Growing up as the most visible daughter of billionaire dealmaker Irwin Jacobs, in a place where “above average” has become an inside joke, Melinda Jacobs’s relationship to average defies conventional math. Twenty years ago, when she was first crafting the Melly J persona and working as an entertainment correspondent for local radio and TV shows, it was as if Ivanka Trump had walked into The Chatterbox Café and asked to put a bottle of Veuve on daddy’s credit card—we really didn’t know what to make of her.
Maybe now, a decade into the reality television era, the Melly J phenomenon makes more sense. Or not. She’s more contemplative about herself these days and has raised two kids, but she’s once again trying to wrest control of her personal narrative from the likes of C.J. with a new blog—theadventuresofmelindajacobs.blogspot.com. At 42, after celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary with her husband, Jacobs Trading Company CEO/president Howard Grodnick, she’s still trying to figure out how to construct a normal life. “I grew up having bagels with Carl Icahn,” she laughs. “How do you do normal after that?”
According to your blog, you gained 13 pounds in the last year. On purpose?
No, not really on purpose. Just getting healthy.
People seem to be intensely interested in how skinny you used to be.
It’s not a compliment when people say that. I was a figure skater and it was encouraged to be very skinny. Anytime I was in front of the camera I was very self-conscious about it.
It seems like all of your siblings are involved in your dad’s businesses, but you’re only involved through marriage—through Howard.
Right. When we got married, he had his own company.
How did you meet him?
I went on a blind date with my friend Andy Deckas, who’s the president now of Opus. He’s a big shot now. For a long time, Howard and I were just buddies. He watched me go through boy after boy after boy. That was when the whole Euro look was going on in downtown Minneapolis. Ugh! And none of my dates would ever pick up the check.
What did your dad think of you hanging out downtown at Glam Slam with half of his football team?
That was a cool, cool time when my dad owned the Minnesota Vikings. Darn it! I wish he still owned them. . . . The drinking age was 19, but I started going to clubs when I was 17. (My kids are going to read this and I’m going to get killed.) But I could get away with it because I looked older. I was around celebrities all the time. That’s when I knew I wanted to go into entertainment reporting.
Like Don Johnson and Quincy Jones. . . . That’s one of the reasons that I wanted to do entertainment reporting—seeing all these people that everybody looked up to, I would look them in the eye . . . and would see the vulnerable side and the insecure side and I would wonder, ‘What’s the big deal about this person?’
You were doing reality TV before there was reality TV.
There was so much going on. And I got caught up in it. Charlie Sheen knocking on the door of our box [at the Dome]. I dated John Cusack—briefly, and he’d probably kill me for talking about it. I remember he and I were at a World Series game in ’87, and it was like a teenage dream.
So what are you trying to do with your website? Do you want to humanize celebrities or make fun of them?
Both. I think people who do entertain-ment take themselves too seriously. And I think entertainment reporters do too.
What does your family think about your blog?
At first I think they were like, ‘What is she doing?’ It’s a whole different thing—because you have to be honest. It’s so scary; none of us know how much of ourselves to put out there. People are either going to like me or not.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Melinda Jacobs
1 | Her favorite suits are Tahari.
2 | She worships at Temple Israel.
3 | She loves artichokes and crab legs.
4 | Her favorite place in the world is Tuscany.
5 | “I’m never going to be the person who looks at a piece of art and goes ‘That’s fabulous!’ when it’s not.”