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From Camden to California

Camden native leads late-night host's production company

Posted: October 4, 2011 4:45 p.m.
Updated: October 5, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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Comedian and late-night host Craig Ferguson and Rebecca Tucker

When an employee is called into the boss’ office, he’s probably getting fired.

At least that’s what Camden native Rebecca Tucker thought as she walked into comedian and “The Late Late Show” host Craig Ferguson’s office last month.

Tucker spent the past three years working as Ferguson’s assistant. Not that her position was ever the “typical” assistant job -- she never picked up Ferguson’s dry cleaning or raced to the nearest coffee shop each morning to pick up hot Café Mochas for her boss.

Instead, Ferguson immersed Tucker in his business life, having her spend much of the past couple of years doing everything from working as his road manager during comedy tours to helping edit Ferguson’s memoir, which landed on the New York Times best-seller list.

Even so, when Ferguson appointed her as president of his production company, Green Mountain West, Tucker said she was shocked.

 “I was speechless for a few minutes, because people work their entire careers and struggle out here for years hoping for an opportunity like this,” Tucker said. “But it’s definitely something that I feel like I earned and I deserved. He very graciously said to me, ‘You’re my person and this is how it’s going to run from now on, and you’re in charge.”’

In her new position, Tucker is in charge of developing projects with writers, and then trying to sell those projects to CBS as new programming on its schedule.

Her ultimate goal, she added, is to use her history and background to give people a glimpse into what she believes would make a great television show.

“I come from a town, a state, a family where it’s just story after story after story. You never run out of great stories that people want to hear,” Tucker said. “Whether I heard them from my grandmother in Pageland, or whether I experienced them for myself when I was on the playground at Camden Middle School, it’s all about finding those little gems from your own history.”

After relocating to Los Angeles several years ago, Tucker worked as an assistant at Cruise/Wagner Productions. Before that, she worked in the publishing department at ICM in New York City.

But Tucker said her love of the “creative process” and entertainment industry didn’t begin in either of those cities.

For the daughter of Glenn and Nancy Tucker, it all started in Camden.

“As a kid, Larry Hembree was in charge of the Camden Community Theater and he would cast me in his plays -- I was usually a background player but I made the most of it. I used to sit afterschool at the Kershaw County Public Library and I kind of immersed myself in the world of entertainment in whatever format I could get it,” Tucker said. “I always knew on some level that I wanted to be involved with entertainment. I didn’t know how to get there, but I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

When a friend called several years ago, suggesting that she take advantage of an “opportunity that would be a good fit for her,” Tucker was hesitant; after all, she wasn’t even looking for a job.

“I said I don’t do celebrity assisting, but (my friend) said, ‘This is a different kind of job, I promise. Just meet with him and see what you think.’ The next day I went in and met with Craig and I was instantly on board,” she said. “It was the kind of opportunity that you can’t say no to. It turned out to be an experience I never could have imagined for myself.”

Tucker said she spent the next three years studying the process of how Ferguson’s nightly television show was put together. She traveled with the comedian to Kosovo and Germany, as Ferguson performed stand-up comedy for troops, as part of his United Service Organization (USO) tour.

And watching Ferguson receive a standing ovation during his comedy show at Carnegie Hall, Tucker added, is “not something that everyone gets to see.”

“To see that and be involved with that … knowing that I have a part in what he does and my opinion matters to him is just a really rare experience,” she said. “You don’t hear a lot of stories like this -- you know, the small town girl makes good with television star.”

Since taking her new position, Tucker has hit the ground running -- she sold a pitch to CBS a few weeks ago. And although Ferguson has told Tucker that naming her as president of his company was a natural progression, Tucker said she still feels as if it was a “great surprise.”

“He told me, ‘This is the way I planned for it to happen the whole time,”’ she said. “I owe everything I have right now, careerwise, to Craig Ferguson. He’s been a great mentor to me, and more importantly, a friend.”

In an email sent to the C-I, Ferguson said his first impression of Tucker was that she was “a charming and capable young woman.”

“Someone as naturally as bossy as Rebecca is wasted as an assistant, when pushing people around is what she excels at,” he said, in typical Craig Ferguson style.

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