September 2017 was an incredibly busy and very fun month. After not working since June, I spent most of the month bouncing around various TV script gigs (Miss America, a hurricane relief telethon, iHeart Radio Music Festival) in New Jersey, New York, and Las Vegas. After working in Vegas, I rented a car for six days and drove around to a few national parks, camping along the way.
On September 1st I traveled to Atlantic City, New Jersey for 11 days of work on Miss America. Last year was my first time here, and while Atlantic City isn’t exactly my favorite place in the world, I couldn’t wait to go back — the people who work on this show make it worthwhile.
Here is the boardwalk on a quiet morning after Labor Day:
The Miss America statue in front of Boardwalk Hall is just begging for a selfie:
And here is Boardwalk Hall, home to the Miss America pageant:
Dinner with a bunch of co-workers at Chef Vola’s, one of the best places to eat in Atlantic City:
Group shot post-meal:
The stage is set…
First night of preliminary competition:
Shooting the opening spot with last year’s Miss America Savvy Shields:
Lisa won this year’s Miss Congeniality contest for the production office! Here she is posing with the former winners Mark, Maria, and Ryan:
This year’s Miss America script team!
While I was in New Jersey I managed to get down to Cape May for the first time — what a charming area.
Dinner at Gecko’s — terrific spot offering healthy southwestern food:
And the reason for the quick trip was to visit Roy Steinberg, who is the artistic director at Cape May Stage — Roy was a producer on Days of our Lives when I interned there 12 years ago! He and his wife moved to Cape May around 7 years ago to run the theater, and it is thriving under their leadership. What a treat to catch up with Roy and see their production of The Gin Game.
After leaving New Jersey, I stopped back in NYC for two quick days to work on Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief which literally aired on all the networks:
The show primarily happened in Los Angeles with certain segments live from NYC, Nashville, and San Antonio. There were a bunch of musical performances and celebrities introducing video packages about the hurricane damage. Celebrities also sat at phone banks taking calls and donations for relief efforts. It was pretty incredible to watch this all come together in just a few days. I got to briefly interact with Leonardo DiCaprio as he tweaked his script copy, which would have blown 13-year-old Erica’s mind and was pretty entertaining for 33-year-old Erica as well. Jimmy Fallon sat with us in the little teleprompter booth to watch the first half of the hour-long show. We also had Dave Matthews perform on our set, and Jon Stewart & Robert DiNero introduced a video package. (LA had most of the stars who participated that night: Oprah, Cher, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, etc.) It was such a weird and wonderful night. The kind where you turn around and Nicki Minaj or Bruce Willis or Tracy Morgan or Matt Lauer is standing behind you, and you’re like, what is happening right now?!
We shot in the Good Morning America studios at ABC in Times Square. Here is their million dollar view:
Great to work with Adam on this!
This is the upstairs studio where Dave Matthews performed:
And here’s the downstairs studio where celebrities answered calls at these phone banks:
A huge crowd gathered outside during the telethon and they were still waiting for all the celebs to finish leaving when we exited later that night:
The producers released a graphic thanking everyone who worked on the show (naming them by name), which was a nice touch:
Post-show dinner with Adam, Sabrina, and Stef (not pictured — I forgot to take a group photo!) at Playa Betty’s:
The food here was really delicious:
Speaking of forgetting to take group photos, the next night I went out to dinner with Adam, Sabrina, and our friend Ian who we met working on the NBC live musicals — now he works as an associate music director / conductor on major Broadway shows and we love to trade stories about TV and theater. We all met at Chai Thai Kitchen and it was a fun evening but I have no photos.
I saw a couple of shows this month in NYC, including Groundhog Day as pictured below — my matinee at Signature Theater was cancelled due to an actor illness so I got a last minute ticket to see this and I found it surprisingly delightful. I also caught the new Sarah Ruhl play To Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday at Playwrights Horizons.
And I got to see Norbert Leo Butz perform his cabaret show at 54 Below — what a treat. He is one of my all-time favorite stage performers.
Norbert Leo Butz at 54 Below:
I drove up to Boston to see my camp friends — Luis was co-starring in the MIT production of Avenue Q, and Julie was running lights and sound (they both graduated from MIT years ago and alumni participate in productions too). Bailey just began his freshman year at a college nearby. What fun to see each other outside of camp.
And back on Sept. 9th, my parents celebrated 39 years of marriage! I wasn’t in CT at the time but here is a photo their longtime friends Bruce & Judi snapped:
There aren’t nearly enough puppy photos in this post so let’s rectify that:
File under random: this cardinal was chilling out by the wood pile as I got in my car one day.
On the 19th I flew to Vegas to work on the iHeart Radio Music Festival. I had a layover in Chicago and stopped at Nuts on Clark in the Midway terminal to get a mix of caramel and cheddar popcorn — it was outrageously good. (Shout out to my former Y&R co-worker Nancy for telling me about this place years ago.) And on the right below, my receipt for a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte at the Vegas casino: $8.66. Yikes. This was a one-time purchase.
Our venue for iHeart Radio:
Our festival took place the weekend before the Las Vegas shooting massacre. I don’t even know what to say about that because it’s so horrific, and the only silver lining (if it’s even possible to consider a silver lining when 58 people have been shot in cold blood) is that maybe gun laws will finally change. I don’t have too much faith in our country right now, and if the death of 20 first graders at Sandy Hook didn’t result in change, why should this latest massacre? I’m so disgusted.
Back to iHeart Radio Music Festival… Pink was one of the headliners:
Here she is flying over the crowd:
Coldplay was also a headliner:
Chris Martin of Coldplay:
Miley Cyrus performing Party in the USA:
Script team with teleprompter:
James Van der Beek runs his lines on prompter before going out on-stage (he was introducing David Guetta):
Once that gig ended, I rented a car and drove to Sedona, Arizona for two nights. It was pure bliss to be here — I stayed at a cute Airbnb, hiked 10 miles in one day, and ate at vegan restaurants. Here is a taste of those photos:
Driving to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon:
My tent at the De Motte campground (26 miles from the North Rim, which was the closest I could book an available campsite two months out):
North Rim of the Grand Canyon:
The next day I drove to Page, Arizona to visit Antelope Canyon X (a few miles down the road from Upper & Lower Antelope Canyon, but with way less people). I visited here on a family trip in high school and it was such a thrill to be back.
Horseshoe Bend, also located in the town of Page:
Then I camped at Zion National Park for two nights. I’ve been here before but not since 2005 — I utterly loved my time at Zion and can’t wait to return soon to hike more trails.
I spent most of my time at Zion hiking The Narrows, a hike I wanted to do in 2005 but that part of the road was closed for maintenance so we couldn’t get up there. I was thrilled to finally do it! I rented special boots and a hiking stick and had the best time hiking through water for five hours.
My campground just outside the entrance of Zion National Park:
I flew home late on a Friday night and spent the next day with my sister and cousin’s family at The Big E in Springfield, MA — what a treat (literally, as you’ll see the food photos in a moment) to spend time here together.
Loaded baked potatoes:
Apple pie with cabot cheese?! I’m told it’s an unexpectedly delicious combo.
And that brings September to a close! What a busy month. By comparison, October has been about balance — I’ve stayed in one place, caught up on photos and blogging, seen lots of theater, and spent time with my family. Glad to catch my breath after all the work and travel. Hope your month is going swell.