Lou Diamond Phillips had a few years in the glaring spotlight of fame before settling back into being a respected, working actor. He was propelled into our consciousness after he played Richie Valens in the movie La Bamba. His name rhymed with Blue Diamond Almonds, the brand of roasted nuts sold in impossibly tiny bags back then, so this is how we referred to him.
At MIX 999, the promotions department stood on its head to get mentions in the trade magazines and newspapers. In one infamous incident, our Promotions Director used some newfangled technology to beam our station’s call letters onto the CN Tower during rival CHUM-FM’s party and that got us noticed. Guerilla marketing was free and it attracted attention.
One day as I sat working in Maureen Holloway’s office, a promo assistant came running in, breathless, beckoning me to follow her NOW. Lou Diamond Phillips was wrapping up his interview with Brian Linehan at CFRB and we needed a photo. I did as I was told and waited in the lobby until Brian and Lou emerged.
“Lou, can we get a photo?”, the assistant chirped, and Lou obliged, slapping an arm around me and leaning his 6′ 1″ frame in like we were old pals. But the look on Linehan’s face told me I was in trouble.
“Lisa Brandt, if you ever ambush one of my guests again, I will shame you!”
My lower lip quivered. My eyes filled with tears. And I blubbered an apology. I was dragged out there, I said. It wasn’t my idea. I was so sorry. I’d never do anything to disrespect you.
Brian’s stance changed. In a flash, he transformed from outraged to perplexed.
“Stop crying! For goodness sake, you’re a married woman!”
To this day, I have no idea what being married had to do with crying, but we reached an understanding. I wouldn’t agree to any more ambushings and he would let me know ahead of time if someone worthy was coming in, so I could get a photo.
Brian never did give me advance notice about his guests. He was protective of them and didn’t want to share. Over the years, I ran into Michael J. Fox, Lauren Bacall, and many other celebrities I wasn’t prepared for, so they got away undocumented, as was his plan! Brian and I eventually became pals and he even made a stop on my CHML talk show years later. Our staff treated him like a rock star and gave me new respect because of his friendship.
As for Lou Diamond Almonds, he has worked steadily since then, albeit in less publicized projects since La Bamba, Young Guns and Stand and Deliver. You may have seen him on his best friend Keifer Sutherland’s show, 24, or on Law and Order SVU. Blue Diamond Almonds are still going strong, too, over the years expanding their product line to include almond milk, thin crackers and roasted blueberries.