Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | July 20, 2011

Our 15 (or 3.5 minutes to be exact) minutes of fame

So – Good Morning America. Mark is getting sick of me talking about it, so I’ll tell you instead (and he’ll just delete the emailed post).  If all goes as planned, the kids and I will be on television today during a 3.5 minute segment called Sneaky Teacher. I’m not the teacher – I’m the mom who has many lessons to learn from the parenting expert on how to sneak in teaching into everyday life (like running errands).


A local friend knows an editor at Parenting Magazine, which is collaborating with GMA on the feature. He emailed me to say they were looking for a family with 2 kids between ages 7-12, to film for the segment. I said I was game, so the producer called. Apparently I fit the bill – driving distance of NYC, two kids in the age range, and not too ugly (they asked for a photo, though they didn’t say why. When magazines ask for a photo they usually want to see if the person is attractive enough to put in the magazine, so I take it as a good sign that we wouldn’t scare the viewers). They asked for local store names where we could run errands, and they’d call to get permission to shoot.


I took the kids out of camp, after getting them haircuts, making them shower, helping pick out their outfits, and brushing Dori’s hair. My morning was spent cleaning up my house, yard and car so it wouldn’t look like an episode of Hoarders. Since they were going to film me driving, at least I needed clean windows (they were disgusting)  and I got all the loose stuff out of the car. Now all the crap is under a blanket in the back. Hooray minivan!

I was hoping to include a photo here of the ABC news truck.  But there was no truck or professional camera crew. The two producers did the shooting (“cost cuts”), and they arrived in a mid-size rental car with Illinois plates and cameras that didn’t even have ABC stickers on them.

We met everyone and then started doing the fake introduction (you know, the expert knocks on the door and we pretend to greet the expert for the first time). And then we do it two more times so they can get different angles. They shoot the kids in the back yard and then we come in for a snack.

This is where the fun starts. Zack says on camera, “why are you being so nice to us, Mom? You’re treating us like kings.” And then he proceeds to shove his entire quesadilla in his mouth at once, while staring into the camera. If his table manners weren’t bad enough already, he starts talking again. With his mouth full. Sigh.


The kids make their own shopping list (great tip, by the way), but the pad they grab is Mark’s old personalized Roche notepaper. Like we need that on camera! But it’s too late to flip it over.

We headed downtown to the Town Book Store, where Zachary was to cash in his birthday gift certificate. Zachary, who usually has no trouble making up his mind, couldn’t decide what he wanted. And Dori was jealous he was getting all the air time. She starts whining about how she wants to be filmed too and it’s not fair and equal.

Then some woman walks in and starts taking pictures with her camera, asking us who we are and more details about what we’re doing. Uh, excuse me? Who are YOU? Turns out she’s from the local paper – the bookstore called her. She’s now following us around the store and getting in the shots, and being told to move out of the way. She also announces that she’s a recent graduate from Montclair State in television journalism, and she’s looking for a job. Subtle! (to be fair, I ask her to plug my Jersey Kids blog, so the same could be said of me).

The Savory Spice Shop was next, where the kids get to measure out and weigh spices and try to pronounce some of the spices. The whole time, the expert is giving me ideas on how to include the kids in planning the shopping trip and how to engage them while we’re in process.

Next we headed to Alan’s Orchard, a store that opened in the last year or so. They sell produce and goods from within 150 miles of here. They did a taste testing for us on local musk melon versus non-local cantaloupe (big difference). Then they had Dori read the ingredients of two different bags of chips, one with just potatoes and oil, and the other with a long list of unpronounceable ingredients. Zachary proceeded to eat the entire bag of the latter. There’s a reason they sell so well. The kids are asked to take out their shopping lists, which Dori has lost. She and Zack fight because he won’t let her hold his list. Plus, the list has items on there the store doesn’t sell (bananas, out-of-season apples), and they want a shot of the list. I cover up the Roche name so they can take a shot, and then we proceed to buy things that aren’t on the list.

By this time, Zack was losing it. He wasn’t cooperating and he was hungry (this from the kid who refused lunch and when I offered a second time said loudly “I’M NOT HUNGRY.” Message received). He brings some peaches up to weigh and guesses the weight within 3 ounces. Looks impressive, until he says “I already weighed them earlier, before you asked me to add another peach, so I knew the weight.” That wasn’t shown on television.

Fortunately we were almost done. We headed home with a camera guy in the front seat. The kids sat in the middle and the seat behind me, so they could be in one shot. Only our seat belt by the door isn’t working properly and needs fixing. So halfway through the (short) drive, it pops loose and now they’re on camera with Dori wearing an unlatched seat belt. Oops!

At home, a few final shots for the “B roll” – of the kids being active and playing together. Zack decided he didn’t want to do anything with Dori and was very stubborn and grumpy. He agreed to toss the ball with her, but ended up throwing it at her as hard as he could, several times. We changed games, having them climb up the slide and slide down. But then Zack started cutting in front of Dori and she kicked him – on camera. He yelled at her calling her a moron. It makes for great TV – if you’re filming Supernanny.

After some ice cream, we waved goodbye to the expert (three times, on camera from different angles), Zack disappeared to the back yard to read his new books.

He doesn’t want to miss any of camp to watch it on TV. He’ll just see the show later. Dori is excited to send the link to her friends on email, but has refused to tell anyone at camp that she’s going to be on TV.

And here’s the link to Sneaky Teacher on Good Morning America.


  1. I am taping GMA right now so we can see our friends on the Telly! As always, miss you like crazy.

  2. Love it…all of Murphy’s Laws? Accomplished.

  3. Hi Debbie. Congratulations on your TV debut! Are you going to post the segment on youtube? I missed it this morning. I read about you on parenting magazine too. The Kaplans are becoming a household name!

  4. […] though, the Houston burial is the most famous thing to happen in Westfield since Good Morning America featured the Kaplan clan running errands for its Sneaky Teacher episode. That one made the Westfield Leader! And Houston’s burial did too (though she got the front […]

  5. […] and a 2 week CSA (fruits/veggies) subscription to Alan’s Orchard (featured in my famous Good Morning America segment). And I’ll avoid the wait list to continue with the program (I’m on the wait list now […]

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