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She Takes a Licking But Goes on Ticking

December 27, 1987|From Connie Benesch

Recall that bubbly Southerner in those Seiko TV spots--"It's more reliable than my husband. My husband's not around anymore but my Seiko is"?

Well, therein lies a story.

The spot--which has been airing more than a year--has helped Frances Moody, 33, of Hammond, La., take steps toward a new career as model and actress. But she says it also got her fired from her job as director of youth ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, and caused a further rift with her estranged husband Christopher, who has since filed for divorce after 12 years of marriage, and caused some pain for her children, Amanda, 10, and Matthew, 11.

When the spot first aired, Moody told us she was upset. She wasn't alone: "My husband was very angry."

She doesn't blame the commercial's makers: "I just didn't think they had that (remark about her husband) on tape. I was kind of rehearsing. They were just trying to get me to be spontaneous. Unfortunately, I was to the hilt. The line just kind of came out."

Moody's attorney husband told us that he's taken so much ribbing that he's no longer amused. "I had to admit it was a catchy, funny line. It's just not much fun being the butt of a joke like that. I know her remark was meant in jest. I guess it hurt my feelings some. I don't think it would be fair to say I'm unreliable."

But since his wife gets "(well-) compensated for the commercial, I guess that makes it more tolerable. The more money she gets from the commercial, the less money she has to get from me." (Residuals may or may not continue--a spokesman for Seiko Time Corp. said the company has not decided if it will resume airing the spot.)

Seiko scouts found Frances Moody at a New Orleans mall in July, 1986. Although she was wearing her Gucci watch at the time, daughter Amanda had slipped Mom's Seiko around her stuffed animal's neck, which got Moody a chance to give testimony on camera.

"The commercial, in a lot of ways, changed my life," Moody said. "All of a sudden I became a personality." She has since taken a 10-week modeling course, signed with an agency and done some work as a movie extra.

More than a dozen romantic and supposedly more reliable men have popped out of the woodwork, too: One was 18 and two proposed marriage, one claiming that he hired a private investigator to find her.

But Moody insists: "I don't date at all. Like I tell people, I'm still married."

And what about the faithful Seiko she mentions in the commercial? Now 12 years old, the watch still ticks, she said, even though she "really stomped on it" after first viewing the commercial. And she gave Amanda a Mickey Mouse Seiko at Christmas.

But what she really wants is to be reunited with her husband: "If he comes back, I hope the commercial will die soon. I'm ready to forgive and forget and move on."

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