Let me start this story by saying, I’m not a momager.  Do you know what a momager is?  It’s a mom who’s also a manager.  Think Kris Kardashian.  Kim’s mom.  I’m not her.  I do, however, have actor/performer children, now adults. Sometimes they ask my advice about their careers.  Sometimes I have an answer.  But only because I grew up in the business.  Not because I know the world of show business now.

My father was a manager.  A real one.  He was not my manager.  But when I had questions, I went to him.  He had answers.  He also was a touch of a stage dad, but only in that he was proud when I worked.  He would visit the set of a commercial I shot.  Then, behind my back, he would contact the ad agency and ask for a reel of the ad.  Okay, I’m so off topic.  Just setting the stage, so to speak.

My son in this story, I will call him B.  Just B.  I’m paranoid.  I think he signed a nondisclosure agreement.  He did sign one.  It’s been years now and I’m sure I shouldn’t care.  I mean, I’m telling this story.

B. on stage on the right. Giving the finger.

B had tried out once for a reality show called The X Factor.  He made it to the finals (read the Mother’s Day story here).  Then, he didn’t go further.  I went to that taping and it was possibly the worst experience I ever had as a mother.  To watch your son being fed to the lions.  Thousands of screaming people, loathing him in a huge auditorium.  Little, tiny me, riddled with migraine pain, trying to will those thousands of people to please give my cocky son a chance.

He’s cocky on stage. Grabs-his-own-balls cocky.  Throw the mic, cocky.   Let me say it: not lovable.  Not an underdog.  Just a one hundred percent off-putting, cocky, full-of-himself persona created for the stage.  Think Kanye, but not famous and with no real fans.  Then put B, with that stage cockiness, in front of a real prick – at least that’s his persona – like Simon Cowell.  And what can I say?  It’s a recipe for disaster.  But on that day, which happened to be Mother’s Day, Cowell and the other judges gave him a pass to go on to the next level.

I didn’t go to any other tapings of the show.  It ended quickly.  And I thought that was that.  Close call.  I would never have to endure that kind of motherly pain again.

But no.  A few years went by.  He and his singing partner decided to try out for the show one more time.  The audition process began again.  This time, I wanted to know very little about it.  Until I got the screaming call that they made it through.  Really through.  This time they were going to the finals on live television!  But first he and the other performers were sequestered in a hotel in downtown Los Angeles.  They would not see or talk to people for the next five days.  Fine.  I don’t really need to know.  I don’t really want to know.  I don’t even want B to be doing this at all.  I’m trying to ignore that this is even going on.  My eyes are covered.  My hands are over my ears.

In just a few days, I would be off to Canada for my summer vacation.  I will be so far away.  I must let go.  But I get a call.  “Mom, I got that commercial.”  He had gone on an audition for a commercial before he was sequestered.  “It shoots in two days and I can’t leave this hotel.  I signed something.  I can’t leave here so I have to turn it down.”  And with that, full blown momager came out.  “No, B.  You WILL shoot the commercial.  Are they paying you money to be on this mean show?  You need money.”  “Mom, I can’t.”  “You can.  You will.  Listen to my plan.”

I came up with The Plan.  For the next two days, instead of letting go and not caring or not knowing what B was up to, I was connected like Mama Rose – remember her?  Gypsy’s mom.  I was encouraging my son to be calculated and sneaky and to basically lie.  Permission to lie when it comes to a paid job.  Sorry/not sorry.  My husband was getting a little sick of me, the agent/manager always with a phone to my ear, walking B through The Plan. And then if The Plan didn’t work, The Alternate Plan.

I was talking to him on speaker phone, plotting the escape from his hotel room — and then we got nervous that the room was wired.  But he had to find a way to go film.  I told the singing partner that B should leave very early in the morning, or the middle of the night, and he will be gone the whole day.  That his partner should say B got violently ill, must have eaten something bad. That his parents picked him up in the middle of the night and now his phone is disconnected.  That was one plan.  We had others.

I was now in Canada, not enjoying a vacation, but still on the phone and worried and not sleeping.  I was determined that B should go out and earn the real money.  The X Factor was too risky.  I wish he hadn’t even done it.  But now he was in motion.

In true and dramatic script form, the day of the ad shoot came.  He had a call time for 11:00 am.  In the morning, X Factor suddenly gave all the contestants hours off.  They’d never once given them time off.  The day before was a long one for rehearsals.  B asked permission to leave the hotel to see his “mother” who was leaving for Canada.  I was already in Canada.  He left.  He went to his set.  Shot his commercial and was back in time for the next scheduled X Factor blah, blah, blah – whatever it is they were doing when they were first sequestered in the hotel.

B felt great about how he’d pulled it off.  I felt great about how we pulled it off.  How it all opened up for him so organically.  That he could ask for permission with that white lie.  And, that if things went wrong, and they did when he was on The X Factor – at least he would be rewarded with some residual checks for a well-earned job.


Food:  The show gave the performers pre-made sandwiches at a craft service table.  I suggest if you ever find yourself sequestered in a hotel either because you’re on a jury or on a reality or music competition show that you order deli from Wexler’s Deli on Postmates.  Or B suggests Kazunori Japanese Restaurant.

Simon Cowell picked out the song and the strange arrangement of it.  It wasn’t their choice so, it’s awful.  But, watch if you want to see B. on the X Factor.  You probably can’t tell from his performance on the show how magical and talented he is on stage.  How he comes to life up there with an audience.  How B. blows us away with his command of the stage.  Probably because of the song they chose  When he performs original songs, it works really well..  Half of the audience was cheering and rooting for him and half were booing and throwing the thumbs down sign.  So glad I wasn’t there to witness it live.  He did get a lot of fans from this show.  Not enough to land a record contract though.  That’s the way the business works now.  This much I have found out.


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5 Responses to “Sequestered”

  1. debi fries says:

    great story. Nothing like a fierce mama bear protecting her young, forever and ever. He is adorable and the song that comes on at the end that they do is phenomenal. Augie is spectacular in the audience!!

  2. DeeDee Lancet says:

    I am charmed by your son’s talent
    and his personality, both on and off
    stage. I am truly a fan. Of course you
    did what you did; I’d expect nothing
    less….you’re smart & creative and
    protective of your kids, Fredde Duke‼️
    Big sis in the audience made it all the
    more endearing.

  3. robin says:

    omg omg omg. the last video is just so great.
    i remember talking to you when this was happening.
    how it hurt your heart.
    your big beautiful room-for-everyone heart.
    and i hurt for you.
    and i love you….

  4. Karen Keating says:

    I love this and think how I would act if it were Sterling. So fun and uplifting. We always put our kids first!

  5. Linda says:

    Always a MUST READ when Fredde is the writer! B is great … like his mom … and I’m glad he did the commerc

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