Take an ex-groupie with two grown children from two different musicians she followed through Europe, throw her back in Kansas City with a husband and five-year-old. Give her some authority with the other kindergarten SAHMs, as their sharp tongued Class Mom, and you’ve got as good a dish as any served on Live with Kelly and Ryan. No coincidence there: Class Mom author Laurie Gelman is the much referenced on-air wife of that show’s Executive Producer, Michael Gelman. A former CBS News Correspondent – and Dalton Class Mom for five years – like her character, Laurie used humor in over-the-top emails (that channeled Nora Ephron), to get parents motivated. But the comedic turns are where the similarity ends, Laurie told us, at a book party at the East Hampton estate of Deana and Stephen Hanson.
“One of her emails begins with ‘Read every damn word of this email,'” Laurie recounted. “Who wouldn’t read that, because, what else would she say? The emails are bossy, humorous, very ‘my way or the highway.” The character suggests gifting her with the coat in the window of Macy’s could buy first pick for a good parent/teacher time. “There was one you had to read to the tune Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” laughs Laurie. “She would just do anything to get people to get to read her emails. And, it’s all good, until it’s not.”
If you don’t think being a mostly off-camera presence on the Live with Regis franchise longer than Kelly Ripa has been on, or having the force behind Manhattan’s new Life Hotel and restaurant (Steve Hanson) host your party, puts Laurie Gelman smack in the middle of the cultural zeitgeist, listen to the story host Deanna Hanson told about how Laurie broke her writer’s block: “A few years ago we did a SoulCycle Kaballah charity spin together. The psychic and spiritual energy was palpable. We were all profoundly moved. When Laurie got off the bike, she said, ‘I just had a breakthrough with my book.’ At that point, I didn’t know she was writing a book. But here we are a few years later celebrating it.”
“I’m not a mystic type,” said Laurie, but the instructor said, “‘Put whatever is blocking you on the handlebars,’ and the book wrote itself from that moment on.”
With her own tenure as Class Mom behind her (more on that later), and the kids functioning on their own, Laurie yearned for the creative challenge writing provided. “We’re on the fifth printing and it’s only been out three weeks,” she confided. “Pretty good for a first time novelist! I’ve been very lucky with a lot of my press. My husband has taken this on as his pet cause. Not only is he the chief of my social media, but he put me on his show and just been the greatest advocate.”
In the book, the Class Mom’s emails get her into, shall we say, some “trouble.” What happened with Laurie? “I was Class Mom for five soul-sucking years, and then I was fired,” she explained. Someone didn’t share her sense of humor. “I ticked off the wrong person,” she noted.
We await her next novel.