Something About Mary

Nov 29, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Mary Kellogg is alive and well in Southern California and talking about what would be her dream job: head of production for a talent major enough to do “television, movies, everything.”

But Ms. Kellogg, who signed out of Buena Vista Television, where she was executive VP of current programming, is much missed, especially by the mutual admiration society that includes-but is not limited to-the stars and producers of the shows she supervised for some two decades.

“She’s got integrity. She protects her talent. She tells you the truth. She’s always available 100 percent. And she does everything she can to inspire people to do the best,” said Don Ohlmeyer, the former sports producer and entertainment executive who worked with Ms. Kellogg on a trio of ABC holiday specials set at Disney theme parks. “I don’t think there’s anybody else more responsible for `Live [With Regis and Kelly]’ being a hit.”

In a world brimming with “no” people, “She is a `yes’ person who gets things done,” said Michael Gelman, the executive producer of “Live With Regis and Kelly.” “No idea is too big.”

Whether it was filling a Branson, Mo., venue with 45,000 “Live” fans from several markets or 86-ing freeway traffic as a potential snag for her principals by choppering them to a “Live” remote location, Ms. Kellogg “would go to all kinds of lengths to solve a problem or make life a little easier. When she got through taking care of you, you wanted to take care of her by giving her the best show possible,” said Regis Philbin, who blurted the news of her departure to his “Live” audience Oct. 15. It was only natural that the news get out that way, because Mr. Philbin shares so much of his life with his viewers and Ms. Kellogg was so much a part of his life.

“You knew she cared for her shows, and worked for them, and supported and encouraged us,” said Roger Ebert, who has known Ms. Kellogg since his earliest days as the late Gene Siskel’s co-host on Buena Vista’s “Siskel & Ebert,” now “Ebert & Roeper.”

“If I had a company, I would surround myself with Mary Kelloggs,” said Larry Klein, better known for producing “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” for ABC but who worked with Ms. Kellogg as the producer for a couple of years on “Your Big Break” for Buena Vista Television.

“The relationships she builds with talent are legendary,” said Michael Davies, who feels he was raised, professionally speaking, by Ms. Kellogg because he was “just a kid who didn’t know much of anything” when he started climbing the rungs at Buena Vista in the early ’90s.

Mr. Davies is among those who still find Ms. Kellogg’s absence “weird” because he simply cannot remember a time when she wasn’t there.

But Ms. Kellogg is spending time with her husband of 24 years, John Joslyn, and the elementary schoolers she has tutored for several years, and feeling “weird” about not sweating sweeps ratings for the first time in two decades.

“I’ve had several calls from several studios, as well as production companies,” she told The Insider.

But her plan doesn’t call for returning to the workaday life until the first quarter of 2005. When that happens, The Insider expects to hear a hearty, collective cheer.