Christmas is a season for miracles: ACU instructor finds Texas-friendly plays well with Rosie O'Donnell, New Yorkers


For Immediate Release
Dec. 22, 2000

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Abilene Christian University English instructor Mimi Barnard missed standby tickets to a Tuesday taping of the Rosie O'Donnell show by two minutes.

Her disappointment was greater than usual because the trip was a graduation gift for recent ACU graduate Sarah Carrigan, and they had planned their Christmas shopping around the taping of Rosie's show.

"My husband Wayne and I had been on the show in February when we were in New York with some friends, but Sarah really wanted to see Rosie," Barnard said.

So instead of giving up, Barnard, Carrigan, Barnard's daughter Katie and ACU graduate Amy Batchelor decided to wait near the studio -- just in case.

Barnard began chatting with the interns and listening to their discussion about where you should wait if you were "standby standby." She was Texas-friendly, as usual.

Then the group's big break came. Barnard noticed a man frantically talking to a group of interns, and she watched politely from a distance. She recognized him from her February visit to the show as the person who warms up the audience and tells them when to cheer and clap.

The small ACU group waited patiently, smiling at anyone who passed. Others weren't so patient.

Turns out that some tickets didn't get mailed to the right people, and the audience for the taping was going to be too small. All the people with standby tickets were allowed into the show.

But having no standby tickets, Barnard and her small band of Texans were left out.

"The man looked over at us; I smiled back," Barnard said. Finally, he walked up to them and began talking.

"Do you love Rosie?" he asked.

"I love Rosie!" said Barnard.

"Do you really love Rosie?" he asked again.

"Yes! Please put us on the show! It's so important to Sarah!" Barnard energetically responded.

He looked the group over, then came to a decision.

"It's your lucky day -- come with me," the man said, and the group followed him up a flight a stairs and straight into the green room of the NBC/Saturday Night Live studio.

For 30 minutes, they enjoyed soft drinks, visits from interns, and a view of the show. Barnard was asked about herself, including shows they had seen in New York and hobbies. She found out she was going to introduce Rosie.

"The people were so nice," Barnard said. "They told me that when Rosie said a certain line, I had to sit down even if I had not gotten any time with her. But because Rosie likes teachers, they said she might talk to me. The girls told the intern I'm a singer, and he wrote everything down."

When the time came for the taping to begin, the group was escorted to the front row. Barnard was placed in front of a camera so she could say her lines.

First, she enthusiastically introduced herself and three special guests, including George Clooney, then came the big line: "And now, here's Rosie!"

"Hello, Mimi."

"Hello, Rosie."

And that exchange could have ended the exciting day. But Rosie warmed up to the Texans. Barnard talked about her role at ACU, and she introduced her friends and daughter. Then Rosie got a little worried when she found out Mimi was an English teacher.

"You know, I'm not a good speller," Rosie said.

Later, when talking about New York shows, Barnard asked if Rosie would like to hear a little something from "Les Miserables." She sang a few lines from a lullaby she used to sing to put Katie to sleep.

Of course, 12-year-old Katie found her mom singing on national TV a little embarrassing.

But for Barnard, it was a wonderful experience.

Despite all that fun, the day was not quite over. After seeing "Miss Saigon" that evening, Carrigan forgot her camera in the theater -- with all her special pictures of the day. When they walked back to the theater at Broadway and 53rd, it was shut down.

Again, persistence paid off. They walked to a side door, and knocked loudly. A young man, talking on the phone about a record deal, answered the door and agreed to go find the camera.

"Take a tour while you wait," he said. They walked across the huge stage and looked up to see the helicopter hanging from the ceiling. Then the performer in Barnard just couldn't resist.

Walking to the center of the Broadway stage, she began singing. Lines from "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Les Miserables" echoed across the empty theater.

"I've sung on Broadway," Barnard joked. "I think this was the most wonderful day of my life."

And for the ACU graduates… well, they received a graduation and Christmas gift they'll never forget.

Barnard and her friends will air on the Rosie O'Donnell Show Dec. 28 on the local ABC affiliate, KTXS-TV.

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Last update: Dec. 22, 2000
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