Tuesday, June 29, 2010

No Holds Barred

by Blair Sabol

Like Randy Newman, "I Love L.A." I love that it is THE unabashed center of narcissism .... straight up and in your face. Not like NYC, which is more covert and "on the rocks." So it didn't surprise me on my L.A. visit last week to run into at least 5 camera crews at various locations all shooting reality shows of people I don't know or care about. I thought reality shows were for D-rated celebrities in need of a last gasp career boost.

In the same league as selling jewelry on QVC or doing guest shots on "Fantasy Island" and "Love Boat" or even doing a nude spread in Playboy when you are a used up 45-year-old gal. With the exception of Joan Rivers, all these appearances hold jumpstart promises but rarely deliver.

I also detect the same desperate stench around Talk Show host jobs. By now hasn't everyone had a spin behind a "talk desk"? Eliot Spitzer is up next at CNN. Talk about desperate moves.

And who is listening and watching all of this? It seems the Wall Street Journal just reported that Americans are watching more TV (up to 4 hours a day) rather than trying to get a job "or volunteering, exercising, and furthering their education." That 's amazing considering TV has become such a wasteland with so many Direct TV channels and so little material.

It's no wonder "reality" has taken over. The shows are cheap to produce and horrifying to watch. Perfect reflection of our culture. Face it, I dont know Snooki ("Jersey Shore" star) from Sookie ("True Blood" star). Aren't they all vampires in the end?

Actually I know 4 friends who are pursuing their own reality gigs. Everyone from my shampoo girl, to my favorite jewelry designer, a legal defense attorney, to a valet at one of my regular hotels. Nobody has any shame and everyone is ready to share their "scintillating" lives. Do they even have lives? They think so and that is all that counts. Remember Twitter operates like this and has become some people's "daily memoirs" in 24 characters or less.

I think ALL of TV is "reality" TV. However I thought that shows like "The Apprentice," "Top Chef", "Survivor," "American Idol," and "Project Runway" were actually game shows ... with contestants. Then again it seems as if Anderson Cooper is his own tight-black-T-shirted-reality star of his most recent disaster Gulf location. I expect that General Stanley McCrystal and Al Gore and his masseuse will now make their real TV debuts in this genre. Who needs a book deal!

In L.A. the need to be rich and famous (in under 15 minutes) and the need to feel and look important is foremost. Everyone knows that Hollywood gave birth to that trait ... it's in the water. But now it is epidemic. It seems as if everyone in every public place is "cell yelling" into their iPhones to their "assistants" to make sure their grande soy lattes are desk ready by 9:16 am. Everyone has turned into Ari Gold (famed character agent in HBO's "Entourage"). This is a town of assistants.

Everyone has one even though everyone is unemployed. And all the assistants seem on the verge of getting fired. (ah, "assistants" ... another reality show idea). As for actual reality show stars ... I had no idea that Bethanney ("Housewives of New York") is having a public blowout with Danielle ("Housewives of New Jersey"). These are real Reality Star wars.
The Real Reality Star Wars (starring in order of appearance: Danielle, NJ; Bethanney, NY; Jill, NY; and Caroline, NJ). CLICK ABOVE TO VIEW.
Who can keep up. No doubt Bravo TV has the scorecarded "post game" wrap up shows. And in all of these series the cartooned rage, the sex and the botched plastic surgeries are all over the top.

Personally I'd rather watch Spanish speaking soaps. At least the costumes and makeup are much more elegant drag.

Kim Kardashian's royal behind.
"Everyone is over caffeinated and hooked on Adderall (an ADD and diet drug) with their eyes popping and their neck veins exploding."
Everywhere I went in L.A. people spoke of The Kardashians like royalty. Kim Kardashian alone has given "ass" (mentally and physically) a new meaning.

Dr. Drew Pinsky of "Celebrity Rehab" is now more popular than Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz. (At this point he could book any pro football player up on current rape charges and cure them all of being sex addicts ... and oh the ratings!!!).

What does it say about our culture that we feel such a need to expose our most tawdry of underbellies and all on HD? Is this "sharing" on steroids? Aren't we past Oprah? Even Oprah is past Oprah.

(And by the way I kept hearing in L.A. that tons of network producers are running over to Oprah's cable venture looking for any jobs they can find). We have "The Real L Word" for "lesbian chic" (which is on the rise ... yet again). And yes more trash and cash with yet another debut of "Housewives" ... this time "of Washington D.C."

By now haven't we run out of out of housewives or cities or pool boys or sleazy plastic surgeons or thug husbands? At this point I am exhausted from viewing one more show featuring over-botoxed and "shelf" boob enhanced women screaming at their "assistants" (there's that theme again) while booking deluxe hotel suites for fake party events.

Everyone is over caffeinated and hooked on Adderall (an ADD and diet drug) with their eyes popping and their neck veins exploding.

Is this the image of today's success and making it? Or merely another form of attention grabbing porn.

P.S.: Every visit to L.A. I make it a point to end up at Guiseppe Franco's – one of the many popular Beverly Hills hair salons. (Remember this is a city with five hair salons in a two block radius ... talk about narcissism). Jeffrey Serra is the salon manager and one of the most talented hair colorists in the city.

"Ahnold" and bodyguards.
A visit to the salon is always "dinner and a show" and an earful. You can end up seeing the strangest collection of notoriety ... like Mickey Rourke and Michael Pollard (yes, "that" Michael Pollard) ... and most importantly "the Govenator Ahnold" himself getting his roots "caramelized."

In fact "Ahnold" is practically there weekly. He and owner Guiseppe are dear friends and everyone adores him ... in the salon.

It's obvious that "Ahnold" will be happy to leave office. This way he can spend his Saturdays in peace and quiet at Guiseppe's happily smoking his Cuban cigars with his favorite colorist in the VIP balcony chair. Without the surrounding circle of earplugged security brigade.

Jeffrey confessed to me, "It wont be Arnold that will miss the governor action. He will do just fine. It will be his security team who loved following him all around Beverly Hills "Entourage" style every Saturday ... getting all that 'hot blonde bombshell' attention. It won't be the same "detail work" following whichever woman gets that job. But no matter ... they can end up getting a Secret Service Reality show. And why not!
Clockwise from top left: Guiseppe Franco's salon; Blair Sabol with Jeffrey Serra; Two Guiseppe Franco clients, Michael Pollard and Mickey Rourke.
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