By Kelly Redcay
I held hands with Dr. Mehmet Oz. Well, really he held my hand. I was just sitting there waiting for a nervous woman to stick some needles into my ear, as a studio audience of 150 people and a crew of 50 watched.
I first met Dr. Oz on the set of his Discovery television show, “Second Opinion with Dr. Oz,” which ran for only one season in 2003-04. I had been invited to sit in the audience for a taping by one of the crew members (a colleague of mine from our recently cancelled program, “Crossing Over with John Edward” where we had both worked in production). After the show taping, my friend gave me a backstage tour and introduced me to Oz and his wife. I did not hold hands with him that day.
Recently, the producers of “The Dr. Oz Show” posed a question on Facebook, to the effect of: “would you be interested in leading a less stressful life?” to which I of course replied, “Yes!” A few days later I found the following note in my in-box:
I saw your post on our website regarding your extremely stressful life. I am reaching out because I think you may be a great candidate for this exciting opportunity but would like to learn a little bit more about you! I have attached a stress scale consisting of 10 questions to gauge your stress. I know you don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done, but if you could please take 10 minutes to answer the questions I would really appreciate it! Please email me your answers at your earliest convenience and we will move forward with the next steps of getting stress out of your life! I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks, Kelly.
Courtney Hogan | Assistant to the Executive Producer | The Dr. Oz Show
I completed the survey, just for fun, playing up the answers to see if I could get myself chosen to participate. It had been awhile since I’d seen a show live. A few weeks later, I answered my home phone and found myself talking to another Dr. Oz staff member. Apparently, I was just the perfect mix of stressed out for the show. But, I’m sure that any mom of three teenagers could benefit from less stress.
Angela Tonini, an associate producer, asked me if I was interested in possibly being in a segment on a show dedicated to stress relief. I said, “Of course I would.” I’m sure my whole family would love for me to get a little “less stressy.” She e-mailed me later, asking me for more:
It was great speaking to you this afternoon! When you can, please send me 3-4 recent photos of yourself to this email address. We will call or email you when we know more about the stress cleanse! Thank you,
Angela Tonini | Associate Producer | The Dr. Oz Show
I complied and didn’t hear back, so naturally I assumed that while I was the perfectly stressed out specimen, I failed in the looks department.
The next day, I took my kids to the movies and as we stood in line for popcorn, the New York number popped up once again. It was Angela, asking if I would consider getting acupuncture for stress relief in a segment of the show taping in a few days. I immediately said, “Yes, but only if I can bring my brother for moral support.” She agreed. Next, she asked me if I could send her a few pictures of my ear. I’m not kidding. So, I did.
After the movie, I found a new note in my in-box:
I just got your ear approved. So, we’d love to have you here on Wednesday! You can bring your brother with you – but I’m not sure if we can get him audience tickets. He may have to just stay backstage.
We finalized the deal with several pre-show phone calls that filled me in on what to wear (jewel toned top), what to bring (two or three options of jewel toned tops), where and when (the famed 30 Rock, at 1p.m.), and who to see in the lobby for backstage passes and clearance into the backstage area.
It was settled. I was going to be a part of the show and (targeted demographic) member of the studio audience in Studio 6A in New York’s legendary Rockefeller Center!
I dragged my brother onto the train a few days later with the promise of après show adult beverages and we headed to the city for taping day.
When we arrived at Grand Central Station we made our way to 30 Rock, zigging and zagging through the streets of New York, tugging our collars up around our necks as the cold wind whipped through the buildings and numbed our noses and fingers. The cool dark marble floors of the first floor clicked beneath my boots. My arm hurt from carrying a bag loaded down with carefully chosen jewel-toned ensembles that had been pre-approved by my teenaged daughters the night before. Just as I had expected, a young 20-ish year old woman with a clipboard awaited our arrival. The group of us huddled together, waiting. We were called upon one by one to show our IDs. We formed an orderly line like a herd of obedient kindergarteners.
I started chatting with a tall, slim, elegantly attired red-headed woman to my right. She introduced herself to me (I promptly forgot her name), and as she talked I was lulled by her lovely accent. I asked if she was going to be on the show today, and she told me that she would be giving acupuncture to someone in a segment. We both had a good laugh when I told her that it would be me she’d be sticking it to later.
We all loaded into the elevator, politely nodding at each other and anxiously awaiting our next stop on the sixth floor, which was also the location of the Jimmy Fallon Show.
As we walked down the hallway, we observed other people, one wearing a headset, another dressed in shredded clothing and made up to look like a zombie, each walking briskly around us, barely glancing our way. One by one, the group got smaller as we were pointed in the direction of small rooms off the hallway, each filled with trendy colored seating and cushy ottomans lining the walls. The rooms all had mirrors in the back and tables filled with homemade protein bars, oat filled muffins, and brightly colored vegetables surrounding a big bowl of creamy looking hummus. Free snacks! Excellent! This is how little it took to bribe us all into potentially making fools of ourselves on TV. Well, that and the one free t-shirt they handed me a little later as we sat quietly, each imagining our impending fate.
Next, it was off to hair and make-up. For real! It was so exciting to be walked down the hallway and deposited with the professionals, who made comments like, “Did you already try putting on some make up today, dear?” And, “Is this how you always wear your hair?”
I saw my red-headed acupuncturist friend in the chair beside me. She asked me “Are you nervous?” and I told her I really wasn’t.
I began to hope that she wasn’t nervous! After all, she was the one handling the needles.
We both left the room with our fresh faces and bouncy hair. Back to our holding rooms to wait some more.
“My” associate producer, Angela, returned and pulled me into the hallway. She wanted to check my answers for possible questions that Dr. Oz might throw my way. She asked if I had any concerns. I was starting to get more excited, but still not nervous.
One by one, the other women in the holding room were pulled into the hallway. Final decision time, and Miss Rhode Island was deemed to be the guinea pig for the posture segment. Mrs. Pennsylvania was selected to play along with Ms. Art Teacher in the “Are You Smarter” game and she also prayed for no spelling. Her prayer was not answered.
We marched back into our lines, with our coats and bags slung around our bodies, and were herded onto the set, where the other audience members’ quiet voices buzzed all around us. The front three rows were vacant and awaited our arrival. The cameramen turned to watch us as we ducked behind them, stepping over the bundles of wires trailing behind them like snakes lying in wait. Small groups of producers huddled together, standing on the edges of the set, leaning in, talking quietly.
The moment we sat down, another crew member walked over and handed us each a box of raisins and told us we would need them later. I tucked my coat and bag of clothes under my seat. We were in the front row, just near the doorway of the stage where Dr. Oz would make his grand entrance in just a few more minutes.
The studio lights above my head must have numbered in the hundreds, and the room was chilly, but oh-so-bright.
The room quieted as a man took his place in the center of the room and spoke into his microphone, commanding our attention.
He was a comedian, sent to warm us up and get us rowdy. They need the audience to have high energy during the taping, and this is standard practice for every talk show I have been to. It was a sure indicator that we didn’t have much longer to wait.
The comedian wrapped up, the floor director announced that we were about to roll and, boom, cameras were rolling and the show was a “go”.
The theme of the day was “24-hour Stress Cleanse.” The segments went by quickly, as if time was somehow on fast forward. I watched segments one and two, one was about better posture and another about nutrition, but all I kept thinking about while watching them, was that I was in segment three.
Before I knew it, I was being escorted to the center of the set, where there was a dentist’s chair. This was used to make the procedure look more “medical” my producer told me earlier. Dr. Oz walked over and said, “hello,” and thanked me for participating. Then, we were back, cameras rolling.
I felt a little bit like I do when I take cough medicine: I’m here, but my head is floating in some cloud twenty feet above my body. It was all just a little surreal.
Dr. Oz and the nice acupuncturist (I still can’t remember her name) are talking and pointing at a giant diagram of an ear, and then they are walking towards me. They stop and discuss the stress relieving benefits of acupuncture and ask me if I’ve had acupuncture before. I said, “Yes,” and then blathered something else, I can’t remember what. Then they proceed to stick me like a pin cushion.
In my non-approved ear. In my rebel ear, the one with a small hoop piercing in the cartilage. Not the one from the photos.
The entire time, Dr. Oz held my hand and gave me encouraging words of comfort.
And then next thing I know, it is done. I am being escorted back to my seat, as the acupuncturist chases me with a cotton ball, loudly whispering “You’ve got just a little blood there.” And then she disappears back stage, never to be seen by me again.
Fewer than five minutes had passed and I was back, sitting beside my brother. Breathing deep, slow breaths (I probably learned that on Dr. Oz), and hoping that I hadn’t just made a huge ass of myself on national TV, wondering , why the hell did I post this thing on my Facebook wall before seeing how it all turned out?
The rest of the show sped by, and we were all invited to hurry up and clear out of the studio. It was the end of a long day of taping two episodes and the crew was ready for us to be gone.
We walked away from 30 Rock and trudged to the nearest Irish Pub for the aforementioned promised pint of Guinness and a debriefing. My brother assured me that I hadn’t made much more of a fool of myself than I usually did, and I thanked him for being my rock. We clinked our glasses and drank.
I know at the end of the day, I wasn’t stressed from my fifteen seconds of fame on TV, but it seemed me that maybe the acupuncturist could’ve had used a little bit of her own “medicine.”
For your viewing pleasure, here is the link to “my” segment:
Here is the link to the 24-Hour Stress Cleans episode:
 I’ve gotten a food processor, Oil of Olay products, Hanes products, FTD Flower gift cards, Rent-the-Runway gift cards, books, and 500-dollars-worth of toys including a rad motorized scooter. Thank you Rachael Ray and The View!
 The name of the wonderful acupuncturist is: Jill Blakeway, Licensed Acupuncturist, Director, Yinova Center. Thank you Jill!
Kelly Redcay is an aspiring author, adventurer, long-time wife, mom and reality TV-show addict. She was born in Barre, Vermont, and grew up in the idyllic, yet freezing state. Since marrying her best friend 25 years ago, she has moved 17 times within 6 states and raised 3 awesome kids and 2 dogs. She currently attends Florida Gulf Coast University as she continues to study English and creative writing. She moved to Florida in 2015 when her husband’s job transferred there, and has enjoyed long walks on the beach, Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.
Before becoming a beach bum writer, Kelly also worked in the insurance industry, hospitality industry, on a television program and most recently doing event planning and social media marketing. Kelly has drawn on all of these work and life experiences to spin tales in her short story writing. When she’s not writing, Kelly enjoys reading, kayaking, photography, and listening to live music. She lives in South West Florida and loves every minute of it.
You can read more on her newly created blog, found at https://www.kellyredmomtells.com
And … here she is during her show taping with Dr. Mehmet Oz: