Volume 9, Number 3, 2000

Waiting for Jimmy Smits to call

Jacquie (Petruzzelli) Jordan, AS '92, knew by the time she entered the University of Delaware that she wanted to work in the entertainment industry as a producer.

"I was very much an activities person in high school," says the Emmy-nominated producer for The Donny & Marie Show. "Even as a child, I was always producing something--shows, plays, you name it."

And, Jordan says she knew from the first time she visited the campus "that Delaware was the right choice."

"I was a transfer student from East Strousburg, Pa.," she says. "I'd heard that Delaware had a strong communications program, so I visited the campus. It was such a welcoming environment, I felt I would fit right in."

She did. In addition to her studies, Jordan, throughout her time at UD, worked at the Clayton Hall conference center front desk.

While a student, she also began working at WSUS-FM, a Franklin, N.J., based adult-contemporary radio station. There, she was an announcer and broadcast engineer, facilitating commercials, music and news. She also performed voiceovers for commercial spots. "It was a great education," she says, "totally hands-on learning."

Jordan--whose married name is Jacquie Hanzok--also had a student internship at KYW-TV in Philadelphia. There, she learned the ins and outs of entertainment reporting from veteran reporter Trudy Haines.

"At Delaware, I learned the theoretical approach to communications; at KYW, I learned the application," Jordan says. That meant doing everything from getting coffee for celebrity guests like Shirley McLaine and Caroline Kennedy to going out on stories and news shoots, she says.

"Being with KYW was a great experience," Jordan says. "It set me on the right path."

Jordan's first love was always television. Her professional TV career began in 1993, at WMBC-TV, a New York City cable station, where she launched an evening news show and served as a producer and reporter. She also hosted a half-hour, weekly community show called "Your Hometown."

"I was a one-man band, and I learned the ropes quickly," Jordan says. "It challenged me to really think on my feet and got me used to the fast-moving pace of the television industry."

"You never really unpack your bags," she says of her profession, nothing that she has had no less than 12 positions in television in the past seven years, including a stint as a producer with The Montel Williams Show in 1994, The Geraldo Rivera Show in 1997-98 and Maury (Maury Povich's show) in 1998-99. She also worked with Mary Alice Williams as a producer of Our Show, and produced two shows for The Wall Street Journal's television endeavor, WBIS.

Jordan says she's covered a diverse array of topics during her tenure as a television producer, everything from "AIDs to UFO conspiracies." "That's one of the best parts of the job--there's so much ground to cover and so many interesting topics to explore," she says.

Most recently, Jordan was one of six producers for the Los Angeles-based Donny & Marie Show, a position she took last summer. Each of the six producers is responsible for one, one-hour show each week.

"We did everything from writing the scripts to writing the questions for guests to figuring out what the house band is going to play," Jordan explains. And, that flurry of activity all happens about a week before the show actually tapes, so it's a "very hectic, high-energy pace."

Donny and Marie Osmond are "very professional and very collaborative," she says. "They're down to earth; just very nice, normal people--like your next-door neighbors. They've been in show-biz for so long, they're true professionals."

That show's format was more variety-based than many other daytime talk shows, Jordan says.

"Montel (Williams) is more topical, usually focusing on a single topic, and Maury (Povich) is more about interpersonal relationships," she says. "Donny & Marie had a bit of everything--talk, singing, general entertainment."

Celebrity guests are booked based on what they're "pitching"--be it a book, movie or upcoming event. Non-celebrity guests are used for specific segments on such topics as cooking or fitness.

"It takes about a week to put together one show," Jordan says. "I pre-interview all the guests, including the celebrities, to work out the focus of the segment with them."

Despite her years in the business, Jordan says she's still impressed by celebrities. "It's wild to get a phone call at home from Glen Campbell wanting to change the song he was scheduled to sing, or to be waiting by the phone for Jimmy Smits to call."

A big part of Jordan's job was getting the Osmonds properly "prepped" for the taping. "They taped six shows a week, so they relied tremendously on the producers to prepare the material and go over the major points with them," she says.

Her hard work has paid off. This spring, Jordan learned she and the other producers had been nominated for a 2000 Daytime Emmy by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. In the fall, Jordan will become executive producer of USA Network's Friends or Lovers.

Jordan says one of the greatest pleasures of her career is the variety of life experiences she's exposed to.

"I always say I do well at cocktail parties because I can talk about any subject for at least five minutes," she says. "Seriously, I've been exposed to some amazing stories. When I was with Maury (Povich), we did a segment on death row and another time, I went to boot camp. Who has experiences like that?"

--Nicole Pensiero