Pride of America: Inaugural Voyage with Regis & Kelly
Day 4: Thursday, Taping in Philadelphia
Today, in Philadelphia, was the first "live" day of taping. Well, sort of live. All of the other segments for today were filmed beforehand (such as the family challenge and
Carson Kressley's fashion bit), so the crowd did a lot more sitting around and
the energy level was actually lower than it was on Sunday (I think
the fact that ticket holders had to be there at 8 a.m. for the 9 a.m.
show may have had something to do with it -- Sunday's was in the
afternoon). Even Regis and Kelly seemed a bit off, and interacted
less with the audience during commercial breaks (Kelly did mention
that they'd had a few drinks the night before, so maybe they were
But my mood skyrocketed this afternoon, because I met Kelly! She was
hanging out at the South Beach Pool with her son, who was running
around in his swim trunks. Kelly wasn't wearing a bathing suit, just nice
pants and a black tank, and big dark sunglasses. She was chatty and
patient with her fans, and even with everyone fawning over her for
photos and autographs, she kept a close eye on her son. Things like
that really drive home that she's a real person, and a real mother,
with priorities other than "Live."
Funny though: When I asked her a question about the ship, it was like
she flipped a switch and went from just-hanging-out Kelly to
professional-show-host Kelly, and spewed all of the "Oh it's great,
I'm having such fun" banter I've been hearing at tapings. I did ask
her what her first impression of the ship was: "It's prettier than
the 'Love Boat,'" she said, "but without the Landers sisters running
around. And I love the food." Kelly posed for a picture with me, and
she signed a greeting card for my pal Dennis who had a birthday the other day.
By this time, a line had pretty much formed and Kelly's bodyguard
barked out that she needed to "go get ready" (for what? I think 3:30 p.m.
is awfully early to start dressing for dinner!). I finally made my way to where I was headed in the first place: the Gold Rush Saloon for a big mug of frosty beer and a large twisty pretzel with mustard. Don Watson, the room's guitarist/singer, was excellent and played lots of southern favorites. I admit, I was singing along under my breath at the bar ("You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em ...").
While I was hanging out here, I actually met a few Cruise Critic
members, "sashacrab" and "Cruisin Jules" from Alabama! We have the
coolest readers -- both were active on the Cruisin' Reunion roll call
board, and promised they'd be posting objective member reviews when
they returned home. We couldn't talk long, but exchanged cabin
numbers, so perhaps a brew or two are in order later in the week at
the saloon. I also hit it off right away with the staff.
As an aside, while I've heard mixed reviews about service from various and sundry passengers, the crew really is friendly and as helpful as they can be as they
work out the inevitable first-cruise kinks. And some of them really make your experience. In the Gold Rush, for instance, Seth, the Virginia-based bartender, helpfully plugged in my laptop for me behind the bar. He keeps the beers coming (even poured one patron a fresh beer, gratis, when he wasn't crazy about the first one). Todd, the other drinks server, actually harmonized with the band while delivering trays of drinks.
Though I'm having lots of fun onboard, today is one day I wish I
could have gotten off in port. The last time I visited Philadelphia I was
still in Girl Scouts; we went for the typical sightseeing tour -- the
Liberty Bell and whatnot -- and slept overnight in sleeping bags on
the floor of the Franklin Institute. I do understand,
though, why we're all marooned onboard -- along with the craziness of
locals getting on and off for the tapings, there's simply not enough
time to disembark passengers. In fact, we pulled away from Philly
before they even started serving lunch today.
Another passenger who's garnered quite a following onboard is Johnnie
P., the "Live" dance choreographer. In between taking photographs
and signing autographs, he rehearses his group daily for Friday's
"Dancing with the Fans" segment. I stopped by the Diamondhead
Auditorium for today's practice session, and overheard Johnnie telling one of his colleagues that he was happy with their progress, especially for amateurs. It's a short
routine with no more than a minute of music, but they dance their
hearts out. There are a few kids and one gray-haired sweetheart in
particular that I think will steal the show.
Steve and Terri -- we'd met at Pink's on day two -- invited me to join them tonight for dinner at Jefferson's Bistro. Until tonight, all I knew of Jefferson's was what
I saw during my paparazzi stint our first night onboard, which didn't
do it justice. It's really quite luxurious, down to the Versace china
on the tables (though I felt weird with a bust of a dead president
watching me eat). I ordered a mushroom soup in a bread bowl, spinach
salad with goat cheese toasts, and sea bass. Everything was wonderful.
Terri and I polished off a bottle of white wine, and we chatted in
our cozy semi-circle booth for several hours.
All three of us are actually really sarcastic and constantly laughing and cracking jokes, even in a venue as elegant as Jefferson's. Our main server began the evening
with a very formal, refined demeanor as befits the restaurant:
"Pardon my reach, madam," "Here is your knife, madam." But near the end
of the meal, we finally convinced her it was okay to let her hair
down and be herself. "Pardon my reach, madam" became "move your elbow,
dessert's coming" -- and we loved her for it.
She told us that she served Regis that first night onboard, and that Regis ate the filet
mignon with foie gras, and cherries jubilee. He ordered two vodka
tonics -- no brand name, drinks the house vodka! Kelly had Grey Goose
and cranberry and her husband, actor Mark Conseulo, drank dirty Grey Goose martinis.
By the time we rolled out of Jefferson's, I couldn't think of
anything but my bed. I said goodnight to Steve and Terri, and took
one quick walk outside along the pool for fresh sea air before
heading back to my cabin.
Tomorrow we arrive in Norfolk for a chat with David Alan Grier and
Michael Bolton (and I try to get up close and personal with New
York's hottest weatherman, WABC-TV's Sam Champion!).