Photo Credit: Laspata DeCaro
Oxygen Media, most recently awarded a 2012 Gracie Award for Outstanding Reality Show for its series The Glee Project, today announced its latest foray into unscripted programming: The Face, a new reality competition series along the lines of America’s Next Top Model or Project Runway, will showcase the efforts of three teams of up-and-coming models competing for the chance to become the spokesperson for a nationally recognized brand. World-renowned supermodel and businesswoman Naomi Campbell will be one of three supermodel coaches, who will each scout and choose their teams from the ranks of young models striving all over the world, then mentor and guide them through a series of trials representing the steep ladder to success in the fashion industry.
The Face will be produced by Shine America, a producer and distributor of many well-known hit series such as The Biggest Loser, The Office and Ugly Betty. Oxygen has formerly been home to cycles of America’s Next Top Model and, in its stated purpose as “a leading force in engaging modern young women,” is undoubtedly a good home for this new series. As Eden Gaha, President of Shine America says, “We are pleased to bring The Face to Oxygen, which we believe is the perfect fit for this new competition series that will take viewers behind the scenes of the glamorous and fast-paced world of modeling. It’s an incredible opportunity for these young models to work with and learn from an industry icon such as Naomi Campbell and the chance to become ‘the face’ of a national brand will be an exciting and meaningful start to their career.”
The Face is reportedly part of a fifty percent increase in Oxygen’s original programming, and the presence of a star like Campbell should attract plenty of viewers. Fans of scandal and drama would do well to hope for some onscreen displays of her legendary temper, though it is doubtful she will actually assault anyone, as has so often been alleged in the past. At any rate, even without the possibility of such histrionics (and only time will tell), the series should provide plenty of entertainment for fashion junkies everywhere. As Campbell says, “With The Face the audience will get a real insider’s look at this exciting industry that has been so good to me. One lucky girl will become the face of a major brand.”
Since the advent of reality television took place in the mid-90s, I’ve been fascinated with what it’s done to the entertainment industry. I remember watching “The Real World: Seattle” as a young teenager and was transfixed by this fledgling genre blooming before my eyes. Looking back, I think I was most captivated by watching people older than myself placed in situations without a script. I probably thought this is what college was like. Granted, the early days of reality TV were much more true to life than the orchestrated trash America eats up these days. Nevertheless, regardless of what you’re doing, if you’re on TV long enough, you’re going to become recognized. But we’ve always treated this recognition differently. What defines “celebrity?” Are news anchors celebrities? Are food network hosts? Funny enough, I ended going to college at the same time as an individual from the cast of “Real World: Seattle.” A friend pointed this person out on campus and I was mildly interested. This was a reality star from a different era. The reality stars of today aren’t people from everyday life — we’ve turned them into celebrities.
But they are indeed now “stars” of the bustling media universe, with all the benefits — and baggage — that entails. And their celebrity viability has consequences for traditional performers, inasmuch as “The Bachelor’s” betrayals and Jon and Kate Gosselin’s marital woes regularly grace tabloids and magazine covers, with no line of demarcation between them and what we used to think of as “stars.”
Only now, because of the unquenchable demand for programming and recognizable “talent,” they aren’t being disposed of. Instead, they’re recycled, creating a permanent reality-TV class accustomed to living their lives on camera — the ever-ready-for-primetime players (and on a budget!).
Their ascension within celebrity circles can be easily chronicled simply by flipping through the pages of US Weekly and People. And while interest in these newly minted stars hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for actor gossip, the migration into spheres once reserved for performers should send shudders up the spine of anyone holding a SAG card.
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant cleverly mocked the genre in season two of “Extras” and to me, that’s the most biting commentary I’ve seen on the topic. Still though, who are the people watching “Extras”? They’re an audience with taste — certainly a taste that is disintegrating in our society as reality programming increases each year. I’m not going to sit here and say that I don’t watch any of the shows. That would be a bogus claim. Fact is, most of us do watch them. I get a kick out of “I Love New York” and “Rock of Love,” only it stops at the humor. The individuals on these shows are society’s most entertaining fools. Are they celebrities? Of course they are. But they are fools because they wanted to be.
Last night’s episode of “Hell’s Kitchen” brought us to what we’ve all been waiting for this season….what has become the inevitable cage match between the two most talented competitors. But first, after Ben had been eliminated last week, the three remaining chefs–Andrea, Danny and Paula–had a quick visit from their families. And I don’t know how much was edited, but they showed about one minute of said visit, and then the families were headed home again. What, they didn’t even have the chance to cook for them? Weird.
Then the challenge came and it was cooking a dish for 100 Hell’s Kitchen customers–who were all the top chefs in Los Angeles…and I do mean top chefs…all Michelin star and James Beard award winners. Each chef had to cook one dish, with tasting portions of 100. And they had only 90 minutes to do this. It went so fast that I could barely hear what their dishes were, but know Danny made some sort of halibut and it failed miserably, with 76% of the visiting chefs calling it the worst of the three. That same 76% number called Paula’s dish the best. So Paula had a makeover, after some fabricated romantic banter between Paula and Jean Phillippe in the limo. Please! Then Paula had her makeover and she actually looked really good with her hair down, not the plain looking chef we’ve all seen this season.
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Okay, before we get to the recap of last night’s performances on “American Idol,” can I just say, WHAT ARE THESE CONTESTANTS THINKING? It seems like they are choosing the wrong songs with regularity, not understanding the urgency of giving it their best shot while they have the opportunity. It just makes me crazy and I think it makes the judges crazy as well. Last night the performances were less than stellar. In fact, many of them were flat-out awful. But it wasn’t always that maybe the judges mis-calculated and sent the wrong singers through to this round. It was mostly about poor song choice. With that, here were the good, the in-between and the bad from last night, with a prediction for tonight’s results show.
Alison Iraheta is only 16 and as Simon Cowell correctly pointed out, she looked out of her element when Ryan Seacrest was interviewing her, and then when she took the stage she was a completely different person. This girl has unbelievable vocal ability at such a young age, and last night she sang Heart’s “Alone.” Randy said she “blew it out of the box,” Kara said Alison doesn’t know how good she is, Paula said she was the best so far (she went fifth), and Simon said she was the best so far by a mile. Alison would not have advanced last week, but with the way last night’s semi-finalists performed, she has a great shot now.
Kris Allen is a 23 year old dude from Arkansas, so you wouldn’t expect him to sing Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” would you? I was scared, but dude pulled it off nicely. It was rough at the start but he really nailed it as a whole and could be a dark horse. Kara said she thought it was the wrong song, Paula disagreed and so did Simon, saying Kris showed confidence, and Randy said he did a nice job without his guitar, as he had done before in Hollywood.
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Last night’s “Hell’s Kitchen” on FOX began with the red team telling Lacey she was lucky that Ji hurt herself and had to ask off the show, because otherwise it would have been her going home. Lacey was getting tired of the girls all ganging up on her, even telling Andrea that she had a “bitch switch.”
Then, as they did last time, the chefs were woken up at 6am the way no one ever wants to be woken up–loudly. Then they were whisked off to a meat packing plant, and some of them knew to be paying attention. That’s because Gordon Ramsay had a challenge for them waiting at the restaurant, in which they had to match tags to cuts of beef, and then place those tags on their matching place on a cow model. After some real screw-ups (Lacey and Seth almost knew none of the correct answers), Ben bailed the guys out by correctly place every tag on the cow. The blue team won and were awarded a private jet trip to wine country, where they had lunch at a steakhouse with Ramsay.
Meanwhile, the red team had to carry sides of beef in from a delivery truck and then cut them all into portions for the dinner that night. Then it got worse. They were humiliated by having to dine on the scraps–tongue, heart, etc.–for lunch and were given barf bags too. Most of the ladies puked and were saying how they would never lose a challenge again. It definitely was making them stronger.
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