We worked for months producing a sizzle reel for the show, writing, casting, filming, and then to my surprise, summarizing it all in a PowerPoint presentation. Forget about all the glamour, this was big business, and in Hollywood there were no barriers to entry—as long as you had a dream.

This time I stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt, eating my breakfast of granola and fresh fruit next to the David Hockney pool, as I went over our busy pitch schedule for the day.

I met my team members at CBS. We were pitching a top exec when the talk turned to 401k’s, the economy, and the disastrous real estate market in LA. People had lost everything, including top executives. He asked me if I wanted to be on ‘Survivor,’ and I said no.

We had a dozen meetings lined up, and the next was with Oprah Winfrey’s new network OWN. They were just launching and everybody in Hollywood was standing in line to make a deal; after months of meetings, we would be the first.

We got a green light and everybody I knew suddenly wanted to be my friend. The deal died in negotiation and all my new friends disappeared. We could have taken the deal, but it could have been the end of my dream. I wasn’t putting fame before fortune—or history.