Sunday, June 30, 2013

JerseyGirl Teresa Giudice Talks Jersey Shore

RHONJ Teresa Giudice signing her book Fabulicious! On the Grill
There are some things that bind us to each other, that create our common culture. Given that we are one big nation, yet a composite of many states, our common culture varies from one part of the country to another. In New Jersey, and I believe some neighboring states, one thing that binds us together is the place where most of us have some of the fondest memories of our lives, the enduring Jersey Shore.

Teresa Giudice talking to a fan at Gina Avino's Artistic Design Studio
Though I am not a fan of the reality show Jersey Shore, it is unfortunate to say that some of the culture portrayed in that show is real. I am not referencing the behavior of the participants so much as the activities; walking the boardwalk, hanging out on the crowded beach under a colorful umbrella, playing the games of chance, eating a chili dog or a Kohr's cone. Though the show did not give a good name to the shore what it did do is  bring attention to it. A few years ago while Snookie and the Sitch were at their peak, I remember listening to a radio show  in which a caller from the Midwest said how she cancelled her vacation to Bermuda to go to the Jersey Shore because she wanted to see what it was all about. If she only visited Seaside my guess is that Bermuda made the top of her list the next year. But each shore is unique, you've got it visit each one to see what fits you best.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Interview: Two-Time Emmy Winner Martha Byrne Gets Ready to Bring "Gotham" to TV

Martha was part of the As The World Turns cast for almost two decades. She grew up on the soap and is a respected actor and producer in the industry.  After ATWT went off the air, she put together her own "soap" on the Internet. This continuing drama, called "Gotham" is in the process now of production for broadcast TV as well as multiple digital platforms. With the resurgence of some popular soaps, and now the recent news that the OWN Network will now show them, Martha's show is at the forefront of the new wave of popularity for soaps. 

Come back to this blog for more interviews as we follow Martha through the production process. Please "Like" GothamTheSeries on Facebook for the latest updates.

SBTS: What are your fondest memories of being on ATWT?

I specifically remember my first day. I was not the first actress to play the role of Lily. I was chosen from my original audition six months prior when the actress who was chosen left abruptly. I was called on a Friday to start the following Monday. Who knew I would stay for 19 years?? There are so many wonderful memories, but at the end of the day, it's the family aspect of the job that stays with me. There is no other job like it in the world. When you do a film or TV series, it ends after a few weeks or in rare cases, a few years. Working on ATWT brought a lifetime of relationships which are very intimate and stay with you. Over the 19 years on the show, I got married, had three babies and won a few Emmys in between. It was a great ride.

SBTS: What inspired you to create your own series for the Web? 

I wrote an hour pilot script for Gotham in 2007 and shopped it around to different production companies for television broadcast. At that time soap operas were on the downslide. No one wanted to touch it. As a member of that community, I knew where it was failing, I was living it. Elements of the genre weren't being given the attention needed to survive, from a creative prospective. You must do what's good for the show for the long haul, not make a quick decision that could impact the institution of these shows for years. Daytime shows used to have a Bible of six months of story, carefully mapped out, that disappeared. Shows would tape two-three weeks in advance when they were thriving, so if a story was tanking, it could be fixed. Due to the desire to save money, shows began to tape two-three months ahead which created the obvious problem. It was cost effective, but created other challenges. Just a few examples of what was trending at that time. The audiences voiced their frustrations by tuning out.  They want smart, thought provoking stories and when you don't respect that, you're doomed. I wanted to produce a show that was story driven with great characters that gave the audience a playground of thought. After a few companies passed on the show, Lisa Brown said, "Let's do it ourselves for the web." 

SBTS: What was the most fascinating aspect of putting together your own show on the Web? The freedom to do anything you want? The ability to produce content and deliver it quickly? 

The best part of doing a project for the web at that time was the freedom to learn. It was still considered artists just messing around on the web, because there was no money to be made in the eyes of the industry. We knew it was the only medium that would embrace what we were doing and watch. I didn't want to just talk about making something with integrity, I wanted to see if I was right about producing something at a reduced budget without sacrificing quality. I learned quickly what worked and what didn't, so now moving forward I know we are well versed on how to maximize our success.

SBTS: I heard your show was nominated for several awards. Can you tell me about that? 

Roger Newcomb at We Love Soaps ( has been the biggest champion for indie soaps. Gotham won an Indie Soap Award in our first year. In 2010 we were nominated for an Emmy in a new category designed for content for the web. It was a great pat on the back for the work we had put into the show. 

SBTS: What was production like for your webseries? Who did you work with? 

The beauty of having worked in daytime television for so long, I had built in relationships with friends in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Our crew was mostly made up of people I worked with on ATWT. The cast was graciously filled with actors I had worked with or were recommended by friends of mine in the business. All professionals working for the greater good to keep soaps alive.

SBTS: Are you excited about bringing Gotham to television? 

Very. It has been an incredible roller coaster ride and every day there is another challenge. After working on the web where it has been called the "wild west", now going to broadcast we have a lot more rules and regulations which I embrace. We're playing in the big leagues now and I couldn't be happier. 

See our "Gotham" page for video and other updates.

RHONJ Linda from the Gym Speaks: You've Gotta Shake Things Up


Tips from the Gym...

In the RHONJ episode airing June 16th Teresa's friend Linda, who we had never heard from on the show, was at the gym that Teresa and Linda always worked out at and in popped Jaqueline, Melissa and Kathy who apparently had never been to that gym.  

Linda was dumbfounded. She immediately let Teresa know. And then the drama started.

I met Linda at one of Teresa's book signings. Ladies in the crowd were recognizing her and so I went over to talk to her about it.

"They NEVER come to our gym," She said. "I knew they were filming that day but I wasn't expecting that, and it ended up being a big deal."

Linda from the Gym, aka Linda Berger is very different from the persona portrayed on the show and she said she was not exactly thrilled with the editing. She can often be found at the gym - which certainly explains the lack of anything jellylike on her physique - because not only does she work out, but she is an AFAA trainer. Brains behind the beauty, I also learned she was a Certified Public Accountant, having graduated from Rutgers University. A fellow alum of mine, she was very well spoken.

"Okay then, Linda,", I said, seeing how I had a personal source now of fitness tips, "Seriously, tell us what the secret is."  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BIg, Rich Personalities: Meet the Ladies of Big Rich Atlanta

Sitting next to Sharlinda Parker, Kahdijiha and Sabrina "Brie" Rowe was like chatting with a bunch of girlfriends. They were warm, personable, open and fun. Definitely  people that you would want to hang out with.

Of course, meeting anyone for the purpose of an interview is different than meeting them for a different reason, but I am a pretty good judge of character from being on this planet for so long, and these ladies were genuine. We were at the same event in NY with Perez Hilton and they were happy to talk about their new show. 

Because there are so many ways of getting on a reality show, my first question was, "How did you get on the show?" (And check back soon for my post, "How to Get on a Reality Show"). Their answer was what I had been finding lately: Kahdijiha said they were personally asked. This seems to be how a lot of people are getting on shows as of late.  This could be because producers are more particular about what kind of person they want for their show; perhaps they want to bring something new to the table or to duplicate a successful model. However, I have heard of many people turning down being on a reality show so I also think casting has become more difficult and specific.

Kahdijiha said that she had been recommended by people in Atlanta to the producers, "because they knew us and they knew my dad." She said, "My dad was an popular R & B singer from the R & B Band 112 (Quinnes "Q" Parker). "

I asked her how it was all going.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Perez, Patti and Poppin' Tags

I love that song by Macklemore, okay some of the words are not quite presentable, but the beat is great is to dance to, and that's just what people were doing at the Viva Diva Wines Poolside Summer Bash with VIP Host Perez Hilton at NoMa Social in New Rochelle, NY.

This was a great celebrity event, as far as events go, not so much because of the celebrities that were there but because of the ability to mingle with them. There was one roped off area, visible to all in the cozy but chic NoMa Social main lounge, but really the celebrities were  interspersed within the crowd in the lounge area, the step and repeat area and poolside and they were eager to talk and pose for photos. Only Perez, adorning a shirt with a not-very complementary photo of Amanda Bynes on it (which could have easily been mistaken as one of Lindsay Lohan) and Patti Stanger (Millionaire Matchmaker) were guided through the areas, but even even they took the time to pose for photos when asked. 

Being in a rather out-of-the-way place for celebrity events, the occasion did bring out several  well-known faces and many up and coming stars, mostly from reality shows. However, the words "Who is that?" could often be heard in the crowd,. Even though I had prepped myself on who was going to be there I still had to ask. It is very hard to keep up with all the reality shows! Among those gracing the step and repeat were Christina Milian, Jonathan Cheban (E! Network), Amanda Bertoncini (Bravo), many from the cast of Big Rich Atlanta, Carla Facciolo (VH1), Brittany Smooch, recording artist and Tracy Di Marco (Style Network). 

I had the pleasure of interviewing some of the cast of Big Rich Atlanta and the very cute Brittany Smooch (Come back next week for interviews!)

The event was put on by Illumination PR of NY.  I have to say the wine was flowing although one had to search out the food, but that is  expected at an event like this. I also have to say that the wine was quite good. A friend of mine commented that the sparkling Moscato strawberry version was "a lot like fruit punch". It was but in a good way, sweet, fruity, almost like a wine cooler but less sweet. I would recommend it, especially at a summer party. 
To learn more about upcoming celebrity events in this area, follow this blog.