Naples Florida Weekly

When life lands you on your butt, on live TV …

Derek Wakefield, Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and writer Randall Kenneth Jones at NBC studios in New York City.

Derek Wakefield, Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and writer Randall Kenneth Jones at NBC studios in New York City.

“Show Me” by Naples/ Marco Island writer, actor and creative consultant Randall Kenneth Jones is a compilation of interviews and anecdotes gleaned from Mr. Jones’ conversations with celebrities, business leaders, journalists, entertainers and sports legends — all of whom have a connection to Southwest Florida. Here’s an edited excerpt from the book about the time Mr. Jones and his husband, Derek Wakefield, spent with former WINK- TV weekend anchor and reporter Hoda Kotb and her NBC “Today” partner- in- wine, Kathie Lee Gifford.



Though my interview with Hoda took place over the phone, when she learned that Derek and I planned to be in New York two weeks later, she graciously invited us to be her guests in the NBC studio at a live broadcast of the “Today” segment with her and Kathie Lee Gifford.

As the show entered its last commercial break, a flurry of activity ensued in preparation for the “goodbye” segment, including the placement of a curved bench — a single set piece made possible by the merger of three independent units.

When I happened to glance in Hoda’s direction, she appeared to be gesturing for Derek and me to join them on set.

And then came the words of warning: “Ten, nine, eight …” Once again, the countdown to go live had begun.

My single thought? There is a camera up there calling my name! Hoda baby, I’m coming!”

As I arrived at my spot on the bench, I swiftly turned, propelled my backside toward the bench and made contact.

And the bench began going and going and going …

The set piece was on wheels. As I careened toward the back wall of the studio, Derek turned to sit. And he did. Directly on the floor. Derek go boom.

And we were live.

So yes, we are now on the air. KLG and Hoda are all smiles. I’m somewhat tucked away in the rear of the shot. Derek is clearly visible, having fallen squarely on his tush.

But seriously, how was I to anticipate that the combination of my brisk speed, momentum and, yes, my somewhat significant butt size was poised to potentially destroy the “Today” set? Before a staggering number of television viewers, no less?

Ah, but let’s look at this scenario through Derek’s eyes. Here was the man I had spent more than 20 years of my life with — flat on his bum on national television — and what did we do? We did what Derek always does: We laughed. We laughed hard and we laughed long. I mean, what else is there to do at that point?

Though the television audience was treated to a whimsical “Man down!” from both Hoda and KLG after they confirmed the absence of broken bones and/or blood loss, the pair continued as if nothing had happened. (Ah, professionalism!) Thankfully, the camera cut away from our apocalypse to allow Derek to regain his composure.

However, in Derek’s eyes, it was just a blip. Yes, I know he would have preferred it had been my butt on the line, so to speak. I’m also aware his preference would have been for the television audience to see the FULL STORY, including the bull-in-a-china-shop part where my instinctual lust for the limelight, coupled with my ass, inadvertently caused his disaster. But he didn’t crawl under a rock. He was utterly unfazed.

The elusive full story is simply not always on display, no matter what we do. Sometimes, the only option is to accept what we know to be true and just move on.

His later quip? “It’s not like I’m Steve Harvey and I announced the wrong winner of Miss Universe.”

But Derek’s real secret? Despite life’s ever-distracting hurdles, Derek, who had just become talk show road kill, has never lost sight of his goal that life should be lived with the same passion and excitement as live TV. To him, when you fall down, getting back up is the only option —literally and figuratively. ¦

— “Show Me” also includes Mr . Jones’ interviews with the likes of Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Erin Brockovich, Barbara Corcoran, Janet Evanovich, Sue Monk Kidd, Sonny Jurgensen, Suze Orman, Peggy Post, Willard Scott, Vanessa Williams and 100- plus more. For more information, visit

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