Archive for January, 2010

Page Six Spots HSN Celebrity Chef Todd English — Apparently Over His Broken Engagement — Drinking, Dancing On A Banquette And Playing Air Guitar

January 31, 2010

The New York Post’s Page Six continues to track HSN celebrity chef Todd English as he cavorts following leaving his bride at the altar last October.

Today Page Six says that English, who sells a line of “green” pans on HSN, was “embracing his bachelorhood” by drinking Belvedere, dancing on a banquette and playing air guitar at Bagatelle in Manhattan.

English’s jilted bride, Erica Wang, claims he left her at the altar on the day of their wedding. English denies it, and filed domestic assault charges against Wang. She may be taking anger management classes and doing community service to get the charges dismissed. Isn’t love grand?

Thank God the Post isn’t watching our whereabouts, otherwise they would have seen us sloshing down two huge margaritas with a gang of journalists at the Diva Lounge in Montclair, N.J., last night. With our buzz on, we sent out one of those e-mails last night that you wish you could pull back.

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New York Post Fatmouth Phil Mushnick: Put A Sock On It, And Don’t Pick On Barry Manilow AND QVC

January 31, 2010

New York Post sports columnist Phil Mushnick always has an opinion on everything, even stuff he doesn’t know too much about.

In his TV Sunday column, “Prime Time,” Mushnick today takes a cheap shot at Barry Manilow, who last week did a live concert from Las Vegas for QVC to
promote his new CD.

In the final lines of a column that’s mainly a rant against Mel Gibson’s terrible anti-Semitism, out of nowhere Mushnick writes, “Things that look kinda pathetic: Barry Manilow on the QVC home shopping channel, last week, hawking his new album.”

What’s the big deal? Manilow is doing what every artist does: using every outlet at his disposal, including a cable network that reaches more than 90 million homes, to promote his CD.

Get over yourself, Phil.

Jon Hamm, As Don Draper Of ‘Mad Men,’ Mocks QVC In ‘Saturday Night Live’ Opening Monologue

January 31, 2010

Mad Men's Jon Hamm brings Don Draper to QVC

We thought we’d died and gone to heaven when we heard Jon Hamm, who portrays the mysterious troubled anti-hero of AMC’s “Mad Men,” was hosting “Saturday Night Live” for a second time. It was even more fantastic when we watched the opening monologue last night, which was laugh-out-loud funny.

We’re having trouble posting the video clip, but we hope to get it up shortly. But here’s the link to it on Hulu.com.

Hamm was hilarious, and began talking about the roles he’d played before getting on the Emmy-winning “Mad Men” — including a supposed stint on QVC. Hamm started out by talking about his supposed role in the early 1990s on the teen sitcom “Late for Class,” where he played “Bonzo.” We see two high school kids standing by their lockers, and then we see Hamm — in character and wardrobe as Don Draper.

Hamm then says he next gig was on QVC. We’re shown a big-haired QVC host (was it supposed to be Pam McCoy or Mary Beth Roe?) virtually screaming and hawking a raft of turquoise jewelry. Once again, Draper walks into the scene.

“Calm down, you’re hysterical,” Hamm says, a la Draper. “I feel like I’m selling jewelry with a little girl.”

Hamm then slaps the QVC host in the face and walks off. “Wait, I love you,” the host calls out to Hamm.

“I should have sex with that woman,” Hamm says. He then goes on to describe what he says was a breakout career moment for him — doing stand-up on “Def Comedy Jam.”

Again, we see Hamm as Draper, with a cigarette and a drink, onstage before an African-American audience. He starts talking about women “with big bootys, adding “they need to wash their ass.”

Ending the monologue, Hamm says, “Believe it or not, that is how I got ‘Mad Men.'”

The last time “SNL” made fun of QVC was during Sen. John McCain’s presidential run, when he and his wife appeared and did a skit in which they were QVC hosts.

We’ve seen Hamm during the Television Critics Association press tour, and even went to the “Mad Men” set in LA with a group of reporters, but we never had the nerve to introduce ourselves. We eavesdropped on his conversations with other writers, and he was always charming, funny and self-deprecating. And gorgeous.

Will MTV Rename ‘Jersey Shore,’ Since The Second Season Won’t Be in Jersey?

January 30, 2010

They're coming back this summer, but they won't be in Jersey

We were dreading heading out early this morning, in 9 degree weather, to go to the gym. It doesn’t open until 7 a.m., and it was 6:30, so we decided to check our e-mail.

Lo and behold, at about 1:30 a.m. Eastern Time MTV had issued a press release saying it had greenlit a second season of “Jersey Shore.” That’s a real lid lifter for you. We quickly wrote it up for NewJerseyNewsroom.com.

We were amused to see that the 12 new episodes, which will air this summer, will not only not be shot in Seaside Heights, they won’t even be shot in Jersey. The press release didn’t disclose the new location that will infested by the unlovable and annoying self-proclaimed “guidos” and “guidettes” of the cast.

The ghastly “Jersey Shore” crew, who actually may not be as dumb as they act, had been holding out for more dough, reportedly $10,000 an episode, from MTV. They were negotiating as a group, the tack that the cast of “Friends” used to get big pay bumps. Our guess is that the Jersey group managed to wring some extra dollars out of Viacom.

“Jersey Shore” certainly has been a bit hit for MTV, and for the man who made it possible: MTV president of programming Tony DiSanto. In a prior post, we said we wanted to hunt down the MTV exec who approved “Jersey Shore.” And we questionned whether Midwesterners knew what a “guido” was.

Well, now we know DiSanto is the exec behind the show. And we’re sure most of America knows what a guido is now, thanks to MTV.

“Jersey Shore” may be a breakout show, and a pop culture phenomenon, but we still hate it. And we’d still like to hunt down DiSanto.

Here is his canned quote about the second season renewal:

“Our audience has fallen in love with ‘Jersey Shore’ and its amazing cast who have really grown together as a family. That bond gives the show its heart, and we’re thrilled to reunite these friends to bring fans more of what they love — laughs, love, drama and of course, GTL.”

‘Jersey Shore’ Appearance, Arranged For A Montclair Nightclub’s Grand Opening, Has Lead To Its Grand Demise

January 29, 2010

The appearance of the Jersey Shore cast at a Montclair nightclub grand opening wasn't exactly a charm

For those who care, the Montclair, N.J., nightclub that caused a near riot in our quiet hometown when it featured an appearance of the cast of “Jersey Shore” has been shut down, according to the The Montclair Times.

It seems the landlord of the venue at 501 Bloomfield Ave., Dick Grabowsky, has terminated the would-be 10-year lease for Lounge 501. A week ago, the night club kicked off its grand opening by having the cast of MTV’s controversial reality show come in for an appearance.

But 1,300 people showed up, the crowd got rowdy and disruptive, fights broke out, and police had to shut down the streets in the area.

The club operator, Timothy Ricks, has loads of financial problems and trouble with a liquor-license transfer.

In any event, Grabowsky told the Montclair Times he’s talking to potential new operators for the space that are “financially capable of bringing a professional and respectable venue to Montclair.”

Upscale Jewelry Designer Carol Brodie Sourced Jennifer Lopez’s Pink Diamond For Ben Affleck, And Mentioned Our Blog On HSN

January 29, 2010

Brodie's HSN amethyst ring, not the pink diamond

Harry Winston jewelry house veteran Carol Brodie was on HSN Thursday night with her Rarities line, and we heard a tidbit we didn’t know about her.

Brodie was the jewelry person who sourced the famous — or infamous — pink diamond that Ben Affleck gave Jennifer Lopez during their ill-fated romance, according to host Connie Craig-Carroll. She didn’t name names, we knew what celebrities she was talking about.

Brodie referred to the Lopez pink diamond engagement ring as “the ring that helped put me on the map.”

The topic came up when Craig-Carroll and Brodie were talking about a 4.3 carat Rose de France amethyst ring, with micropave diamonds, whose color was very similar to a pink diamond. It was $100 on HSN.

Brodie said the amethyst in her HSN ring was “cut like a fine diamond,” and that “I took a personal loss on this” by selling it at the $100 price point on HSN.

The pendant that prompted the poop headline

Brodie then made mention of a blog we did about one of her appearances a few months back. She was talking about a tusk pendant on that show, and described an African safari she’d been on. Brodie joked that she never saw an elephant, but did see mounds of steaming elephant dung.

Last night, Brodie was selling the same tusk pendant, and told viewers that a blog — namely us — had talked about her giving the “poop” about elephants during that prior appearance. Guilty as charged. We put “poop” in that headline.

And feel free to mention our blog name, Homeshoppingista, on your next appearance Carol!

The Wall Street Journal Writes About The Pet Snuggie, Our HSN Favorite, Being Sold In Retail Outlets

January 28, 2010

The Wall Street Journal has a story Thursday on how infomercial products are now being sold at retail, at stores such as Target, Wal-Mart and Walgreen’s. The headline is “As Seen on TV…And In Aisle 5.”

The gist is that airtime became so cheap that direct marketers were able to buy a lot of it to run a lot of infomercials. As a result, consumers are very familiar with items like the Snuggie and Windshield Wonder. So these products have gotten brand recognition, and are being sold at places like Walgreen’s.

The story fails to mention that HSN does entire shows called “As Seen On TV,” which feature infomercial items such as the Windshield Wonder. The photo with The Journal story depicts a woman holding a dog wearing a Snuggie, which is one of our favorite items that’s sold at HSN.

No. 3 ShopNBC Brings In Yet Another QVC Veteran, Bob Ayd, As President

January 28, 2010

ShopNBC president Bob Ayd

ShopNBC Thursday named Bob Ayd, a QVC and Macy’s veteran, president, reporting to CEO Keith Stewart.

As part of his new role, Ayd will oversee merchandising, planning, programming, broadcast operations and on-air talent.

“I am thrilled to be joining ShopNBC,” Ayd said in a prepared statement. “The culture is passionate, the focus is on the customer, and the opportunity at hand is golden. With already very exciting things happening at the company, I’m looking forward to doing my part in helping ShopNBC build on its progress to date while quickly ushering in a new decade of success.”

Ayd is the latest of a series of QVC executives that Stewart, himself a QVC alum, has brought over to ShopNBC as part of his team.

With three decades of experience, Ayd has an extensive background and track record, including executive leadership roles at multi-billion-dollar retailers QVC and Macy’s.

He was most recently consultin, but prior to that he served as executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at QVC U.S. During his tenure at QVC, he also served as senior vice president, design development & global sourcing and brand development, and senior vice president of jewelry and fashion.

While at Macy’s, Ayd held a number of executive leadership positions including senior vice president in women’s
sportswear.

“We are excited to welcome Bob to the ShopNBC family,” Stewart said in a canned statement. “His fluent understanding of our business and world-class multichannel retailing expertise, coupled with the building blocks already in place at the company, will help accelerate our timeline to drive increased sales and profitability. Equally invaluable are Bob’s strong vendor relationships and industry contacts, which span the globe. We look forward to benefiting from his strong leadership, vast relationships and strategic guidance.”

Ayd will be granted inducement stock options Feb. 1 covering the right to purchase 350,000 shares of the company’s common stock. The options will have an exercise price equal to the closing price of the company’s common stock on the date of grant.

Happy Anniversary: We Got Laid Off Exactly One Year Ago, Jan. 26, And Have Lived To Talk About The Joys Of Being Pink-Slipped

January 27, 2010

This is the only blog I’ll ever write in the first person here. I debated all day whether to write it, but I must.

Last January was the biggest month for layoffs last year, I’ve read. And I, and several close colleagues, were among those who were pink-slipped. The three boxes, with 16 years of memories, that I packed up that week are still sitting near the door inside my condo. Reed Business Information, my ex-employer, paid for the shipping.

Being laid off has its rewards, like getting free margaritas and meeting Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora

I guess there are a lot of people who are a lot more resilient than I am, but I took it hard. It’s tough when you’ve been getting in work by 7:15 a.m., and leaving at 6 p.m. or later, working on weekends, working on vacations, to screech down to zero miles an hour.

For several months, I could not eat. For several months, I could not sleep. For several months, I literally could not smile. For several months, I could not laugh. For several months, I could not listen to music. For several months, I did not have one minute of happiness. No exaggeration.

I saw “Up In The Air” recently — which features folk who were laid off in real life in the movie as actors — expressing their anger at being fired. I almost wish I had thrown everything off the table like some of those people, instead of acting “professional.” But what goes around comes around. The HR guy who gave me my bad news was himself laid off recently.

You know those cliches you hear about, about finding out who your real friends are? Those cliches are true. You don’t hear a peep from your good “friends” at work. The PR people who loved you at upfront parties don’t return your phone calls. The cable network presidents who always seemed to enjoy chatting with you when you were employed are curt during phone calls. Some idiot asked one of my laid-off compadres how they where enjoying their “vacation.”

People — and I’ve interviewed them in my new incarnation — have survived real challenges and tragedies, like cancer or losing a loved one. What about the people in Haiti? So boo-hoo for me being upset about not having a job. Big deal. Don’t whine. But like I said, it hit me hard. At one point, I even feared I could never write a story again.

New Jersey became the new Hollywood for reality TV, and I wrote about the trend and the shows, like Jersey Shore

But my family and true friends pulled me through, and this is my thank-you note to them. You guys know who you are, in Parsippany, Whippany, Staten Island, Wyckoff and Westfield, and Vermont.

And the tide turned for me.

When I filed my first major story after my layoff, for a startup Web site, the editor said it was the cleanest story he ever read.

A very kind PR executive at a local hospital chain gave me a break, and let me do volunteer work for her department. Several of my press releases got placement, in papers including The Star-Ledger. I had the honor of interviewing people who wept as they told me how the hospital had saved their lives. I loved writing their stories.

Bon Jovi released a new album, and Showtime aired a documentary on them. I got to go a screening, where they served margaritas (my favorite), and I later interviewed the band. It became another story that generated a lot of Web traffic.

All of a sudden New Jersey, of all places, became a mecca for reality TV shows like “Jersey Shore.” And I was able to write stories about the shows, and about the trend. They were among the Web site’s Top-10 viewed stories.

Who wouldn't want to write about Kurt Sutter, creator and showrunner of FX's Sons of Anarchy?

I got back on the cable-network PR radar, and was able to interview and write about Kurt Sutter, creator of one of my favorite shows, FX “Sons of Anarchy.” Hey, he’s from Jersey.

I realized I still had my reporting chops when a got nice exclusive for TVNewscheck. It felt great.

Cablevision, with 900,000 customers in New Jersey, and Food Network got in a fight. Another story for me.

I posted a note on my bulletin board shortly after I was pink-slipped. It’s a quote from Western author Louis L’Amour: “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning.”

It turned out to be true. Without my layoff, I would never have been able to tell the tales of those who were saved by the hospital, and I would not have met the great women in the PR department there.

I would not have sat down and eaten in a soup kitchen, as I did as part of my research for a series on the Salvation Army. The people eating there, some homeless, were so kind. Seeing me as a newcomer, and not knowing I was a reporter, one came over and welcomed me.

I launched my home shopping blog when Suzanne Somers moved from HSN to ShopNBC

I wouldn’t have had the nerve to start a blog, on home shopping, timed to coincide with Suzanne Somers’ move to ShopNBC from HSN, a seismic shift in that little world. In only five months, people in the home-shopping industry tell me Homeshoppingista is now a must-read for them.

I have had to think long and hard about what I want to do.

On “Southland” — right now airing on my TV, and on TNT — one character says, “You’re a cop because you don’t know how not to be one.”

I’m a writer because I don’t know how not to be one.

We Guess Imitation Equals Flattery, With ShopNBC Doing Its Take On HSN’s Huggable Hangers

January 27, 2010

Call us crazy, but isn’t ShopNBC’s Top Value Tuesday, the “Hold Tru Velvet-Flocked Universal Hangers,” a dead ringer for HSN’s Huggable Hangers from Joy Mangano?

Don’t laugh at those Huggable Hangers. We swear by them, and 257 million of them have been sold.

Here’s what ShopNBC said about its version with 100 pieces:

“Our first hanger set Our Top Value, Hold Tru hangers will help you streamline your closet and make the most of your space! Each hanger features a slimline design, velvety flocked finish, and integrated nesting hook for vertical cascading. This 100-piece set has everything you need to keep your clothes hanging neatly while freeing up additional space. At only $0.57 a hanger, don’t miss out on this great value!”