Archive for the ‘Showtime’ Category

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.

Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine Spotlights Jewelry, A Joan Rivers Purse And Laurie Feltheimer Shoes From QVC, HSN And ShopNBC

January 19, 2010

The February issue of Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine features four items fom QVC, HSN and ShopNBC in its “Great Buys Under $50” feature. The theme of the piece is great buys that are red.

The article, on page 96, cites two pieces from HSN. One is a pair of platform heels from Hot in Hollywood, the line done by Laurie Feltheimer, the wife of Lionsgate chief Jon Feltheimer. Lionsgate produces TV shows such as AMC’s great “Mad Men” and Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie.” The shoes go for $49.

The second HSN item is a $35 brooch from HSN’s V by Eva jewelry line.

The magazine also spotlights a $40 croc-patterned clutch purse from Joan River’s QVC collection.

Finally, O Magazine cites a Waltham bangle watch that ShopNBC sells.

The good news for shoppers is that the magazine says the watch is $32. But ShopNBC has it on clearance now, and it’s been reduced to only $20.

Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora, The Homeshoppingista Chat At ‘When We Were Beautful’ Party: We Jersey Folk Speak The Same Language

October 23, 2009
Sambora, Torres and The Homeshoppingista

The Homeshoppingista and Sambora

Here it is, our first photo download! And what a download it is, a shot of Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora and The Homeshoppingista. The man in the middle in the background is drummer Tico Torres.

OK, we know it’s just the back of our head, but that’s the best sister Karen could do at the party after Showtime’s screening of “Bon Jovi: When We Were Beautiful.” It airs Saturday.

Richie, a fellow Jersey person, looks fascinated by our question, doesn’t he? Heather Locklear and Denise Richards have nothing on us (sure).

To read his frank comments to us about the film, check out our story on NewJerseyNewsroom.com.

But here is one Sambora quote from that story, about the rock-star life.

“Everybody kind of looks at us like we’re exempt from human tragedy or whatever goes on in people’s lives,” Sambora told us. “That’s not true. We’re just regular guys. Because when we go home, we f–king take the garbage out just like everybody else.”

We have to run. We’re late for our volunteer work for the PR department of a big hospital chain, where we are writing about serious life-and-death issues.

Lisa, we have the “When We Were Beautiful” DVD for you. We’re on our way.

We Partied With Jersey Boys Bon Jovi, And Now We’re Paying For It

October 22, 2009

We apologize, but new home shopping posts will be late today. We spent Wednesday night at a screening of a Showtime documentary on our fellow Jerseyites Bon Jovi.

At the after-party, we briefly interviewed Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. We caught the director Phil Griffin at the theater.

It was a late evening, and now we are transcribing our interviews for a story on the documentary, “When We Were Beautiful,” for NewJerseyNewsroom.com.

Showtime knows how to do a screening. Tequila maker Hornitos sponsored the event, serving all kinds of tequila drinks, so the crowd was liquored up when they went in to watch the film. We have a small bottle of Hornitos, which we copped at the after-party, sitting on our kitchen table.

Sister Karen came with us, and we all shared a cab with Ira from Brooklyn to go to the party in Tribeca.

We’re hoping to be able to download a photo Karen took of us and Sambora on the blog, so you can finally see what we look like.

Bon Jovi is on a promotion blitz for its new CD, “The Circle.”

From QVC To FX: Shameless Self-Promotion Of Our Interview With Kurt Sutter, Creator of TV’s Edgy ‘Sons of Anarchy’

October 19, 2009

We told you that home shopping is one of our guilty pleasures, but great TV programming is also one of our passions. And FX is one of our favorite networks, and its drama “Sons of Anarchy” is one of our favorite shows.

Today our interview with Kurt Sutter, a fellow New Jersey native and the creator/producer of  “Sons,” is on NewJerseyNewsroom.com. It’s a Web site, started by former Star-Ledger reporters, that we have been writing for while looking for a full-time gig.

Some may think it strange that we can turn from the safe haven of QVC to FX, home of some of TV’s most risk-taking shows. But we’re interested in many aspects of pop culture. That’s how we roll.

If you don’t like sex, nudity and violence on TV, don’t tune to “Sons of Anarchy.” But we do, and that’s part of the reason we watch the show. But we’re also drawn because it’s a compelling drama. The lead, Charlie Hunnam, is pretty easy on the eyes, too.

“Sons” is about an outlaw motorcycle club in California, with elements of “Hamlet.” Sutter, who is from Clark, N.J., also has a small role in the show as jailed Sons of Anarchy member Big Otto. Sutter’s wife, actress Katey Sagal, plays the tough matriarch of the club, Gemma.

We also have a second story on how Sutter feels about the business of TV up on NewJerseyNewroom.com.

Although Sutter is no fan of New Jersey, like many natives who have gone on to bigger and better things, he is proud of his blue-collar roots and work ethic.

We’ve heard another Jersey guy, actor James Gandolfini of “The Sopranos,” make the exact same comments about his background and its impact on his career.

And need we state the obvious: Bruce Springsteen.

We’re cut from that same Jersey blue-collar cloth.

Sutter may not talk up Jersey, but it’s like being a lapsed Catholic. You may try to shake off the religion, but it sticks with you. So does Jersey. Sutter was down to earth and nice, not a Hollywood prima donna.

Right now we’re working on a story on a Bon Jovi documentary that will air on Showtime.

In that doc, Tico Torres articulates his thoughts about what it means to be from the Tri-State area when he talks about Bon Jovi.

“We’re going to fight to make it the best band, the best music and the best show possible,” he says. “That’s inherent in our upbringing. That’s a Jersey-New York signature. You’ll find it with anybody from that area.”