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When Your Boss Is a Star: Lisa Rinna

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Her assistant covers it all -- face creams to finances -- for $15 an hour.

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For the past five years, Ninie Papadatos has been working as a personal assistant for the actress Lisa Rinna, formerly of SoapTalk, Melrose Place, Days of Our Lives, and most recently Dancing With the Stars.

For most of that time, her workload has ebbed and flowed, Papadatos says, just like Rinna's career. But next month, Rinna starts taping a reality TV show, reportedly titled, I Love Lisa, and scheduled to air on the MTV (VIA) channel, TV Land. "Next month, I'll be on the show with her, helping her. If anything goes wrong it will be on camera," says Papadatos.

The assistant got the job just out of college with some help from her father, who works for Disney (DIS) and knew Rinna's former assistant. The gig involves, "non-stop emails and phone calls from everyone -- from [Rinna's] agent to her publicist, to random people trying to schedule things."

Rinna doesn't take her own calls, either. "Her answering machine actually says to call me because she doesn't talk to anyone. I set up travel, limo, hair, make-up. Occasionally I work for her husband, Harry, too," Papadatos says.

Her work week runs an average 60 hours per week. "Things got crazy with Dancing With The Stars," she recalls. "I didn't go on the tour. I'd go to her house, do all their paperwork, and organize their office. The kids have a nanny, but I'm the one who signs them up for summer camp or acting classes.

"I make and send out Christmas cards, and I do gift-wrapping. I even help plan events for [Rinna's] store Belle Gray," Papadatos says, referring to Rinna's clothing and accessories boutiques. "I also do personal finance and order her special face creams and vitamins. I do her kids' birthday parties and make sure they are extravagant.

"I go through her press and separate the good from the bad. She doesn't want to see the bad, so I keep it from her. She calls me her Adult Nanny," Papadatos laughs.

There have been a few mishaps along the way. "There was a birthday party for her kids I planned," says Papadatos. She ordered pizza for the party, and hired a special "Moon bounce" (also known as Bounce House) inflatable attraction. "The pizza delivery guy called me just when I couldn't answer the phone, so he didn't show up for 50 little kids," she recalls. "Same with the moon bounce guy -- he just never came. It was a disaster. The whole birthday party was on the line."

SALARY: When Papadatos started assisting for Rinna, she made just over the minimum wage. "I worked 40 hours a week, so I took home made maybe $500," she says. Rinna has since raised the wage to something like $15 an hour. "I'm on-call and have to be available for anything no matter where I am, even if I'm on vacation," says the assistant.
THE PERKS: "There are some great perks," says Papadatos. "[Rinna] gives me extra clothes from her store or stuff she doesn't want." Papadatos has been able to travel to Hawaii and Florida, too, and has made use of her boss's connections. "I've met every single soap opera star ever," she says.
LESSONS LEARNED: The job takes "a lot of patience" and organizational skills. "You deal with difficult personalities, people who yell at you. You have to be a people person."

But her experiences with Rinna have been pleasant, she adds. "I hear about people being diva-like. [Rinna] is always really cool. She gets upset and then she is like, 'Okay fine' and 'We're good.' "


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