Ruth Zavitsanos

September 1, 2009

On My Own In New York City

Filed under: 1 — ruthz621 @ 2:17 am

Growing up I always wanted to be like Marlo Thomas’ THAT GIRL or MARY RICHARDS of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. They both found themselves in trying situations that eventually had them laughing, held tight to their independence and regardless of fears and tears, they kept their dreams alive.
Last week, I felt like I had a THAT GIRL/MARY RICHARDS day in New York City, a place I hadn’t been by myself in two decades. Having worked there in the mid-eighties fresh out of college, I quickly recalled the avenues and streets with their famous landmarks. Looking downtown from our centrally located Park Avenue and 42nd Street hotel I could see The Empire State Building and uptown St. Patrick’s Cathedral. My goal was to meet the Good Morning America Cast and perhaps have my promotional t-shirt with my book cover for THE VILLA DOG appear on TV. Therefore, with a mission in mind, I set the alarm for 5:30a.m, showered, dressed and bid my husband farewell. I asked a hotel employee where GMA was filmed before leaving the lobby. She told me near Rockefeller Center. I breezed into the nearby Grand Central Terminal for a cup of coffee and began my ten block walk. Though, it is true the city never sleeps, at this early hour only the street cleaners and a few cabs were moving about. But, before I hit my fifth block the city swarmed with people, buses, and more cars. The city streets sparkled against the bright sunshine, and the low humidity kept the heavy odors of car exhausts and subways from hovering for long.
When I arrived at Rockefeller Center I discovered the TODAY show was being filmed there. I asked a security guard and he told me GMA was filmed near Times Square, which of course, was the location I’d just come from. Though misinformed, I took it in stride and soon discovered the RADIO CITY MUSIC ROCKETTES were rehearsing for their spot on TODAY.  I finished my coffee, as though in my own kitchen, fascinated by the talented famous dancers kicking up their heels to Winter Wonderland. Though it was enjoyable, my time was running out to get to the GMA studio. I picked up my pace; easily moving with the flow of commuters as the morning drive time rapidly came into play. Various vendors lined the streets and the smell of pretzels, falafels, roasted nuts and handmade material for knock off handbags filled the air. My stomach pleaded for a dirty dog but I didn’t want to risk getting mustard on my promo shirt or running late and completely missing out on my opportunity. Remember, it had taken me twenty years to take on Manhattan on my own again.
Soon, I came upon a small line outside of the ABC studios. In what seemed an instant, I was in the studio being told about the upcoming show. There would be a featured spot with Diane Sawyer interviewing the cast of 30 SOMETHING, celebrating their DVD release on this their 20th year reunion. We were told to line up, be excited and applaud. The instructions were easy enough until I was pulled from the line to be part of a trivia panel. Another woman, Carol, was the only other person in the small audience who was an avid viewer of the show when it ran on TV. Though this was a great opportunity to get on TV, my nerves had me wondering if I should run. But then, Carol, a nice librarian, and I talked, recalling the show and encouraging each other. It would be as the producer said, “A friendly competition.” During the interim and as a prelude to the interview, clips from the show were played helping to jog my memory. Meeting the cast also encouraged me to be a part of the event. Peter Horton (see photo insert) was kind enough to stop and pose for a picture.
When the audience was moved outside we were given a place up front to stand. Just seconds before filming we were told, “As is often the case in live television, we don’t have time for the trivia competition.” My heartbeat steadied and my breathing resumed. YES, I was both relieved and happy to know I could keep my place up front.
Next thing I knew, Diane Sawyer, Chris Cuomo and Sam Champion quickly walked down the sidewalk, stopping to greet the audience before standing in front of the camera. In an instant, Sam interviewed two women from Wisconsin and then at the other side of the audience, Chris did the same. During a commercial break, Chris came over and as he held my hand to greet me, I asked, “Did I die?” He is one of the reasons I tune in every morning and in person he’s even more handsome. When he pretended to check my pulse and replied, “No, you still have a pulse.” We both smiled, though I wished I had kept my mouth shut, I was glad that did manage to request that my new friend, Carol, take a picture of me and my morning show crush. Now, if that wasn’t enough heart pounding excitement, Sam comes over and asks about my shirt. I told him my neighbor, Cathy Peluso, did the artwork and I wrote the children’s book, THE VILLA DOG. His face lit up, “Then we have to talk to you. That’s great that you’re an author.” And then, the microphone came up to me, the camera zoomed in and Sam said, “We have a writer with us today.” Of course, after my silly school girl remark to Chris I was so nervous I might say something ridiculous that I could barely speak with Sam. My smile was as wide as the day Wild Child Publishing offered me a contract and having just returned from a week at the beach, my smile appeared very white against my tan.
It all happened very fast. In fact, the entire two hours of live GMA seemed to last about twenty minutes in the midst of it all. At 9 a.m. my day had already soared into heights higher than I could’ve ever imagined. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel to tell my husband. I’d tried to text him during the commercial breaks but his cell phone was shut off. Thankfully, I did get through to a neighbor to tape it. My walk back to the hotel had me singing in my head, “You’re gonna make it after all.” When I told my husband about my accomplishment, he beamed, “You are like Lucy, nothing gets away from you.” I prefer to be Mary Richards. Lucy whined too much and without Ricky her life appeared rather dull.  I would like to give a special THANK YOU to the entire cast and crew of GMA. Diane, Chris and Sam were very gracious as I bubbled over with joy.

Me at the GMA Studio

Me at the GMA Studio

30 Something Cast

30 Something Cast

Me and Chris Cuomo

Me and Chris Cuomo

Peter Horton

Peter Horton

Very elegan Diane Sawyer

Very elegant Diane Sawyer


Weatherman Sam Champion

Weatherman Sam Champion



  1. Ruth, you go girl!!! I saw Chris Cuomo when I was in NYC in March for the PASIC conference. He walked through our hotel and I was amazed at how TALL he is! Very good-looking, too, but really tall!

    You realize I’m going to have to follow in your footsteps and get my butt to NYC, books in hand! Way to go!

    Comment by Judi — September 1, 2009 @ 2:49 am | Reply

  2. Nice to see some things don’t change. Peter Horton still has a smile that could melt steel, and Sam Champion is still as adorable as he was when I lived in NY 10 years ago.

    Glad to hear you had a wonderful experience playing MTM in NY! Great picturs! Thanks for sharing, and much success on The Villa Dog!!

    Comment by carlakempert — September 1, 2009 @ 12:06 pm | Reply

  3. Rooty-toot! Amazing story! It’s so true that nothing gets by you. VERY proud of your following your dreams and promoting them in such a public way, too! I want to see your recording; hate that I missed it live! Let us know when we can order The Villa Dog – kk

    Comment by KK — September 1, 2009 @ 5:30 pm | Reply

  4. Great Blog. You have more courage than I do. I love the city but I’d never have the nerve to go alone. Philly sure but NYC–don’t think so. Good luck with the Villa Dog.

    Comment by Kate Welsh — September 1, 2009 @ 7:15 pm | Reply

  5. What a great story! Ruth, you are That Girl!

    I loved the show Thirtysomething in the Eighties. Looking forward to owning the DVD. Best of luck with The Villa Dog. I wish you many sales.

    Best–Adele Dubois

    Comment by Adele Dubois — September 1, 2009 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

  6. Ruth: You are just a go-getter. I love your story – I had chills reading it. It happened because you wanted it to happen! Can’t wait to buy your book! When will it debut?

    Comment by Doris Hutchinson — September 2, 2009 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

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