NAVIGATING HOLLYWOOD: My Kathy Griffin Story

Manny Fonseca is a former Hollywood creative executive that gave up a life in perpetual development for a life in perpetual development as a Hollywood screenwriter and author. His first book, BURST!, Is currently looking for a publisher and his first script, Whittier, is in pre-production. Twitter: @mannyfonseca

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NAVIGATING HOLLYWOOD: My Kathy Griffin Story by Manny Fonseca | Script Magazine

Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage

I know I owe the rest of my scam artists story and I promise you, I’m working on it. I thought, because she’s in the headlines right now, I’d share my very odd Kathy Griffin story.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to share my views on her now infamous photo shoot. This article isn’t meant to defend or condemn it. Of course, I have a view, but this isn’t the place to share it.

So here it goes…

If you’re an avid reader of my articles, than you know that stand-up is a passion of mine. I’ve always, not-so-secretly, wanted to be a stand-up, but I’ve yet to get over my fear of the stage.

That being said, all stand-ups hold a very dear place in my heart.

Because stand-up has always been a dream of mine, I often fantasize of what “my voice” would be. I’ve always gravitated, as I’m confident many comics do, towards George Carlin.

Sadly, and humbly so, I’m just not that smart.

Eventually, I fell onto the comedy of Kathy Griffin. Not that I think her comedy is dumb, it’s just more my speed. It’s easier to put a funny spin on a story rather than change the minds of audience member via my social and political issues. Kathy Griffin’s voice is just one of the many I enjoy.

A voice that clearly I “borrowed” by telling these stories.

As much as I appreciated her stories, I could never use that voice on stage. I didn’t have the interactions with famous people like she did. People like Cher, Ryan Seacrest or any of the other celebrities she has had the fortunate (or unfortunate) regard of dealing with.

That being said, I’m a fan. A few years ago, she made a deal with Bravo for her series My Life on The D List. That deal included several stand-up specials.

One day, I was lying on the couch I had “rented” from my high school friend Shaun. It was during my internship with Cobra Commander’s company. I found myself watching one of her said Bravo specials: Kathy Griffin Does The Bible Belt.

Towards the end of that show, she told a story of going to a “big time Hollywood producer’s party” with her friend Suzanne Somers.

MY SUZANNE SOMERS STORY: A BRIEF TANGENT

While working for Cobra Commander and The Baroness, I became their “tech guy.” They had bought into the Apple ecosystem and, given my knowledge in the field, became their go-to guy for everything Apple.

That included their iPhones, their iPads and their iPods. Not only them but their closest friends gear as well.

My claim to fame, if there is ever one, was that I built an entire music playlist for Suzanne Somers’ iPod.

I can only imagine that they were at dinner one night with Suzanne and her husband and Suzanne bitched about her iPod and The Baroness was all like, “I have a guy.”

The following day I was sent her iPod and “fixed” whatever issue she was having.

Back to the story…

As I’m watching the special, I suddenly realize, Griffin is talking about a party at the house of Cobra Commander and The Baroness. Holy shit.

You can watch the bit here:

So I go in on Monday and tell the assistants in the office that I had just watched this special and I think she was talking about a party at Cobra Commander’s house.

They weren’t necessarily on board with my claim, but recognized that the guest list Griffin mentioned, “sounded” a lot like a Cobra Commander party. Their parties contained a certain collection of people. People you wouldn’t necessarily find in a room together unless, say, you were at an Oscar party.

People like Morgan Freeman, the late Jackie Collins, Sharon Stone and, as always, Don and Barbara Rickles.

A few days later, confirmation was made via an email sent by a relative of Cobra Commander and The Baroness. He had seen the special too and thought the same thing I did and reached out to ask if they had seen the special.

Now, this could have gone one of two ways. Obviously, based on last week’s news cycle, Kathy Griffin has a tendency to rub people the wrong way. Not everyone enjoys having their lives shared by a comedienne on stage and I think I’ve made it clear that Cobra Commander doesn’t exactly have the calmest of tempers. Suddenly, the assistants were a little on edge.

How was this going to play out?

Was it going to be a “thing” or were they going to enjoy the fact that they were in the limelight even though she never mentioned them by name on her act?

DINNER PARTIES

Before I dive into the end result of her performance, let me take a minute to tell you about the famed dinner parties that Cobra Commander likes to throw. These were old-school affairs. When they throw a dinner party, it’s an all-out affair.

Staff are hired. Teams are brought in. Servers wear white gloves and tuxedos. Place settings are the finest of china and place cards are created along with a seating arrangement.

While I was only an intern back then, I wasn’t as privy to the mentality of The Baroness as I am now. Looking back, I can only imagine the horror that took place when Suzanne Somers showed up with a guest. A guest with some level of fame. Not only was there not a place for her at the table, but also not a place card with her name on it.

THE END RESULT

As much as I would love to tell you that shit got out of hand and Cobra Commander popped his lid, that never happened.

I’m not sure what conversations took place privately, but I can say this… About a week after this came out, we received an email from The Baroness asking to include Kathy Griffin’s personal contact information to the “Rolodex.”

Yes. That’s how old school they were. They still referred to “it” as a “Rolodex.” The Rolodex, was actually a database program created for them that housed some of the biggest names in the industry’s contact info.

Not the number to their assistant or their office (although those were in there as well) but their direct line. Their cell phone or private house phone that only they answered.

There were thousands of numbers. Sometimes, on my lunch break, I would randomly type in names into the search field to see if they were in there.

Names like, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Douglas, Uma Thurman, Elon Musk, Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts…you name ’em, they were there.

And at that moment, now, Kathy Griffin.

One day, I hope to be in a room with Kathy Griffin. As a fan and as someone I hope to one day work with. If I do, I will ask her what conversations were had behind closed doors with The Baroness. If her personal persona is anything like her public one, she’ll totally give me the dirt.

Then I will tell her this story.

Secretly hoping, that one day I’m on my couch, watching her latest special, and hear the following…

“So a few years ago I did this bit… well I have updates!”

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