with white beans, tomatoes, onions, and basil—yum! I eat here more often than I do at home. I moved to L.A. to marry Anne 16 years ago, but it didn’t stick. My mom took this very, very hard. She displayed our engagement photo until, the story goes, my father drew a beard and mustache on her and said, “Rosa, if you want to keep that picture up there she’s going to have to look like this.” Anne and I have since developed a warm friendship, and we save ourselves at least an hour of therapy each time we get together.

2:55 p.m. Robin, our CFO, and I deliver the 2003 business plan.

Melissa Joan Hart and her mom, Paula
Melissa Joan Hart and her mom, Paula

3 p.m. Paula and Melissa Joan Hart arrive to discuss handling her TV show, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. I met them last May, and we took to each other immediately—in fact squiring Paula, her husband Leslie, and Melissa around Cannes was way more fun than the account work I was doing there. I’m serving as a consigliere to our TV people who’d be looking after the show. Melissa’s perky and cute and normal and knows so much about this business it shocks me at first. Then I realize she’s been dealing with publicists since she was 14 years old. This pitch is a treat, and we’re confirmed on the spot.

4:12 p.m. I have a phone call with Francis Battista of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. I’ve supported this organization pro bono since 1993. Back then, we convinced Engelbert Humperdinck to pose for the Best Friends celebrity pet calendar, but since “The Humper” had no pets, we photographed him on his Harley with a bowl of borrowed goldfish. I gave Francis a proposal in August, but have been traveling so much it’s taken until today to finally nail down a meeting. Francis is running out of patience. I promise I’ll do another call with their “Raise the Woof Committee” to discuss our celebrity participation in their annual benefit, the Lint Roller Party.

5:35 p.m. I don’t want to go to Utah alone, so I convince the ranking Ogilvy VP in our office to go with me.

6 p.m. I do everything else I’d hoped to do for the day.

10:45 p.m.  I’m off to mybed.com, but the URL’s taken. For the second time this week, a film crew a mile away sets off so much pyrotechnics it sounds like a military exercise. Explosions bounce off the high-rises along Ventura Boulevard and rock the house for 10 minutes. Car alarms go off, and our four cats (the legal limit) carom around the house like pingpong balls. The police don’t pick up, and 911 rings busy.