"You better do something pre-emptive so Kathy Griffin won't be pissed at you when your book comes out. That will not be good," my friend Marlene, who's a real writer, as in has degrees in writing and has several book published harshly warned me.
"Pissed at me? What about me pissed at her? She seduced me and then dumped me."
Marlene gave me that "don't say I didn't warn you" look. Pre-emptive? Was I supposed to do what Tim Allen did before the launch of Home Improvement -- tell everyone before the media could blast him that he'd been in prison for being a drug dealer? Could I soften the impact by being the one to tell the story myself? "Um, Kathy, I hope you're okay with what I did. You're hearing it from me first. That makes a difference, right?"
What's the worst that Kathy Griffin could do? After all, her career is based on telling people's secrets. I suppose she could attack me with stuff I left out of the book, or just made-up stuff, like how I have, shall we say, performance issues when condoms are involved (That's right-- I said it. I can't claim I satisfied her every which way. Wait, perhaps that's why I got the animosity I did our one night together.) Sure, she could blast me as an impotent disappointment, but, honestly, I've been called worse. And seriously, my photo is on the cover of my book, so we all know I'm no Jon Hamm.
I felt assured Kathy Griffin of all people should be okay with someone telling a lurid story about her. She was the aural version of Lena Dunham's need to be naked every other second. And she didn't spare other people. If I remember correctly, she went on Howard Stern talking about how Brooke Shields' mother was drunk out of her head at Brooke's wedding. By telling a sex story about Kathy Griffin, I wasn't exactly exposing America's sweetheart like a Sandra Bullock, disillusioning millions of fans.
But reach out to her? For a moment, I actually entertained this concept. How would I even reach out to her? She'd become so famous and it wasn't like I ever called her at home to begin with. My only possible source was Luke.
When I guest starred on Suddenly Susan, Luke, a Beverly Hills hair stylist who worked on the show gave me a free haircut before the episode. I received many compliments about my hair after that, so I actually ended up with my one and only Beverly Hills indulgence: becoming one of Luke's clients. Some time later, when I bumped into Kathy at the Warner Brother's commissary, I told her that I also went to Luke for my hair.
"How much does he charge you?" she asked.
"Fifty bucks." I answered. (Something I'd never admit to my mother.)
"Fifty bucks! That bastard! He charges me $250!"
I tried explaining she has long, curly hair, so maybe it's different for a man, but she was gone in a rage.
No, I quickly decided, I wouldn't bother Luke with trying to reach out to Kathy.
Let me just clarify, my book isn't just a dishy tell-all. It's more just a tell-partial. It's mostly this awkward, outsider guy who occasionally finds himself on the inside of Hollywood and tries to maneuver through it all. Along the way, I guess I do make some waves, and not just with Kathy Griffin.
I recount how Al Franken was a nasty to me when I auditioned for Saturday Night Live. I suppose if I'm ever in Minnesota I'd better watch my step. I mentioned how Caroline Rhea was less than welcoming to me when I appeared on Sabrina The Teenage Witch. I guess if I want to get on The Biggest Loser, that'll never happen. (Even though she's not the host any longer, I have a feeling they still confer to her.) And Billy Crystal and Norm MacDonald may not be not be thrilled with the portraits I paint of our interactions.
But chances are the person who will be the most upset with what I wrote will be my mother. The book is not an indictment of her per se. I just chronicled some incidents to show where I came from.
"Don't you think it'll disturb her? She's old and fragile. Couldn't you have waited until she died?" my friend Linda, who never met my mother, but somehow defends her as if the publication of my book will end whatever life she has left.
But I want to tell my story now. I don't want to be like my childhood friend Warren who's still waiting for his mother to pass away so that he can move across the country to Hollywood to pursue his dreams. Warren is now 68, his mother 94 and she shows no signs of slowing down, always berating Warren for all his shortcomings.
"And what would I say to Kathy Griffin if I could reach out?" I asked Marlene.
"Soften it. Say it's just all fun and games, comedy- what we all do."
"Okay, so, um, Kathy, it's all fun and games, ay know.... But I do want you to know I was really hurt. I admit I did badmouth you for a bit. Okay, I was immature. But eventually I got over it, thought you were cool and funny, until I worked as a guest on Suddenly Susan, and then... Man, you gotta be a ball-buster there? I was just the guest..."
Fred Stoller is the author of the new book Maybe We'll Have You Back: The Life of a Perennial TV Guest Star. Click here to read an excerpt!