Posts Tagged ‘All My Children’

QVC, Let ‘Black Friday’ Host Dave James Go Home, After 20-Plus Hours On-Air He’s Getting ‘Zombiefied’

November 27, 2009

What a trooper QVC host Dave James is! But get the man some strong coffee, or drugs. Or better yet, cite QVC for cruel and unusual punishment of its employees.

For QVC’s big Black Friday event, James is appearing live for the network for 28 hours straight. He started at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night. If he’s not on the air live, he is appearing on a Webcast, showing viewers a behind-the-scenes look at QVC.

About 4:45 p.m. Friday, we checked out the Webcast and saw James with fellow host Sharon Faetsch. He was using a Dell laptop that is going to be tomorrow’s Today’s Special Value, and he looked like he needed toothpicks to keep his eyes open.

Sharon Faetsch

“He’s a little zombiefied at this point,” said Faetsch, since James had been on 20 hours straight by that time.

“I can only close one eye at a time, or I’ll fall asleep,” he said at one point.

James could barely feign interest in Faetsch’s babbling about a taco-egg recipe. Finally, he got up and said he was taking a break.

“I’ll be back in just a few minutes,” James said. “Guys, I’m going to cut off my microphone.”

Thank God. It’s embarrassing when you leave you mic on when you’re in the bathroom. Didn’t Leslie Nielsen do that in one of his movie comedies, maybe “Naked Gun”?

James took such a long time getting back that Faetsch brought out a life-sized photo of him and sat it next to her, and then she had a backstage crew member come up and chat with her.

James is a pro, and it was amazing to see him summon up his energy and perk up when he want back on live TV.

Behind the scenes, we saw James being told he was going to have to do a “walkaround” with a cameraman with a Steadicam.

In between all this, James was concerned about the score for the Alabama-Auburn game. We know nothing about college football, but he was rooting for Alabama.

“Roll (Crimson) Tide, roll,” he said.

Some posters on QVC’s forums complained that looking at the Webcast “was like watching paint dry,” but we actually enjoyed watching Faetsch squirm when James took so long to come back from his break.

Amy Stran

And we heard this behind-the-scenes tidbit: “We’re going to have to be quiet when we go where Jane (Treacy) is selling,” the stage manager told James.

As we turned off the Webcast, host Amy Stran, a former cast member of the soap operas “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” had just joined James.

At one point, Stran and Faetsch were chastised by a stage manager for talking about one of their wedding-ring sets while James was chatting to his wife on the phone about the football game.

“You can’t have two conversations,” the stage manager said, noting that viewers — like us — were hearing everyone talk at once.

QVC, let James go home.

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!

Precious Moments In Home Shopping: Wolfgang Puck And Susan Lucci On HSN

October 10, 2009

Master chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck and “All My Children” soap-opera actress Susan Lucci are both selling their goods on HSN Saturday. 

Puck, who has a line of cookware on HSN, did a cameo during one of  Lucci’s Malibu Pilates shows. The Puck, still wearing his white chef’s jacket, came out and tried out Lucci’s Malibu Pilates Chair, selling for $270. Puck is a bit of a ham, and he got a lot of laughs on his pumped up and down on the chair.

“What a great sport Wolf,” Lucci told him.

We’d make fun of the chair, but if it’s responsible for Lucci’s figure, there ain’t much we can say.

Ex-Soap Opera Actress Amy Stran Nabs Role As QVC Host

September 29, 2009

QVC officially named a new program host Tuesday, one-time soap opera actress Amy Stran.

In a press release, the No. 1 home shopping network said that Stran joined QVC in February and did a six-month training program “to learn about QVC’s products and sales strategy.” We guess she passed her probation period.

Stran has done theater and television, and has held parts on the soap operas “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” according to QVC. Before QVC, Stran hosted “Premium TV,” a show that promotes premium cable networks. Stran got a bachelor’s degree in theater from Catawba College, Salisbury, N.C.

Here’s the stock quote from QVC on the news, straight from the press release.

“Amy has a proven talent in connecting with our customers. She’s someone they love to shop with,” said Jack Comstock, vice president of talent for QVC. “We’re thrilled to welcome her to the team.”