Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

Martha Stewart’s HSN Debut Is A Lot Less Memorable Than Liza Minnelli’s: It’s A Good Thing

July 19, 2010

HSN promoted Martha Stewart’s debut on the home shopping network with a lot of fanfare, as it did for Liza Minnelli’s debut.

Luckily for HSN, Martha did a lot better than Liza, who was barely coherent while describing her clothing and jewelry line.

Stewart, clad in an aqua shirt, has HSN’s Today’s Special Monday, a set of paper punches at $40. Years ago Stewart was on QVC, and we saw her several times. She was rather rude and unpleasant to host Kathy Levine.

In contrast, she was very warm and charming with HSN host Callie Northagen at midnight about her crafting products. She ouynthusiastically demonstrated her punches, which have several patents pending.

“I’m having so much fun here,” Stewart told Northagen.

What you can make with the TS

Our favorite quote from fawning Northagen to Stewart: “Martha, you made the glue gun what it is today.” Honey, it ain’t a cure for cancer!

And our favorite Stewart quote: “I was just going to bedazzle my butterfly.” OK, whatever floats your boat.

We guess crafters love Stewart’s kits, which you can use to make cards, frames, package decorations, etc. Since you would more likely see us try to fly to the moon than sit down and do a homemade card, it was hard for us to be enthusiastic about Stewart’s punches, glitter and paper. It’s not our thing. But the products looked good.

We were also introduced to Alex Perruzzi, who Stewart described as “our crafty guru.” He was a pleasant enough young man. We will bet dollars to donuts that following Stewart’s premiere appearances, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Perruzzi on HSN than we will of Stewart.

As Stewart admired one of the cards made with her punches, she told Perruzzi she wanted that card for her birthday, which is coming up. We know all about that Martha: Our niece Sydney has the same birthday as you, Aug. 3.

In her second hour, Stewart talked up her Cricit Cake Martha Stewart edition, which sells for $360.

So Stewart, who is from a town we spent a miserable decade in — Nutley, N.J. — did pretty well whille we were watching.

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Former Jailbird, And Jersey Girl, Martha Stewart Is Coming To HSN July 19

June 27, 2010

Lifestyle doyenne Martha Stewart, who hails from our former town of Nutley, N.J., is coming to HSN, debuting her Martha Stewart Living line July 19.

Stewart, who did jail time for a little criminal charge involving stock trading, several years ago had a line on QVC. We remember seeing her on-air with Kathy Levine, that’s how long ago it was, and ol’ Martha was quite prickly and nasty. She didn’t last too long on the No. 1 home shopping channel.

On Facebook Sunday HSN host Colleen Lopez posted about Stewart’s debut July 19, and we checked the HSN website and several of Stewart’s items are already on there.

Those include an American flag, “patriotic” tubs, handheld flags and banners. The stuff is perfect for the Fourth of July, so we’re surprised that Stewart’s debut isn’t until July 19.

Lopez said she can’t wait to meet Martha.

This HSN deal isn’t all that Martha has cooking. Her company did a deal earlier this year to produce daytime programming for the Hallmark Channel. That programming starts airing in the fall, with Stewart’s signature “The Martha Stewart Show” moving to Hallmark.

We have a soft spot in our heart for Stewart, and not because we’re into cooking or home decor. She is from Jersey, and you know that endears her to us. She is from the working class town of Nutley, where we lived for about a dozen years while we were working for The Herald-News.

And we like Stewart because her birthday is Aug. 3, the same as our niece Sydney. Two Leos.

‘Jerseylicious’ Renewed For Second Season, Hot Off The Press Release

May 6, 2010

Most of the Jerseylicious crew

You heard it here first, folks. Style Network announced Thursday that it was picking up “Jerseylicious,” set in our favorite Green Brook, N.J., salon, for a second season.

Here is the press release:

AFTER RECORD-BREAKING RATINGS, THE STYLE NETWORK GREENLIGHTS SECOND SEASON OF
POPULAR DOCU-SOAP “JERSEYLICIOUS”

Produced by Endemol USA, “Jerseylicious” is Style’s Most-Watched First Season in the Network’s History Among Women 18-34 and Women 18-49

Los Angeles, May 6, 2010 – The Style Network announces a second season pick-up of 10 episodes for its new one-hour comedy docu-soap “Jerseylicious.”

Produced by Endemol USA, “Jerseylicious” follows the lives, loves and 24/7 mayhem of stylists in and out of their high-profile New Jersey salon.

The series, which critics have called “a hair-raising new reality show,” “a cut above the rest” and “a fabulously flashy drama,” airs Sundays at 10pm and the season one finale is slated for May 9. Season two of “Jerseylicious” will debut fall 2010 on Style.

“’Jerseylicious’ is the perfect blend of big personalities, bold style and nonstop drama,” said Salaam Coleman Smith, President, The Style Network. “Style viewers tell us that they love the authenticity of this show and the unapologetic sense of style. We’re excited to see what new escapades and makeover madness season two will bring.”

“We are thrilled with the breakout success of ‘Jerseylicous,’” said David Goldberg, Chairman of Endemol North America. “Our truly unique cast of outspoken and vibrant characters were expertly captured by Alex Duda and the Endemol team in tandem with the collaborative and insightful executives at Style. We’re committed to make season two bigger, better and even more
‘Jerseylicious.’”

Season one of “Jerseylicious” has reached over 9.4 million total viewers since its premiere on March 21 making the series Style’s most-watched first season ever among women 18-34 and women 18-49. “Jerseylicious” outperforms Style’s primetime average by over +80% among households, while it attracts more than twice as many women 18-49 than the norm. The success of Jerseylicious has largely been driven by younger women 18-34, nearly tripling Style’s primetime average series in that demo to date.

The drama at the salon is fueled by Olivia, a young but bold make-up artist who’s trying to make it on her own, and Tracy, a confident hair stylist who loves battling with Olivia for attention – especially over the same man.

The salon is run by the business savvy mother/daughter team of Gayle and Christy who are under enormous pressure to grow the salon’s clientele. Also working at the salon is Gigi, a young hair stylist who wants nothing more than a big Italian wedding and Alexa, one of the top bridal make-up artists in the tri-state area who proudly refers to herself as the “Glam Fairy.”

Rounding out the group is stylist Anthony, who started working at the salon temporarily when his own salon was being renovated, and had no idea what he was about to walk into!

Three-time Emmy winner Alex Duda is Executive Producer for “Jerseylicious.” The series is produced by Endemol USA. David Goldberg is the Chairman of Endemol North America. Sarah Weidman and Merah Chung are Executive Producers for Style.

‘Jerseylicious’ Gets Big Thumbs Down From New York Times, Which Defends The Garden State

March 20, 2010

Jerseylicious

The Grey Lady has spoken: The New York Times panned “Jerseylicious” Saturday.

TV critic Neil Genzlinger accused Style Network’s “Jerseylicious” reality show, which debuts Sunday night, of trying to ride on the coattails of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” and Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

And that’s the nicest thing he had to say.

He described the show as “witless” and the cast from the Gatsby Salon in Green Brook, N.J., as “vapid.”

Genzlinger also jokingly lambasted two of New Jersey’s most famous inventors, Thomas Edison and David Sarnoff, for their role in bringing electricity and color TV to America.

“They made it possible for their home turf, a perfectly decent state, to be flogged over and over again by lazy television executives working the same tired shtick,” the TV critic wrote, referring to “Jerseylicious” on Style Netweork. “Fellows as visionary as Edison and Sarnoff should have seen this coming and suppressed their innovations in the interest of protecting New Jersey’s reputation.”

And that’s not all he had to say about “Jerseylicious.” Neil, tell us what you really think!

“Virtually everyone here is loud and self-absorbed and not overly bright, qualities that were amusing for about an episode and a half of ‘Jersey Shore’ but now seem as unappetizing as the ’80s look that the Gatsby is inexplicably still peddling,” he wrote.

‘Jerseylicious’ Met Up With Tyra Banks Friday

March 19, 2010

Not Snooki, but Jerseylicious Olivia Blois Sharpe

While we were at the gym this afternoon, we caught the cast of “Jerseylicious” on Tyra Banks’ show.

Even though Banks had to get in her cheap shots at their Jersey accents, we thought the cast of the new Style Network show came of pretty well.

We didn’t have a pen and pad with us on the elliptical machine, so we have to do this from memory and paraphrase. Makeup artist Olivia Boise Sharpe, who is already being billed as the new “Snooki” because of her deep tan and long dark hair, set the record straight by saying she’s been sporting the “Jersey Shore” look for at least three years. The inference is that the randy “Jersey Shore” peanut stole Sharpe’s look.

When Banks waxed on about the nation’s sudden fascination with Jersey, Sharpe and her nemeis on the reality show, Stacy DiMarco, talked up the fact that Jerseyites are blunt and bold. If we don’t like you, the “Jerseylicious” cast members said, we won’t talk behind your back. We’ll tell you right to your face. (We’re beginning to understand why the rest of the country hates us now).

The “Jerseylicious” crew — who work at the Gatsby Salon in Green Brook, N.J., where the reality show is set — then offered hair and makeup advice to members of Banks’ audience, which seemed to be 99 percent Garden State residents.

Finally, the “Jerseylicious” cast did a makeover of three plain-Jane women from Delaware, we think it was. after the Gatsby Salon got done with them, the trio came up looking hot in super-short dresses, mile-high spike heels, smokey eyes and teased hair. They looked pretty good.

“Jerseylicious” debuts Sunday at 10 p.m., and we’re planning to attend the show’s premiere party that same night in Hoboken.

QVC Celebrates Our Mom’s 80th Birthday, Groundhog Day, With Special Festivities

February 2, 2010

Phil a year ago, but we're betting on Essex Ed this year and his prediction of an early spring

Maybe because it’s based in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil’s home state, but QVC is going all out for Groundhog Day.

First of all, the No. 1 home shopping channel is offering four Easy Pays on all its merchandise Tuesday.

Second, the network aired a clip of Phil, with a crowd of oflicials and locals watching, coming out and seeing his shadow, meaning that we are in for six more weeks of winter.

And QVC host Dave James is doing a live Groundhog Day Webcast until 6 p.m.

New Jersey has its own groundhog weatherman, “Essex Ed,” who Monday did his own prediction at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, N.J., just about five minutes from our house. Ed didn’t see his shadow, according to The Star-Ledger, so he is predicting an early spring, unlike Phil today in Pa.

But that’s not why today’s a holiday. It’s our mom’s 80th birthday today! Happy birthday Mama, and many more to come. We love you.

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.”

‘Clean House’ Comes To Jersey, And We Write About Its Rescue Of A Cancer Survivor For NewJerseyNewsroom.com

January 18, 2010

Our photo of Christine Benedict, her devoted husband Bill and their sweet daughter Katherine at their Wayne home, before the clean-up

We’ve been keeping very busy above and beyond this blog, working on our story about Style Network’s “Clean House” coming to Wayne, N.J., to help a cervical cancer survivor. The piece was just posted on NewJerseyNewsroom.com.

We interviewed Christine and Bill Benedict at their small Cape Cod home last Thursday, a house brimming over with a mess of clothes, papers, boxes, etc. Their sweet 9 1/2-year-old daughter Katherine was there, too.

This family went through a difficult period, for about 18 months or so, when Christine underwent more than a half dozen surgeries, chemo and radiation. During that time, her house spiraled into disarray. Housecleaning was just not a priority. But she is in remission now, and the house is such a disaster that the family can’t even have guests over anymore.

That’s why Christine, a fan of “Clean House,” contacted the show for a makeover. The filming of the episode started last week, when we were up in Wayne.

They are a delightful family, and their trials make us thankful for our own health. Christine, who has curly hair likes ours, won us over right away when we saw she read tarot cards. She had chakra stones out as well as white sage, which is burned to get rid of negative energy (we have to burn some of it in our condo to get rid of those bad layoff memories), and a quartz crystal, for clarity and focus (we have one near our bedside).

You know we believe in all that New Age, spiritual stuff. And Christine told us we had a good aura.

There was also a remarkable coincidence, or syncronicity, regarding this story. Before we went to Wayne, the Style Network PR people told us that Christine had had cancer.

So when we met Christine we asked her where she had been treated. She said Saint Barnabas Medical Center. We are currently volunteering in the corporate PR dept. for that hospital’s parent, the Saint Barnabas Health Care System. We work right across the street from the hospital.

We were surprised to hear that Christine had made a 45-minute trip each way daily for awhile to get treatment at Saint Barnabas in Livingston, a haul from her Wayne home.

Then — through no prompting on our part, we swear on our grandmothers’ graves — Christine replied, “They’re fabulous, and they are the premier female cancer center in the state.”

Quite a nice, unsolicted endorsement for Saint Barnabas.

We also took photos at the Benedict house, although our shots of “Clean House” hunk Matt Iseman — who was born in Englewood, N.J., and went to Princeton — came out blurry.

Anyway, read the story to find out why the material things that we and you are buying on QVC, HSN and ShopNBC don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. That’s what the Benedict familly found out.

Oxygen Jumps On the Jersey Reality-TV Bandwagon, In The Wake Of ‘Real Housewives Of New Jersey’ and ‘Jersey Shore,’ With ‘Jersey Couture’ Show

January 11, 2010

Oxygen's potential show Jersey Couture is about a Freehold, N.J., women's formalwear boutique that sells dress like this.

Well, we’ll be damned. Jersey girls rule on reality TV.

Our beloved Garden State, the new mecca for reality-TV producers, will be the site of yet another “docu-soap.” This one, in development by the women’s network Oxygen, has a working title of “Jersey Couture,” echoing the name of that overpriced brand for tween and teen girls, Juicy Couture.

The show was announced Sunday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, a shindig we attended last year, just two weeks before we were abuptly laid off. NewJerseyNewsroom.com just posted our story on “Jersey Couture.”

From what we understand, “Jersey Couture” is about an upscale Freehold, N.J., women’s formalwear shop, Diane & Co. It is owned by Diane Scali and her family.

“From canary yellow beaded sheaths to gold lamé, the Scali family offers over-the-top dresses to satisfy every girl’s special event needs,” Oxygen said in a press release.

New Jersey, once the butt of jokes, is now the new hot spot for reality-TV shows that in many cases play on stereotypes the rest of America has about us. We’ve had Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” TLC’s “Cake Boss” and “18 Kids and Counting,” and Style Network’s “Jerseylicious,” which debuts in March.

We wrote about this new trend in Jersey-set programming for NewJerseyNewsroom.com, where experts told us that TV producers believe that the Garden State’s “loud and proud” residents are perfect for reality-TV shows.

Before Oxygen's Jersey Couture will be Style Network's Jerseylicious, which is about the women of the Gatsby Salon in Green Brook, N.J. You go Jersey girls!

“Jerseylicious” is about the women who run the Gatsby Salon in Green Brook, N.J. We visited the place during one of the last weeks it was shooting in December, and filed a package of stories for NewJerseyNewsroom.com.

As for “Jersey Couture,” here’s the sketchy info that Oxygen has provided.

“With a no nonsense attitude, the Scali family’s extravagant dress store is the premiere glamour stop in New Jersey,” Oxygen said in its TCA press release. “Get ready for the Cinderella experience of a lifetime. Whether it’s for her bride’s maid’s needs or her high school prom frills, when it comes to ‘what to wear’ to that elegant affair, no one gets the job done like the ladies at Diane & Co.”

Remember that “Jersey Couture” is just in development, which means Oxygen has not committed yet to pick it up as a series.

Cablevision’s Vilification of Scripps Networks Exec Ken Lowe, One Of The Smartest, Classiest Guys In The Cable Industry

January 9, 2010

Scripps CEO Ken Lowe, Cablevision's villain

There are so many things we should be doing now, rather than blogging. We have to update our resume for a job we’re applying for. We have press releases to write for Saint Barnabas. We have freelance work from three different people, two of the assignments related to health, stacked up. We have to take our Christmas tree down. And we should be cruising PlentyofFish.com for a man.

But we have to write about Ken Lowe. Lowe, CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive, has been named in the full-page ads that Cablevision has been running in papers like The New York Times and the Manhattan tabloids. The ads — and Scripps is running ads too — are part of the week-long war over fees between the cable company and Scripps, which led to Food Network and HGTV being pulled from 3.1 million homes in the Tri-State area.

Scripps wants a rate increase for its channels, and Cablevision says the ask is unreasonable. Programmers and distributors fight all the time, but it’s fairly rare to see a CEO singled out the way Cablevision has singled out Lowe, kind of making the business battle personal.

Cablevision’s ads claim that “Lowe is demanding a $20 million rate increase for Food Network and HGTV.” It makes it sound like Lowe is right at the negotiating table, pounding his fist. That’s not how it works.

We know all is fair in love and war, and Scripps had celebrity chef Bobby Flay doing anti-Cablevision radio spots for it, but the attack on Lowe seem like a low blow, no pun intended, by the cable company. The ads cast Lowe as the nasty, money-grubbing bogeyman in all of this.

We’ve known Lowe for almost two decades, from reporting on the cable industry. He was always one of the smartest, nicest, classiest, frankest, friendliest programmers we have ever met. He’s well-respected in the media business. His background was radio, and his college roommate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was Rick Dees, the well-known disc jockey.

A veteran broadcaster working at Scripps, Lowe founded and launched HGTV in 1994, and managed Food Network, which Scripps holds a majority stake in. He built an empire of lifestyle cable networks, but admitted to my former editor, Marianne Paskowski, that he once feared being fired by Scripps.

We remember going with Paskowski to interview Lowe at a cable trade show. It was fun, he was bright, and it didn’t hurt that Lowe, now 59, was easy on the eyes. We know that’s unprofessional to say, but what the hell.

He is a Southerner — we hear he was raised on a tobacco farm — but Southern charm doesn’t usually work with us. Folks from New Jersey are “loud and proud,” and don’t beat around the bush. There is no gentility or many manners in the New York metro region.

We often say that we’d rather have someone tell us the truth than be nice to our face, and then talk about us behind our backs. And since we’ve been stabbed in the back by a Southerner who had lots of folksy stories and an accent, we know what we’re talking about.

We don’t know how Lowe treated his employees — we did hear he liked to send e-mails at 2 in the morning. We hear Scripps doesn’t pay producers much. But with us, Lowe was always a pleasure to interview and deal with.

Scripps’ battle with Cablevision relates to the seeds of Food Network, we believe. As we remember, Food Network was free to cable operators for a long period, it may have been 10 years, surviving just by selling advertising. Most cable networks have two revenue streams — license fees from cable companies and advertising.

Now, Scripps is trying to get Food Network caught up, in terms of price, with other cable networks. But times are tough, and distributors like Cablevision don’t want to pay double-digit price hikes.

It’s as if you started a job at a low salary five years ago, and went to your boss today and asked for a big salary increase so you could be at a par with your colleagues. It’s a tough economy, budgets are tight, and your boss doesn’t care if your salary is less than everyone else.

Wall Street analyst Rich Greenfield has written that Scripps underestimated Cablevision’s resolve and unpredictability, and we think that’s true, too.

Anyway, contract negotiations are usually handled by a cable channel’s affiliate sale team, and in the case of Scripps it is Lynne Costantini, who used to work in programming at Time Warner Cable.

She was expected to be named head of programming at Time Warner, but instead a woman named Melinda Witmer got the job. Witmer was in the news recently because she negotiated the new Time Warner-Fox deal — averting a massive blackout of Fox TV stations — with Fox Cable’s affiliate chief Mike Hopkins.

For all the vitriole of the retransmission-consent negotiations between Time Warner and Fox, we don’t think any executives’ names turned up in any ads, the way that Lowe’s name has in Cablevision’s.

We have interviewed Costantini, Witmer and even broke bread and shared a few cocktails with Hopkins in Las Vegas. They’re all smart, civil folks, like Lowe.

We’re hoping that Cablevision will turn down the volume in its dispute with Scripps, and give Lowe a break. Even wars have rules. We wish Cablevision would abide by them.

In the meantime, every couple of days we have to call our sister Karen or our parents, who are among Cablevision’s 900,000 households in Jersey, to see what the cable company is running on the crawl on Food Network and HGTV’s former channel slots.