Archive for the ‘Madonna’ Category

Actress Kate Walsh, Touting Her HSN Perfume, And Ellen DeGeneres Sniff Bare-Chested Men Looking For ‘Boyfriend’

November 10, 2010

Show us four young shirtless men with impeccable pecs, being nuzzled on the chest by Ellen DeGeneres and actress Kate Walsh, and you’ve got our attention. We likey, as Carrie Bradshaw would say. And that’s what happened Tuesday afternoon.

Flame-haired Walsh appeared on “Ellen” to flog her new fragrance for women, Boyfriend, which will debut on HSN later this month.

Kate Walsh by Roberto D'Este

Walsh, who made her name on “Grey’s Anatomy” as Dr. McDreamy’s wife and is now stars on “Private Practice,” had a tough act to follow on “Ellen.” The perky, usually hilarious blonde comedian had just finished interviewing super star Madonna by satellite, with Madge making a poignant plea against the bullying of young gay people.

The tone of the talk show got a lot lighter when Walsh, who just turned 43, came on. Walsh is utterly likeable and charming, and we predict she will be well-received by HSN shoppers.

The Boyfriend Kit

She told Ellen that she came up with the idea for Boyfriend after she had broken up with a boyfriend, and missed his scent. Ellen showed one of the promos that Walsh shot for HSN, which shows her bouncing up and down on her own bed in her bedroom. The cat in the spot, by the way, is not really Walsh’s pet feline.

Then Ellen arranged a test for Walsh, which gets back to the shirtless beefcake. Ellen made Walsh smell each one of the guys to see if she would recognize which one was wearing her fragrance, Boyfriend. Ellen also did some sniffing.

And Walsh did well, correctly stating that studmuffin No. 3 was wearing Boyfriend.

Ellen had “The Boyfriend Kit” fragrance grouping, which HSN will be selling, on the set of her show.

At the end of the segment, Ellen finally mentioned that Boyfriend will launch on HSN, and that everyone in her studio audience would be getting the new perfume.

Actually, we’d rather get one of the guys.

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Our Hometown, Parsippany, N.J., Helped Create The Lady Gaga Monster

January 22, 2010

We’re plugging our hometown, Parsippany, N.J., today. That’s because we were surprised, and pleased, to learn that the suburb we grew up with has a connection to our latest obsession, Lady Gaga.

The Newark Star-Ledger Friday has a story headlined “Gaga Begins in Jersey: Pop Diva Found Her Sound — And Name — As Stefani Germanotta in Parsippany.”

Lady Gaga is the media darling, dance-music diva who has carefully crafted an image that centers on her outrageous outfits and makeup. But she can sing. We love her latest hit, “Bad Romance,” and last night must have played its video — an S&M-inspired set piece — at least 20 times. Yes, we know we’re nuts.

But how many times have you told a guy, or a girl, “I don’t want to be friends”? That one of the best lines in “Bad Romance.”

According to the Ledger, Lady Gaga (real name the aforementioned Stefani Germanotta) developed her outrageous stage persona and came up with her name when she was working with music producer Rob Fusari at a studio in Parsippany in 2006.

While they were working, Lady Gaga and Fusari would have lunch at the Chili’s on Route 46, a place we’ve gone with our parents to eat many times.

According to the Ledger story, “Lady Gaga” is a reference to the Queen song “Radio Ga Ga,” which was one of Fusari’s favorite songs. He would sing it when Germonotta came into the studio. One day Fusari sent Germonaotta a text that referred to “Radio Ga Ga,” but he claims there was an autocorrect and “Radio Ga Ga” became “Lady Ga Ga.”

Germonotta loved it, and chose it has her stage name, according to the Ledger.

And like that other Italian-American bad girl, Madonna, Lady Gaga references her Catholic background in her videos. In “Bad Romance,” for example, she makes the sign of the cross during one of her dance numbers. And she’s wearing a gemstone cross over her crotch at one point.

Parsippany is about 45 minutes away from New York City, and you likely have not heard of it. It is also the hometown of “30 Rock” actress Jane Krakowski, who used to act in the local community Barn Theater with our long-lost friend Mark Phelan.

HSN Adds Some Flava: Rapper-Entrepreneur Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Premieres His Fragrances On The Home Shopping Network

December 1, 2009

Sean “Diddy” Combs made his debut on HSN Monday, as did his fragrance line.

His motto seemed to be that he likes his grandfather, but he doesn’t want to smell like him. Hence the fragrances (but we hope grandpa wasn’t watching).

Combs’ products were such a hit during his first show at 11 p.m. that they all sold out. So HSN had to cancel his second scheduled show at 1 a.m., since there was no merchandise left to sell.

For Combs’ debut HSN CEO Mindy Grossman opened the company wallet and had a new set built, which looked like a sophisticated penthouse, and even had the Manhattan skyline in the background. Puff Daddy was laid back and modest, rather charming for a mogul with a multi-million dollar empire in music, fashion, TV, movies and fragrances.

“It’s a great way to reach people all over the world…I made it on HSN mom,” Combs said during his home shopping debut, where he fielded many calls from overwrought fans. “I’m blessed to be here.”

More than any of the other shopping networks, HSN has courted the African-American market, by bringing vendors in such as the hair-care line Carol’s Daughter, David Bowie’s wife Iman, and now Combs.

Talking about his award-winning men’s fragrance, I Am King, Combs said, “This is not a celebrity fragrance.”

The rapper said he helped design the cologne, in partnership with Estee Lauder. It has won the FiFi Award, which Combs called “the Oscars” of the perfume industry.

“I have a very sensitive nose,” said Combs, who described I Am King as being “a clean scent.”

He said, “I don’t like things that are overbearing.”

The name I Am King was not a boast, according to Combs, but a positive affirmation for everyone.

“I was talking about the king in all of us,” Combs said. “If we as men act as kings, we will respect our women as queens.”

Those are great sentiments, but we can’t help but note that Combs has a somewhat checkered past, which includes an arrest on a weapons charge — when he was with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez — following a nightclub shooting in Manhattan. Scorpios like Combs often have a dark side.

We remember tabloid stories about an upset Lopez being dragged down to the police station with Combs the night he was arrested. Doesn’t sound very queenly. Well, that was almost 10 years ago. Leopards can change their spots.

Host Callie Northagen did the show. She seems to be HSN’s ace for interviewing high-profile talent, including Madonna and singer Natalie Cole.

HSN was also selling the men’s and women’s fragrance lines Sean John Unforgivable. The kits and gift sets ranged in price from $57 to $78. There was also a fleece robe for $60.

Combs has a vast empire, and even produced and was a judge for the MTV show “Making the Band.”

He also claimed he was a fan of the No. 2 home shopping channel.

“Sometimes when you watch HSN, you get stuck there for hours,” Combs said.

We know what you mean, Diddy.

QVC, HSN and ShopNBC Should Give Thanks For Home Shopping’s Sea Change: They’ve Attracted Luxury Brands Like Gucci, Badgley Mischka And Stephen Dweck

November 26, 2009

QVC CEO Mike George

We thought we were seeing things a few days ago when we checked ShopNBC’s Web site and saw that it was selling dozens of Gucci watches. What happened, did they fall off a truck? Why was Gucci, a premier luxury brand, being sold on a home shopping network?

Then back in October, we couldn’t believe it when a sharp-eyed poster on QVC’s jewelry forum said that upscale jewelry designer Stephen Dweck, whose chunky gemstone masterpieces are featured in Neiman Marcus, was on the No. 1 home shopping network’s schedule. THE Stephen Dweck?

We checked QVC’s program guide ourselves, and there it was: Dweck was doing a lower-priced jewelry line for QVC called Dweck’s Diamonds. His Neiman Marcus pieces didn’t even have diamonds. The high-end stuff is made with semi-precious stones.

Also in October, we were checking the press releases on HSN’s Web site when we saw the network had struck a deal with one of the most famous and elite fashion houses: Badgley Mischka, designers of bejeweled gowns for the red carpet and celebrities.

We’ve written bits and pieces of this during the past two months, but we thought we’d tie it all up in a tidy package for Thanksgiving: There has been a sea change in the home shopping world, prompted by the disastrous economy and the crash of the luxury market.

Yes, home shopping networks have seen their sales hurt by the economy, like everyone else. But they claim they are still managing to steal market share from brick-and-mortar retailers. In fact, QVC is making a full-frontal assault on them this Black Friday, with 28 hours of special products and programming stunts starting Thanksgiving night.

The consumer press will continue to mention “cubic zirconia” in every story it writes about QVC or HSN, oblivious to the fact that some of the most esteemed names in fashion, jewelry and cosmetics — brands you find in Saks, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus — are plying their wares on the aforementioned home shopping channels.

ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart

Male journalists are blind to this. You still have the nerds at Gawker, a snide Web Site for the navel-gazing media, chiding HSN for selling “useless crap.”

If you have ever seen how male journalists dress or their fashion and style sensibilities, you will realize that you can’t expect them to know names like Badgley Mischka, Judith Ripka, Robert Lee Morris, our fellow Montclair, N.J., resident Bobbi Brown, Yves Saint Laurent, Smashbox, Lancome and Dweck. And these brands and artists don’t represent “useless crap.”

Luxury-good makers are hurting, and they need to make up their loss in sales. So they are turning to outlets like QVC, as CEO Mike George explained at a recent Liberty Media conference, as outlets to distribute new lower-priced lines to the masses. George cited fashion designer Vivienne Tam’s QVC alliance at the meeting held in Manhattan by his parent company, Liberty.

“This complete implosion of luxury retailing in America has caused all these folks to rethink their business model,” George said.

And that means partnering with QVC, HSN or ShopNBC.

As we said, it will take the consumer press years to figure out that home shopping channels are distribution powerhouses that have undergone a transformation, in part because of the infllux of talent like a Morris, who does couture jewelry for designers like Donna Karan and RLM Studio sterling silver jewelry for QVC.

The Big Three — QVC, HSN and ShopNBC — are aggressively trying to broaden their audience and potential customer base, those who don’t normally watch any of these three networks. That means the three are actually “programming” the channels, doing “shows” that have entertainment value, not just product shilling, so they will attract non-QVC or non-HSN watchers.

We remember once interviewing a QVC exec years ago and asking what the network’s ratings were. He said ratings were irrelevant: QVC was only concerned about how many products were sold in an hour.

HSN CEO Mindy Grossman

That’s a totally different tune from what we heard recently from QVC’s George, and from the strategies that HSN CEO Mindy Grossman and ShopNBC CEO Keith Stewart have initiated.

Like traditional TV networks, the home shopping players want viewers to “sample” a QVC or an HSN. These new audience members, hopefully, will then see products that they want to buy.

For example, singer Natalie Cole recently did a live concert on HSN to promote a new Holiday CD set she is selling on the channel. If you’re a fan, you might tune in to HSN to see her, and then actually decide to purchase her CD. Artists such
as Jose Feliciano have also performed live on QVC.

QVC alum Stewart on a recent third-quarter conference call pointed out that actress-entrepreneur Suzanne Somers, who came to ShopNBC from HSN, had succeeded in attracting new viewers to Minneapolis-based ShopNBC because she was “entertaining.” And these networks want new eyeballs.

And home shopping networks’ capacity to reach millions of consumers and do fulfillment of orders has not been lost on magazine publishers, celebrities or cable’s reality TV stars. With circulation falling, women’s magazines such as Lucky, Allure, Glamour and Self are partnering with HSN to sell subscriptions.

And stars have seen the light. In a recent interview in Oprah Winfey’s O magazine, Joan Rivers, who’s had a jewelry line on QVC for almost 20 years, told O she was on home shopping when “nobody except dead celebrities was doing merchandise on TV.”

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a celebrity or TV star who doesn’t have a home shopping line. Even Madonna was interviewed on HSN when she was selling her children’s book.

Here’s a partial list:

Paula Abdul, HSN, formerly “American Idol,” Fox

Rachel Zoe, QVC, “The Rachel Zoe Project,” Bravo

Isaac Mizrahi, QVC, “The Fashion Show,” Bravo

Padma Lakshmi, HSN, “Top Chef,” Bravo

Ramona Singer, HSN, “The Real Housewives of New York City,” Bravo

Susan Lucci, HSN, “All My Children,” ABC

Carson Kressley, QVC, “How to Look Good Naked,” Lifetime Television

Dr. Robert Rey, ShopNBC, “Dr. 90210,” E! Entertainment Television

Tori Spelling, HSN, “Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood,” Oxygen

Paula Deen, QVC, Food Network

Rachael Ray, QVC, “The Rachael Ray Show,” syndication

Ingrid Hoffmann, HSN, Food Network and Univision

Home shopping is a big business. ShopNBC is the also-ran in the group, but in the third quarter Stewart made some nice progress cutting its losses. Sales for the Big Three were all down, but down less than previous quarters.

And we are not talking chump change for these networks. The three home shopping channels generated $8.3 billion in net revenue in 2008. QVC domestic posted $4.9 billion, HSN netted $2.8 billion and ShopNBC had $568 million.

Even with revenue still slipping this year, for the first nine months QVC had revenue of $3.308 billion; HSN had net sales of $1.4 billion; and ShopNBC had $372.6 million in net sales.

Happy Thanksgiving!