Nicole Romney was working out at the gym when she looked up at a television and was surprised to see a familiar face on the screen.
“Oh my gosh — that can’t be Tiffany,” Romney, of South Weber, remembers thinking. “It took me a second, because her hair was short.”
She turned on the volume and, sure enough, the host of the show called the glamorous woman onscreen “Tiffany.”
Tiffany Coyne is the model on the game show “Let’s Make a Deal” — the one who shows contestants what’s behind curtain number three. And yes, she is the same Tiffany with whom Romney was friends at Northridge High School.
“My mom liked to build houses, so we were moving a lot, but I was mostly kind of near Hill Air Force Base — like the Oak Forest area — when I was younger,” said Coyne, whose last name used to be Adams.
She spent her junior high years, and sophomore year of high school, in West Haven.
“Then I moved back to Layton, and went to Northridge for my junior and senior years,” she said.
Now Coyne’s living in Los Angeles, where “Let’s Make a Deal” is taped. Her Utah family and friends can watch her working with host Wayne Brady at 11 a.m. weekdays on CBS affiliate KUTV Channel 2.
“I love it,” Coyne said of her role on the game show. “It’s such a fun atmosphere, and everyone’s excited, and I’m part of giving away a car to someone.”
Coyne, 29, broke into show business as a dancer.
“I started dancing when I was 3,” she said, in an interview during a holiday visit to Utah.
She was a member of Fremont High School’s drill team, and then performed with Northridge’s team.
“She was one of the best dancers,” said Romney, who was a teammate.
After graduating in 2000, Coyne spent two seasons as a Utah Jazz Dancer for the professional basketball team while also teaching at a Kaysville studio called Luv 2 Dance.
After that, she danced in a show on a cruise ship.
“That was amazing, because I went to all these places I would probably never have gone to, like Denmark and Norway, and Sweden and Russia,” she said.
She also met Chris Coyne, a singer on the ship, whom she later married.
“Then I came home to Utah, and I auditioned for a show in Las Vegas, called ‘Jubilee,’ ” she said. “It’s like the old-school showgirl shows, with the rhinestones and costumes and headdress.”
Coyne’s next Las Vegas show was “Fashionistas.”
“It was a very technical dancing show, so that was nice in that I really got to use what I’ve trained for my whole life,” she said.
When that closed, she performed in “Sirens” at Treasure Island.
“It doesn’t surprise me that she went and danced in Vegas,” said Romney. “All of us kind of have different things we think about doing when we’re grown up ... For her, it was always to be a dancer.”
MAKING A DEAL
“Let’s Make A Deal” originally ran between 1963 and 1977, with Monty Hall as host, and Carol Merrill as the model. The new, updated version of the show premiered in 2009, with Wayne Brady as host.
“We launched ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ in Las Vegas,” Mike Richards, executive producer of the show, said in a phone interview. “We did a series of auditions — I don’t remember how many, but there were a lot — and every time Tiffany came in, she was perfect.”
Coyne was hired, but kept her job at Treasure Island in case “Let’s Make a Deal” didn’t work out.
“She was taping ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ during the day, two episodes all day, then going to ‘Sirens’ at night and working there till midnight,” said her husband.
When the show moved to Los Angeles, she spent five weeks driving back and forth to Vegas, to keep both jobs. She decided “Let’s Make a Deal” was the real deal, and moved to L.A. for the second season. Season three just finished taping, and Coyne says a deal is likely for a fourth season.
In L.A., Coyne also did a photo shoot for Chase Bank and United Airlines, did some substitute work for models on “The Price Is Right,” and made her acting debut on the “The Bold and the Beautiful” — she plays herself in an episode of the soap opera that crosses over with “Let’s Make a Deal.” The episode airs Jan. 17.
KEEPING IT REAL
Part of Coyne’s job on “Let’s Make a Deal,” according to Richards, is to make prizes look better by her mere presence.
“You don’t really know how hard it is, until you see people that auditioned for it and who were bad at it,” he said.
Her background helps.
“It’s almost like choreography when it’s like a living room set, or a bedroom set, because there are a bunch of different prizes so you’re moving from this to that to this,” Coyne said “You have to do it in a way that looks elegant and smooth, so I think the dance training helps a lot.”
There are also technical aspects to filming.
“She has to hit particular marks on the floor, and has to bring in prizes at the appropriate time — she is the person, basically, in charge of every reveal of every prize,” Richards said.
Coyne says the day starts with three hours of rehearsal, so camera operators know they have the right shot, then she goes into hair and make-up.
When taping starts, she has to be constantly aware of the cameras, and follow the interaction between Brady and contestants.
“Tiffany’s in 6-inch heels and a gown, and you see her behind the cameras running to the curtain they’re going to actually pick,” said Chris Coyne.
And then there’s the added challenge of working with Wayne Brady.
“He’s an improv guy, and so is Jonathan (Mangum), the announcer,” said Tiffany Coyne. “Wayne’ll throw something at me, and it wasn’t planned out, so I always have to be on my toes and ready to respond. I actually took some improv classes to help me with that.”
It seems to have paid off.
“Wayne and Tiffany have great chemistry — that kind of brother/sister chemistry where he can give her a little jab here and there, and she’ll jab him back a little bit,” said Richards. “I think that adds to some of the fun on the show, that she can hold her own.”
Coyne plays along with the comedy, doing everything from playing with giant croquet sets to eating nachos from a hot tub full of cheese.
“Season one, we had a pie fight to wrap up the season,” she said.
“By the end of the fight, I had whipped cream all over everything.”
GIRL NEXT DOOR
Richards says it’s a joy to work with Coyne.
“Tiffany is the girl next door, who’s obviously very good-looking, but the girl next door that’s so nice she would talk to you — she’s the girl who, in high school, would have talked to the nerdy guy,” he said.
That’s the way Romney remembers her friend.
“She wasn’t the type that was conceited at all. I’m sure she was, to the guys, maybe a little intimidating because she was really pretty, and good at anything she tried,” Romney said. “She was just a real good person, and she’d do anything for anybody.”
Kim Cunningham, a Northridge High School teacher and the woman who hired Coyne to teach at Luv 2 Dance, is not surprised at her success.
“She had the look, the body, the talent — she had the whole package,” Cunningham said. “She was a beautiful dancer — just so intriguing to watch. She always had great poise in performance, but the thing I loved about her was that she was so humble about it. ... She was sweet and kind of quiet, and did her thing, yet she would shine.”