Dec 02

Cats Who Like Dogs Who Like Dogs

In effort to compete with the brand new reality show from the Sundance Channel called ‘Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys’, The Canine Network (TCN) today announced it would be airing its first reality show, Cats Who Like Dogs Who Like Dogs …. (A Species Apart).

I recently caught up with the show’s creator, co-producer and star, Mick  Cody. Mick had just finished a strenuous backyard workout with his mom and was having his muddy paws cleaned as we began our chat…

Rep: ‘Mick, thanks again for finding time to meet with me. Man, are you ever panting!’
Mick: ‘Yup. My mom really puts me through my paces. She’s a personal trainer.’
Rep: ‘So I’ve heard. So, tell me about your new reality show, Cats Who Like Dogs Who Like Dogs …. (A Species Apart).
Mick: ‘Sure. The impetus was human reality TV programming. My co-producer, Rooney Cody and I are totally really fed up with it. This latest nonsense about girls who like boys who like boys was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Or, the stick that broke the dog’s back, if you prefer. So, we decided to produce a program that would simultaneously mock human reality shows while taking the entire genre to a whole new level.’
Rep: ‘Do tell.’
Mick: ‘I’d need a Beggin’ Strip to do that.’
Rep: ‘Damn. How many of those things do you down in a day? Fine. Here. And, lay down. You’re still panting heavily.’
Mick: (now stretched out comfortably in front of a roaring fireplace): ‘Human reality shows have gone so far beyond bizarre that they leave me speechless (literally). I mean I can respond to your command to speak, but I can’t speak per se.’
Rep: ‘I get your point. Please stay on subject.’
Mick: Sorry. Well, I mean, who cares about girls who like boys who like boys? Boys who like boys who like girls? Gimme a break. And, gimme another bone while you’re at it. Anyway, we’ve decided to go far beyond mere hetero/homo/transgender content and elevate the programming to a new level: trans species content. That’s why we’re using the subtitle: “A Species Apart.” I always loved that old Merrill Lynch tagline.’
Rep: ‘It’s bold and brash to be sure. Can you give us an idea of the plot?’
Mick: It’ll be fashioned along the lines of The Jersey Shore which, as you know, is the only TV reality show Rooney and I will watch with you. It’ll be set in our back yard. Rooney and I will have different monikers: I’m JMick and Rooney is FleaMan. We invite cats to our crib and then treat them like the scum they are. Instead of calling the ugly ones grenades, though, we’ll call them Furballs.’
Rep: ‘You have some real issues with cats, don’t you?’
Mick: ‘They serve no purpose whatsoever and are arrogant, egotistical asses. Cats Who Like Dogs Who Like Dogs will reveal the sleazy underbelly of the cat world. It’ll be positively groundbreaking. And, speaking of ground-breaking, I need to go out again. Would you mind?’
Rep: ‘Not at all. Best of luck with Cats Who Like Dogs Who Like Dogs. I’d use the old showbiz expression ‘break a leg,’ but I know that can be fatal with canines.’

Aug 18

Steven Slater, The Reality Show

Today's guest post is by Julie Farin

JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater has become the latest media magnet due to his dramatic  “take this job and shove it” exit from Flight 1052 at New York’s JFK airport last week, following Airplane-exit his public obscenity-filled rant involving a rude passenger who allegedly injured him while retrieving her carry-on baggage from the overhead bin (ignoring Slater’s instructions to remain seated).

Just 48 hours after this well-publicized incident, the social media was all a-Twitter and divided. There were those who called Slater a hero, a man who should have been applauded for fulfilling every disrespected working person’s fantasy.  Others thought him more of a zero, whose actions were reckless and dangerous.  JetBlue, on the other hand, suspended the 28-year airline veteran and two days later issued a light-hearted statement on their company blog basically announcing that they couldn’t comment on the situation due to the ongoing investigation.

I am surprised that JetBlue did not swiftly issue a statement apologizing for their employee’s rogue behavior (right or wrong, there were 100 witnesses who heard his eff-ing tirade over the PA system) while they collected all the facts.  This was the airline’s opportunity to reiterate how seriously they consider the safety of their passengers and their employees, instead of treating Slater’s public meltdown as somewhat of a joke, as the tone of their statement seemed to suggest. 

Clearly, this man was beyond stressed and frustrated by having to deal with the bad behavior of ill-mannered passengers day after day.  But, as they say, it comes with the territory of a job that deals with the public. Perhaps JetBlue should mandate stress-management seminars for flight attendants as part of its on-going training (if it hasn’t already).  For the record, I recently traveled on JetBlue round-trip from JFK to San Diego, and it was a wonderful experience.  In fact, I plan on flying JetBlue again next month.

Regardless, Mr. Slater has become an overnight celebrity with all the traditional and social media attention (buy your "Save Steven” t-shirts here!)    And it now seems that he has hit the publicity mother lode:  Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman has announced he is representing Slater, losing no time fielding offers for book deals, endorsements, and reality TV shows.

Hey, if the Jersey Shore cast’s antics can be celebrated on TV, why not a harried flight attendant? 

Julie Farin is a Public Relations professional based in New York with expertise in TV, entertainment, magazine publishing, and the media in general.  She is a news and information junkie, Godfather aficionado, and proud to admit that John Lennon is her favorite Beatle.

Aug 13

A true crossover hit

Jersey shore When it comes to pop culture, there are very few things Catharine ‘Goose’ Cody and I agree on. She likes Lady Gaga and Eminem. I chill to Ziggy Marley and Miles Davis. Catharine’s taste in movies skews towards ‘The Other Guys,’ ‘The Mummy’ and ‘Toy Story 3.’ Me? I think ‘Fargo’ and ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ are two of the best movies of the past 15 years. And when it comes to television, there’s always been a huge divide. The Goose goes for ‘Gilmore Girls’ and ‘True Blood’ while I gravitate towards ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Mad Men.’

But, there’s one thing we do agree on: We both adore the over-the-top antics of MTV’s Jersey Shore.

Now, I know Italian-American groups as well as New Jersey tourism officials are less than thrilled with the content, but I’m amazed at how many people my age watch a show that one would think appeals solely to Goose types. I think it’s because Jersey Shore combines some powerful crossover ingredients, including:

– A cast that, in some ways, reminds me of a weird, dumbed-down brew of the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges and Carrot Top all poured into one. The cast characters are amazingly funny (i.e. I loved The Situation’s observation about his car’s being stuck in the South Carolina mud and, after calling the AAA and seeing their truck get caught in the same quagmire, quipping, ‘You know, I always wondered who the AAA called when they got in trouble. Turns out, they call another AAA truck.’

– A new and totally bizarre vocabulary that includes such memorable words and phrases as: ‘Ima do me. You do you.’ That’s Jersey Shore slang for ‘you sleep with whomever you want, and vice versa, and we’ll still be friends in the morning.’ Then there’s ‘Did you smush with any girls last night?’ Smush = sleep with. And, then there are such true crossover expressions as: ‘grenade’ and ‘landmine’ that have already become mainstream expressions. The former is a descriptor for an unattractive, weight-challenged girl. The latter describes a leaner version of the same gender.

– All the drama and plot twists of the best daytime soap operas. The Ronnie and Sammie saga is not only scintillating, it’s punctuated by some of the worst, yet, most hysterical, dialogue one could conjure up. To wit:

Ronnie: ‘Sam, I’m, like, really trying here.’

Sammie; ‘I, like, know you are and that means a lot.’

Ronnie; ‘I, like, so love you.’

Sammie: ‘Like I know and I’ll always be there, even if we, like, hate each other.’

As is the case with any crossover hit, Jersey Shore has evolved over time. Unlike season one, there’s less attention being paid to the cast’s ethnicity (so, we don’t hear them calling themselves guidos and guidettes as in the past). There’s also a new venue, Miami, and a new workplace for the cast, a gelato shop in South Beach.

I’ll leave it to experts such as our resident pop culture guru, Sam Ford, to explain why Jersey Shore simultaneously appeals to my age group and my daughter’s. Perhaps, it’s because both generations see the show and the cast as absolute bus wrecks and, as is the case with rubber necking delays on the Garden State Parkway, we simply can’t help but slow down and look. And, once you look, you’re hooked.

So, here’s a shoutout to The Situation, Paulie D, Snooki and the other cast members. Keep it coming. Oh, and MIA, bitch. MIA.

Mar 30

Spindustry Over-Spun?

Guest Post by Astrid Stanley

March 30 E! Entertainment seems to be on the fence regarding whether or not to expand its Kim Kardashian-produced reality show special, The Spindustry, into a regular TV series. A rep for Command PR, the firm featured in the show, recently offered this cagey comment to PRNewser concerning the show’s fate: "No news yet, but we will certainly keep you posted."

One would think the decision to continue this show would be a no-brainer for the suits in tinsel town, given that The Spindustry contains the trifecta for success on reality TV — a celebrity PR firm representing bold-faced clients in LA, NY, and Miami, a glamor profession with no shortage of high-drama situations, and the ubiquitous Ms. Kardashian, no stranger herself to the Red Carpet.

Perhaps the research folks at E! determined that television audiences have been overexposed ad nauseum to publicists behaving badly under the guise of turning their glitterati clients into the next big media brand, whether it’s fashion industry hell-raiser Kelly Cutrone, star of Bravo’s Kell on Earth, or Lizzie Grubman’s short-lived MTV show, PoweRGirls

One solution might be to offer the Jersey Shore kids an internship at Command PR for the summer, where they might act as “handlers” for tanned and juiced celeb wannabes, complete with booze-fueled press parties on the beach. On second thought, that wouldn’t work, because interns usually work for college credits or minimum wage. Snooki, The Situation, and J-Woww are too famous now to settle for such a plebian package. 

One can only hope that so-called reality shows such as these, which portray stereotypes of one specific sector of the PR profession, will fade into the sunset after their 15 minutes are milked. As a PR pro myself, I’ve had enough of trying to explain to people that I do more for a living than order hors d’oeuvres and check names off invitation lists. If everyone could do PR, everyone would.

Dec 10

I Love the Situation…

Guest Post by Andrew Stein, Peppercom

December 10 - jerseyAB So the talk of the town since last Thursday night has been MTV’s new reality show “Jersey Shore.” Along the same lines as the famed series the “Real World,” this show puts eight self-proclaimed “Guidos” into a share house in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, for a summer of debauchery and is there to film all the drunken missteps, fights and overall stupidity that ensues. As someone that grew up in Toms River, just a stone’s throw across the bridge from lovely Seaside Heights, I have a soft spot for the content of the show and must say I couldn’t be happier after watching the two-hour premiere.

However, there seem to be larger issues at hand than just my shear enjoyment of this train wreck. Many Italian-Americans throughout the country have expressed their distaste for the show and for MTV, saying it is offensive and portrays Italian-Americans in a false and negative light.

Now as someone that has taken more than my fair share of vodka shots in these local drinking establishments, I can promise you that the characters on this show are not acting. While I’m sure they’re showing off a bit for the cameras (put a shirt on fellas), I have seen a whole lot of “Guidos” in action behaving just like these clowns. So while MTV may be exploiting this particular sect of Italian-Americans, how can you really blame them? These people are willing to make total arses of themselves on national television, which is gold for any reality TV franchise. Unfortunately for Italian-Americans, scientists and CEOs don’t make for gut-wrenching channel surfing. These morons do.

So should Italian-Americans be upset with MTV? Personally, I can’t tell someone whether they should be offended by something or not, particularly when I’m not part of the minority in question. However, these people on the show are glorifying “guido” culture on their own; MTV is just serving as the medium for them to share it with the world. I can understand Italian-Americans being upset with the people that act this way because they reflect negatively on their culture. However, why is that MTV’s responsibility?  They’re in the business of making money through bad TV and this particular show happens to be a jackpot.

Most of what I’ve heard and read from the offended seems to blame MTV for falsely portraying Italian-Americans. As someone that grew up around these people, the idiocy and embarrassing behavior is accurate and MTV just happens to be smart enough to film it for profit. I can totally understand why Italian-Americans may be unhappy being associated with these people, I just don’t see why that is MTV’s fault. The fact is, “Guido” culture exists with or without MTV. While the cable network may be exposing it to the rest of the country that may not have the pleasure of seeing it on a regular basis, they certainly did not create it and, in my opinion, are not irresponsibly embellishing it.