Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Girl in the Video: “Stuck with You” (1986)

Introduction to series “The Girl in the Video 2” (including list of interviewees).

The video: “Stuck with You” by Huey Lewis and the News.

The girl-now-woman: Keely Brosnan (also known as Keely Shaye Smith).





How old were you when you appeared in the “Stuck With You” video?

24.

Where were you living at the time?

New York City.

What music videos, shows, or movies had you appeared in prior to that?

I had starred in a film called The Opponent with Academy Award winner Ernest Borgnine and appeared in a comedy special with Rodney Dangerfield as well as another comedy pilot for HBO called Norman’s Corner with Gilbert Gottfried. I was the Keri (lotion) girl and had filmed probably 20 national commercials (my bread and butter at the time) for a myriad of products including English Leather Cologne, Eastern Airlines, Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, and Eagle Brand Snacks which featured Tony Randall and Jack Klugman as the Odd Couple (directed by Alan Arkin).

I was also modeling, doing catalog work for large department stores like Macy’s, runway shows for Perry Ellis and Bill Blass, and editorial work in women’s fashion magazines as well as acting in NYC-based soap operas.

photo courtesy Cynthia Wolff

How were you cast in “Stuck With You”?

I was represented for print and television by Elite Model Management; however, I was sent on the “go-see” by my boyfriend at the time (who was a model at a competing agency), not by my agent. It was a proper audition at a large casting office with director Edd Griles who was looking for an “island girl.” There were dozens of gorgeous young women hoping to land the part. Following my audition, I was invited for a call back. The second audition took place at a fancy hotel on Central Park West. I auditioned with Huey for the director.

photo courtesy Cynthia Wolff

Do you remember what your reaction was when you were cast?

I was excited. The job paid union scale, which wasn’t a lot of money at the time, but it seemed like a lovely opportunity. MTV was hip, innovative, and showcasing artists in a unique way. There were only a few dozen music videos playing in rotation. The music video industry was breaking ground at the time—it was all so new.

Were you a fan of Huey Lewis and the News’s music?

Sure. Everyone knew who Huey Lewis and the News were following the success of their album “Sports” and their song “The Power of Love” for Back to the Future.

Where was the video filmed?

The Bahamas. The opening sequence took place in Nassau. Huey was flirting with my character at garden party but ultimately we found ourselves washed up on a remote tropical island—my favorite thing in the world—following a mock-shark attack. The pristine island was a little jewel with white sand, breathtakingly clear seawater lapping at the shoreline, a thick grove of lush coconut palms…and no development whatsoever… a truly magical, dream location.

How long was the shoot?

The shoot lasted one full week.

How did you feel making the video?

It was an exciting moment in time because it felt like we were making a short film. Les Blank, a renowned independent documentary filmmaker known for his poetic glimpses into the lives of artistic individuals as well as his intimate portraits of musicians, was on set filming Be-Fore: The Making of a Music Video. Blank was a genius in his own right and I was fortunate to be simultaneously cast in a music video as well as his documentary. Blank took viewers behind the scenes to observe what ensues when a hit song is converted into a visual medium and one of the best known rock-and-roll bands of the ‘80s become actors. The footage also offered some insight into sexism in the media, the MTV machine, and the music business.

What was the hardest part of the shoot?

The silver dress.

Kidding aside, one of the most difficult aspects of the job was getting up in the dark and travelling by barge with a crew of fifty technicians to the remote location with all the camera equipment and gear. I would sit for hours with the hairdresser then head to makeup as the sun began to rise. Working on the boat made it very challenging for the makeup artist to practice her craft. We would also have wardrobe fittings or costume changes in a small makeshift area on the barge.

Everyone worked long hours, filming under a blistering tropical sun. I recall getting very sunburnt. Some days to cool off, I would swim during our lunch break (in my dress because there was nowhere to change on island). At the end of the day, I would get a lift back to Nassau on an enormous cigarette boat with Huey and the band.



How was it to work with the band? What were they like? Did any of them hit on you?

Huey Lewis had a casual, easy elegance and charm. And most of the band members had a great sense of humor. They all seemed relaxed and to genuinely enjoy what they were doing…being rock stars. Huey was married and I was in a relationship. Let’s just say…I was immune to any advances.

Any funny stories from the shoot?

Not that I can tell you. I do recall being awakened from a deep sleep by Huey and some of the guys well after midnight and being persuaded to join them at the casino. Huey spotted me $500 and that’s the night I discovered I was a natural at playing blackjack!

Anything go wrong on the shoot?

Not to my knowledge.

What did you think of the video?

I thought “Stuck With You” was delightfully engaging. It was hugely popular and I was proud to be a part of it. I believe Huey and the band won the American Music Award for best music video that year. Suddenly I was the “girl in the video.” People wanted to meet me. Men wanted to meet me. Occasionally I didn’t live up to someone’s fantasy of the “island girl” in the video. After “Stuck With You,” I had a plethora of casting calls. And requests for blind dates.

What did your parents think of it?

The video was actually quite tame. My parents liked it.

What did you friends think of it?

My friends got a kick out of the immediacy of seeing me on MTV several times a day. Everybody liked the video. I had a small circle of friends composed of artists, actors, models, and photographers and often we would meet for coffee or brunch at a restaurant called Lox Around-the-Clock on 6th Avenue. They had a large television/jukebox in the corner of the restaurant and for a quarter, you could play your favorite music video. It was kind of a kick to catch up on each other’s lives and careers while “Stuck With You” played in the background. Naturally they loved it when I was “recognized.”

Did you watch the MTV World Premiere of the video, and if so, where and how did that feel?

I don’t recall watching the premiere. I was probably working.

Did the video ever affect your dating life in any way (i.e. when you first told boyfriends you were the woman in it)?

Well…even though it was my boyfriend at the time who sent me on the casting call (and he was proud that I booked the job), he was very distraught that I was leaving for a week to travel to a remote tropical island with Huey Lewis. Truly, it was a source of amusement more than anything following the release of the video.

Did you receive fan mail?

Not for the video.

Did the video generate any controversy that you know of?

No.

What were you paid?

Union scale…which was a little over $300 per day.

Were you ever recognized in public? How often and when last? Any stories about that?

I was recognized frequently when the video first appeared, but I went on to have a diverse career in television, working as an actor on General Hospital, correspondent and producer for morning news programs including The Home Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show (I met my husband while on assignment), and Entertainment Tonight. I co-hosted Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack for two seasons and wrote, produced, and hosted my own ecologically-minded home and garden series for PBS called Home Green Home.

Did you appear in other music videos after that?

No.

If you ever met other women who were female leads in a mainstream ‘80s rock video, who?

Lyndie Benson, Cindy Frey, Cindy Crawford, and Nicollette Sheridan are all friends. Stephanie Seymour and Elaine Irwin were Elite models in the ‘80s and we worked together early in our careers. Garcelle Beauvais and I did lots of bridal advertising and catalog work together when we were young. And throughout my time in New York City, London, and Hollywood, I have met many ‘80s stars including Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Brooke Shields, Coureney Cox, Carol Alt, Helena Christensen, Kim Alexis, and Joan Severance.

If you went to college, what did you study?

I studied broadcast journalism and went from model to actress, actress to broadcast journalist, and then television host. I have also written for television and various magazines.

What are you doing these days?

Traveling the world. I just returned from seven spectacular weeks in Paris and Versailles. Prior to that I was in Thailand for a couple of months while my husband
[MTN: actor Pierce Brosnan] was shooting a film called The Coup.

New Years Eve 2013-14, Thailand

I am currently producing a documentary about Kauai County Bill 2491 (working title: Pass the Bill: Stop Poisoning Paradise), editing an edible gardening book, designing and landscaping gardens in Hawaii and California, curating my husband’s original paintings for an art exhibit, and managing our affairs while raising a family and completing the building our dream home.

I have long been a champion of environmental causes and have run or participated in a number of successful environmental campaigns. I enjoy directing and producing public service announcements. The last PSA I co-wrote and co-produced challenged President Obama not to legalize whaling for Iceland, Japan, and Norway.

My husband and I are philanthropically minded and involved in a number of environmental, animal, and children’s issues. Most recently we are challenging the United States Navy’s use of military sonar in training exercises which poses a deadly threat to whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals. (Please purchase War of the Whales by Joshua Horwitz to learn more or Google NRDC to see how you can help.)

We also launched a new California Pet Lover’s Specialty License Plate featuring Pierce’s artwork (of our dog and cat). All profits from the sale of these specialty license plates pay for free or low-cost spay and neuter programs in California.

1995

Where do you live?

Being an island girl at heart, I divide my time between living in a rainforest on a tropical island and along the coast of Malibu.

What was your future husband’s reaction when he learned you were in this video?

My husband didn’t learn about the music video until long after we were married.

2013

What do your kids think of the video?

We have two teenage boys: ages 13 and 17. I think they think the video is quaint and amusing. It’s not their mom they are watching, it is someone else. However, it annoys my younger son Paris when I kiss Huey. Of course, it doesn’t annoy him when he sees his dad kiss Halle Berry, Meryl Streep, Salma Hayek or any other women appearing alongside him in films—such a double standard!

What did you think when you first heard from me?

I was surprised that the video still generates interest.

Has anyone else ever interviewed about this?

No.

Have you appeared at any fan conventions to sign autographs? If not, would you?

No and no.

Did you stay in touch with Huey Lewis or anyone else from the video?

No.

When was the last time you were in touch?

I went to see Huey Lewis and the News in concert in New York City shortly after the video was released. It was the most popular video of the year. I asked for two tickets, for myself and my boyfriend. Surprisingly, or maybe not, we ended up in the nosebleed section.

How do you look back on the experience?

Fondly, of course. A quarter-century later, it is like looking back at another lifetime.

Anything you’d like to add?

I am pleased that “Stuck With You” brought joy to so many people. It was a deliciously light and airy confection. I am also pleased to have been a part of something that became an MTV classic. My husband, who likes to sing, belts out a Huey Lewis song in one of his next films—a scene in a karaoke bar where he murders “Heart and Soul.” It is very funny. I suppose I have come full circle. 

 2014, Kauai (photo by Pierce)

Tweet about this interview to @Huey_Lewis_News @JohnnyColla!

Next: Robbie Nevil, “C’est La Vie” (1986).

4 comments:

Dublin O'Grady said...

I think she wins the marriage prize among the "girl in the video" participants.

Jason Dessing said...

She was georgeous then and she still is.
She's just overweight now but that is only a problem for those who think it's a problem.

steve lafarga said...

She was very sexually impressionable on many of us back in the 80's when we were young men!

steve lafarga said...

She was very sexually impressionable on many of us back in the 80's when we were young men!

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