If you caught The Rules authors Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein on Oprah, The Today Show, or Dateline, you know they’re neo-June Cleavers who’ve made marriages and a mint with their retro dating guide. The success of this wedding primer is such that it’s making Schneider a hot topic in the advertising industry, which she covered as a gossip columnist for Adweek in the mid-1980s.
Although Schneider’s Rules image is prim and demure, her former colleagues (which, I should point out, include myself) remember Schneider (nee Shamoon) as a woman who made a point of not playing by the rules. ”She’s so over-the-top, it’s do as I say, not as I do,” says Donny Deutsch of Deutsch Inc., whose professional hits and dating misses were often chronicled in Schneider’s column. ”It’s an incredible world…that [The Rules] has hit a nerve and set feminists back years.”
Others fondly recall Schneider’s complete disregard for Rule No. 19: ”Don’t open up too fast.” Freelance creative director Don Easdon, who was then at the ad agency Backer Spielvogel Bates, hasn’t read the book but recalls traveling with Schneider to an ad dinner in the Berkshires. ”I knew everything about her within two and a half hours,” he says. ”I knew how many times she had sex in a week….She was totally forthcoming, and I wasn’t asking.”
But, fittingly enough, Schneider is perhaps best remembered for her actions on behalf of a man, her then boyfriend (who is not her current husband). ”Someone pulled me out of a meeting because [Schneider] needed to talk to me,” recalls Easdon. ”She wanted [her boyfriend] to come over and meet me.” Former Newsweek publisher Peter Eldredge recalls a similar experience. Eldredge agreed to meet Schneider for a business breakfast and was stunned when she turned up with her boyfriend. ”She told me that he needed a job. As I remember it, I gave him some advice. I didn’t hire him.”
Schneider freely admits that she helped her former beau try to land job interviews. ”I have a soft spot whenever anyone — male or female — asks me for career help,” she says. As for her rule-bending past, all she’ll say is ”you have to fake it until you make it….I wasn’t doing The Rules 100 percent then, anyhow.” Which is exactly why Deutsch says ”the people that know her, know this is such a goof.”