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Nancy O’Dell: Didn’t I Meet One of The Donald’s Predatory Victims?

October 25, 2016


Nancy O’Dell. Nancy O’Dell. As the news broke about Donald Trump’s move on Ms. O’Dell, something rang very familiar—and not just because she was the long time co-anchor of Access Hollywood (before she moved on to Entertainment Tonight). Hadn’t I met Nancy O’Dell once upon a time when accepting one of two Gracie Awards that came to the organization I worked for in producing radio spots?

Had she even shook my hand?

Not that I was all a gaga about that particular moment in the same way as, say, if it had been a queen or president or prime minister, but it was a moment when the work of Mennonite Media, and my role in it, was being recognized for media excellence on a national secular level, and that was very sweet.


I do have to say it was the fanciest award show I’d ever been to, and I got to go twice, in 2003 and again in 2005. We also entered in 2009 but in the interest of fairness, I’ll add that we didn’t win an award that time. Which in a way, that told us something too—that it wasn’t one of those commercial type award programs that give out several hundred awards to maybe 1000 or so entrants.

But back to O’Dell. She was beautiful and sexy but at the same time polished and professional with a long long record of award winning media work and appearances herself. We as an organization were duly impressed that the host and honorary chair of the event was the co-anchor of that well known TV program, although at the time I had never watched Access Hollywood and didn’t have a clue who she was. As a reporter she had covered such events as the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes and did red carpet type shows in advance of some of those events.


Speaking of which, yes, there was a red carpet at the Gracies. And I got to walk on it. But it was the kind of entrance where, if you’re a bystander, you’re wondering—who is that, should I know her, and what did she do anyway? And when it’s you as an unknown walking in, you’re going ok, no one knows me but here I am anyway and yes, I belong here! At the meet and greet in the hotel banquet room, mingling and wrangling tiny hor d’oeuvres on my plate without spilling them, I was feeling sixth-grade-awkward and very out of my element in New York City as a small town or indeed, a farm girl.

I also wanted to make sure I got on stage at the right time. This was a note to myself. programnotetoself

Which brings me to why even share my fleeting meeting with Ms. O’Dell?

As another acquaintance, David Jost, wrote recently in Mennonite World Review, there is reason to consider our votes as Christians carefully. Not an easy task this election.

I also once heard Hillary Clinton speak, back when she was “just” the governor’s wife down in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1988, at a meeting of the National Federation of Press Women. I do not remember a thing she said. If I’d have thought she’d come this far, maybe I would have taken notes. Or stood in line to shake her hand.


Yes, it was a “heavy” metal. The 2003 Gracie awarded to Mennonite Media.


Local Daily News Record shared the news.

I did get to give a carefully timed 30-second acceptance speech (below), in which I got to mention Mennonites, and their emphasis on community and families, and who made the spots special. Cha-ching. Not that anyone remembers a thing I said.





Award-winning radio spots. The radio spots for which Mennonites won the Gracie Award in 2003 were called “Parenting on the Edge”—PSAs (public service announcements) on parenting issues we produced in a studio in Winnipeg, Manitoba, using many local Winnipegians including amazing children, the also amazing Mennonite musician Marilyn Houser Hamm, some professional radio announcers and a volleyball Olympian. I was also extremely grateful to my boss and colleagues, some listed in the award speech, who immediately said, “You are going to the awards.”


Gracie Allen. The Gracies of course are named for the Gracie half of the George Burns-Gracie Allen love birds–married and often starring together in times gone by. The Gracies are a program of the Alliance on Women in Media.


Get your free CD here or listen online. The spots are no longer on
the main Third Way website (since they were produced clear back in 2002) but thanks to the incredible “Way Back Machine” (web archives of over 5 billion web pages) you can hear them here! If you would like a CD of the spots instead, I just happen to have a nice little supply and I’d be happy to pop one in the mail to you. Clean off my shelf …

Where old websites go to rest. And if you’ve never checked out the Way Back Machine, check it out and enter whatever website you used to love and use and see if it’s there. As Donald Trump learned, nothing, especially if it is salacious and potentially dangerous to you if you ever run for president, never really goes away with today’s media. And that’s why this post is rather mild.

Saving memories online. Filing things is also another reason I’m preserving these precious memories here—as I go about cleaning out and discarding some of my work files, a trick I picked up from bloggers like Marian Beaman and Shirley Hershey Showalter. And for the record, yes, I know as media forms change, these artifacts and memories may also be lost, but time to move on!


Who is the most famous person you ever met?

Who would you most like to meet?

What do you do with your memorabilia? Toss, giveaway, or save?

I’d love to hear from you either here or on Facebook!

And shoot me an email if you want one of those CDs of radio spots. (If you still have a CD player.) Send to: 


From → Faith, Writing Life

  1. Probably the most famous person I ever met was His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

    Fascinating stories, Melodie.

    • That would have been special and something to remember for sure. I think I read that somewhere on your blog. Thanks for popping up here.

  2. I met Billy and Ruth Graham quite by chance at Montreat Presybterian Church on our honeymoon near Asheville, NC. They emanated happily married love, I remember.

    You look star-struck in the news photo. Thanks for the story behind it here, Melodie.

  3. On your honeymoon! What a positive vibe. We have gone to Montreat Conference Center a number of times but have not peeped in on the Grahams. 🙂
    And yes, I do look a little star struck, and in spite of not wanting my eyes to be half closed in pictures, I’ve decided now what looks best is a simple relaxed smile. But I was pretty pumped!!

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