With ham, a bun — a $2.8 million Breakfast Jack
The following comes from a Reader story published on June 1, 1989.
It's ten minutes before one o'clock, Thursday afternoon. The crew of the Today show is in Seaport Village about to begin taping a two-hour program on which the hosts will pretend that it is actually 8:00 a.m. Friday in fabulous San Diego. Although the show is produced by the news division of NBC, nobody promises reality. A small navy of yachts, skippered by vibrant young men and women, is waiting to sail, on cue, past the cameras, simulating another beautiful day in paradise. The downtown skyline and the Marriott Hotel and Marina shimmer in the background as Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley and their respective entourages make separate entrances to polite applause from the audience, lucky (and grateful) beneficiaries of a ticket raffle held the week before by the local NBC affiliate.
As taping time nears, four prosperous-looking women attempt to follow Gumbel onto the set but are intercepted by an officious young production assistant and routed to some empty seats in the front row of the audience. "Who are they?" asks a curious man in the third row. "I think it's the mayor, O'Connor," says another. He is correct but fails to identify her companions, Union-Tribune publisher Helen Copley, burger heiress Joan Kroc, and actress Mercedes McCambridge. Suddenly, Today weatherstar Willard Scott bounds into the audience and begins shaking hands. "Willard! Over here! Willard! We love you!" Willard waves and says, "Fantastic! Fantastic!" several times before hustling onto the stage.
The matronly quartet in the front row does its best to ignore the overweight weatherman. "Shall we look at the egg?" Kroc asks Copley, signaling to a beefy plainclothes San Diego police officer carrying what appears to be a shoebox under his arm. "Bring it over here, Bill," she beckons, and he quickly obliges. Kroc pops open the lid and removes the bejeweled, cobalt-blue Fabergé egg that she has recently purchased at a European auction for $2.8 million. "That's beautiful," Copley observes. Bill and two other plainclothes officers eye the members of the crowd, especially those within egg-grabbing distance of Kroc's lap. (Later the mayor's office would confirm that Bill and the other officers were on duty with the police department, but nobody seems to know who authorized the special detail to transport and protect Kroc's egg.)
A woman comes down from the stage to brief O'Connor, Copley, and Kroc on their upcoming interview with Jane Pauley. "We'll introduce you as friends, but say that, of course, you don't always agree on issues such as growth," she adds. Then, only moments before the taping begins, Copley, O'Connor, Kroc, and the egg are escorted onto the set. The cops breathe easier as the expensive bauble is removed a comfortable distance from the leisurewear masses.