I, Claudia

Claudia DiFolco isn't really a ditz. She just plays one on TV.

"I don't know if I would find this insulting, but it's going in a direction that we don't support, or teach, necessarily. We're trying to turn out good journalists and people who are not trying to be, necessarily, personalities and entertainers, really. And that's part of it. People like to watch people who are attractive, you know. We like to think there's more to it than that."

Before the Britney Spears concert ends, Claudia DiFolco is cornered against the TV van by two men. The pavilion's west entrance is deserted. The men, both in their early 20s, are wearing backward baseball caps and rigid expressions uncharacteristic of the typical teddy bear, fanboy type. There's apprehension.

But the little girls understand: DiFolco and fans.
Paolo Vescia
But the little girls understand: DiFolco and fans.

"Why won't you just go out with me?" asks one of the men. He's standing close enough to DiFolco to erase any sense of her personal space. "Aren't I good enough for you?"

The other kid just stares at DiFolco. His eyes travel up and down her body, spending the most time centered on her pelvic area and breasts. His eyes sport a diabolical glint.

DiFolco soothes the uncomfortable and potentially threatening situation with composure and ease.

"I have sons older than you," she winks. "Besides, I'm already taken."

If the NewShow technician and cameraman had not been lurking around, DiFolco's well-being would have been in question. When the Spears concert lets out, the two men vanish.

DiFolco later talks of being stalked. Of being followed home and having to watch her rearview mirror. "They would just wait for me outside of work and stuff. It was scary."

It's past 10:30. After five hours of standing, sweating and getting swarmed by fans, dealing with moody promoters, the concert lets out. DiFolco freshens her makeup in the van using a hand-held compact. It's time to actually get in front of the camera. She's tired, hot and "in need of a shower." She's been wearing the same clothes all day.

A day that started at noon with a photo shoot in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton, followed by a NewShow staff meeting, voice-overs, myriad phone calls haggling for Britney Spears meet-and-greet passes and long talks with her news director. As soon as the TV lights are triggered, the seemingly indefatigable DiFolco flips on that switch.

The exiting crowd seems grumpy and tired. But the TV lights draw them like moths.

DiFolco is mobbed again. This time she's in front of the camera with mike in hand, beamed into thousands of living rooms. Gone is that Canadian twinge in her voice. Gone is the person. Hello, persona. The entertainment reporter cracks to life.

Girls with happy faces vamp for the camera by offering stilted grade school picture poses.

The oldest one in the crowd, a pudgy man, maybe 40, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, lifts a mobile phone to his ear. "Dude," he shouts into the cell, "you turn on the VCR right now and record. Do it right now. Don't worry about what's already on the tape. Just hit the record button. I'm on TV, man!"

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