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It’s 4:30 on a sunny afternoon in Los Angeles, and we’re making introductions, investigating the shoot location, engaging in small talk, and munching on all kinds of snacks (mmm, Trader Joe’s peanut-butter malt balls). But mostly we’re simply waiting -- and waiting -- for the talent to arrive. Every once in a while, Mary Brooks, who has managed to pull this entire thing together, including police officers, a bus rental, street-corner permits, a kickin’ motor home (known in the biz as the moho), photographer, and so many other things, in less than 72 hours, gets on the phone to check the status.

“Soon,” she’s told. “We’re still choosing her outfits.”

“Don’t forget the Emmy!” Brooks shoots back.

Finally, around six, Kathy Griffin and her entourage -- including the crew of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, who will be filming us photographing her -- arrive. And they have the Emmy. (The Emmy, which she won last year for her show, figures prominently into our plan. But now I think J.R. Arebalo, our design director, and Mary [pictured to the left of J.R., holding the Emmy], just wanted it for some résumé padding.)

I’m sure most of you are thinking, What’s the big deal? Another cover, another celebrity photo shoot. But that’s where you’re wrong.

One of the most common misperceptions about American Way (right after the one that we’re published monthly, rather than twice a month) is that we are constantly traveling to glamorous locations to photograph our cover subjects.

More often than not, the photos that grace our covers are secured through the hard work of our talented designers and our tenacious project coordinator, Betsy Semple, who tracks down the best stock images of the celebrities and negotiates their usage with the appropriate public relations people.

But this was one of those instances in which everyone made time for a photo shoot. And what a photo shoot it was!

As you can probably guess from the pictures, Griffin is exactly the same in person as she is on her show -- personable, warm, and a total ham.

Despite the fact that the location was a grubby street corner in Los Angeles (complete with bus stop and bus), and despite the fact that we kept her well past eight p.m., Griffin followed J.R. and Michael Kelley’s direction, smiling gamely and giving shout-outs to her many fans waving and yelling “We love you, Kathy!” as they drove by on Highland Avenue.

Then, after shooting a quick spot for her show -- I can’t wait for that episode to air! -- she headed to the moho, rented specifically to keep the talent and crew comfortable while on location (a fabulous concept, in my opinion), to talk with Jim Sterngold, our writer.

Of course, our work really began when we got back to the office. To see the fun results, click here.

Signature of Sheri Burns

Sherri Gulczynski Burns