Claudia Cohen and the Heart of 'Live'
June 19, 2007 11:08 AM
For a good cry, call Michael Gelman.
There’s no one better at plucking heart strings you didn’t even know you had than Mr. Gelman, the can-do-more-with-less executive producer of “Live With Regis and Kelly.”
He snuck up on OMGreppi this morning with a lovely retrospective of “Live” moments from the two-decade association with the show of Claudia Cohen, the socialite/gossipeuse who died last Friday after a quiet six-year battle with ovarian cancer. She was only 56.
Ms. Cohen predated OMGreppi’s 11-year tenure at the New York Post, so she never seemed like one of the real Page 6 characters rooted in the Post’s newsrooms in the no-man’s land near the South Street Seaport in way-downtown Manhattan or in parent company News Corp.’s spiffier Midtown Rockefeller Center digs.
Ms. Cohen had been born to money and married money, coming out of her marriage to Revlon billionaire Ron Perelman with some $80 million in pocket change. Her bold-faced life, her exhaustingly tended looks—the aesthetic of “Dynasty” still lived in Ms. Cohen—and the on-air demeanor that never evolved to anything approaching natural, all made it difficult for OMGreppi to relate to her.
But the fact that she was OK in Mr. Gelman’s and Regis Philbin’s books eventually made her OK in OMGreppi’s book. (A transition that The Donald Trumpster never has and likely never will make.)
The memories revived in “Live’s” nostalgic piece this morning included a clip from the day Mr. Philbin and Kelly Ripa’s predecessor, Kathie Me Gifford presented a very pregnant Ms. Cohen a baby stroller that jumped out just because compared to the extreme luxury strollers of today, it seemed almost too stripped down utilitarian for an A-List mom of only 14 years ago.
By the time the short piece—a veritable cavalcade of hair and makeup and shoulder padded couture—OMGreppi was wiping mist from her eyes.
Mr. Gelman has the touch that no one else in daytime TV has. He finds a good story that needs no mawkish manipulation and goes right for the heart to let it tell itself.
When “Live” marries off a couple whose challenges remind the rest of us how lucky we are or when “Live” makes dreams come true for Mother’s Day, OMGreppi goes through a whole box of tissues.
And she leaves a message for Mr. Gelman while she’s still sobbing and choked up, to say thanks. It isn’t often that daytime TV takes the time to let a viewer really feel something.
Do ya hear that Daytime Emmy voters? Do ya?
When are you going to let “Live” feel the love?