The Naked Truth

By: Shannon Hollis


“SO WHAT’S IT going to be? Sexy secrets? The best lies lovers tell? Or should we find someone with a confession to make?”

Eve Best looked into the faces of the production team for Just Between Us, the afternoon cable show she hosted on CATL-TV. The show that had just been profiled in Vanity Fair. The show that was rocketing up the ratings and making the dreams of everyone in this room come true.

Every Monday at five, they got together in this conference room to hammer out the roster for the following week, with the exception of Fridays, when she invited a panel to take questions in a town-hall meeting format, or she simply did it herself. But for four twenty-two-minute segments, Monday through Thursday at three o’clock, they had to come up with the best in sexy, cutting-edge topics and guests. The funny thing was, no matter how many shows they did, they never seemed to run out of material.

They were, after all, talking about human behavior, in all its wonderful forms and mutations.

Lainie Kaye, the junior of their two segment producers, waved a sheaf of clippings. “If we go for a guest, I got a commitment from Dawn Penney. She’s the actress, remember, who turned a part in that awful horror movie about the beach resort into a career character. Now she writes that column for the Register, ‘Perfect Dates.’ Sex and the City, Atlanta style.”

Eve made some notes in her planner. “Get her. See if she can do Thursday.”

Cole Crawford, their executive producer, looked up from the binder that went everywhere with him. Eve had asked him once if he slept with it under his pillow, and had been immediately sorry. Since his wife had up and left him, the topic of sleeping with anything or anyone was a sore one. Cole had made his kids and his career his whole life-to the benefit of the show and the detriment of any hope of a love life for the poor guy.

“Wednesday would be better,” he said. “Hump day and all. Get people past the middle of the week, right?”

Eve shook her head. Technically he had the last word on programming, but this was her show. And the more popular it got, the more clout she had and the more it was likely she’d get the programming she thought audiences would respond to best.

Not a bad place to be, considering Cole was one of the few who remembered she’d started out as junior weathergirl back in the day.

“Thursday,” she repeated firmly. “When Thursday hits, people start thinking about plans for the weekend. It’s the perfect time to hear about the perfect date.” She sat back, satisfied, as Cole nodded and gave in. Lainie left the room at a jog, as if Dawn Penney would give away the space they needed on her calendar if she didn’t get to the phone this second.

“Okay, three down, one to go,” Eve said. “What are the possibilities for Wednesday?”

Nicole Reavis, their primary segment producer, had her own sheaf of clippings. “I had an idea the other night about male-female communication,” she said. “What if we get someone like Dr. Deborah Tannen, the linguistics expert? She could talk about the differences in communication styles, and how what we say isn’t always what the other person understands.”

“I’m liking this,” Eve said. Cole leaned forward. A good sign. “Go on.”

“We could focus on subtext,” Nicole said. “You know, what I’m saying isn’t really what I’m talking about, and how that gets us into trouble in relationships.”

“Trying to read the other party,” Cole said. “How to find out if they mean what they say. Maybe even negotiation tactics and how that works in relationships.”

He would know. But Eve kept that to herself.

“Let’s do it. Nicole, get one of the coordinators to find the guest-someone local, if you can-and you and I will work on the script. And how about we carry over the theme to the Friday town-hall meeting? I bet everyone in the audience has a miscommunication story. We’ll pull three or four out to give advice from a male and female point of view.”

“Consider it done.” Nicole scribbled frantically in her notebook.

Just then, Zach Haas, the youngest crew member but the most experienced cameraman, poked his head into the room. “Sorry to interrupt, guys. Cole, those camera tests are ready whenever you need them.”

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